The main difference between GMK and PBT keycaps is the material used.
GMK keycaps are made of ABS plastics, which are softer and allow for a wider variety of colors.
On the other hand, PBT keycaps are made of polybutylene terephthalate plastics, which are more durable but have limited color options.
However, some manufacturers like GMK make thick ABS keycaps that rival the best PBT keycaps in feel and quality.
Let’s get started!
GMK vs PBT Keycaps Comparison
|ABS(Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic
|Polybutylene Terephthalate plastic
|More vibrant and diverse
|More subdued and limited
|Softer and smoother
|Harder and textured
|Prone to shine over time
|Resistant to shine over time
|More expensive ($100-$300)
What are GMK Keycaps?
GMK keycaps are made from a type of ABS plastic that gives them a smooth and shiny surface. They’re highly sought-after by keyboard enthusiasts for their rich color options and the fact that they’re Doubleshot, meaning their legends (the text printed on each key) are molded into the keycap, making them long-lasting.
- Rich color options, including rare and limited editions
- Doubleshot legends ensure long-lasting design
- Consistency in size and shape for a clean aesthetic
- The surface is prone to oils and fingerprints
- ABS plastic can yellow over time
What are PBT Keycaps?
PBT keycaps, on the other hand, are made from a different type of plastic, known as polybutylene terephthalate. They have a rougher, more textured surface that makes them popular among typists who prefer a tactile and grippy feel.
- Stronger and more durable than ABS plastic
- Textured surface provides a tactile feel that many typists prefer
- Resistant to oil and fingerprints, meaning they stay cleaner for longer
- Limited color options
- Legends are often printed rather than Doubleshot, making them less long-lasting
The biggest difference between GMK and PBT keycaps is the material they’re made of. GMK keycaps are made from ABS plastic, while PBT keycaps are made from PBT plastic.
PBT plastic is known for being tougher and more durable than ABS plastic, which means that PBT keycaps are less likely to show signs of wear and last longer.
The surface textures of GMK and PBT keycaps are also quite different. GMK keycaps have a smooth, shiny surface, while PBT keycaps are rougher and more textured. The textured surface of PBT keycaps provides a tactile feel that many typists prefer, while the smooth surface of GMK keycaps can be more slippery.
The sound of typing on GMK and PBT keycaps can also differ. GMK keycaps tend to produce a softer sound, while PBT keycaps yield a deeper and more satisfying sound.
As mentioned, PBT keycaps are known for being more durable than GMK keycaps. GMK keycaps are prone to yellowing over time, which can be unsightly. PBT keycaps, meanwhile, retain their color and texture much longer.
For those who love customization options, GMK keycaps may offer a better variety of colors and designs. However, PBT keycaps can also be customized to a degree as they can be dyed to create unique colors and patterns.
In general, PBT keycaps tend to be more affordable than GMK keycaps, but the price difference can depend on the specific design and manufacturer.
But, you may already have heard about that PBT keycaps are premium ones, but I mentioned here PBT keycaps are cheaper than GMK keycaps. But, why are GMK keycaps so expensive? Interestingly, though GMK is ABS based, it uses very high-end manufacturing, has a premium finish, and is exclusively made. People wait for a long to buy them though they are available at a higher price point.
Similar to the GMK, there are ABS Keycaps but they are much cheaper. You may check the comparison of ABS vs PBT keycaps to get a complete idea about them.
Keycap Performance Comparison
PBT keycaps are more durable and long-lasting than GMK keycaps because they are made of denser plastic that does not wear out easily. They also do not change color or shape when exposed to heat or chemicals, which makes them easier to clean and maintain. However, PBT keycaps may not have the same color variety and clarity as GMK keycaps, which are known for their vibrant and sharp legends.
GMK keycaps are made of ABS plastic, which is softer and lighter than PBT plastic. This makes them more prone to wear and tear over time, resulting in a shiny and slippery surface that can affect typing performance. However, GMK keycaps have a double-shot molding process, which means that the legends are made of a different piece of plastic that is attached to the base. This ensures that the legends will never fade or rub off, unlike some PBT keycaps that use other methods.
GMK keycaps have a smooth and soft feel, which some users may find appealing and comfortable. However, some users may also find them mushy and unsatisfying to type on, because they lack texture and feedback. GMK keycaps also have a uniform profile, which means that all the keys have the same height and angle. This can provide a consistent and ergonomic typing experience for some users.
PBT keycaps have a textured and silky feel, which some users may find satisfying and tactile. However, some users may also find them rough and scratchy to type on, because they have more friction and resistance. PBT keycaps also have different profiles, such as OEM, Cherry, DSA, SA, etc., which means that the keys have different heights and angles. This can affect the typing feel and look of the keyboard.
Ultimately, the choice between GMK and PBT keycaps depends on personal preference and priorities. If you value color quality and legend durability, GMK keycaps may be a good option for you. If you value material durability and typing feel, PBT keycaps may be a better option for you.
Final Thoughts on GMK vs PBT Keycaps: How to Choose Between Them?
As you can see, GMK and PBT keycaps have different features and benefits that make them suitable for different keyboards and users. GMK keycaps are made of ABS plastic and have a double-shot molding process that makes them have vibrant colors and durable legends. They are a good option for those who want a visually appealing and consistent keyboard.
PBT keycaps are made of PBT plastic and have a textured surface that makes them more resistant to wear and tear. They are a good option for those who want a durable and tactile keyboard.
However, these are not the only factors to consider when choosing the right keycap material for your keyboard. You also need to consider your personal preferences, such as the sound, feel, and profile of the switches and keycaps. You may also want to check out different manufacturers and methods that can produce high-quality PBT keycaps with various colors and legends.
Ultimately, the best way to decide between GMK and PBT keycaps is to try them out yourself and see which material suits your typing style and aesthetic preferences best. To purchase one of these keycap set, you can look into the popular ones or rare ones available by group buy.
Here are my favorite GMK Keycap sets:
Last update on 2024-02-28 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Here are my Favorite PBT keycap sets:
Last update on 2024-02-27 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it helpful.
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I’m Anirban Saha, Founder & Editor of TechBullish. With a B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering, and 5+ years of experience as a software developer, I have expertise in electronics, software development, gadgets, and computer peripherals. I love sharing my knowledge through informational articles, how-to guides, and troubleshooting tips for Peripherals, Smart TVs, Streaming Solutions, and more here. Check Anirban’s Crunchbase Profile here.