Want to take your mechanical keyboard to the next level, but you’re not sure how? We’ll go over some super easy modifications and upgrades to improve your mechanical keyboard so you can show off to your friends, family, and internet how cool your keyboard is. Brace yourself, you’re about to enter into the mechanical keyboard enthusiast world.
5 Easy Modifications to Improve your Mechanical Keyboard
- Upgrade your Keycaps
- Upgrade your Switches
- Stabilizer Modification
- Sound-Proof your Mechanical Keyboard
- Get a Custom USB Cable
We’ll go over each modification in detail and talk about ways to really take your keyboard to the next level. We also linked lots of helpful articles and resources to use in your modification journey.
1. Upgrade your Keycaps
Why You Should Upgrade Your Keycaps
What’s the number one part of your keyboard that you interact with the most? That’s right, your keycaps! The entire time you spend using your keyboard, you are either typing or looking at your keycaps, so it’s time to get rid of your dull & cheap keycaps and upgrade to an awesome set of high-quality keycaps. We have an entire keycap buyer’s guide here, if you want the full run-down on how to purchase keycaps.
What You Will Need to Upgrade Your Keycaps
To upgrade you’ll keycaps, you’ll need to buy a new set of keycaps online and purchase a keycap puller. There are many different keycaps in varying price ranges, so even if you’re on a strict budget, you can find an awesome set of keycaps for a cheap price. Most sets will come with a keycap puller, but if not, you can find them online for a really cheap price or you can make your own following this guide how to remove keycaps.
After that, you simply remove your keycaps with the keycap puller and replace them with a new set. We’ll recommend some of our favorite keycaps in the next section.
Most keycaps that come with stock keyboards are a cheap ABS plastic that quickly wears down and develops a greasy look to it. When purchasing a new set, you should look for PBT plastic as it is more durable and generally feels/sounds better as well. You read about the differences between ABS & PBT keycaps here. You also want to find a profile that feels comfortable for you, we have found the Cherry profile is generally considered the best for typing and gaming. The other profiles are quite unique as well, so it’s worth considering.
There are so many cool keycap designs out there in different colors and themes, we’ll link below some of our favorites so you can check them out for yourself.
- YMDK DSA Minila (Amazon)
- YMDK 108 Key Cherry PBT (Amazon)
- YMDK 96 84 ANSI (Amazon)
- Tai-Hao Sunshine
- KBParadise Love Blue PBT
- GMK Deep Space
- GMK Yoda 2
2. Upgrade your Switches
The entire attraction of mechanical keyboards is the satisfying feel and sound of the switches, whether they are clicky, linear or tactile. We’ll show you there are some easy ways to improve your switches and make them better.
Get Better Switches and Swap them Out!
A lot of keyboards come with Cherry MX imitation switches that don’t have the best durability or quality. If you don’t like them, you could always remove the switches and replace them with new ones! This may be a tough process if your keyboard is not hot-swappable, as you will need to solder/de-solder the switches to add/remove them which can be more time intensive.
If your keyboard is hot-swappable, this can be done in less than 30 minutes. We recommend trying out higher-end switches from companies such as ZealPC, Kailh, or Cherry MX. We have a list of our top five favorite respective clicky, tactile, and linear switches, so make sure to check those out if you are looking for some inspiration.
Lube your Switches to Make them Smooth and Less Scratchy
If you don’t want to get new switches, lubing your switches is another way to improve how smooth and stable your switches feel. Note: If you have clicky switches, I would avoid lubing them. This is mainly for tactile and linear actuating switches. Lubing your switches is a bit more of a time intensive process as you will need to remove them from your keyboard and pull the switch apart to lube them. This is definitely for the more-advanced keyboard enthusiast.
If doing all of that work is not in your wheelhouse, you can also purchase switches pre-lubed so you don’t need to worry about doing it yourself. If you are DIY-inclined and want to do it yourself, we have a guide here on choosing the best lube. Keep in mind, having a hot-swappable keyboard will really help make this process much easier.
Install Switch Film to Secure the Switches and Reduce Wobble
Do your switches ever feel wobbly and shaky? When keyboards are made, sometimes the tolerances are slightly off, and the switches don’t fit into the keyboard as perfectly as they should. To make the switches more stable, I would definitely consider adding switch film to make them more snug and secure.
The process of doing this is time intensive, as it requires you to remove the switch and pull it apart to install the film. This can be done at the same time as lubing the switches, so it would make sense to do if you are already going to lube your switches. We found a really good video guide, so if you’re interested you can just follow along with the video.
3. Stabilizer Modifications
Band Aid, Lube, and Clip your Stabilizers for Better Sound and Stability
Ok, this stabilizer modification may sound scary, but it’s actually quite simple. Stabilizer modifications are the first thing I do to a new keyboard to improve the sound and feel right away. The Band Aid, lube, and clip modification is a three-step process to beef up the stabilizers in your keyboard.
You simply cut up the sticky part of a few band aids and place them on the PCB (printed circuit board) where the stabilizers hit to dampen the impact and help produce a more satisfying *thud* sound. Then you lube the stabilizers to make them feel more smooth, and clip the extra bottom part of the stabilizer to make them more stable. I know it may sound confusing in this short explanation, so I’ll include an informational video above to help you.
4. Sound-Proof your Mechanical Keyboard
Does your keyboard sound louder than you would like? Or is it producing an irritating metallic *ting* noise each type you enter a keystroke? We’ll go over some easy mods/upgrades to improve the sound and make your keyboard quieter.
Get a Desk Mat(s)
Using a desk mat, believe it or not, is one of the easiest and best ways to improve the acoustics of your keyboard. By resting on the mat, your keyboard vibrates less and therefore makes less noise. TaehaTypes, a popular Twitch streamer who makes custom mechanical keyboards, is actually known to use 4-5 desk mats stacked up to improve the sound quality of his keyboards. Pretty cool, huh? Anyways, who can complain about the cool designs on some of the different desk mats out there. They make for some good photos as well. You can check out our favorite desk mats through this link to Amazon/Kit.co.
O-Rings Are Your Friend
Installing O-rings to the bottom of your keycaps is a super easy way to reduce the amount of noise produced from your keyboard. You simply slide them onto the bottom of your keycaps, plus they are quite inexpensive, and you can buy them in bulk. You can check them out through this link to Amazon. It’s worth noting that some people don’t like using O-rings as they can make keystrokes feel more mushy and less crisp, while others like to use 3-4 O-rings on each key. It’s entirely up to your preference, but they are one of easier ways to sound-proof your keyboard.
If you have a Philips screwdriver and are willing to order some foam online, this one can be a relatively quick upgrade to sound-proof your keyboard. You will need to pull apart the case of your keyboard and place a piece of foam on the bottom of the case under the PCB. This may be quick or time-intensive depending on how your keyboard is assembled. Some keyboards may require you to remove all of the switches, while others you may need to only remove a few screws. We recommend getting Neoprene or Sorbothane foam for your keyboard. Sorbothane is slightly better, but Neoprene is cheaper, so whichever works best for your budget. You can find them both on Amazon through the hyperlinks above.
5. Get a Custom USB Cable
If you really want to snazzy up your desk set-up, definitely check out some custom USB cables. These are super cool and come in several different designs and colors. These can only be used with keyboards that have a detachable power cable, usually just USB-C to USB-A. We have another post where we talk about custom USB cables in detail and where to buy them.
The cables are usually offered in a coiled shape or straight, depending on what aesthetic you want to go with. The coiled cables tend to be more expensive and over-time the coil will start to unravel and look sloppy, but they look super cool. Just something to look out for.
A lot of the cables also come with an aviator, so you can swap between USB-C, micro-USB, and mini-USB with ease and not have to unplug the entire cable from your PC. This saves me a ton of time as I’m always testing out new keyboards to write about on the blog.
We went over some of the easiest mods to upgrade your mechanical keyboard and take it to the next level. I know some of them are bit more time-intensive than others, but that’s the great thing about this hobby, you really decide how deep you want to dive into it. A quick recap of the mods are upgrading your keycaps, upgrading your switches, modding your stabilizers, sound-proofing your mechanical keyboard, and getting a custom made USB cable.
There is definitely something on this list for everyone to try out, so we hope you’ll take the time to do some awesome modifications to your mechanical keyboard. Happy Typing!