Author Topic: PBT keycaps of varying prices: you get what you pay for?  (Read 5809 times)

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Offline fuzzybaffy

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PBT keycaps of varying prices: you get what you pay for?
« on: Mon, 17 June 2019, 01:13:57 »
So I'm in the market for a set of Korean PBT keycaps, and the ones I've found vary in price, from $35 to all the way up to $150. Of course, a lot of that difference I'm guessing is due to the difference in amount of keycaps the sets provide (ie. 104 keys vs. something like 139 keys). Then again, when a 104 set goes for $35, and a 139 set goes for $150, I figure there has to be something else driving up the price of the 139 set.

So, in general... should it be viewed that the more expensive keycaps will be higher in quality? Or is it that the more expensive sets are kind of overpriced and/or ripoffs? I'm leaning towards the former, but I just wanted to make sure.

Also, if anyone could point me towards some OEM profile Korean PBT keycaps, I would greatly appreciate it. I've found some Korean sets on KBDfans, ebay, and gmarket, but they mostly seem to be Cherry profile, which I would like to avoid.

Thank you in advance!

Offline Sintpinty

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Re: PBT keycaps of varying prices: you get what you pay for?
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 17 June 2019, 08:44:51 »
Usually they are of average quality, but the highter the price the more expensive it is. However, there are some at average price that are very high quality.

Offline Sifo

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Re: PBT keycaps of varying prices: you get what you pay for?
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 17 June 2019, 10:26:37 »
for pbt, normally the quality in plastic is about the same (it's the same like 3 factories producing them anyway), the pricing usually represents the printing quality on the dye subbed legends.

with that said, it doesn't mean there isn't a quality difference between varying pbt manufacturers though. I've found the OEM profile ones to be ****tier but that's just my opinion.
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Offline Sintpinty

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Re: PBT keycaps of varying prices: you get what you pay for?
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 17 June 2019, 11:46:03 »
Yes, just make sure to line up the contacts between the controller and the pcb.
There are few millimeters play to the right and left.
When I attached it the first time I didn't pay attention and was shorting out contacts, which had the result, that the calibrating of the controller didn't work properly.


for pbt, normally the quality in plastic is about the same (it's the same like 3 factories producing them anyway), the pricing usually represents the printing quality on the dye subbed legends.

with that said, it doesn't mean there isn't a quality difference between varying pbt manufacturers though. I've found the OEM profile ones to be ****tier but that's just my opinion.

Same, that's why i prefer DSA: Looks good and lower profile.

Offline HungerMechanic

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Re: PBT keycaps of varying prices: you get what you pay for?
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 17 July 2019, 11:48:11 »
The sets that are basic ANSI [or sometimes ISO] are more affordable because they are producing 104/108 keys to a "universal" Majestouch-style layout. An operation that is geared up to mass produce ANSI PBT keycaps can churn out all sorts of sets over time, and they don't have to innovate molds.

However, if you are buying a set that includes custom layouts, the cost can go way up. A few non-standard keys are not such a big deal, but to accommodate 65%, 70%, and 1800 layouts means a number of non-standard keys. Fewer manufacturers are geared up to do that, and they have to recoup their investment and production costs.

So, you can buy a nice set of 104/108 Varmilo Cherry-profile keys for $60. But EnjoyPBT 9009, which contains all sorts of non-standard layouts and some extra colours, costs literally twice as much.

The key types are one issue. Then, there's the number of PBT colours involved. Most sets use 1-2. But ePBT 9009, for example, uses 4.

Then, there's the dye-sub quality. This is a major cost factor. Competent dye-sublimation is the difference between dev/tty R1 and dev/tty R2. KPRepublic produces a 9009 set very similar to ePBT. But KPRepublic legends are often runny, blurry or distorted, while ePBT less so.

Then there's the quality of the molds and the production process. Again, KPRepublic is said to be rougher in construction, with modifiers more out-of-shape. PBT modifiers are easy to screw up, even a $120 ePBT set can come with bent spacebars. So you're paying for the production of spacebars until they get it right, and then inspection and QC (and they still screw it up).

So those are the costs that are involved. To learn more, compare a set of KPRepublic and ePBT 9009 some time. Or go look at a cheap PBT version of "GMK Carbon" vs. the real thing.

I have a $20 set (including shipping) of double-shot PBT from Aliexpress on the way. The keycaps are a PBT version of Sky Dolch. I bought it just to see what you can get for $20. Even in the photos, the lettering is not perfect, and the reviews say that the keycaps are rough and 'need smoothing.'

Offline Sup

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Re: PBT keycaps of varying prices: you get what you pay for?
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 17 July 2019, 14:22:00 »
With all the cheap PBT sets i had they all had a flaw. Legends being fuzzy or the caps have a lot of deformation and not consistent. I would just get EPBT they are like the GMK of PBT at this point.
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