Earlier this yr, keyboard specialist Drop introduced its new lineup of DCX keycaps. However relatively than specializing in making flashy, colourful designs like most aftermarket keycaps, the primary three units to make use of the brand new DCX profile are comparatively understated, with easy black-and-white designs or a small collection of main colours.
That’s as a result of the main target right here is on getting the tiniest particulars proper within the hopes that Drop’s units may be capable of compete instantly with GMK’s — a German producer generally seen because the producer of among the best-quality keycaps round. GMK produces keycaps within the “Cherry” profile (which refers back to the total form of the keycaps) whereas “DCX” refers back to the profile of Drop’s keycaps. I’ve had the prospect to check Drop’s new black-on-white DCX keycaps instantly with a set of white-on-black keycaps produced by GMK. Each are bought by Drop, however its DCX keycaps begin at $89 for a base equipment, whereas GMK’s price $110. And you already know what? I feel I choose Drop’s (barely) extra reasonably priced keycaps.
At first look, the 2 units look very comparable. Each are made out of thick ABS plastic, each are double-shot (their legends are comprised of a second piece of plastic for added sturdiness), and each have a so-called “cylindrical” design. This title might be complicated as a result of the general form of the keycaps is comparatively sq., however have a look at them from the entrance, and also you’ll see that they’re concave, as if you might place a cylinder vertically throughout every keycap. Like GMK’s, Drop’s keycaps reportedly have slight match points with north-facing switches.
The usual units of each keycaps additionally embody a wide range of additional keycaps that you simply received’t discover on a normal US keyboard, just like the smaller left shift and the bigger enter key you’ll see on my UK keyboard in these photographs. There are additionally a few completely different dimension choices in terms of bottom-row keys in an try to cater to the number of keyboard layouts in use right this moment.
Look nearer, nevertheless, and the variations begin to grow to be apparent. For starters, Drop is utilizing completely different wording on its backside row. There’s nonetheless no Home windows key, however Drop has gone with “Tremendous” in a pleasant nod to the keys traditionally discovered on Linux computer systems, relatively than “Code” on GMK’s units. The fonts of the 2 keycaps are additionally subtly completely different: GMK’s lettering appears to be like ever so barely bolded in comparison with Drop’s. However I don’t suppose both is essentially “higher” right here — whichever you want extra will come down to private desire.
There are different areas the place I feel Drop’s keycaps have a slight edge. Throughout the keycaps, the sizing of the lettering and symbols is much extra constant. The sizes of the caret (aka the little “^” hat) and tilde (~) symbols have been decreased considerably to be way more according to the opposite symbols on their respective keys. So, too, has the sizing of the arrows on the tab key been adjusted. Every thing simply appears to be like lots neater total.
I’ve solely been typing on these keycaps for a day or so, so it’s exhausting to attract too many agency conclusions about how the plastic may put on over time. Out of the field, it has an incredible end, however because it’s ABS, it’s affordable to imagine it’ll develop not less than some shine because it smooths down with use. Keep in mind with my comparability pictures that the GMK keycaps I’m evaluating them to have been in roughly steady use for a yr and a half, therefore the additional glossiness.
Since some folks will inevitably ask about how the keycaps sound, I recorded a few typing exams. I’ll be the primary to confess that I don’t have the cleanest sounding keyboard round (it’s a Filco Majestouch 2, with its characteristically rattly Costar-style stabilizers), however I might barely inform the distinction between the 2.
To be clear, none of DCX’s options provide a night-and-day enchancment in comparison with what’s obtainable from GMK. And because it at the moment stands, you continue to have a lot extra choices for various shade schemes when you go down the GMK route. That’s the primary drawback with DCX in the mean time: there’s solely a really restricted variety of shade schemes obtainable. They is likely to be high-quality, however they don’t provide the colorfulness and enjoyable that draw many individuals to aftermarket keycaps. It’s enjoyable to obsess over the small print of a black-and-white set of keycaps, however at $90, it’s not a purchase order I’d advocate for anybody outdoors of the actually obsessive.
But when Drop is ready to sustain this degree of high quality because it builds out its vary of DCX keycaps, and if it’s in a position to take action whereas maintaining them extra reasonably priced and extra available than GMK’s units, then they’ll begin to grow to be very simple to advocate.
Pictures by Jon Porter / The Verge