Dec 15, 201615479 views


Ah the ancient keyboard argument what keycap material is better ABS or PBT. lets run through what makes each of these plastics special
  • cheaper
  • smooth
  • shiny (depending on the caps)
  • easily smudge able (depending on the quallity)
  • usually thinner

  • More expensive
  • textured
  • matte or semi matte
  • usually cannot smudge
  • generally thicker
Both PBT and ABS can have double-shot legends applied to them and both have been used in high quality sets.
Dasher and Dancer (ABS)


Granite (PBT)


So who wins? Well I sure don't know but you probably do and I want your opinions so please post which plastic is better AND what set you love most made from that plastic. :3
Or if you like POM caps that's cool too.
Shen Andrei Ortega, HolyBiscuits, and 10 others

Sigh. If I was forced to pick one or the other: PBT. That said, it really depends on who makes the Keycaps. Some random AliExpress PBT better than GMK ABS? I don't think so.
I would say it depends on the build quality. Cheap quality PBT < high quality ABS high quality PBT > normal ABS.
It's all boil down to personal preference and build quality of the keycaps.
I've only ever used SA Carbon, which is ABS, and I like it so far so I dunno what PBT is all about yet. Regardless of material, double-shot is a must.
If only PBTs were in SA, I'd try them out. I don't know of any but feel free to let me know if there's such a thing.
There sure are PBT SA sets, here is one on the PMK site for example:
You can not tell which metarial is better, cause it rly comes down to user preferences. So it is a matter of taste. For my part i dont care which material it is, as long as the caps havent printed legends.
So is it really worth getting a PBT keyboard over the ABS one for extra money?
Until I can get PBT backlit Pok3r keys with the Fn functionality on the front like the OEM keycaps, I'm fine with ABS.
PBT feels like it has less of a flex to it, more solid to the touch. The matte really comes out to, helps me stay on the keys, expectably if you use different keys for the alphas.
Only tried ABS and have been wondering why PBT is portrayed as the better material, so thanks for the thread and the short lists in the original post.
Also, what keyboard are the Granites on? Been seeing a lot of 65% now and am tempted..
Thanks, I didn’t remember the Whitefox as 65%!
PBT is king.
PBT is king. Please sell a PBT set of Penumbra for HHKB (topre)
Load 1 more comment
I would just be happy for the rumored second Penumbra SA ABS Cherry MX run to actually become a reality. :(
Wouldn't we all
For me the quality comes first. So, I believe that a honest manufacturer must choose PBT regardless to the cost simply because it is a better material for key caps than ABS.
Although this post says "both ABS and PBT can be double-shot", we do know that Signature Plastics does not double-shoot their PBTs. So their PBTs are limited to dark text on light keys.
I prefer abs because the weight of pbt caps fucks up the rebound on my cherry reds.
On pure "feel" PBT, but DSA Dolch - (Double-shot ABS) is so beautiful i could be talked into it, if Massdrop offers it again. ;>
well you'll have to start a poll and hit that request if you want it back, the only way they will drop it again is if they see people want it.
Give me that rock solid PBT
Smooth, old school thick ABS keycaps for me please
PBT feels better but has limited color/layout options. Thick ABS has more color/layout options but stains with oil over time (especially dark keys or on home row and heavily used modifier keys). I will say that even 20+ year old shiny PBT from the public library/schools feels/looks better than shiny ABS.
*True* keyboard aficionados understand that only proper material for key caps is stainless steel.
Stainless steel is for peasants. Nothing beats that gold feel.
(no, I can't afford them either)
The problem with gold is that, when you get up to the 3000-4000 WPM range, it starts deforming.
I like my PBT keycaps thy defensively file better.
As much as I like the feel of my Ducky PBT keycaps, I'm replacing them with SA profile ABS keycaps for two reasons. One, I love SA profile more than I like PBT, and two, these keys get dirty a LOT more easily than my other SA keycap set. I would rather have the plastic be shiny than be covered in dead skin cells that need to be scrubbed off periodically.
Also, I agree with others who say that some high end ABS keycaps like Signature Plastics' thicker profiles feel very nice but cheap ABS keycaps like WASD brand ones feel terrible.
That textured matte or semi matte will win any day in my books. POM or ABS is okay.
POM. I like my keysets as smooth as a babies ass.
The answer is POM. Always. POM.
For me it really depends, stock abs on most boards are shit. But GMK abs is of top quality, alot better than some low end pbt keycaps. But the hhkb pro 2 keycaps are amazing pbt. For me, it depends on the manufacturer.
I completely agree. I have a couple random sets of ABS caps that feel really nice, and some that feel very thin and cheap.
Overall I prefer PBT caps that feel rougher/grittier, but I have one set of blanks from Vortex that have just been sitting in my closet pretty much since I bought them because I don't care for how smooth they feel.
So yeah, overall it's definitely on a cap by cap basis.
arent we all waiting for later. mito that god
Well, honestly, i don't care that much about this topic. Having enough mks to rotate a lot, like many others here, i can't see any reason to settle for one cup of tea. If the set/design touches me, for whatever reason, different for all of us, the material used is the last thing i care about.
In three decades, i never made it to make some better keycaps to go ugly as hell. All i do is to wash my hands regularly and i don't (have to) use any hand creme. I've had a lot of coworkers at a printhouse, typing all day, and can't remember mks got ugly there. Might be different at heavier, dirty conditions like a garage ... or eating at the desk ... treating material like shit, but in that case no material does help in the longer run.
Load 3 more comments
I'm a huge Wes Anderson fan, so I had to get this. Where did you get PBT from for it, though? I don't remember seeing PBT mentioned anywhere in the IC or GB phase.
thanks for pointing that out changing it now
Does the high quality ABS (like the ones GMK uses) shine easily? I've used both PBT and ABS, so where does the high quality abs lie in terms of feel and sound?
Edit: Waiting for GMK Laser. <3 that set.