Why Is Everyone Building Custom Keyboards?

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Is Building A Custom Keyboard A Joyous Or Tedious Task?

Story Highlight
  • Custom keyboards help improve the typing experience because users can select switches based on their use, lube them, and tape them for their optimal sounds.
  • Modifying a mechanical keyboard’s PCB can reduce the annoying clicky sounds many switches come with.
  • While they can be expensive, customizing keyboards can be cheaper than buying high-end mechanical keyboards.

As a keyboard enthusiast, I have always been intrigued by how everyone interacts with keyboards and the new technology that spirals around the peripherals. Although a cheaper mechanical keyboard is enough for most users, custom-built keyboards have stormed the market for some time. So, how did a hobby turn into an obsession, and why is everyone building custom keyboards? Let me entice you to bring your customizations to the table!

Endless Possibilities Of Customization Options

MLX Red linear switches (Image By Tech4Gamers)
MLX Red Linear Switches On The Corsair K65 Plus Wireless (Image By Tech4Gamers)

When you purchase a factory-built keyboard, you are constricted by the design and layout chosen by the brand. But unlike many other PC components, keyboard customizations offer endless options. These options range from selecting the type of key switches โ€” whether linear, tactile, or clicky โ€” to choosing the color theme, keycap material, and even the lube you want to use.

The level of customization that I achieved by experimenting with different switches and keycaps became a delightful part of the entire building process. It turned my keyboard into a distinctive piece of art I could be proud of. The best part was playing with the click noise I have always wanted to enhance.

How Custom Keyboards Improve Typing Experience

Besides their endless customization possibilities, I love custom-built keyboards because they improve my typing experience. I can choose any switches I desire according to my typing style to improve my comfort while I type longer forms of text.

For example, I can choose Cherry MX Brown switches for their balanced tactile click. On the other hand, Cherry MX Blue and Cherry MX Red switches are better for typists who want to improve their typing speeds. Personally, I recommend brown switches for gamers and red switches for typists who play games moderately. Blue switches are fine, but the clicking sounds can get annoying.

However, if you want to use Blue switches for their faster response, you can always lube up your keyboard to dampen the noise and improve the sound.

Getting Rid Of The Clicky Noises

Perhaps the biggest reason why enthusiasts have shifted to custom-built keyboards is to eliminate the clicky noises that mechanical keyboards are infamous for. Therefore, even Cherry MX Blue switches can sound creamy if you lube your keyboard correctly. Of course, that requires a lot of customizations, which I won’t get into for now.

On the other hand, using bottled oil and jarred grease on the springs and switch components can help considerably reduce clicky sounds. Additionally, using specialized tape will provide a creamier sound.

Because of the popularity, brands produce custom keyboards and don’t fully assemble them, allowing users to play around with the keys and switches as they like. The Keychron Q1 is a good example. Here’s a short video of the sound you can get with slight modifications.

YouTube video

Is It Worth The Investment?

The main problem with custom keyboards is their almost insensible pricing. Do you need a fancy keyboard for gaming? Definitely not. A budget keyboard like the Corsair K55 Core is decent enough for work and play. For the money you spend on a fancy keyboard, you can use it to upgrade your PC.

Depending on your desired modifications, a custom keyboard can cost $100 or up to $1,000. On the other hand, even the most expensive mechanical keyboards don’t go over $250. TKL keyboards go for even cheaper at times.

If you don’t want to purchase custom keyboards, you can modify your mechanical keyboard if the switches can be removed. However, depending on your budget, the lube and tapes can be costly.

Therefore, while it’s understandable why everyone is building custom keyboards, I realize many may still be reluctant, seeing the steep learning curve and the high costs.

The Future Of Custom Keyboards

Ultimately, the future of custom keyboards looks promising, with innovations every generation. From applying oil to providing complete keyboard assemblies, the keyboard modification niche has gone from a hobby to an obsession for many, including myself.

I sometimes spend hours on end going through YouTube shorts and analyzing the different customizations enthusiasts use to produce creamy or tacky sounds. I am genuinely excited about what the community has to bring down the line, and I can’t wait for the next generation of innovative ideas from new modders.

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