Take your custom lighting to the next level with these specially made keycaps
Whether as the centerpiece of a desk-spanning visual experience or a lone beacon of color in an otherwise monochrome setup, few things bring a keyboard to life like a vibrant array of RGB lights. Gaming-centric computer hardware brands have helped to push RGB lighting to the fore, but you don’t need to game to appreciate the personality that colorful lights can imbue in a device you use every day. Either way, to make the light show under your fingertips as (literally) brilliant as possible, you need to top it with the perfect set of RGB keycaps.
There are many ways to define the best keycaps for RGB enthusiasts, whether you want an additional layer of color up top, an elegantly diffused look, or as much transparency as possible to let those light-emitting diodes shine bright. This guide will introduce you to five different products that represent their own categories, each of which addresses the question of how to create the best RGB keycaps in its own unique way. But before we start talking specifics, let’s make sure we’re all on the same setting.
Find the perfect keycaps for every board in your collection with our Essential Guide to Keycaps.
Jump to a section:
- What are RGB keycaps?
- The 5 best keycaps for RGB keyboards
- A bright idea for a refined typing experience
RGB keycaps are mechanical keyboard keycaps that were designed to create the best RGB lighting experience possible. What do we mean by RGB? The acronym simply stands for the primary colors of light: red, green, and blue. In the custom keyboard context, RGB specifically refers to the custom-lighting-enabled hardware that first emerged from the PC building scene and has since become a major feature of many PC accessories.
Thanks to the industry-spanning standardization of cross-shaped mechanical key switch stems, most RGB keycaps will be compatible with most types of mechanical keyboards. Speaking of key switches, if you’re planning to make your own custom RGB-centric keyboard build, you need to start with the right switches for the task. Look for switches that either have a fully transparent body or that leave a clear window over your keyboard’s built-in LEDs, such as Gateron Clear or Holy Panda X, otherwise you may spoil the light show before it even has a chance to start shining.
Did You Know?:A less immediately obvious but still very important distinction between keycaps is their keycap profile. Multiple standardized sets of profiles determine the shape and feel of each key.
Now that you know how to ensure your board is ready, it’s time to glow big with five of the best RGB keycaps available on the market today.
The Keysterine keycaps set from Drop and MiTo takes a simple concept and executes it perfectly. Its caps come in a range of colors, but each individual set is almost crystal clear to show off the lighting (and switch, and board) underneath. Choose the Arctic colorway to leave your lights free to shine their truest shades, or opt for more colorful variants to enjoy otherwise impossible fusions of color from above and below. Whatever you choose, you’ll have an ideal accent piece for all kinds of RGB creations.
If you just look at them from the top, pudding keycaps are unremarkable. Look at them from the sides, but not lit up, and their translucent walls with solid-colored tops may even seem a little odd. Put a set of pudding keycaps on an RGB keyboard, however, and… well, you’ll see the light. The translucent sides of the LavaCaps Pudding Keycaps cause each cap to emit a beautifully diffused glow, and the opaque tops create a captivating silhouette effect. Those delightfully gooey-looking sides and darker tops also reveal the reason for their “pudding” moniker, as anyone who has enjoyed a nice spoonful of flan could quickly tell.
We’ve covered elegantly simple transparent keys as well as otherworldly pudding keys. G.SKILL Crystal Crown keycaps fuse the two design philosophies together in a single product that seems like it shouldn’t work… but it very much does. Transparent sides let you admire your switches from an oblique angle, while opaque tops with a translucent legend and “crown” around their perimeter create instant visual interest, all while offering multiple ways to admire your RGB settings of choice. It’s a smart combination of approaches that creates an effect all its own.
All of the RGB keycaps we’ve covered so far have used industry-standard materials to achieve intriguing aesthetics. Let’s look a little further afield. These POM Jelly Sugarcube keycaps from Escape Keyboard use a uniquely dense plastic that creates a silky smooth feel under your fingertips. Their unusual composition also conducts light in an especially diffused, but still bright, way. The all-white Sugarcube set creates an ideal canvas for dreamy lighting setups, but you can opt for other colorways if you want more built-in personality.
While we’re on the topic of unusual materials, there’s no better place to finish this list than with a complete set of keycaps that aren’t even made from plastic. Instead, Cerakey keycap sets are made with a durable form of ceramic to create a special typing experience all its own, one informed just as much by classic artisan work as it is by modern electronic design. Rather than blocking out the light as you might expect, these ceramic keycaps create a warm diffusion of light that feels like busting out an antique lampshade at a laser rave: odd, yet instantly cool.
Did You Know?:Another great way to make a scene — as long as your coworkers or roommates don’t mind — is with our list of the loudest mechanical keyboards on the market.
If you’d like to expand your mechanical keyboard collection to boards imbued with a different kind of brilliance, you should check out the full range of high-end keyboards from HHKB. Just be forewarned: the potently revised key layout and enthusiast-beloved Topre key switches of an HHKB may make returning to other boards feel like going back to the dark ages.