Customizing mechanical keyboards is all the trend recently. Spend a minute on Instagram Reels or TikTok, and also you’ll see desk setups with peripherals in virtually each colour of the rainbow. It’s an exquisite factor, particularly after a long time of getting principally black-and-tan pc equipment to select from.
Razer, the corporate behind lots of these black and decidedly masculine gaming peripherals, desires a chunk of this almost $1 billion mechanical keyboard industry. The corporate is now launching a line of colourful keycaps, cables, and wrist rests to begin you on the journey towards customization. The units are all comparatively reasonably priced, too. At $50 for its PBT keycaps and $35 for its Phantom Keycap Improve set, Razer’s keycaps are as a lot as a set of knock-offs from Amazon. The coiled cables are available in 4 colours as a part of the PBT field units. The wrist rests are $20 every and out there in three sizes, together with mini, tenkeyless, and full dimension.
There are actually trade-offs to beginning your customization journey with a mega peripheral maker like Razer. It’s a lot simpler to purchase straight from them than discover an artisanal keycap set that matches the invoice. The fanatic group could be formidable to method, to not point out exclusionary. Group buys, which is how artisanal units are successfully “pre-ordered” earlier than manufacturing, additionally require lengthy lead instances. In distinction, a pre-packaged set from Razer is offered instantly off the shelf.
These distinctive keycap units will also be prohibitively costly. A whole set can price upwards of $200 with transport. The worth is commonly greater to assist subsidize the artist’s onerous work designing the keycap set, however not everybody desires to drop that type of money for the novelty of a vibrant pink keyboard.
Razer is unquestionably on to one thing debuting its personal set of keyboard customization kits. Although they’re meant for Razer’s household of mechanical keyboards, they’re a option to get initiated into the idea of customizing mechanical keyboards with out breaking the financial institution.
Razer despatched over a pile of items from its new customization lineup, together with the black-and-white variations of the Phantom Keycap Improve units and its PBT keycaps with matching coiled cables in 4 colours: black, Razer inexperienced, pink “quartz,” and white “mercury.” For this assessment, I examined the white set of the Phantom Keycaps on a BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed Phantom Version wi-fi keyboard with Razer’s inexperienced switches, that are tactical and clicky. I additionally examined the quartz-colored PBT Keycaps with matching coiled cable on a BlackWidow V3 Mini Hyperspeed wi-fi with Razer’s yellow switches, that are linear and silent. I used the Tenkeyless (TKL) version of the Razer wrist relaxation for this assessment because it was the one one which match the width of each Blackwidow keyboards. And I did all this with lengthy nails.
Let’s begin with the Razer PBT Keycap and Coiled Improve set, which prices $50. The set is available in a field with 4 plastic trays stacked on prime of each other. Every tray is labeled within the order through which it’s best to open and set up the keycaps. The set consists of 120 keycaps and is appropriate with Razer’s 60%, TKL, and full-sized keyboards. Sadly, the set doesn’t full the Razer BlackWidow V3 Mini wi-fi. I left behind seven of the inventory black keycaps, together with the 4 navigation buttons on the final column of the keyboard.
The PBT keycaps are a bit extra premium than the Doubleshot ABS keycaps that come customary with the BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed. PBT stands for Polybutylene Terephthalate, which is a type of sturdy plastic utilized in manufacturing keycaps. It’s additionally a bit difficult to work with, which is why they’re typically pricier than the Doubleshot ABS, that are the most cost effective and most typical plastic used within the trade. Nonetheless, ABS keycaps can develop a sheen extra shortly, whereas PBT keycaps will final for much longer. Each of Razer’s PBT and ABS keycaps have the same textured really feel on prime, so you’ll be able to combine and match as you want.
Razer notes the PBT improve package matches most cross-shaped axis switches and customary U.S. and UK layouts. There may be additionally a keycap puller included within the field (save your self the difficulty and buy this instead) plus a set of black stabilizers, which is a nod to anyone who might be buying this set for use on a third-party keyboard. However, it’s also helpful as you’re taking apart any Razer-made mechanical keyboard. I used too much force yanking out the spacebar, and one of the stabilizing pieces shot out and disappeared into my room. Fortunately, there was a replacement in the box, and you’ll definitely need it as the space bar can be jumpy and inaccurate without stabilizers on either end.
The coiled cable is the last part of the upgrade kit. It’s a 150mm length braided fiber cable with USB-C to USB-A connection. Under direct light, it’s a slightly paler pink than the quartz keycap set. It feels less premium than the custom Zap cable I purchased a few years ago to match my DSA Magic Girl set. The braided thread is already showing signs of wear after only a week of use. But the cable works with any USB-C keyboard, and it’s long enough for most desktop setups.
It’s challenging to test keycaps within a limited frame of time. Unlike a smartphone or computer, the only reliable benchmark is time and how the keycaps hold up against skin oils, food grease, and even sun blasting from the window adjacent to the desk. The installation experience was relatively standard, and it took me about an hour to swap out 68 keys. If you’re using a Razer keyboard, you can invite even more customization with the Synapse software, which lets you apply custom lighting across varying parts of the board. I also had no problem typing on the keycaps, which are a little taller than what I’m used to with low-profile DSA keycaps. I managed about 102 phrases per minute in a typing check.
The Phantom keycap improve set is supposed for a stealthier look. The underside half of the keycap is see-through, whereas the highest half is matte. The keycaps are clean on prime till you shine a line by means of them. This made them troublesome to put in, as I needed to shine a light-weight by means of each single keycap earlier than I knew what it was and the place I ought to place it on the board. I nonetheless managed to get the BlackWidow V3 Mini wi-fi kitted out inside an hour, however it was tedious.
The Phantom keycaps come bundled with 128 keycaps match for Razer’s 60%, 65%, TKL, and full-sized keyboards. There are additionally stabilizers and a keycap removing device within the field. This set fully matches the BlackWidow V3 Mini wi-fi keyboard. However I received pissed off looking for the exact Web page Up and Web page Down keycaps that work on the right-hand facet. So I left that a part of the keyboard with its inventory choices.
The Phantom keycaps really feel a bit extra sturdy than the PBT set. Regardless of their relative uniformity, you’ll be able to obtain a neat aesthetic with LED lights. I favor a stable colour look, although biking between colours can also be a pleasant contact. There’s a starkness to the white keycaps on black chassis, nevertheless. The upside is that you could take most of this set to a different customary keyboard and get artistic pairing it with different colours and keycaps.
Just remember to set up the stabilizers if one among them pops out. I didn’t repair the house bar on the BlackWidow V3 Mini wi-fi, and I had to return and add areas after ending sentences. Additionally, I solely managed about 95 phrases per minute in typing checks, however that’s as a result of I are inclined to kind quicker on linear switches in comparison with tactile ones.
An Inexpensive Starter Pack
The wrist rests are all comfortable variations of those that already include most full-size Razer keyboards. They’re tremendous comfy for lengthy bouts of typing, and I’m happy there’s lastly a dimension that matches the BlackWidow V3 Mini wi-fi. There are additionally grip pads on the underside that stop the wrist relaxation from slipping round.
Should you’re already invested in Razer’s huge vary of mechanical keyboards, and also you’re bored by what you’ve been working with, that is the best option to improve with out throwing a wrench into the matrix. Even if you happen to simply wished so as to add some colour, sticking inside a model helps make sure that all the things matches with what you have already got. For example, you might purchase a colourful keycap set that’s available on Drop for across the similar value because the PBT improve package. But it surely may conflict with the remainder of the Razer keyboard, or the keycaps won’t have the proper really feel relative to the remainder of the board.
Because the keycaps are standardized, Razer’s pre-packaged customization kits might additionally work for a first-time modder with a third-party board. I think about they’d pair effectively with an ultra-affordable Qisan Magic Force or perhaps a Ducky One, which is fashionable with nerdy workplace staff. General, Razer’s off-the-shelf choices are a fantastic compromise if you happen to’re not fairly certain how dedicated you’re to the interest.