Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Just like with anything else, when it comes to keyboards, there are those out there that are not satisfied with "standard equipment" who will spend hundreds, if not thousands, on customized mechanical keyboards. There is nothing wrong with these sorts of groups of enthusiasts in our minds. Everyone needs a hobby or something to throw extra money at to stay out of trouble, but there is an added side bonus of this crowd. The bonus is that manufacturers start to figure out what many of us have known for years, and that is, if you provide us with what we want, we will spend a little more to get what we want. Case and point, the K70 RGB TKL for us. It is a smaller form factor, it is a simple-looking design without too much flash, and it came with a complete set of double-shot PBT keycaps.
We have been blessed as a reviewer to have manufacturers come to us with requests once they catch on to what we do here at TweakTown. While a few manufactures will send eight or ten extra custom caps, most times, they are still the basic ASB caps, which are painted, and susceptible to wear. As we think back, it would likely be Thermaltake who delivered the METALCAPS in a 38-piece set that took us down the road of customizing the looks of our keyboard. Of course, we saw them from the likes of WASD, who spoiled us a bit with their box-o-goodies and the levels in which we could customize the caps, but all at a cost. Along comes others, like HyperX and their multiple "Pudding" sets that affordably hit the market and were a joy to many.
Even though it may seem like Corsair is new to the PBT keycaps game, they have had an earlier release, which flew right under our radar, as we were not aware they existed before researching the kits we have now. All of this, so far, would be OK to see Corsair come out with new sets of keycaps for us to use and employ on the various new mechanical keyboards to come from them recently is all fine and dandy. But, as we prefer to do, if we are adding custom keycaps, we may as well take the time and install dampeners as well, and as far as we know, out of all the mainstream manufacturers to sell keycap sets, Corsair is the only one to include them in the deal.
At this point, many of you may be sitting there thinking that we have some basic white and black keycaps to show off, and you would be correct in that assumption, but only partially. Rather than staying in bounds of what they know everyone will settle for, either black or white, Corsair adds four other options as well, which coincide with their partner companies. Origin, Mint, Elgato, and even Rogue are used with one of the colors. If white and black are not your jam, what about pink, blue, green, or red? In our minds, Corsair has added the most color without isolating sales with ones that may not sell, and we get it.
However, we do feel that with what we have to show you, whether using a Corsair keyboard or not, with a standard bottom row and "+" shaped stems on your mechanical switches, the PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO Keycap Mod Kit will fit the bill for those looking to add some color to their life, while also reaping the benefits of this type of keycap.
All of the help Corsair offers on-site for the PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO is an option to download the instruction manual, nothing in the form of specifications, or an easy way to find all of the information, and is why we made this chart. We should begin by explaining that PBT is a more resilient material than ABS plastic. The texture on the caps wears much slower, they are much less prone to shine because of that, and due to the double-shot nature of these caps, the legends will never wear off, as there are no painted parts to these keycaps. The double-shot keycaps' walls are 1.5mm thick, and with the inner translucent PBT shot, LED backlighting easily shines through them, no matter the color used in the second shot.
These kits ship with 104-key layouts in the box, with at least that many O-rings to accompany them. These keycaps are designed to be used with Corsair mechanical keyboards but will fit any "+" stem switch on a keyboard with a standard bottom row. The O-rings we have are 1.5mm in thickness; they are made of clear silicone, and without a way to test hardness, we hazard a guess that they are 40A on the durometer scale.
Corsair also includes a "standard" plastic, color matching, prong style, keycap puller tool, which is OK with PBT keycaps. With many keyboards, we have complained that these puller tools will scratch ABS caps, which is not a thing that happens with PBT. In all, there are six models of PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO Keycap Mod Kits, all referencing a different color. There are Rogue Pink ones, Arctic White, Origin Red, Elgato Blue, Onyx Black, and Mint Green, all covered by a two-year warranty, but we have a real hard time sorting out what could have gone wrong to need support with a keycap set.
As we mentioned, we have seen many versions of what manufacturers consider keycap sets, and prices have varied over the years. In the early days, not as many people were buying into things like this, and keycap sets, in single-shot PBT form, were $50 to $100 and could go up further if we added more customizations. Recently, in the mainstream scene, we would have to compare these to the HyperX Pudding keycaps, as they are the last we have had in hand. If memory serves us correctly, they were $25 for a kit of them on release for a box with 104 keycaps inside it and a standard keycap puller tool included. Corsair ups the game by offering a better array of colors than HyperX and also made the call to include dampeners.
A quick look shows that to be a $7 to $10 add-on to the deal, and no matter the color, for the PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO keycaps, you are asked to spend $29.99. One sad note to add to that is that they are not widely available, as we saw a listing at only mwave.com for nearly twice the price, and when ordering from Corsair, you can incur up to $10 in shipping cost unless you pass their $79 threshold for free shipping.
Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: MSI B360M Bazooka Plus - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i7 8700 - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Corsair H100i Pro - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance RGB Pro 2666MHz 16GB - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: MSI GeForce RTX 2080 Ventus 8G OC - Buy from Amazon
- Storage: Corsair Force MP300 480GB - Buy from Amazon
- Case: Corsair Crystal Series 280X - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair CX750 80 Plus Bronze - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
Packaging, Accessories, and Documentation
The packaging's front will vary depending on which set you chose, but we are using the Onyx Black set for the box images of the PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO Keycap Mod Kit or a 104-key keycap set. Not only do we see the outlines of the included 104 keycaps, but there is also a notation to the language used in the legends of each cap.
The bottom of the box delivers legal and company information at the left, along with the only mention of the two-year warranty. In the middle, the box's contents are shown to be the keycaps, a puller tool, and 120 O-rings per set. Further to the right is a sticker, which specifies the model of keycaps and also is where the serial number is, although, again, we aren't sure how double-shot PBT keycaps go bad in two years.
The right side of the packaging has the company name, logo, and the product's name off to the left of it. While many times we feel the taglines might be cheesy, "press the advantage" is a line that explains what you will get in exacting detail.
On the back of the box is the first we have been exposed to the Corsair yellow accent color, and doing so does make everything explained easier to read and see. On the left are four versions of a features list, where the Cheery MX compatibility, durable PBT, double-shot nature, compatibility to other keyboards, and included dampeners are all discussed. If you wonder about compatibility, use your phone to check the QR-code for verification. We also like the nonchalant way in which Corsair lays out some caps, O-rings, the puller tool, and shows them backlit, showing us what to expect to see inside.
The front of each box is where the proper names for the colors are written, which wraps around the left side of the box, allowing us to see how Corsair chooses to show off the options side by side. From left to right are the Rogue Pink, Arctic White, Origin Red, Elgato Blue, Onyx Black, and Mint Green.
Inside of each package is a two-part set of inserts. On the left is a simple manual for how keycap sets work and how the packaging helps to keep you on track with the installation. The warranty guide explains what Corsair considers a reason to consider an RMA and how to go about it.
Inside of the manual, things are straightforward. Each part of the inner packaging is marked and is aligned to match a keyboard layout, with minor exceptions. Corsair even added images to show the keycap being removed, a dampener being installed, and the placement of the new keycap onto the keyboard.
Corsair PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO Keycap Mod Kit
At either end of the box is a large sticker that seals the box, ensuring nothing has been fiddled with since it left the factory. Once opened, we slid out three clamshell packages, all of which are molded to hold each keycap in a specific location. Not only does this add another layer of protection, rather than being shipped in a bag, but it also offers a place to store your old ABS keycaps.
Even though we cropped out much of the packaging, at the top, above the keycaps, there is an embossed "1," noting that you should start here. The top five lines will directly transfer onto your keyboard as they are currently positioned, but the sixth row offers three keycaps for either side of the space bar.
The keycaps in the package marked "2" are the middle of a standard keyboard, but the right end of a 60%, still, all of the keycaps are in the proper order to be pulled from this and placed on the keyboard.
It is not hard to figure out that there is a "3" at the top of this packaging and delivers the command and arrow keys for a TKL and the number pad for any 104-key layout. With the Onyx Black set of keycaps, we found a black puller tool and later found that each set delivers a color matching puller tool to the keycap second shot color. The manual shows that O-rings should be to the left of the puller tool, but we found ours in a bag outside of all other packaging.
Like we do with any keyboard review, we expose their underbelly to explain what you see when removing the keycaps. No matter which of the six colors of caps you choose, when flipped over, you will find that the structural stability is built into the translucent first shot, where the stem supports are molded and where the legends are applied. In the instance of the key we flipped over, the second PBT shot was done in Elgato Blue, which will block all light except for the legends and the gap under the keycaps to the steel plate.
How our O-rings were shipped was within a zip-closed bag, with the clear silicone O-rings strewn about. We noticed some deformities in a couple of them and even a few broken ones across all six of the packages, but we were sent more O-rings than specified in those instances. For reference, the packaging stated that each kit should ship with 120 O-rings, enough to cover the 104 switch stems, as well as the sixteen stems that ride the torsion bars.
We went as far as to count the O-rings in each bag since we were not using all of them. It was only fair to ensure we got what we should. The Rogue Pink shipped with 123 of them, but the Arctic White had only 116. Origin Red and Elgato Blue contained 123, our Onyx Black set has 149, and the Mint Green box contained 125 O-rings.
Dealing with the Onyx Black set of PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO for most of this page, we installed the kit, and with the help of iCUE, we can show it off with all of the K70 RGB TKL's LED-illuminated glory.
PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO Options
Following the order in which we showed the color choices on the side of the box and the space bars, we are starting with the Rogue Pink. Less Pepto pink and closer to the red end of the spectrum, these keycaps have a red coloration to the legends when seen on an angle. Notice that the puller tool on the F4 keys matches the kit, and should you want to illuminate these, might we suggest white, red, and possibly purple as well, but once in the green and yellow scales, a lot of the lighting is lost.
Arctic White is what you would assume, stark white keycaps, where the legends appear gray. The only thing we can complain about is the need to constantly wash your hands before using these to keep you from washing them all the time. Otherwise, any color light passes through them beautifully and is our favorite of the Corsair kits. The contrast is fantastic; the colors shine through better, and except for black, we feel they are the only keycaps showing the RGB effects in their best form.
Trying to keep the camera to the same settings to attempt to keep the color, we lost when it came to brightness. The reproduction of the red is almost spot on, and while we are a tad washed out, the contrast is this stark. Unlike some of the other sets of caps, the legends here are bright white and easy to see without lighting. Opting for the Origin Red set we have here, using an RGB mode of illumination goes like this, red light, red light, red light, oh there goes green, purple, pink, and then more red. You tend to lose much of the color definition, but the options appear to widen when opting for static colors.
Assuming that the Elgato Blue version might play with the lighting a bit, we found the opposite to have happened. Much like with the black and white sets, the blue is enough to make the legends stand out in higher contrast than some other options. This could all be an optical illusion or an odd way our eyes try to compensate for the various colors, but we still want to help express our findings to help guide you to the right set.
The Onyx Black set is identical to the PBT keycaps that ship on the K70 RGB TKL we used for the images, but believe it or not, we did replace every keycap all the same. The lighting through these was seen on the last page, and we have no issues with Onyx Black and is why they are the standard color to come on just about every RGB keyboard out there.
Mint Green is a color we thought we would not like in the slightest, but after going through the effort of installing them, we should give them a fair chance, and while a bold color, and sadly washed out in our image, they are easy on the eyes. Lighting can be similar to the pink and red sets, where you do tend to miss some of the RGB scale as it cycles through the legends, but with a few static colors in mind, they could look super slick.
With us running into the lighting and contrast issues with a couple of the previous layouts, we wanted to sort out a way to deliver an honest representation of all of the colors. Using one color per row was the best we came up with, and it seems to have worked. Colors are still ever so slightly brighter than reality, but this is about as close as we could get.
Illuminating the keyboard with one of the various rainbow RGB modes shows what we were trying to explain earlier with how some colors wash out. We feel that images tend to speak louder than words, and we hope this visually provides what we were trying to express.
As Corsair hit us right in the feels with a product such as this, we are not going to lie. Without much time to get into long-term projects like ordering frames, switches, keycaps, O-rings, soldering it all together, and keeping up with all of the latest and greatest, they offer a quicker solution. However, we certainly do enjoy being able to customize our keyboards with a matter of roughly twenty minutes of our time and a few dollars thrown Corsair's way. As much as we love the "pudding" keycaps we have seen in the past; there is something about keycaps with full custom colors on them.
Thinking back to the white, gray, and red kit we got from WASD, it stayed on every keyboard on our desk for three or four years. Corsair has brought back that feeling of that extra step above what everyone else is currently rocking. In what Corsair did with the PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO Keycap Mod Kits, it is hard to pass up on the deal, as you are definitely getting your money's worth.
While we will go as far as to say damage might be possible during shipping, it will have to be one hell of an impact. While small, the double-shot PBT keycaps are stronger than ABS, in our opinion, and how they are shipped makes the two-year warranty a bit of a giggle, as you are not going to wear these out or scratch any paint off them in that time. You may blow out a few O-rings if you are heavy-handed, but at less than $10 a kit of 120+ in most cases, buy more; your other keyboards will enjoy the love as well.
The dampeners may not be the hardest, may not be the exact thickness you prefer, but unlike with other sets we have seen, Corsair is the first to include them as "standard equipment" and at a reasonable price. Color choice can quickly be answered with company allegiances; you can match your current build theme or even buy the Arctic White, Origin Red, and the Rogue Pink and make a layout all your own.
In use, we already knew what the keyboard felt like with PBT keycaps, as the K70 RGB TKL is shipped with them on it, so when we applied the new keycaps, we were sure to install an O-ring on each switch, including the helper studs. In doing so, it takes our Cherry MX Red switch keyboard to another level without the impact from each keypress as the switches bottomed out before to tingle fingertips, and we want to spend more time with it.
Another benefit of adding dampeners is that the thickness also reduces the overall travel of the switch. Many can touch lightly and feel the point of collapse and stop just there, never bottoming out mechanical switches. Still, for us, we rattle around on the thing, and O-rings have been one of the most significant recommendations we give, no matter if the caps are ABS or PBT.
With six colors to choose from, all of them double-shot PBT, with color matching puller tool and a full set of O-rings, we find it hard not to recommend. The PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO Keycap Mod kit, buying Rogue Pink, Arctic White, Origin Red, Elgato Blue, Onyx Black, and Mint Green is the only tough call to make, as the $29.99 MSRP takes cost out of the equation. Shipping cost can be a bit of a downer, but maybe get a few local buddies to all chip in, and nobody has to incur shipping charges.
The Bottom Line
Even though RGB illumination can be limited with color choice, we still feel that Corsair has something for everyone in their PBT DOUBLE-SHOT PRO Keycap Mod Kit. They are top-tier, the color options are great, and one of the only sets with dampeners all at a great price. What's not to like?