Mechanical keyboards have really been rising in popularity, especially as they’ve gotten far more inexpensive over the years. However, a rising brand of hobbyists and keyboard aficionados now call for building custom keyboards instead of buying store-bought ones.
This begs the question, should you build a custom mechanical keyboard?
Should You Build A Custom Mechanical Keyboard?
Yes, you should build a custom mechanical keyboard if you have the time to pick a base, select your switches, and style your keycaps. If you are looking for an extremely budget-oriented option or just don’t have the resources to make your own keyboard, then a store-bought keyboard is better.
Advantages of Building a Custom Mechanical Keyboard
To further bring our point home, here are the advantages of building a custom building a custom mechanical keyboard over purchasing one.
Lower Cost / Flexibility
Contrary to popular opinion, custom keyboards actually cost lesser than their store-bought counterparts, which have the same features. This is because you are doing all the sourcing, building, and customization yourself. So, you end up with a DIY price instead of paying the brand premium that you generally have to shell out when purchasing peripherals from brands like Logitech and Razer.
Perhaps the main draw of a custom keyboard for most is the level of customizability you can have with your keyboard. For instance, here’s a list of the components that can be changed by you when building a custom keyboard:
- Frame Material
- Frame Size (Keyboard Size)
- O Rings
So, say you are really happy with how your keys feel but want the WASD keys to feel a little faster; you can simply replace just those switches. Or, if you would like a bit of a more pronounced sound profile, then lubing has got you covered.
In essence, the ability to fine-tune every part of your typing experience and ensuring that it matches the way you would want your keyboard to feel is quite liberating. Moreover, you don’t have to stick to the same keyboard forever.
If you like the frame, you can just change the switches and the keycaps to have a completely new typing experience at a fraction of the cost of buying an entirely new keyboard and starting anew.
Like any electronic device, mechanical keyboards are also prone to failure. You may spill some water on it, bend a cable, or break a switch. Regardless, accidents happen. On a storebought mechanical keyboard’s case, you’ll be stuck with whatever option the brand that you’ve purchased your keyboard from has from you.
Generally speaking, repairs for store-bought gaming keyboards are non-existent. So, they either turn to e-waste or are just replaced after a lengthy customer support battle. With a custom keyboard, since you’ve built it – you’ll be able to replace and repair every single part of it.
From the frame to the PCB to the switches down to the keycaps, you can purchase a single part online, replace it, and have a perfectly functioning keyboard.
Where there’s customization, there’s personalization. There’s no limit to the amount of creativity you can impart on a custom mechanical keyboard. From being able to put up some very snazzy-looking keycaps to spray painting the frame, a custom mechanical keyboard turns into a part of your desk and is, by extension, an expression of your own choice.
What Are the Disadvantages of a Gaming Keyboard?
Custom keyboards are great. But, they come with a string of disadvantages that may lead to storebought mechanical keyboards being more desirable options for most. Here’s a look at some of them:
Excessive Time Spend
Custom keyboards take a lot of time and effort to build, especially if it is your first. You’ll be prone to making a lot of errors, and you might even mess up a switch or two. While you can get one made in a few hours, beginners might need a day or two to make their custom keyboards which can feel like quite a drag.
Ends Up Getting Expensive
Custom keyboards aren’t expensive, to begin with. But they do have a lower cap. You won’t be able to a custom keyboard for just $50, while you can easily purchase an average mechanical keyboard for that price.
So, to get started with building a mechanical keyboard, you will have to shell out at least $80-100, with the cost rising up from there. Depending on what you prefer, you will have to go beyond $150-200 to get a decent custom mechanical keyboard.
However, when built. It’ll easily trump all the other store-bought keyboards that exist within that range in terms of quality and function by a long shot.
No Propietary Software
If you like Razer’s Synapse or Logitech’s GHub, you won’t be getting that here. While great customization software for custom keyboards does exist, it doesn’t hold a candle to the amount of flexibility you get from Synapse’s many lighting profiles or GHub’s intuitive synchronization with other Logitech devices.
While you may be able to achieve the same effects to some degree, it’ll require a lot more tinkering than just clicking a few buttons.
The Verdict: Should You Be Building A Custom Keyboard?
Yes, you should be building your own custom keyboard if you have the time, energy, and resources for it. You will end up with a higher quality product that’s more customizable and provides a great deal of flexibility. However, if you are on a strict budget or have found a store-bought keyboard that suits your needs, buy that instead and save yourself the trouble.