ABS Keycaps vs. PBT Keycaps: Which One Should You Choose

If you're a keyboard enthusiast or a casual user looking to upgrade your typing and gaming experience, you've probably come across the debate surrounding the pros and cons of ABS keycaps vs. PBT keycaps. These two materials are the most common choices for keycaps, and they each come with their own set of characteristics that can significantly impact your overall typing feel and durability. In this article, we'll delve into the world of keycaps and explore the differences between ABS and PBT keycaps.

ABS keycaps vs. PBT keycaps


Keycaps are an integral part of a keyboard, serving as the visible and tactile interface between you and the keyboard's switches. The choice of keycap material can greatly affect your typing experience, common materials include ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate), and POM (Polyoxymethylene), each with unique characteristics affecting durability, texture, and typing experience. Today WhatGeek mainly introduces you to the differences, advantages and disadvantages of ABS material keycaps and PBT material keycaps.

pink pbt keycaps

ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) keycaps are a type of keycap commonly used in mechanical keyboards. ABS is a thermoplastic polymer known for its versatility, strength, and affordability. ABS Keycaps are widely used due to their ease of manufacturing and the ability to create intricate designs and textures. And ABS keycaps typically have a smooth, shiny surface that can give a keyboard a polished and sleek look.


  • Aesthetics: ABS keycaps typically have a smooth and slightly glossy surface, which can provide a sleek and visually appealing look.
  • Customization: ABS keycaps can be easily customized with various printing methods, allowing for intricate designs.
  • Budget-Friendly: ABS keycaps are less expensive to produce compared to some other keycap materials, making keyboards with ABS keycaps more budget-friendly.

cute colorful keycaps


  • Durability: ABS keycaps are generally not as durable as PBT keycaps and may fade or shine with time and heavy use.
  • Susceptibility to Shine: when you use it for a long time, it will be worn and the wear is smooth, the surface of ABS keycaps can develop a shine or glossy sheen, especially on frequently used keys.
  • Oil Absorption: ABS keycaps can absorb oils from fingertips over time, potentially leading to a change in appearance and texture.

oil keycaps

PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate) keycaps are a type of keycap commonly used in mechanical keyboards. PBT Keycaps are a thermoplastic polymer known for its durability, resistance to wear, and unique tactile properties. PBT keycaps have gained popularity among keyboard enthusiasts due to their high-quality feel and longevity.

black pbt keycaps


  • Durability: PBT keycaps are more durable and resistant to wear compared to other materials like ABS. They are less prone to becoming shiny or worn down over extended use, making them suitable for heavy typists.
  • Craft: PBT keycaps often feature legends (letters and symbols) created using dye-sublimation or double-shot molding techniques. This enhances the durability of legends and prevents fading.
  • Texture: PBT keycaps often have a slightly textured or matte surface, providing a pleasant and comfortable typing experience. This texture can help reduce the appearance of finger oils and smudges.
  • Tactile Feel: The matte texture of PBT keycaps provides a more tactile feel, reducing slipperiness during use, which many users find satisfying and enjoyable.
  • Resistance to Chemicals: PBT is less likely to absorb oils and chemicals from fingertips, helping to maintain the keycaps' appearance over time.


  • Aesthetics: While PBT keycaps can be customized with legends and designs, they might not offer the same level of intricate customization as ABS keycaps.
  • Cost: PBT keycaps are generally more expensive to manufacture compared to ABS, which can lead to slightly higher keyboard costs.
  • Color Vibrancy: PBT keycaps may have slightly muted colors compared to ABS keycaps, which some users prefer for a more understated look.

OEM PBT keycaps

Key Differences Between ABS and PBT Keycaps

PBT keycaps are denser and more rigid than ABS, resulting in a different tactile feel and enhanced durability, making PBT keycaps a popular choice for gamers and heavy typists.

ABS keycaps offer a smoother feel, while PBT keycaps provide a more textured and satisfying typing experience.

ABS keycaps allow for more intricate and vibrant legends, while PBT keycaps may have more subdued printing.

ABS keycaps are generally more affordable, making them a budget-friendly option for those seeking customization.

The choice between ABS and PBT keycaps ultimately depends on your preferences and usage. If aesthetics and customization are your priorities, ABS keycaps might be your go-to. On the other hand, if you value durability and a tactile feel, PBT keycaps could be the better choice.

clean pbt keycaps

  1. Consider whether you'll be using your keyboard for gaming, typing, or a combination of both.
  2. Do you prefer a glossy and visually appealing look (ABS) or a more understated and textured appearance (PBT)?
  3. Factor in your budget, as PBT keycaps tend to be slightly pricier.

To maintain your keycaps' appearance and performance, regularly clean them with a gentle cleaning solution and a soft cloth. Avoid abrasive materials that could damage the keycaps' surface.

dark blue yellow keycaps

In the debate between ABS keycaps and PBT keycaps, there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Both materials have their own strengths and weaknesses, and your choice should align with your personal preferences and typing habits. Whether you prioritize aesthetics or durability, understanding the differences between ABS and PBT keycaps empowers you to make an informed decision and enhance your overall typing experience.

Article Directory

Introduction What are ABS Keycaps? The Pros and Cons of ABS Keycaps What are PBT Keycaps? The Pros and Cons of PBT Keycaps Key Differences Between ABS and PBT Keycaps Durability Texture and Feel Legends and Printing Cost Which Keycap Material is Right for You? Factors to Consider When Choosing Keycaps Maintenance and Cleaning Tips Conclusion

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