Corsair enters the premium keycap market with their new PBT option

While most hardware enthusiasts and gamers today are used to the idea of high-end mechanical keyboards, they might not be aware of the world of custom keycaps.

Just like the difference in key switches, hardcore mechanical keyboard enthusiasts often have many different types of keycaps made with different materials and manufacturing processes. Beyond just customizing the look of your keyboard, different keycaps can cause some noticeable differences in the typing experience.

With the launch of their new PBT Double-shot keycap set, Corsair is aiming to bring this level of obsession more to the mainstream. I know that there are a lot of terms in that previous line, so let's take a closer look at what makes these keycaps different than the standard affair.

The most significant difference from the stock keycaps on Corsair keyboards and this new set are the type of plastic of which they are made. In this case, we are looking at ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) vs. PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate) plastics.

The stock, ABS, keycaps from the Corsair K70 RGB keyboard

ABS is a ubiquitous plastic used in a lot of consumer items, including most keycaps for mechanical keyboards. ABS is an easy to work with and inexpensive material but has some downsides including yellowing due to UV exposure, and depending on the exact plastic mixture can be quite brittle. 

PBT, on the other hand, is a much harder and durable plastic. In addition to strength, PBT also does not degrade due to UV and is overall more chemically and heat resistant than ABS. However, this means that PBT is more challenging to use in the manufacturing process making PBT keycaps more expensive than ABS keycaps.

Double-shot is a term relating to how the keycaps are formed in the injection molding process. With a double-shot process, the "legend" or label of the keycap is formed with the first pull of plastic from the mold, and then the rest of the keycap is created with another additional pull.

Examples of keycaps made with the double-shot process

This means that the legend of the keys is integrated into the plastic itself rather than being painted on, and able to wear off.  It also results in keycaps with flush labels for a smoother feel and higher contrast between the keycap and the legend. The double-shot process can be used with both ABS as well as PBT keycaps.

Once again, double-shot is the more premium method, but tends to come at a cost increase over keycaps with printed or etched labels.

Taking a look at these specifications, it's clear that Corsair is aiming to make a premium keycap set in their first attempt. Keep in mind that these Corsair keycaps have standard Cherry MX stems, and theoretically can be used on a wide array of keyboards with the same layout. 

Packaging for the Corsair Gaming PBT keycaps is minimalistic, and conveniently laid out in the same order you would put them on your keyboard.

With the keycaps removed, our Corsair K70 RGB keyboard is now a blank slate, and we are ready to start the tedious task of putting on the new 104 keycap set.

Once the keycap insertion process is complete, the K70 keyboard looks sharp with it's new white and black look.

And of course, we had to include a shot with the full RGB rainbow going. The double-shot process makes the RGB lighting stand out quite well against these white colored keycaps.

Available in both black and white, the Corsair Gaming PBT Keycap set is a compelling option for those looking to enter the rabbit hole that is custom mechanical keyboard keycaps. Personally, I prefer the feel of PBT keycaps compared to the normal ABS kind. 

At $50, the Corsair PBT keycap is a bit steep compared to some of the more generic options available, but they are well made and are worth a look!