Author Topic: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?  (Read 3029 times)

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Offline ibmkeyboardsrule

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Looking at a keycap profile comparison chart:
https://www.keycaps.info
it seems the MDA profile keys are sculpted even deeper than MT3's... yet the MDA's height seems a bit less high. True on both counts?

MDA seems only avail in limited variations from Melgeek, right? Anyone experiencing both MDA's and MT3's willing to claim MDA's have a better typing experience? Or the other way around? Thanks, everyone.

I'd just finished messing with costar stabs to replace OEM caps on an IQUNIX Slim108 to use their KAT caps, only to then learn that some regard MT3's a better typing experiencing than KATs (they said KATs feel flatter compared to MT3's and therefore KAT's weren't as good for typing compared to MT3's deeper sculpturing capturing a slightly misfired keystroke and thereby reducing errors). But then as I started looking at DROP MT3's I learned about MDA's (!)

p.s. A post in 2018 also called the MDA profile as MIX and EDRUG... did that finalize out to just MDA these days? If MDA's are the next big thing (?) better than MT3's for typing, why aren't I hearing about it more (some downside cancelling it out?).
« Last Edit: Sun, 02 May 2021, 05:31:11 by ibmkeyboardsrule »

Offline MIGHTY CHICKEN

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 01 May 2021, 23:46:08 »
It's all preference whether you type better on cherry, dsa, kat, mt3, or sa, there is no definitive answer on which improves typing. For me personally, it would be apple chiclet or dsa where it is as flat as possible. Although mt3 does feel good as it is modeled after your fingers so it cups them cozily, its not for everyone.

Offline ibmkeyboardsrule

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #2 on: Sun, 02 May 2021, 01:47:11 »
Kinda wondering why they (apparently) haven't come up with a lower height profile with deeply sculpted caps... that is, why are the couple-or-so deep sculpted profiles only on the relatively taller profiles? Why not sculpted cherry profile?

Offline Surefoot

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #3 on: Sun, 02 May 2021, 05:21:41 »
Kinda wondering why they (apparently) haven't come up with a lower height profile with deeply sculpted caps... that is, why are the couple-or-so deep sculpted profiles only on the relatively taller profiles? Why not sculpted cherry profile?
Comes from how the switches are shaped - the key has to clear the switch body when depressed.

Offline ibmkeyboardsrule

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #4 on: Sun, 02 May 2021, 05:36:45 »
Thanks! I'm looking at MelGeek MDA Vision Custom PBT Keycap Set...anyone tried those? Oh, drats, the coolest part of that is the novelties subset, which is out of stock :(
How on earth would I hunt down that subset...
« Last Edit: Sun, 02 May 2021, 06:00:23 by ibmkeyboardsrule »

Offline Surefoot

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #5 on: Sun, 02 May 2021, 06:23:22 »
Thanks! I'm looking at MelGeek MDA Vision Custom PBT Keycap Set...anyone tried those? Oh, drats, the coolest part of that is the novelties subset, which is out of stock :(
How on earth would I hunt down that subset...
I have 2 MDA sets, they are quite nice feeling (very thick PBT, large key tops). Again YMMV as everyone has their preference.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #6 on: Sun, 02 May 2021, 15:42:41 »
I received MT3 sets recently, as well as a Chinese copy of XDA-profile [called ZDA].

Both are highly dependent on typing angle.

MT3 is very scooped, very sculpted, and tall. It's like a super-OEM, kind-of. If you can type on OEM, you can probably type on MT3 with some adjustment.*

The problem is, MT3 doesn't work at the typing angle of a standard full-size keyboard in an under-desk tray, for me.

However, it does work at desk level, especially if the desk is at approximately arm-level. I've also seen people use it on boards that are barely elevated, almost flat.

At the same arm-level desk, XDA was a bit problematic. I found myself hitting the sides/edges of keycaps. It was as if the angle needed to be higher to work for me.


(Typing angle felt shallow, I was brushing up against the bottoms of upper-row keycaps.)


There is information publically on-line about the case elevations MT3 was designed to work at. I think it is something like 5 - 7 degrees.

So I think it ultimately comes down to typing angle: where your board is, and how elevated it is. You may have to buy both and test them. It's just the cost of doing business. MT3 should have a relatively high resale, particularly if it's the PBT variant and hasn't been used much.

I ended up taking the XDA-profile keycaps off my KBD67 Lite, even though they looked awesome. Because the typing angle felt too shallow. But on the same desk, I can use ABS MT3 fine on a Rakk Lam Ang Pro, which is an average-elevation TKL.


*MT3 is very different from OEM, in that is was designed to resemble beamspring / 1970s keycaps. But the sculpting angles kind of remind me of OEM, and it's not much taller than OEM. MT3 is not quite the same experience as those tall weird SA keycap angles, it's closer to modern OEM in that regard.

But of course MT3 is spherical instead of cylindrical, in terms of scooping.

Offline ibmkeyboardsrule

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #7 on: Sun, 02 May 2021, 17:11:45 »
Great tips -- keeb's position (height under/on the desk) and the keeb's own angle (5 to 7) having a major impact which of those profiles helps or hinders...thanks!

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #8 on: Sun, 02 May 2021, 23:45:21 »
I find that MT3 is working better at desk-level for me. About as well as OEM-profile does.

It's not the best choice for keyboards that don't elevate, because if you are stuck with a bad angle, then you are screwed. Because MT3 can still work at zero angle, at least.

I use MT3 on portable keyboards where they can be at a usable angle. I don't use it in static desk setups. Not sure about MDA profile.

Offline ibmkeyboardsrule

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #9 on: Mon, 03 May 2021, 01:50:40 »
Awesome tips. Hey, GMMK compact layout uses raised keys... do keebs having a switch/mount layout that results in raised keys (whichever caps you put in them) produce the keys being too tall (too far from the board) when using MT3 / MDA profile caps? That is, it is best to put MT3 / MDA caps only on boards that don't employ the raised keys feature?

Offline Surefoot

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #10 on: Mon, 03 May 2021, 02:20:57 »
I use MT3 on portable keyboards where they can be at a usable angle. I don't use it in static desk setups. Not sure about MDA profile.
MDA is highly sculpted (dunno what that would imply for you but there you go) - sculpted profiles are not meant for keyboards sitting flat as the bottom rows would be at a negative angle from you. So that goes for MT3, MDA, OEM, Cherry, SA.. For DSA, XDA, KAM, all-R3 SA: YMMV :)

Awesome tips. Hey, GMMK compact layout uses raised keys... do keebs having a switch/mount layout that results in raised keys (whichever caps you put in them) produce the keys being too tall (too far from the board) when using MT3 / MDA profile caps? That is, it is best to put MT3 / MDA caps only on boards that don't employ the raised keys feature?
What do you mean by "raised keys" ? There's no keyboard top so you see the switches ? Is that it ?
« Last Edit: Mon, 03 May 2021, 02:23:03 by Surefoot »

Offline ibmkeyboardsrule

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #11 on: Mon, 03 May 2021, 03:20:52 »
Here's a link to a photo of GMMK compact's "raised" keys... there is a keyboard top, but the keys (however its done, not sure) are raised so you see their underside.
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0549/2681/products/glorious_gaming_gmmk_compact_keyboard_10_1000x.png?v=1599676129

And showing that DROP's ALT board has raised keys, too:
https://massdrop-s3.imgix.net/product-images/drop-alt-mechanical-keyboard/FP/IOePDwseQQiouv9ZFs74_0885.jpg?auto=format&fm=jpg&fit=fill&w=820&h=547&bg=f0f0f0&dpr=2&q=35

« Last Edit: Mon, 03 May 2021, 03:24:31 by ibmkeyboardsrule »

Offline Surefoot

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #12 on: Mon, 03 May 2021, 03:48:22 »
Here's a link to a photo of GMMK compact's "raised" keys... there is a keyboard top, but the keys (however its done, not sure) are raised so you see their underside.
https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0549/2681/products/glorious_gaming_gmmk_compact_keyboard_10_1000x.png?v=1599676129

And showing that DROP's ALT board has raised keys, too:
https://massdrop-s3.imgix.net/product-images/drop-alt-mechanical-keyboard/FP/IOePDwseQQiouv9ZFs74_0885.jpg?auto=format&fm=jpg&fit=fill&w=820&h=547&bg=f0f0f0&dpr=2&q=35
Ok then there's no keyboard top, and it's called "floating keys". You can see directly the plate where the switches mount to, and then the switches themselves. All keycaps will then "hover" like that and you'll see the switches underneath, no matter what profile you pick.

Offline ibmkeyboardsrule

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #13 on: Mon, 03 May 2021, 07:57:23 »
THanks for clarifying the term (to be floating keys). Seems like by it missing the top plate, the float aspect doesn't necessarily raise the key caps to be positioned much (if any) bit higher off the surrounding desktop per se. And therefore, no direct worries using keebs with floating key arrangements to use MT3's or MDA's.

Offline Surefoot

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #14 on: Mon, 03 May 2021, 08:29:23 »
Yeah it would just look a bit silly with high profile keycaps such as SA or MT3 i think. This kind of design for whoever likes it is more suited to low profile like DSA or Cherry.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #15 on: Mon, 03 May 2021, 09:01:54 »
Yes, people usually deliberately use tall keycaps including MT3 with high-profile (non-floating) cases, for aesthetic reasons.

MT3 keycap bottoms are partly covered by the case, or at case-top level, but still stand out from the case. So MT3 makes good use of these "high-profile" cases.

For low-profile [floating] cases, it looks more reasonable to have shorter keycaps. Varmilo, for example, has a low-profile TKL the VA87, and they use non-tall keycaps that are close to Cherry-profile. It's a good arrangement, where MT3 would look awkward.

All this stuff doesn't have much effect on function, though, it's mostly aesthetic. "Floating" just means there's less case around it.

Offline phwog_

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 03 May 2021, 11:49:48 »
short answer/tldr: preference.

long answer, it really depends. if you have a raised wrist typing style you could love flat profile caps (look up dsa for reference) on a 0 degree typing angle case. but if you have a wrist down typing style, you would either want to get a case with a typing angle or a keycap set that doesn't have a flat profile, or you could SERIOUSLY suffer from pain because of poor ergonomics.

STRICTLY speaking, one just isn't better for typing. when talking about speed, the only profile I can confidently say I actually get a wpm boost from is dsa. but that DEFINETLY differs from person to person. when talking about ergonomics one isn't better then the other. so try a few layouts and see what works best for you.  ;D

Offline ibmkeyboardsrule

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #17 on: Tue, 04 May 2021, 02:42:39 »
Thanks, folks.
Dropped the hammer and sent for the VA108m (Varmillo for Mac) full sized keeb, and a set of Dasher MT3's and a set of MelGeek MDA Profile Vision Custom PBT's. Hoping one of the two functions ok on said Varmilo (even though the aesthetics may be off).

If I like both profiles, I may use the other set on a nice 60% board (looking for a heavy 60% board, preferably all aluminum, full width 6.25u space bar...any suggestions?).

I once typed on an IBM Beamspring (liked the caps, but it was one of those huge-sized beamspring Displaywriters that was too tall off the desktop, though I suppose folks with a lowered key tray could adjust to it).

BTW I typically choose Cherry MX Browns... please don't throw rotten fruit at me, LOL. I'm typing this on an IQUNIX SLIM 108 (comes with a metal case) with KAT profile keys I took off their F96 board... I couldn't get used to the 96 keeb's layout that used a single-width zero digit on its numpad section.
« Last Edit: Tue, 04 May 2021, 02:44:58 by ibmkeyboardsrule »

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #18 on: Tue, 04 May 2021, 08:51:23 »
MX Browns are probably the most popular Cherry tactile out there in the real world ... it just gets a lot of guff among enthusiasts.

Truth is, I find MT3 to be more fun with Clears / Ergo Clears, and testing those switches was part of its design process. But it works fine with Browns.

Offline azzipa

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #19 on: Tue, 01 June 2021, 15:52:01 »
i really tried to get the swing of MT3: used it for 5+ weeks on a desktop gasket mount board with alu plate, kailh silent browns and 6% slope. was not for me, at all. i found it uncomfortable and lost quite a bit of typing speed. SA also is not for me based on the few times i've typed on it. last, i have a KAT set on order, which should show up eventually (KAT production is a joke atm: no progress and no communication) and i'll give it a try.

but for "oem height" with sculpt, maybe check out DSS profile. there's a WoB set currently in IC. this is a double-shot ABS keyset, about the same height as Cherry, and sculpted. i'm on the fence, as i'm slowly coming to the opinion that i may not really like sculpted caps  ;D



edit: i have no experience with MDA profile
« Last Edit: Wed, 02 June 2021, 15:22:26 by azzipa »

Offline azzipa

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #20 on: Wed, 02 June 2021, 20:44:52 »
short answer/tldr: preference.

long answer, it really depends. if you have a raised wrist typing style you could love flat profile caps (look up dsa for reference) on a 0 degree typing angle case. but if you have a wrist down typing style, you would either want to get a case with a typing angle or a keycap set that doesn't have a flat profile, or you could SERIOUSLY suffer from pain because of poor ergonomics.

STRICTLY speaking, one just isn't better for typing. when talking about speed, the only profile I can confidently say I actually get a wpm boost from is dsa. but that DEFINETLY differs from person to person. when talking about ergonomics one isn't better then the other. so try a few layouts and see what works best for you.  ;D

i love what you wrote and i think you’ll really enjoy this thread.

Offline mrvco

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Re: MT3 vs. MDA profile caps ... which is better strictly for typing?
« Reply #21 on: Mon, 07 June 2021, 10:28:03 »
From strictly a WPM standpoint, the less the sculpt, the faster I can type.