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How to Recover a Cheap Mechanical Keyboard



Once you get used to the feel of a mechanical keyboard, it’s difficult to go back to cheap membrane models. And while the best mechanical keyboards can cost Hundreds of dollars, there are enough of affordable keyboards under $ 50 these are very pleasant to use. If you̵

7;re still drooling about that aluminum endgame deck with lubricated Zealios switches and custom keycaps, you may feel like your current budget model is not big enough.

Not: There is still a lot you can do with this cheap keyboard to make it feel great, even if it doesn’t quite Reach the same heights as what you see / r / mechanical keyboards. Here are some mods worth trying out.

Get hold of some affordable keycaps

These DSA Penumbra-like keycaps from AliExpress (with a separate novelty key for Esc) have fundamentally changed the look of my budget board.

These DSA penumbra-like keycaps from AliExpress (with a separate novelty key for Esc) totally changed the look of my budget board.
photo:: Whitson Gordon

Keyboard nerds love to be obsessed with switches, and while different switches can change the sound and feel of your keyboard, I think keycaps make a bigger difference than most people allow them to. It’s not just about the look of your keyboard: the right keycaps feel better and, in my experience, can even make typing easier without making mistakes. (Seriously.)

I have has written a lot about custom keycaps, but here’s the gist: I generally recommend PBT keycaps over the cheap ABS keycaps that came with your keyboard. While high-end ABS kits can be great, PBT is likely a better option in the low-end space. It offers a textured finish that sounds great and won’t shine with fingerprints over time. You will find tons of options Amazon, Ebay, and AliExpress, including popular colors like 9009, carbon, or dagger for about $ 30 (And don’t worry, this is the most expensive mod we’ll be making in this guide.)

I also recommend paying attention to the profile of the keycaps. Most keyboards you buy use the standard “OEM” profile, although I prefer the similar but shorter one myself Cherry profile. I’m not sure what it is, but after going back and forth between the two, I find that Cherry profile keys are easier to enter and I make fewer mistakes in the process. You can also find sets in the DSA and XDA Profiles that are even shorter and have a uniform shape across the entire set make for a great looking keyboard.

Search the area to see if you can find something you like. You can find many sets on eBay and AliExpress that are not available on Amazon. So make sure you have a wide network. And don’t forget to grab one Wire key extractor, either.

Change the sound, feel, and look of the cabinet

A small shelf panel in my keyboard case muffled the sound, similar to aluminum cases on high-end boards.

A little Shelf lining The sound was muffled in my keyboard case, similar to aluminum cases on high-end boards.
photo:: Whitson Gordon

Your case can also affect the sound and feel of your keyboard more than you might think. Plastic cases with a lot of empty space make a loud, deep sound when typing – which a lot of people like! But you can also play around with different case mods that change that sound and feel.

For example, high-end keyboards with aluminum housings have a solid construction that tends to dampen this sound. While you can’t get the exact same feel with plastic, you can get closer by filling in some of the blank area under the circuit board (what some call “filling” the keyboard). To do this, you need to remove the keycaps with your Key cap pullerUnscrew the plate and circuit board and remove them from the plastic case.

Different materials sound and feel different. So experiment with all the household products you can get your hands on – I’ve seen people use them all felt to Carpet upholstery to Craft foam. I grabbed some replacement myself Shelf liningCut it to size and stick two layers of it in the bottom of my case (with holes for the screws, of course). It improved the sound and feel noticeably, with less of that deep echo. If you want to spend more a lot of people recommend Sorbothane also that is specially designed to absorb sound.

Of course, if you’d like to change the color of the case to better match your keycaps, you can coat it with spray paint the right technique. (I use Plasti Dip to me as it is completely removable – but can’t say I would recommend it too much as it peels off pretty easily.) Vinyl films can also look good, although harder to get right, so check out some Tutorials I have the least amount of experience in this area, so I rely on others who know more about good practice than I do.

Add a bit of lubricant

Some keyboards come with lubricants on the stabilizers, but nowhere near enough.  A little dielectric grease will go a long way in fixing this rattle.

Some keyboards come with lubricants on the stabilizers, but nowhere near enough. A little dielectric grease goes a long way towards resolving this rattle.
photo:: Whitson Gordon

Finally, cheap keyboards tend to use cheap stabilizers for the big keys (like Enter, Backspace, and Spacebar) that rattle more than their high-end cousins. But even this is repairable to a certain extent: a bit of lubricant on your stabilizers can make a world of difference.

Traditionally, lubrication stabilizers have been required Desolder your switches and completely remove the stabilizers– although I was very lucky with a paper clip, some dielectric greaseand calm hands. This YouTube video does a good job showing the process without desoldering. Some people put a small piece of it too Fabric plaster on the board under the stabilizer, but personally I’m not a fan of the sound and feel this creates. I did, however Place a piece under the clip of the stabilizerTo prevent this part from rattling against the plate, just don’t pull the stabilizer all the way out, as it’s almost impossible to put it back in without unsoldering the switches.

While we look at lube oil, many enthusiasts also lube their switches for a similarly smooth, quiet feel – although it is a lot more workand may not be worth the effort on a budget board. Again, you need to desolder each switch, use a Switch opener To open each one, smear them with one small brush and some very special types of lubricants-you can Read more about it here– Then solder them all back together. You can lubricate parts of the switch without desolderingbut it won’t be that effective, and I’m sure purists would laugh at me if they even mention the possibility.

There are some inexpensive keyboards with hot-swap switches like that Velocifire TKL61WS and the GK61. This allows you to remove your switches without desoldering anything, which makes the lubrication process a lot easier – for both switches and stabilizers. You can also swap out new switches. Note, however, that most of these budget hot-swap boards are only compatible with switches of the same brand (which Velocifire can only have other Outemu switches for example exchanged). A couple like that Hexagon GK705you can swap out any Cherry-style switch, but most hot-swappable boards like that Gorgeous GMMK are a little outside the budget we’re talking about here.

You can see how deep this rabbit hole goes, but don’t be afraid to experiment. All of these mods are pretty cheap and can turn a keyboard under $ 100 into something unique. I will be yours



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