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Can You Customize Keyboards (Beginners’ Guide)

Custom keyboards allow you to personalize the look, feel and functionality of your keyboard.

Do you want your keyboard to look like a Star Wars prop or do you prefer a retro look with rounded keys and a satisfying clickety clack?

Keep reading to learn how to customize keyboards and to find out which models made our list of the top three custom keyboards!

Editor Choice
Kraken Pro 60 - BRED Edition 60% Mechanical...
Budget Choice
SKYLOONG GK61 SK61 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard...
Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% Mechanical Gaming...
Kraken Pro 60 - BRED Edition 60% Mechanical...
SKYLOONG GK61 SK61 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard...
Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% Mechanical Gaming...
$59.00
$53.99
$69.99
999 Reviews
519 Reviews
633 Reviews
Editor Choice
Kraken Pro 60 - BRED Edition 60% Mechanical...
Kraken Pro 60 - BRED Edition 60% Mechanical...
$59.00
999 Reviews
Budget Choice
SKYLOONG GK61 SK61 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard...
SKYLOONG GK61 SK61 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard...
$53.99
519 Reviews
Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% Mechanical Gaming...
Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% Mechanical Gaming...
$69.99
633 Reviews

Last update on 2022-09-29 / As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more about us.

Can You Customize Keyboards? 

There are three primary ways to customize keyboards:

  • Buy a customizable keyboard with programmable keys
  • Define shortcuts and commands using the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center.
  • Customize the switches on your keyboard.

For the second option, after downloading and installing the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center, select the start button, then the Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center.

After selecting the key you want to reassign, choose from a list of commands you can assign to the chosen key.

Some enthusiasts feel standard keyboards waste too much space on things like function keys and number pads.

There are so called 60% keyboards that contain numbers, letters and modifiers with no arrow or function keys. This allows for a compact design of 87 keys or less.

You can also customize the switches on your keyboard by removing the ones that come standard and trading them for ones that offer better sound and tactility responses.

Read Mechanical Keyboards For Typing.

Cherry keys offer numerous key types, classified by color. They vary in terms of speed, tactility and other features. It’s relatively easy to swap out keys with a little practice and the right tools.

Tools you need to pop off keys without damaging the underlying components include:

  • Keyboard case
  • PCB
  • Switch mounting plate
  • Stabilizers
  • Keycaps
  • Mechanical switches
  • USB cable
  • Soldering iron and solder
  • Screwdriver
  • Tweezers

Consider starting with F and J home keys with deep, narrow grooves to quickly orient your fingers.

You won’t need a soldering iron if your keyboard has hot swappable keys.

There are many forums and subreddits online as well as YouTube videos that help you get started if you want to build your own customized keyboard.

Can You Customize Any Keyboard?

Unfortunately, no. Typically, you can only customize mechanical keyboards as membrane keyboard aren’t designed with customization in mind.

Many gamers prefer mechanical keyboards for the satisfying ability to feel and hear each click.

Prepare to pay a little more for mechanical keyboards than standard membrane models.

On the upside, it’s easier to repair mechanical keyboards and they last longer than standard options.

What Are Customizable Keyboards Good For?

A customizable keyboard gives you complete freedom over layout, key combinations, and switch types. So, you can optimize the typing feeling, the sound profile, or typing efficiency. Plus, you’ll have full programmability, which is essential for gaming or complex engineering work.

When you choose a customizable keyboard, prepare to spend some time assembling your dream typing gadget. Choosing keyboard kits or models with hot swappable keys makes it easier to finetune and modify your keyboard.

At the end of the day, you’ll have a unique product that you helped create.

You can also opt for custom keyboards with programmable options and switchable keys. You lose some flexibility by choosing a pre-assembled model, but you can still end up with something that feels great and meets your personal needs.

What Do You Need For A Custom Keyboard?

You’ll need a printed circuit board (PCB), keyboard case, plate, stabilizers and switches to build your own customized keyboard.

Here’s what each component will do:

  • PCB (printed circuit board): The PCB serves as the central control unit for your keyboard.
  • Case: The case protects switches and other components from the elements.
  • Plate: This optional component adds rigidity and stability to your build.
  • Stabilizers: Stabilizers determine the sound and feel of your large keys, such as the return and spacebar. They’re incredibly important if you desire maximum response and performance.
  • Switches: The switches determine the look and sound of your keys.

How Do You Customize Your Keyboard?

There are an infinite number of ways you can customize a keyboard. However, here are three common upgrades that gamers and everyday users love:

  • RGB lighting: If you want to add a light show to your workspace or gaming console, RGB lighting makes it easy to do. You can have lighting on every key or side lighting and underglow effects that bring your computing or gaming experience to life.
  • QMK Firmware: QMK Firmware converts your keyboard into a programmable work of art.
  • USB Port: Many keyboard customizers go with USB-C because it works even if you plug your cable in upside down. Choose the location of the port wisely.

What Is The Most Customizable Keyboard?

Pretty much all customizable keyboards offer an acceptable level of freedom. So, instead of only focusing on this aspect, consider material quality, size, number of supported keys, etc.

What Is The Best Custom Keyboard? 

If you don’t want to build your own customized keyboard, there are many options for pre-built customized keyboards.

Below, find recommendations for affordable, fun and personalized models you can make your own.

Kraken Pro 60

Last update on 2022-09-29 / As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more about us.

The Kraken Pro 60 BRED is a 60% mechanical keyboard with RGB backlighting in an array of colors and patterns.

The cool black and red color combo attracts gamers and typing enthusiasts alike. Plus, its compact size leaves more room for accessories on your desktop or gaming setup.

Features

Gateron mechanical optical switches feature silver keys with over 100 million keystroke lives. This highly compatible customizable board works with your PC, PS4 and XBOX.

Music reactive lighting pulses to your favorite tunes. It also includes a water-resistant design and built in RGB software.

Benefits

The Kraken Pro 60 is a 60% mechanical keyboard with hot swappable optical keys. The silver keys react quickly so that you can maneuver around gaming interfaces with ease.

Besides the unique color scheme, the programmable lighting reacts to manual input and sound for a really immersive experience when wading through spreadsheets or playing Fortnite.

The water-resistant design comes in handy in case of an accidental spill.

Drawbacks

Some users find the keys a bit too loud, but gamers say it’s not noticeable with headphones on.

Rare reviews state that some Kraken Pro 60 keyboards don’t sit flush when lying flat, requiring a bending adjustment that lasts just a few hours.

What Sets The Product Apart From Its Competitors?

This Kraken keyboard has silver switches designed for gamers and others who want a super-cool interactive keyboard.

Silver linear switches require 45 g of force to actuate, and they travel a mere 1.2 mm compared to the 2 mm standard. This allows gamers to press, play and win more, in theory anyway.

SKYLOONG GK61 SK61

Last update on 2022-09-29 / As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more about us.

The SKYLOONG GK61 is another portable 60% mechanical keyboard designed for gamers and PC users who wants a little more flair at their fingertips. It has DIY backlighting and beautiful key suspension.

Read Portable Ergonomic Keyboards.

Features

The GK61 has durable materials and solid construction. The RGB backlighting add style, while illumination and dedicated macro controls cut down on keystrokes during vital gaming action.

If you want a fully programmable keyboard with PC and Mac compatibility, this might be the right choice for you.

Benefits

Try the SKYLOONG GK61 mini if you prefer a multi-language, 61 key layout and on the fly macro recording sound.

The compact size makes it extremely portable, and simplified gaming operations allow you to stay a step ahead of the competitors at tournaments.

An included braided USB cable stores neatly away so you can take it anywhere.

Plus, its waterproof design prevents damage to sensitive internal components if you get caught in the rain or spill your coffee.

Drawbacks

Detractors of the SKYLOONG GK61 say that the keys emit a scratchy noise on the downstroke and the RGB backlit seems dim compared to similar models.

What Sets The Product Apart From Its Competitors?

If you want a keyboard that can potentially improve your gaming performance, try the SKYLOONG GK61.

Users especially appreciate the pre-lubed stabilizers that allow for smoother typing flow and make it easier to customize and swap out keys.

It also comes with a couple of pry tools in case the logo on the spacebar or other key aesthetics don’t appeal to you.

Corsair K65 RGB MINI

Last update on 2022-09-29 / As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Learn more about us.

The CORSAIR K65 has RGB backing and a compact 60% design. With PBT double-shot keycaps for durability and 8,000Hz hyper-polling, this customizable keyboard gives the competition a run for the money.

Features

The CORSAIR K65 has per-key RGB backlighting, CHERRY MX switches and a detachable USB-C cable.

What’s more, silver mechanical switches, all key programmability and compatibility with CORSAIR iCUE software make this a valuable asset for any gamer or computer user.

Benefits

The K65 RGB MINI packs in extreme functionality in a 60% form that still allows for comfortable gaming and typing.

If you want to transfer inputs up to eight times faster than conventional keyboards, go with this model.

It comes with CHERRY MX switches that deliver great response times and shallow 1.2mm actuation.

Precisely molded keycaps resist fading and wear and have a 1.5-millimeter thickness for stability and durability.

Drawbacks

The wired design means that you have limited flexibility and also makes the Corsair K65 less portable. Xbox doesn’t officially support this keyboard, which may turn Xbox players to other customizable keyboards.

What Sets The Product Apart From Its Competitors?

With up to 8 gigabytes of onboard storage, you can store up to 50 profiles to take with you anywhere.

Many gamers also claim that their speed and performance improve after purchasing the Corsair K65 and the company says you can count on 8x faster speeds!

Final Thoughts And Best Pick

Customizable keyboards allow you to swap out keys to add functionality, color and personalization to your gaming, work or everyday computer use.

If you’re looking for faster performance during gaming, we recommend the Corsair K65 RGB MINI 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard.

However, we have to give a thumbs up to the Kraken Pro 60 for the super cool default colors and silver linear switches!