What Are PBT Keycaps In Gaming Keyboards?

What Are PBT Keycaps In Gaming Keyboards:  Introduction

When it comes to gaming keyboards, there’s a lot of jargon to navigate, but one term that’s been making waves lately is PBT keycaps. You may have heard the term thrown around, but what are PBT keycaps in gaming keyboards and why are they getting so much attention in the gaming community? In a nutshell, PBT keycaps are a type of keycap material that offers gamers a whole new level of durability, comfort, and style. So, if you’re looking to elevate your gaming experience, it’s time to dive into the world of PBT keycaps and discover what all the hype is about.

PBT Keycaps

PBT Keycaps are a popular choice among gaming keyboard enthusiasts due to their excellent durability, texture, and customization options. They are made from a type of plastic called polybutylene terephthalate, which gives them their unique properties. In this comprehensive article, we will discuss everything you need to know about PBT keycaps, including their composition, durability, texture and feel, keycap legends, compatibility, customizability, cleaning and maintenance, price range, and availability.

What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards:  Definition

Meaning of PBT

PBT stands for polybutylene terephthalate, which is a type of thermoplastic polyester. When used in keycaps, PBT provides a sturdy and durable material that can withstand heavy use and retain its shape for a long time. It is also resistant to heat, chemicals, and UV rays, making it an ideal choice for gaming keyboards.

PBT vs ABS Keycaps

The most common alternative to PBT keycaps is ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) keycaps. While ABS keycaps are cheaper to produce, they are generally considered to be less durable and have a smooth, oily feel compared to PBT keycaps. ABS keycaps also tend to develop shine or gloss over time, while PBT keycaps maintain their original appearance for longer periods.

What Are PBT Keycaps In Gaming Keyboards?

What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards:  Composition

Material Properties

PBT is a high-quality thermoplastic polyester that offers several advantages for keycap production. It is known for its excellent resistance to heat, chemicals, and UV rays. PBT keycaps are less prone to oil and sweat absorption, which helps prevent the development of shine or gloss over time. Additionally, PBT has a low coefficient of friction, which gives it a satisfying matte texture.

Production Process

PBT keycaps are typically manufactured using a process called injection molding. The raw PBT material is melted and injected into a mold that is shaped like a keycap. Once the PBT has cooled and solidified, the keycap is removed from the mold and undergoes any necessary finishing processes, such as painting or applying legends.


Resistance to Shine

One of the main advantages of PBT keycaps is their resistance to shine. Shine occurs when the surface of a keycap becomes smooth and reflective, usually due to repeated use. PBT keycaps are less prone to developing shine compared to ABS keycaps, making them a preferred choice for gamers who want their keyboard to maintain its original appearance even after extensive use.

Resistance to Yellowing

Another benefit of PBT keycaps is their resistance to yellowing. Over time, some plastics tend to turn yellow when exposed to light or heat. However, PBT keycaps have excellent resistance to yellowing, ensuring that your keyboard will stay aesthetically pleasing for years to come.


PBT keycaps are known for their exceptional longevity. Their durable composition allows them to withstand heavy use without showing signs of wear and tear. This makes them an excellent investment for gamers who want a keyboard that will last for a long time.

What Are PBT Keycaps In Gaming Keyboards?

What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards:  Texture and Feel

Fine Textured Finish

One of the standout features of PBT keycaps is their fine textured finish. The textured surface of PBT keycaps provides a pleasant tactile sensation that is preferred by many enthusiasts. The texture not only adds to the overall feel of typing but also enhances grip, making it easier to type accurately and quickly during intense gaming sessions.

Smooth or Textured Surface

While PBT keycaps typically have a textured finish, smooth PBT keycaps are also available. Smooth PBT keycaps have a sleek, matte surface that provides a different typing experience compared to their textured counterparts. The choice between smooth and textured PBT keycaps ultimately comes down to personal preference and the desired feel while typing or gaming.

What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards:  Keycap Legends

Double-shot Legends

Double-shot legends are a popular method for adding keycap legends on PBT keycaps. This process involves molding two different types of plastic together to create the legend. The keycap is first molded using one color of plastic, and then another layer of plastic is added to mold the legend on top. Double-shot legends are highly durable and resistant to fading or wearing off, ensuring that your keycaps will remain legible for a long time.

Laser-etched Legends

Laser-etched legends involve using a laser to etch the keycap’s legends onto the PBT surface. Laser-etched legends provide a clean and precise appearance, and they will not fade or wear off over time. However, the texture of the keycap may be compromised slightly, as the etching process creates a shallow groove on the surface.

Dye-sublimated Legends

Dye-sublimated legends are created by sublimating ink into the PBT material. This process results in a high-quality, long-lasting legend that will not fade or wear off. Dye-sublimation allows for vibrant and detailed legends, making it a popular choice among enthusiasts who value aesthetics and legibility.

What Are PBT Keycaps In Gaming Keyboards?


Cherry MX and Clone Switches

PBT keycaps are compatible with Cherry MX switches, which are widely regarded as the gold standard for mechanical keyboard switches. Additionally, PBT keycaps can also be used with clone switches that are compatible with Cherry MX keycaps. This compatibility ensures that you can easily swap out keycaps on keyboards that use these types of switches.

Other Mechanical Switches

While PBT keycaps are primarily designed for Cherry MX and clone switches, they can also be used with other mechanical switches with similar stem designs. However, it is important to check the compatibility of the keycaps with the specific switch type you have before purchasing.

Keyboard Layouts

PBT keycaps are available in a variety of different layouts, including standard ANSI and ISO layouts. They are also available in specialized layouts such as 60%, 65%, and 75% layouts, which are popular among compact mechanical keyboards. Whether you have a full-sized keyboard or a compact layout, you can find PBT keycaps that will fit your specific keyboard.

What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards:  Customizability

Surface Treatments

PBT keycaps can be customized through a variety of surface treatments. For example, you can choose keycaps with different surface textures, such as smooth or textured finishes, to suit your preferences. Some manufacturers also offer keycaps with special coatings, such as rubberized or soft-touch coatings, for added comfort and style.

Artisan Keycaps

Artisan keycaps are highly sought-after and can add a unique touch to your keyboard. These keycaps are often handcrafted and come in a variety of designs, ranging from intricate sculptures to novelty shapes. Artisan keycaps are a popular way to personalize and customize your keyboard to reflect your personality and interests.

Color Variations

PBT keycaps are available in a wide range of colors, allowing you to create a keyboard that matches your aesthetic preference or gaming setup. From vibrant and bold hues to more subdued and classic colors, there is a PBT keycap set to suit every taste. Some manufacturers even offer keycaps with multiple color options, allowing you to mix and match to create a truly customized keyboard look.

What Are PBT Keycaps In Gaming Keyboards?

Cleaning and Maintenance

Removing and Cleaning Keycaps

Cleaning PBT keycaps is a simple process that can help maintain their original appearance and feel. To clean your keycaps, start by removing them from your keyboard. You can use a keycap puller or simply wiggle them gently to release them from the switches. Once removed, you can soak the keycaps in warm soapy water or use a mild cleaning solution. Use a soft brush or cloth to scrub away any dirt or grime, and then rinse the keycaps thoroughly. Allow them to dry completely before reattaching them to your keyboard.

Preventing Keycap Shine

To prevent shine or gloss from developing on your PBT keycaps, it is recommended to regularly clean them and avoid excessive contact with oils or greasy substances. Additionally, rotating your keycaps and using different sets can help distribute wear more evenly across your keyboard. By taking these preventive measures, you can ensure that your PBT keycaps maintain their original matte appearance for a long time.

What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards Price Range

PBT keycaps come in a wide range of price points, depending on factors such as the brand, customization options, and set size. Basic PBT keycap sets without any customization or artisan keycaps typically start at around $30, while more premium sets with unique designs and additional features can go up to $150 or more. The price range allows for flexibility, catering to both budget-conscious gamers and enthusiasts looking for high-end options.

What Are PBT Keycaps In Gaming Keyboards?

What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards:  Availability

Brick-and-Mortar Stores

PBT keycaps can often be found in specialized computer and gaming stores that carry mechanical keyboards and accessories. It is worth checking with local retailers to see if they have PBT keycaps in stock. However, the selection may be limited, and it is advisable to research online alternatives for a wider variety of options.

Online Retailers

The internet provides a vast array of options for purchasing PBT keycaps. Online retailers, both specialized keyboard stores and larger e-commerce platforms, offer a wide selection of PBT keycap sets in various colors, designs, and customization options. Shopping online gives you the convenience of browsing through different options and comparing prices to find the perfect set of PBT keycaps for your keyboard.

Group Buys

Group buys are a popular way to acquire unique and limited-edition PBT keycap sets. In a group buy, a manufacturer or designer collects orders for a specific keycap set for a limited period. Once the group buy ends, the keycaps are manufactured and shipped to the participants. Group buys often offer exclusive designs and colorways, making them highly desirable for keyboard enthusiasts who want something truly special.

PBT keycaps offer a fantastic combination of durability, texture, and customization options for gaming keyboards. Their resistance to shine and yellowing, along with their long-lasting legends, ensure that your keyboard will maintain its original appearance for a long time. The availability of various surface treatments, artisan keycaps, and color variations allows for endless customization possibilities. Moreover, the ease of cleaning and maintenance, wide compatibility with different switches and layouts, and the ability to find them online or through group buys make PBT keycaps a popular choice for gamers and enthusiasts alike. So, whether you’re looking to upgrade your current keyboard or customize a new one, consider PBT keycaps to enhance your gaming experience.

What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards:  In A Nutshell

In summary, the question “What Are PBT Keycaps in Gaming Keyboards?” reveals an essential aspect of gaming peripherals that often goes overlooked. PBT keycaps offer a blend of durability, tactile feedback, and aesthetic value that is unmatched by their ABS counterparts. Made from Polybutylene Terephthalate, these keycaps are less susceptible to shine, wear, and discoloration. Moreover, they provide a more satisfying typing experience, with textured surfaces that offer better grip and a consistent feel that gamers and typists alike can appreciate.

For the serious gamer, each millisecond counts, and the quality of keypress can make a difference in gameplay. PBT keycaps not only withstand rigorous gaming sessions but also maintain their original texture and lettering for a longer period, making them a smart investment. They often come in various styles, colors, and even custom prints, which means they offer both functionality and a way to personalize your gaming setup. It’s no wonder that PBT keycaps are becoming an increasingly popular choice among gaming enthusiasts seeking the best equipment.

So the next time you find yourself diving deep into the world of gaming keyboards, don’t just focus on features like N-key rollover, anti-ghosting, or RGB lighting. Consider the long-term benefits of PBT keycaps. While they may be a bit more expensive upfront, their durability and superior feel make them a worthwhile investment for any serious gamer.

Therefore, understanding what PBT keycaps in gaming keyboards are, and why they matter, could be the differentiating factor that enhances your gaming or typing experience significantly. Given their tangible benefits, it’s clear that PBT keycaps are more than just a luxury; they are an investment in better gameplay and overall user satisfaction.


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