GMK Keycaps Ultimate Guide

gmk keycaps
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GMK keycaps are regarded as the pinnacle of keycap sets among ardent mechanical keyboard users.

But for a newcomer who has just recently dipped their toes into the world of mechanical keyboards, the moniker GMK might not mean anything.

Internet enthusiasts of mechanical keebs, particularly those on Reddit, would go over and above to laud GMK for the superior artistry and quality that they put into all of their keycap sets.

But don’t worry! I’m going to walk you through all you need to know about the world’s most renowned and undeniably most well-liked keycap maker.

What are GMK keycaps?

Additionally, typing produces a pleasant acoustic sound thanks to the thick plastic.

Due to how cosy the keycap profile feels in comparison to other profiles, the size of the keycaps is perfect for gaming and typing.

The Cherry profile is distinct because it is thicker and shorter than other typical keycap profiles.

The popular Cherry profile, which describes the keycaps’ general form and height, is available on GMK keycaps.

Instead of purchasing the rights, other keycap makers design their own tools, which results in keycaps that are only imitations of the Cherry profile and not the actual thing. 

GMK is able to make the authentic Cherry profile since Cherry sold GMK the tooling for the keycaps.

Along with various forms of electronic equipment, GMK also manufactures keyboards, HMI control panels, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and many other PCBs. In actuality, they didn’t start selling their famous keycaps until 2011!

Making keycaps is just a small portion of what GMK does. Manfred Güntner, Jürgen Meinhardt, and Wolfgang Kredler, whose last names make up the acronym GMK, established GMK electrical design GmBH in 1992.

Other notable switches that are very popular are the Holy Panda switches.

Are GMK keycaps expensive?

Additionally, they are far more durable than typical ABS keycaps due to their thicker construction.

The flexibility of choice GMK provides is what allows them to charge such outrageous rates for their sets—and why consumers keep buying them.

One pair of GMK keycaps is infamous for costing more than $200. Even some high-end mechanical keyboards can’t compare to that!

In contrast to GMK keycaps, however, most people would agree that none of them actually stand out. Among the prominent examples are SP, JTK, and Maxkey.

Other keycap sets are available that are almost as high-quality as those provided by GMK. Keyboard aficionados hold them to such a high level because of their handcrafted nature and attention to detail (particularly in the designer sets).

Any of the keycap sets may be quickly inspected to observe the attention to detail and skilful creation of each keycap.

You’ll have a difficult time finding any keycaps from GMK that have poor color reproduction because the company prioritises this in all of their manufacturing processes.

You must ultimately pay that amount in order to enjoy the vibrant colours and customisation options.

After around six months of consistent usage, even the best-made GMK keycap sets will start to shine.

But regardless of how pricey they become, ABS keycaps remain ABS. This implies that shine cannot be avoided. Due to the tremendous demand in the market and the fact that they provide the finest of the bunch, they are more than glad to charge whatever they want!

ABS keycaps are the sole option up till dye-sublimated PBT keycaps are considerably more widely available.

When you combine these elements, you have a lot of requirements you must meet in order to obtain the keycaps.

As a result, these keycaps may demand a high price if clients are prepared to put in all that effort in order to purchase keycaps from them.

You must also be highly active in online groups to learn about the newest group buys and where to find the greatest keycaps from GMK. Most consumers are unable to wait even for Amazon’s two-day shipping.

When purchasing these keycaps through a group purchase, you often have to wait a minimum of six months for the keycaps to be delivered to your door.

Are They worth it?

Since GMK employs thick ABS plastic, its keycaps have a pleasing sound signature. The demand for these keycaps would appear to indicate that the answer is yes, but this is just my personal view.

Passionate keyboard buyers are enthusiastically purchasing numerous sets. Most people advise replacing your keycaps with a PBT plastic set instead, as PBT plastic is considered to be more sturdy and long-lasting (read more about ABS vs. PBT here).

When you buy a standard keyboard, the keycaps are constructed of a thin, shoddy ABS plastic that deteriorates with usage and takes on a greasy sheen.

Your keyboard can have no warping, few flaws, more vibrant colours, and superior acoustics thanks to thick ABS plastic.

GMK takes a different approach and uses thick ABS to create its high-end keycaps instead. Although utilising ABS instead of PBT first seems counter-intuitive, there are valid reasons for doing so.

Remember that even after a year or two of heavy use, you will still have a greasy shine. The keycaps are always incredibly exact and have few flaws because they are made of ABS plastic.

The majority of PBT keycaps, particularly the bigger keys, have a tendency to distort during production, which results in twisted spacebars and off-center legends.

People who switch from regular tactile switches to these will feel a big difference in comfort and performance.

Why are GMK keycaps so good?

GMK keycaps employ ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) polymers rather than PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) plastics, in contrast to many other keycap sets.

All of their keycap sets have their signature vibrant and stand-out colour schemes. There are several reasons why these keycaps have amassed millions of devoted followers across the world.

ABS keycaps often have a significantly brighter and more brilliant appearance than PBT keycaps because they can combine colours using double or triple shot processes.

The fact that ABS polymers are significantly softer than PBT is their key benefit. Because of this, producers may easily use a wider range of colours than is feasible with PBT. 

In summary, because ABS keycaps come in a wider range of colours, they allow for far greater customisation.

PBT keycap legends are often significantly darker than ABS keycap legends due to the way PBT keycaps are created.

ABS keycaps are a good example of this because they have a tendency to shine after some use. PBT keycaps often hold their shine far longer than ABS keycaps.

Plastics made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene are thought to be of inferior quality than PBT plastics. Nevertheless, adopting ABS keycaps has significant drawbacks.

Therefore, GMK keycaps are unquestionably the way to go if you’re seeking for a vast selection of high-quality options. As a result, ABS keycaps are of greater quality than regular ABS sets from eBay since they are produced to a higher level.

What GMK keycaps are the best?

This is presumably done to give each of their sets a feeling of exclusivity and, by restricting the quantity of orders, to lighten the workload on their production process.

This is due to the fact that many of the well-liked GMK sets are sold by mechanical keyboard suppliers like drop.com in small quantities.

Because even if I told you which keycap sets are the greatest, it’s likely that you wouldn’t be able to afford them. It may surprise you to learn how complex the solution is.

The majority of GMK keycap set releases are announced months in advance so that fans can prepare to buy them.

You won’t have to worry about receiving a subpar set simply because you choose a particular colorway because all of their keycap sets are created to the same high standards and just differ in their aesthetics.

What is considered to be the “greatest” keycaps is entirely a matter of personal choice.

Some of my favourite GMK settings defy convention and have bold, eye-catching colours that truly make your complete setup stand out.

To be more specific, I can only name a few of my personal favourites when asked what the best keycaps are.

The greatest thing is that if you want the Blue Samurai set, keep an eye out since it is frequently refilled. Everything about it just functions.

The combination of the gorgeous, deep blue keycaps and the wooden brown ones produces a perfect harmony of colour. Its narrative includes charming drawings that give your setting a charming Japanese feel without going over the top.

The DROP GMK Redsuns Blue Samurai keycap set is one of my all-time favourite keycap sets.

This keycap set is definitely worth looking at if you want to have a hip cyberpunk-inspired setup.

This unusual set creates a futuristic neon light with a blend of brilliant blue, black, and red themes. The DROP+MITO Laser custom keycap set is another GMK set that I really enjoy. For such an exquisite keycap set, that price is an unbelievable value!

Additionally, the DROP+MITO Laser custom keycap set is frequently available in stock for a quite affordable cost of around $100.

The Bento R2 benefits from this, though, as it is one of the most well-liked keycap sets available.

The GMK Bento R2 is aptly named after the adorable Japanese bento boxes and has a soft subdued appearance with nearly pastel colours.

One of those keycap sets that you have to see in person to fully appreciate is the Bento R2. This set is particularly well-liked by people who like to keep their desk space as minimalist as possible and have “stormtrooper” PC installations.

The GMK Bleached set chooses a simple monochromatic aesthetic with its black and white keys rather than include any bells and whistles. The Bleached keycap set can be exactly what you need if you’re a minimalist to make your complete setup work.

It certainly has a distinctive appearance, and one of the key factors in its success was its originality. It’s not uncommon for this keycap set to cost approximately $150, but good luck finding them in stock!

The different hues of green utilised in this vibrant keycap set create a tropical vibe while striking a strong contrast with the black colour, which is used rarely.

The GMK Wavez comes last. Since its release, this keycap set has been a fan favourite, and it’s not hard to understand why.

Where can I buy GMK keycaps?

You must purchase them as part of a group buy since each new keycap set is released as a limited run.

Do you know what a group purchase is? It might surprise you to hear that purchasing a GMK keycap set is not an easy process.

You can’t order a keycap set with only one click, as I have said. Not to add that a lot of keycap sets are handmade to guarantee that they satisfy high standards.

Making only one or two sets is just not cost-effective for them since it takes a lot of time and money to create and allocate specialised equipment and moulds.

They are produced by businesses or even by people who want to innovate the mechanical keeb market.

Mechanical keyboards and keycaps come in a variety of designs, dimensions, and hues.

To even start mass manufacturing of a new product, its authorised MOQ must be met or exceeded. Thus, there is a minimum order quantity, or MOQ, for many mechanical keyboards and (particularly) keycap sets.

The keycap set’s run will end after the group buy period closes, and anyone who missed out on it will no longer be able to purchase it.

Fans will collectively purchase a certain set on a given day months in advance, hoping that they will meet or surpass the MOQ. This is when group purchases are useful.

Manufacturers and designers present their concepts and ideas to the mechanical keyboard community in an effort to build a fan base that will eventually purchase the item they are marketing.

Visit the websites listed below to join up for group buys or, if you’re lucky, to score one that is already in stock.

For information on forthcoming group buys and interest checks, see the Geekhack forum. This is where keycap designers evaluate early interest and begin gathering group orders.

A fan favourite keycap set could occasionally return as part of a group buy, however this is not always the case for GMK sets.

Will GMK keycaps work with my keyboard?

It’s critical to consider if keycap sets are entirely compatible with your key switches before purchasing them.

Since GMK uses the original Cherry moulds to create its switches, you won’t notice any inconsistencies in their craftsmanship since their keycaps have a perfect fit and finish on authentic Cherry switches.

This implies that every set is entirely compatible with any keyboard that has Cherry MX switches, including Gateron, Kailh, and other Cherry clones. As long as they feature a Cherry stem, all GMK keycap sets are compatible with Cherry type switches and their clones.

Therefore, you must adhere to keycap sets produced by either the same company that makes your switches or by other suppliers whose products have been tested for compatibility.

However, you’re out of luck if your keyboard makes use of exclusive key switches, such Razer or Logitech Romer G switches. These first-party switches will not be compatible with any GMK keycap set.

Why do GMK keycaps have a long shipping time?

The biggest warning you will get in the fiercely cutthroat market for mechanical keyboards is this.

There is really no other way to get the greatest keycaps on the market but to be patient, which is the key.

Second, COVID has lately caused these wait times to treble and triple as supply delays and a startling rise in demand collide. Many group purchases from last year won’t ship until 2022!

Therefore, regardless of how quickly you take advantage of the group purchase, you will nearly always have to wait months to acquire your set of keycaps.

The first is that because they are group purchases, each GMK keycap set must wait until they meet or surpass its MOQ in order to even start manufacturing.

You will be familiar with how long it takes for them to arrive at your door if you take part in any of the GMK group buys. This is due to two factors.

The Bottom Line

If you enjoy typing and keeping a tidy workspace, it really is one of the most thrilling pastimes out there.

Mechanical keyboards are obviously not a cheap pastime. To achieve your goals, you need patience, time, and money.

You have it now! That is all there is to know about GMK keycaps for those who are new to mechanical keyboards.

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