Each manufacturer of mechanical keyboards will have their own way to make a mark for their products and attract target customers. There are many different factors to make an impression, and one of them - although it is a very small factor - but has a huge effect, is Profile keycap. Profile keycap can be briefly defined as the height and inclination of the keycap set. These two factors combine to form a unique style for each keycap type of each row and contribute to the comfort of typing as well as the aesthetic feel of mechanical keyboards.
There are many types of Profile keycaps, but the most common are the ones shown in this picture:
OEM KEYCAP – The most popular keycap profile
This keycap profile deserves to be called the "national" keycap profile because literally everywhere you can see this classic profile type. OEM stands for Original Equipped Manufacturer, roughly the form of profile from the factory. OEM has the outstanding feature of being "neutral" and easy to get used to by anyone. Whether you are a novice or a skilled player, no matter what habits you have, this keycap profile set can satisfy you. Specifically, the OEM profile:
- The keys have the right height.
- The keycap surface has a reasonable curvature to fit the fingers, but it is not too recessed to cause discomfort.
- The curvature is also evenly spread horizontally and straight to evenly distribute the force to the fingertips, helping to type quickly and accurately without spending too much concentration.
Many famous mechanical keyboard names have brought the "national" keycap profile to their products such as Filco, Steelseries, Razer, Zowie, Corsair…
CHERRY KEYCAP – standard and highly compatible
Cherry first designed this profile specifically for genuine mechanical keyboards, and then it was so popular that it was cloned many times by Chinese suppliers. The general characteristics of Cherry keycap are:
- Low profile keycap with flat top.
- Particularly, the last row has a large inclination to regain balance and relieve the feeling of fatigue in the user.
- In terms of general texture, the Cherry profile is almost identical to the OEM, but the keys are lower and the slope has been tweaked to fit the whole.
- This rearranged texture makes the Cherry profile keys feel softer and smoother than OEM, and the sound is also clearer and sharper when compared to the same material and weight.
SA KEYCAP – keycap for hardcore players
SA stands for Spherical All, meaning that all rows are spherical, which refers to the top face shape of all keycaps in the SA profile set (all are concave spherical with different inclinations according to product line). SA is a keycap style created by SP (Signature Plastic - USA) and exclusively for a period (currently there are many manufacturers making this profile group). The most important features of SA keycap are:
- Keycap often has an impressive height and is made of high-quality materials that are anti-corrosion and resistant to heat, making the typing feeling of the switches below better.
- The keycaps have different inclinations and face concavities. When combined in rows placed next to each other, it will create a clear, strong, harmonious and eye-catching overall curve (most visible when viewed from the side).
- The concave face of the SA keycap helps fingers stay firmly on the keyboard even when typing quickly, feeling solid and hugging.
- But because of the typical height, the SA keycaps often cause hand fatigue when used for a long time. Some people also think that because it is too high, some SA keycap sets will feel wobbly when used for a long time, especially for those who type strongly.
- The characters printed on the SA keycap are usually in the middle, or on the left / right corner; in general, it is quite flexible in position.
- With this characteristic shape, the SA keycap is often installed with switches that need heavy hands to feel the best bottom out.
- And they also often come with thick, sturdy cases and plates.
SA keycap sets are often more expensive than keycaps of other profiles due to the need for more plastic materials, the production quantity in a batch is usually small, besides, advanced character printing technology like doubleshot is also more difficult to do with SA-style surfaces. In addition, SA keycap sets are usually slightly more expensive, quite difficult to buy than other types.
The famous SA profile keycap manufacturers on the market recently are: Signature Plastics (Original), Maxkey, ONECAP.
DSA KEYCAP – the keycap line is easy to use but a bit boring
It is also a pioneer product of the SP manufacturer and has many differences from the above SA profile:
- Low profile keycap and flat keycap face without any tilt.
- Although the keycap surface is flat, it has a very slight concavity, enough to hug the fingers when typing.
- The keycap faceplate is wide, giving you a comfortable feeling without being constrained when using.
- The characters on the DSA keycap are usually centered to accommodate the slight mid-concave of the key surface.
- DSA profile design helps users reduce hand fatigue, fingers fit on the keys. But because of the lower key, sometimes the typing feeling is not clearly prominent, especially with the tactile and clicky switches.
- Usually comes with a variety of switches, and the case is not too big. Generally suitable for simple, compact and elegant mechanical keyboards.
- The keycap texture is easy to get used to, easy to use, but the overall look is a bit boring, with no outstanding highlights.
- The two largest DSA profile keycap manufacturers today are Signature Plastics, YMDK and some brands from China with cheaper prices.
There are also some more modern profile types, which are "mixtures" between SA and DSA such as: XDA, MDA, which are products that follow the trend of Chinese keycap companies, but these types have quite a few versions and Also less options. The big advantage is knowing how to summarize the advantages of the above traditional profiles with a few small tweaks to both suit the typing habits and not cause hand fatigue.
Which profile has the best gaming experience?
With all the above characteristics, it seems that the Cherry and OEM profiles are probably dominating the gaming world because of the friendly factors that compromise both for users who like a clear typing feeling and those who love speed and key sensitivity. Moreover, it does not take time to get used to this profile no matter what other type you are currently using. There may be many different opinions, but in general, the above ranking is supported by the people. However, for each person, depending on typing habits, the type of game being played and a number of other factors, the appropriate level of the profiles may be different. But this keycap profile suggestion can be a good reference for newbies.
According to the votes of many people who have played mechanical keyboards for a long time, the best gaming keycap profile ranking should be: CHERRY > OEM > SA > DSA.
Hopefully this brief description of a few popular keycap profiles will help you have one more factor to choose the right mechanical keyboard for you.