Looking to upgrade your keyboard by switching to a mechanical keyboard?
Whether you use a keyboard for work, for play, or both, you’ve probably heard of the mechanical keyboard trend. You can buy a pre-made mechanical keyboard, but how much does it cost to make a mechanical keyboard of your own design?
Mechanical keyboard prices vary depending on the design and parts you choose. However, the average price of a custom-built mechanical keyboard can be anywhere from $150 to $700.
Mechanical keyboard users love the tactile feel and audible click sound mechanical keyboards provide. If you decide to build a higher-end board with specialty parts, your mechanical keyboard cost can get quite high. However, if you know how to bargain hunt, you may find deals to save money.
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How Much Does It Cost to Build a Mechanical Keyboard?
Custom mechanical keyboards are more expensive than off-the-shelf keyboards. However, the prices vary so widely that you can’t know how much you will pay until you know exactly what specs you want.
Generally, building a custom keyboard from scratch can cost anywhere from $150 to $700.
It’s easy to fall victim to sticker shock, but this price includes all the individual plastic pieces, the mechanical switches, backlit keycaps, optional RGB lighting, and more accessories. If you can find deals, you will end up saving money on your finished product.
Why Are Mechanical Keyboards So Expensive?
- Keyboard casing
Each of these components costs more to create. A higher-end board may have an aluminum casing, PBT plastic keycaps, a Cherry MX brand switch, and RGB lighting, all of which add up to a high-dollar keyboard.
You can find less expensive options, too, but these are pre-made keyboards with lesser components. When building from scratch, you’re unlikely to spend less than $150.
Is Building Your Own Keyboard Worth It?
It’s worth it to build your own keyboard when you know you won’t find the type of switch, keycap, and layout combo that you prefer on a pre-built keyboard.
You can usually buy a cheaper board off the shelves, but when you begin customizing specific aspects of your board, it begins to prove more cost-effective to build your own.
While you may end up spending more money on a custom keyboard, you will end up with a keyboard that is customized to your exact desired specifications with durable plastics and aluminum casing. It will have a long lifespan and the additional cost will be worth it.
However, if you don’t foresee needing specific components that a regular, pre-made keyboard doesn’t have, you can stick to buying one at an average cost and saving some money.
This is a cheaper option and your keyboard will likely have a warranty, something your custom finished product won’t have.
What Parts Do I Need to Build a Custom Mechanical Keyboard?
To build your own mechanical keyboard, you will need to gather several different components and tools.
While making your own custom mechanical keyboard can be rather labor-intensive, you also get the benefit of designing your keyboard to your exact specifications and aesthetic preferences.
- Keyboard casing: Protects the keyboard’s internal components from dirt, debris, and moisture.
- Circuit board: Sends communication between the keyboard and the computer.
- Metal plate: Holds keyboard switches in place to add extra structure.
- Switches and switch puller: Determine how a keyboard performs (smooth or clicky).
- Stabilizers: Keep keys stable and in place to prevent wobbling.
- Keycaps and keycap puller: Available in multiple materials, designs, colors, and styles to completely customize a keyboard’s overall look.
- Power cable: Powers the keyboard via USB-C or micro-USB.
- Soldering kit and solder: For soldering switches when necessary (and sometimes optional!).
- Tweezers: For handling tiny components (you may already have these at home).
Sure, it seems like the list of stuff you need to buy is massive, but don’t be discouraged. Some of these things can be bought together. For example, the keyboard casing, circuit board, and metal plate should be purchased at the same time so you know they will work with one another.
You have a huge selection of keycaps to choose from, depending on the style of keyboard you are aiming for.
Where Can I Order Parts to Build a Custom Mechanical Keyboard?
When you search for custom keyboard parts, you’ll find that most of your shopping will be done online. Certain websites specifically cater to those building custom mechanical keyboards and other PC-related setups.
A few of these websites are:
This is only a handful of the websites where you can find keycaps, switches, keyboard cases, wrist rests, and more. If you search mechanical keyboard forums, you will find suggestions from enthusiasts who swear by their favorite shops and sellers.
Custom vs. Pre-made Mechanical Keyboards
Most people can’t fathom spending upwards of $500 or more on a mechanical keyboard. However, those who plan to purchase the tools to build a custom keyboard are already in a different league than those who only use keyboards casually for work or for brief ventures onto the computer.
For people who prefer the tactile bump or the loud sensory click of a mechanical keyboard, the experience of using a perfectly configured keyboard every day for hours on end is entirely different.
Whether or not you should build your own or stick to a pre-made version depends entirely on what your specific needs are.
If one of the common layouts is good enough for you to use, you could save a few hundred dollars by choosing to buy a keyboard from a manufacturer you trust. If the idea of building a keyboard from scratch is exciting and fun, the task in itself could make it worth it.
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