Best PBT keycaps

Plenty of ways to upgrade style and durability.

Photo via Novelykeys

Keycaps are often an afterthought for many gamers, but changing up your keycaps can add a lot of style to your desk and even improve comfort in some cases. While buying a good-looking set of keycaps seems like an easy task, there are many factors to consider, including the material and profile.

If you’re looking for a step up from standard ABS plastic keycaps found on many prebuilt gaming keyboards, PBT keycaps are the next step up. Many manufacturers like Razer and Corsair are leaning away from ABS keycaps, but there a plenty of boards out there that ship with subpar ABS keycaps that wear out quickly and collect oil like it’s going out of style. Although quality ABS keycaps are available through producers like GMK, they typically cost an arm and a leg.

There are some distinctions to make between keycap profiles before diving into the many available options. OEM is considered the standard keycap profile you’ll find on most prebuilt gaming keyboards. Cherry is a close relative of OEM but features a slightly lower profile. There are many more keycap profiles, but this list will only cover Cherry and OEM keycap sets in the interest of offering more comfort to those who are unfamiliar with profiles like SA and DSA.

One more important note, it’s always recommended to check that your chosen keycap set comes with the keys for your keyboard’s layout. If you have a full-size keyboard, then chances are a 108-key set will serve you well. From 65 percent, 75 percent, or any other non-standard layout, you’ll need to dig a little deeper into what additional non-standard keys are included. Don’t take anything at face value while shopping.

Here are the best PBT keycaps. While some options listed are clones, it should be noted that buying a clone set is frowned upon in certain circles.

Drop Skylight Series Keycaps

Image via Drop

Drop’s Skylight Series OEM keycaps originally debuted on the companies ALT, CTRL, and ENTR keyboards. The keyboards gained popularity due to their feature sets but owe a large amount of the hype to the Skylight keycaps that reflect a more Apple-like aesthetic. Skylight Series keycaps come in black, white, slate, Valiant, and Horizon. These sets make an easy step away from lesser backlit ABS keycaps without going all-in on a theme like some other options on the list.

Ducky Joker Keycaps

Image via Ducky

This next set might not be for everyone, but it definitely leaves an impression. Ducky’s Joker set may seem overly bombastic, but it also features quality PBT. Durable, and shine-free, the Joker keycap set is as impressive in its quality as it is in its visual loudness. Despite the foreign looks, acclimating to the set will be easy since it features an OEM profile.

HyperX Pudding Keycaps

Image via HyperX

Most keyboards brands boast about their keyboards being lit with millions of possible colors, but most keycaps cover their impressive visual feats up. HyperX’s Pudding keycaps ensure that the RGB fans out there get their money’s worth. With translucent sides and matte black or white tops, these OEM profile keycaps diffuse RGB like nobody’s business. There are many like HyperX’s, but the quality here is reliable.

Razer Doubleshot PBT Keycap Upgrade Set

Image via Razer

For Razer keyboards owners looking to keep it all in the family, the company’s OEM upgrade kit is a solid buy. Razer’s keycaps have come a long way in the past several years. While not every board currently features its PBT keycaps, most of them may benefit from an upgrade.

These keycaps also have a distinct texture and aren’t quick to oil up, but they can look a bit more grey than other black keycap options. Additionally, there’s no Razer branding on them, so they’re great on other boards as well. Colors include Mercury white, Quartz pink, Razer green, and Classic black.

EPOMAKER AKKO NEON Keycaps

Image via EPOMAKER AKKO

Here is where things can get spicy. This set is actually a clone of a much more expensive keycap set from Drop + MiTo known as GMK Laser. Akko’s clone set provides relatively high quality and flexibility regarding compatibility for a modest price compared to the original’s $350 price tag.

While the community is fairly split on whether clone sets should be shunned altogether, there’s no denying that this Cherry-profile set captures the original for a fraction of the cost. The biggest hang-up here comes from Akko not citing its source, though.

Novelkeys Cherry Notion

Image via Novelkeys

Novelkeys is a trusted vendor within the keyboard community, so it tracks that its PBT keycaps have some of the best quality and designs around. While designs rotate in and out, Cherry Notion is one of the best on offer today.

With a clean aesthetic that is interrupted by whimsical pops of color, this set Cherry-profile set can help brighten up an otherwise drab workspace. Additionally, there’s plenty of flexibility when it comes to building out your kit beyond the baseline, which is handy for non-traditional keyboard layouts. The only catch is that RGB is a no-go.

MK x Ducky ‘Frozen Llama’ Keycap Set

Image via MK x Ducky

Mechnicalkeyboards.com and Ducky’s collaboration set is one of the most popular around and sells out quickly. This Fortnite-inspired keycap set has an OEM profile to give it a familiar feel, but if you’re not a touch typist, then the white legends might be a bit harder to make out against the light turquoise background. Additionally, these don’t shine through, so RGB is out of the question.

While this set is admittedly geared more toward Fortnite fans, the color combination is fun and may do well with younger gamers without breaking the bank.

HK Gaming Custom Keycaps

Image via HK Gaming

It’s impossible to pick just one set from HK Gamings selection, but a few favorites include the 9009, Sunset, and Stealth Dolch sets. There are 26 options in total, each with a Cherry profile and 139 keycaps in total. For those looking for a variety of slightly more stylized keycaps, these are a decent option, especially if you’re working on a budget. These won’t do well for RGB users, though.

Mistel Doubleshot PBT Keycaps

Image via Mistel

For those in need of a more subdued set of PBT keycaps that lack shine-through legends, Mistel’s simple keycap sets ought to do the trick. These OEM keycaps offer class PBT durability while also providing some standard but fun colorways that can help tie together a themed setup.

Mistel’s PBT keycaps come in white on black, black on white, orange on white, Smurf style, and yellow on glaze blue. They may not be much, but for those in need of a class look, Mistel’s PBT keycaps are a solid in-stock option.

Gliging GMK Clones

Image via Gliging

Perhaps the most controversial group of sets on this list are the Cherry profile Gliging GMK Clone sets. Like the Akko NEON set above, these are clones of keycap sets created by artisan designers that typically have enormous price tags and limited availability.

While it is always encouraged to support the original designers, especially when credit is not given by the manufacturer, some newer enthusiasts or those who are on a shoestring budget may need to run the route of the clone set.

Gliging may not make the highest quality sets, but they offer the greatest variety. Some of the best-looking sets include clones of GMK Olivia by Olivia, GMK Night Runner by u/blindassassin, and GMK Red Samurai by Drop and Red Suns.