Cap / Switch Dynamic

I’m sure it’s been discussed here before, but I wanted to make a thread about the interaction between switches and caps, and how the resulting tactile properties are emergent between them.

Babby’s first switch tester - or in this case, mine. The one I had was silver, but had an otherwise equivalent selection of switches; Nylon Cherries and Kailhs, and poly-top Gaterons.

I think one of the first things a person learns about the keebverse is that different switches mean different sounds and feels. What’s slightly less obvious is that keycaps further modify both of those elements significantly.

I first realized this years ago, thanks to good old Cherry Browns. I have a Filco MJ2; a well-made if totally generic keyboard, equipped with the aforementioned memeables.

It seems like ages ago in terms of this hobby / product sphere - I bought that keyboard at a time when Browns were generally recommended as the safest bet for someone who didn’t know anything about keebs, and Cherry switches were “the real deal”. The most adventurous thing on a switch tester from Massdrop might be a Cherry White or Gateron Yellow.

My first non-garbage keeb, before the MJ2 - an EasternTimes Tech I-500

The MJ2 was my second keeb, after a cheap Amazon thing with clone blues. I already loved that thing, so the MJ2 impressed me further with its steel plate and generally above average build quality. Now to the point here; Filcos tend to come with very thin, pad-printed ABS keycaps. They look black, but they’re actually a translucent bluish-grey - light will shine right through them.

[ Imgur deleted my old gallery of this, and I don’t feel like digging up the photo. ]

I loved the typing feel of these caps on the Browns, but I didn’t want to wear-out the legends. I also wanted something that would vibe with the brown lacquered case option I’d gone with - well, I’d actually picked the case to go with a keyset I already had - SA 1965 - so it wasn’t long before I swapped those keys onto the board.

It looked gorgeous.

It felt meh. It sounded bleh.

“What gives?” I was thinking. SA caps were all the rage on reddit, and as far as I could tell, they were extremely well-made. Why did this keeb that sounded and felt nuanced and satisfying just before, suddenly sound and feel clunky and clumsy?

That’s when I learned that a cap’s weight, shape, density, and composition all play a role in both aspects.

I’d gotten a preview of that when I’d installed some Tai-Hao caps on the cheapo board, but this really drove it home for me. Hands-down, I preferred both the sound and feel of those super-thin caps - at least, on those Cherry Browns, mounted on that steel plate, in that plastic chassis. I’m still considering buying a Filco Ninja for the front-printed caps…

Fast-forward a handful of years to last night. I’m re-building my KBD67L R1 & 2 by swapping the plates between them, and chanching switches in the R2. I’m going to be using that one at work, so I knew I wanted to use silent switches.

The ones in my collection I’d technically rate the best are Gazzew Boba U4’s, but so far they really hadn’t been for me; I’ve found the bump a bit too strong and/or wide. However, I’d only tried them with GMK and OEM caps, so I decided to give them a shot with MT3.

There we have half of the impetus for this post - I am loving how these switches feel with heavier, taller caps. If these aren’t “just right”, they’re very close.

The other sibling keeb has a heavy aluminum case and Tecsee Diamond switches. I decided to try MT3 there as well - and while I liked it, the sound and feel just didn’t “mesh” for me here as much as it did with GMK caps. The lighter, shorter, but still thicc caps bring out that delightful “wet” clacc from this combination in a way that MT3 doesn’t.

This surprised me because that’s usually how I’d describe what MT3 does in most cases I’ve tried them so far; it brings out a clean, deep sound compared to whatever baseline I’m familiar with in a given switch and/or board - and while MT3 was deeper here, it just wasn’t as clean or “dense” sounding.

That’s the ultimate impetus for this post - and what got me thinking again about just how emergent the final experience of a build really is. The gestalt of a given configuration owes its character not just to each part, but their interactions with each-other as a collected whole.

So! There you have the highlights of my thoughts and experiences on this topic - how about you folks? Have any combinations surprised you or subverted your expectations? Do you have any reliable stand-bys that you turn to for given properties or effects? I’d love to hear about your own thoughts and experiences here.


The I-500 really was an awesome board for what it was. I had mine for quite a while, also with the outemu blues, before i soldered in some other switches and made the cable detachable. Also with Tai-Hao keycaps. Those were pretty much the only budget keycap options back then, if i remember right, and i’m pretty surprised to see them not be that relevant (still being around, tho) anymore nowadays. I expected them to really step it up and get on the level that G-MKY (no idea who manufactures them. someone on discord said infinikey but idk) is on right now.
Oddly enough, even Keycaps with the same Profile and around the same thickness produce different sounds, at least in my experience. There is even a subtle difference between doubleshot and singleshot, but on some boards it’s hard to tell.

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This was a very annoying and time consuming lesson to learn. I try and harmonize the timbre of the switch and keycap. Clacky switches tend to get paired up with lower profile keycaps while anything consider thocky, I go with OEM or taller. The subtleties between ABS and PBT are pretty cool too. You can really make a board sing if your tuning is on point.


I wholeheartedly agree that keycap switch matching plays quite a role in the feel.
Mx browns(or any non silent tactile imo) feel so much better with thinner keycaps. Similarly jwk plays better with pbt, making it significantly lower pitched.

I feel like even the weighting seems to be affected by the thickness of the keycap. Springs feel even heavier on thinner keycaps whilst on thicker ones they feel a bit lighter.

I have yet to try higher profiles though, so I will see how that plays out.

As far as I know that was mainly due to their reluctance of making moulds for common keys in custom keyboards, i.e. 7u bottom row and small shifts, which they have done recently to cater to a wider market.
It also doesn’t help that most newcomers have a spoon-fed bias against thin keycaps.