Define your style with the Razer PBT keycap upgrade sets

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The giant of the gaming peripherals industry, Razer now is making available new PBT plastic kits to customize your keyboard to the maximum. All this, with optimal functionality and durability of materials within the brand’s arsenal and expertise throughout its trajectory in the market. In this article we are going to see in depth what is the new Razer PBT keyboard kits and how you can customize your keyboard by combining all the possible options of this new line of products.

Whenever a new product is announced in the gaming keyboard niche, there is a small segment that waits for Quartz or Mercury versions for all of them. What better way to create our own keyboard versions with Razer’s keycap upgrade kits? We are going to take a look at all the options available with a Razer Huntsman V2 Tenkeyless keyboard.

The keycap of a keyboard is precisely the keys or covers that are part of it, and that make contact with our fingers for interaction. They are normally made of ABS or PBT plastic, the latter being the highest quality. ABS is still a material susceptible to wear and sadly the most used for keys, so after a long time of use it will wear out and the character label start fading away.

Why would you upgrade or customize the keycaps of your keyboard?

To customize your keyboard, the first thing you should know is up to what extend it allows you to do that, for instance, are keys prepared for disassembling and will they take another type of keycap in its socket for replacement? Nowadays there is a large number of key packs available in the market with wide compatibility, but there are really few keyboard manufacturers doing this they way Razer does.

Normally the keyboards come in black, either matt or glossy, and with the keys in a fairly standardized design with a concave surface. In terms of measurements and design, they don’t usually change much either, although due to small details, their height, their leaning angle, side edges or characters are different in some models. Therefore it will be imperative for us to do a little research to find out if our keyboard is compatible with any other key sets.

Razer pbt keycap upgrade sets

If we have a cheap membrane keyboard, it is likely it won’t offer that possibility. This is more common in mechanical keyboards where the switches are installed independently of the key at all times. Although we can find kits for membrane keyboards as well, to change our worn keys.

The reasons for changing the keycap of a keyboard are usually necessity, if your current ones are already worn out. Obviously a user who only uses his keyboard sporadically will not suffer from this, but all those who write or play regularly will. You will agree with us that the keys that wear out before are the WASD package starting with the A key if we are gamers, and the vowels together with C and L if we are writers, right? Obviously wanting to change one key means having to change all of them to match the same style.

If the keys are still in good condition, the second most frequent possibility is that we simply don’t like how they look or we want to have a matching set of keys that go along with our gaming setup color scheme. There are packs with colored keys, but the normal thing is to have a single color for all of them, so we would be forced to buy several.

Another very common reason to change the keycap of our keyboard is the discomfort while typing or actuating the keys due to the finish of its surface. The sensations between a rough, smooth or silky texture are very different.

Are the Razer PBT keycap upgrade sets compatible with other products?

To customize your Razer keyboard, the manufacturer has three types of kits, but all of them are based on the same materials and manufacturing design. Obviously, they will be exclusive, only for Razer keyboards and in fact not all of them, so, it is always a good idea to check if your Razer keyboard can be upgraded before buying.

This will be the compatibility chart:

  • All kits will be compatible with Razer 60%, Tenkeyless, and full-format optical and mechanical keyboards.
  • Only the BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed ​​is left out for the PBT Keycap + Coiled Cable versions.
  • On the other hand, the BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed ​​will be compatible with the Phantom Keycap kits.
  • Older Razer keyboards by including extra keys for the bottom row.

The manufacturer left a small window opened in terms of the keycap compatibility. They are also compatible with Cherry MX mechanical switches mounts. These keys have a similar design They are keys of the same design (except the slim ones).

What Razer PBT keycap upgrade set should I buy?

There are a number of factors that influence the purchase of the correct keycap set:

1. Keyboard layout

The distribution and format refers to the character configuration our keyboard is based. There are multiple ways to distribute and represent the characters:

  • ISO keyboard: International Organization for Standardization – it will be the type of distribution that our keyboard including keys with special characters for languages other than english. Also the Enter key occupies two rows, changed punctuation marks and a smaller left shift key.
  • ANSI keyboard: American National Standards Institute – will be the distribution used in the US and some other Latin countries or UK. The Enter key will be smaller and the left shift key will be longer, with changes to the punctuation marks.
  • Within each layout there are different key configurations, for example Spanish, Latin Spanish, British, French, Chinese, etc.

Each type of distribution uses keys of different sizes, being Razer one of those manufactures producing both types to adapt to different countries. But in addition to identifying the distribution, we must also know the keyboard format:

  • Complete: the one that has Fn keys, NumPad, and extra keys up to a total of 104 or 108.
  • TKL or Tenkeyless: In this type the numeric keyboard is omitted, but the rest remains the same.
  • 75%: In addition to omitting the numeric keypad, the row of Fn keys is also removed.
  • 65% – A signature Razer format based on the 60% format but adding a column of function keys.
  • 60%: the most compact format, with only the alphanumeric characters, no directional keys or functions.

In these formats, the size of the space bar is usually modified, as well as in some other keys such as Windows or Shift to complement the space available. So it will be important that your Razer keyboard customization kit has these kinds of extras and enough keys.

2. Fabrication materials

The key construction material will greatly affect the feel, durability and weight of the keys, depending on how thick they are. The Razer kits will all be PBT, but the factory build of the keyboard can be in PBT or ABS, including these features:

  • PBT: It is a material used mainly in the insulation manufacturing. It is based on a plastic that is denser and more difficult to mold than ABS. The keyboards made with it tend to be more expensive for this reason, so we usually find them in high-end mechanical products. They eliminate some of the drawbacks that we see in ABS keycaps, such as wear and tear. Their rough touch gives them good grip and resistance when typing, and their greater thickness gives them a distinctive sound and pleasant feedback when used.
  • ABS: It is the material used for the majority of Keycaps on the market. It is a cheap plastic, easy to mold and with a very low weight. ABS is more susceptible to wear and tear and tend to be easily impregnated with body oils; reason why they begin to show marks of use relatively soon. In this way, they look brighter with use and tend to lose the upper roughness surface layer.

Additionally, the way in which the character and its internal structure have been silk-screened. Razer does this very efficiently, because inside we will have a second reinforcement layer material including the coupling stem with the switch. The character is laser engraved, revealing the internal translucent material for RGB illuminated models.

In any case, we must avoid buying keycaps or keyboards with the characters pasted or printed on the key, because they will be erased very soon. Ideally, they should be engraved on the material.

Razer pbt keycap upgrade sets

3. RGB Support

To cap all the amazing features off there is also the possibility to have the key illuminated, or rather, that its character allows the passage of light to the outside. These days most keyboards are backlit, many RGB. This light is implemented directly in the switch, either mechanical or membrane, allowing to illuminate both the base and the character on the keycap.

All Razer PBT keycap upgrade sets for the US market have the character lighting capabilities. Of course, the Phantom keys due to their construction have characters that are invisible in daylight, or in extreme light conditions, and we must necessarily use the backlight to let them see them.

4. Design and mounting type

Fortunately, the design of the keys is quite standardized in terms of style and size. And except for some particular cases of multimedia or ergonomic keyboards, we can even exchange keys from one to another without noticing the difference in height. In addition to the standard key model, we have the slim keycap, which is simply a key with a shorter base to make it smaller, but its surface remains the same.

Another factor that greatly influences the installation will be the type of anchor you have in the membrane or mechanical switch. Normally most switches have a cross-shaped anchor or “+”, being the case of the Cherry MX and Razer switches, as well as their knock-off versions. In some cases there are variants that, in addition to this cross-shaped mount, have a box to improve the stability of the key. This is the case, for example, of the Kailh Box Switches or the 4-point box of the Asus ROG RX Red, but they are the exceptions to the rule.

5. Additional keys and mounting hardware

The fact of including additional keys to adapt to the different formats and layouts will be essential. The space bar of a Tenkeyless will not be as large as that of a 60% format, at least in the case of Razer. Of course the brand is aware of its models and includes about 120 keys on each pack with different sizes of space bars, Enter keys, Shift and Windows keys among others.

No matter how small the difference, the movement of the key and smoothness can change a lot if we install a slightly different size key. In addition, some keycaps, such as space, have stabilizing anchors at the ends to allow an identical behavior regardless of where we press. These small items should also be included as a replacement or for the peculiar features of the keyboard.

Razer PBT Keycap upgrade sets variants

The Razer PBT + Coiled Cable kits have a total of 4 variants which main feature compared to the basic kits is the fact of adding a coiled cable.

This cable will of course be the same color as the keycap, and is intended to be used in models that have a USB Type-C port for connection with the PC to a USB Type-A port. It starts at 1.15 m and reaches 2 m long fully stretched, with a braided fiber mesh covering over the aluminum conductor with TPU insulation.

As for the keycaps, they will be manufactured in PBT, with versions in classic Black, Quartz Pink, Mercury White and Razer Green. Its premium double injection construction ensures high durability with no surface wear or shine. The character’s laser screen printing will also prevent wear and tear, using Razer’s signature ultra-thin rounded font that reads very well.

Each package will have a total of 120 keys that adapt to the different Razer keyboard formats except the 65% version that has the BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed. All the others will be compatible by having two types of space bar and peripheral keys, with Enter type ISO and ANSI. As extra accessories we have stabilizing metal bars for the long keys, anchors for them, and a clamp-type key extractor that will facilitate the work.

The process of exchanging keys will be quite simple if we catch the dynamics early, which consists of starting from the upper left corner -with the Esc- key towards the right row by row. This is how the keys are organized in each package, and we will skip those that remain without a Numpad or Fn keys for example.

The only difficulty in proceeding is identifying the punctuation keys and symbols that are going to change as they are only available in UK / US distribution. In any case, if we are replacing the keys from another keyboard is to copy, or take a picture of the pattern of the characters in the keyboard.

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