EnjoyPBT Keycaps?

Wazrach

14 Nov 2019, 12:33

Hello people, I'm looking for a nice set of ISO keycaps to go on my Steelseries Apex Pro. It seems GMK are ridiculously expensive and hard to get a hold of, and what I'd much prefer (Maxkeys SA), only do ANSI sets. That only really leaves me with ePBT.

Can anyone tell me what they're like? How do they feel and sound? Good value for money? I'm eyeing up this set right now: https://kbdfans.com/products/enjoypbt-k ... 5672052621

Is there a difference in quality between that set and the 9009 set? The latter of which is much more expensive but looks wonderful.

Thanks in advance!

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Menuhin

14 Nov 2019, 13:55

Wazrach wrote:
14 Nov 2019, 12:33
Hello people, I'm looking for a nice set of ISO keycaps to go on my Steelseries Apex Pro. It seems GMK are ridiculously expensive and hard to get a hold of, and what I'd much prefer (Maxkeys SA), only do ANSI sets. That only really leaves me with ePBT.

Can anyone tell me what they're like? How do they feel and sound? Good value for money? I'm eyeing up this set right now: https://kbdfans.com/products/enjoypbt-k ... 5672052621

Is there a difference in quality between that set and the 9009 set? The latter of which is much more expensive but looks wonderful.

Thanks in advance!
- GMK keysets are *not* ridiculously expensive, but they are expensive. For the customized keyboard market, they are appropriately priced with worker salary levels at Western European standard. (Those made-in-PRC iPhones can be and should be much cheaper.)

- ePBT is not the only option. You can get used (harvested) vintage OG (original) Cherry ISO keycap sets for cheap (similar or cheaper than the price of a set of new ePBT; depends on the rarity of that particular set). You can also get ISO supported keycap sets from Signature Plastics (SP on pimpmykeyboard).

- ePBT are PBT instead of ABS (GMK) keycaps. The softer ABS bents and the harder PBT (and the even harder POM) tends to break instead. PBT keycaps are durable anyways, and your fingers can feel that they are harder, and it is much harder to have one's fingers polish them through time to put "shines" on them. PBT is harder and sounds sharper and not like the "bassier" ABS, given all switches and keyboard case specs stay the same.

- PBT keycaps are also "dye-sub" (dye-sublimination process for putting on the legends on these PBT keycaps) and "dye-sub" is durable. The "dye-sub" quality of ePBT is good, while "dye-sub" quality is supported to be some of the highest from BSP from Denmark and then "Hammer" from Asia, while SP "dye-sub" should be also up to standard - it is all about QC.

- ePBT produces quality keycaps and they are supposedly the leader among their other Chinese competitors in the market. But if they are "good for value" is a very subjective question. You can get a whole set of China dye-sub for almost half of the price of ePBT, and lot of keycap sets pricing is related to hype and design, e.g. the keycap sets from your link vs ePBT 9009.


My advice if you think that the keycaps are unreasonable priced (which can actually be the case of one just look at the average price of a "normal" keyboard out there):

Be happy with your Steelseries Apex Pro and stay away from the customized keyboard hobby, and instead spend money with your friends and family for quality time.

Wazrach

14 Nov 2019, 14:17

Menuhin wrote:
14 Nov 2019, 13:55
Be happy with your Steelseries Apex Pro and stay away from the customized keyboard hobby, and instead spend money with your friends and family for quality time.
You're absolutely right, I should. :P It was more of a problem than a hobby. I say "was", because I simply cannot afford to keep it up, nor do I want to continue the endless cycle of wasting time and money rather than improving my life. I still like keyboards of course, but I'd like to be more productive with my enthusiasm for keyboards and perhaps start making reviews or something.

Dikkus

14 Nov 2019, 16:47

My experience with ePBT is pretty variable. They make some nice looking sets, but *all* of my ePBT sets have had at least 1 key with a broken steam, and warping on keys greater than 1U is very common, with the right shift and spacebar tending to suffer the most from this. One of my left shifts is so warped that it looks like an arc almost.

Maybe I just got really bad luck.

Wazrach

14 Nov 2019, 18:04

Dikkus wrote:
14 Nov 2019, 16:47
My experience with ePBT is pretty variable. They make some nice looking sets, but *all* of my ePBT sets have had at least 1 key with a broken steam, and warping on keys greater than 1U is very common, with the right shift and spacebar tending to suffer the most from this. One of my left shifts is so warped that it looks like an arc almost.

Maybe I just got really bad luck.
That's slightly concerning. Perhaps not EPBT then. How about KBrepublic dyesub PBT?

If you have any other recommendations for nice ISO keycap sets, I'd love to know. Oh and, affordable. :P Maybe if it's too expensive, it might be cheaper just to buy a full Leopold keyboard haha.

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geewiz

14 Nov 2019, 19:11

That's slightly concerning. Perhaps not EPBT then. How about KBrepublic dyesub PBT?
Since warping is an issue with the PBT material in general, I'd rather go with an established brand like ePBT because I'd expect them to be a bit more ruthless in terms of QC than lesser known vendors. My ePBT 9009 set is fine, even the space bars, and I hope the same goes for the ePBT Extended2048 sets I'm still waiting for.

User avatar
Menuhin

14 Nov 2019, 19:42

This OG Cherry ISO set used the original moulding now GMK has acquired to make. They are supposedly of better quality or at least equal quality than GMK.
I would also say they should out perform ePBT.

viewtopic.php?f=55&t=22853

Riverman

14 Nov 2019, 20:36

I've had a couple of EnjoyPBT keycap sets, and they've all been fine. The spacebar is the only thing that's ever been an issue for me on any of the PBT keycap sets I've had, and even then, warpage is usually minimal. The worst one I had was from a Tai Hao set, but the seller exchanged it quickly. I've also had several other Tai Hao sets with no spacebar warpage. Personally, I like PBT keycaps more than ABS, if only for the reason that they don't shine. I have several heavily-used keyboards from the '90s with dye-subbed PBT keycaps, and they're all in great shape, with extremely minimal shine on any of the keys, with the exception of the spacebar, which was generally always ABS back then.

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jani80k

15 Nov 2019, 09:44

This is just my opinion. But it makes no sense from my point of view to buy a keycap set with 3 times the amount of keys needed and high compatibility for all kinds of layouts.
If you buy a Tai Hao keycap set you already have much higher quality keycaps than what Steelseries provided with the board initially. You can get double shot ABS or PBT from Tai Hao and they have some nice looking colorways, too. Tai Hao won't break the bank either.

Wazrach

15 Nov 2019, 11:32

jani80k wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 09:44
This is just my opinion. But it makes no sense from my point of view to buy a keycap set with 3 times the amount of keys needed and high compatibility for all kinds of layouts.
If you buy a Tai Hao keycap set you already have much higher quality keycaps than what Steelseries provided with the board initially. You can get double shot ABS or PBT from Tai Hao and they have some nice looking colorways, too. Tai Hao won't break the bank either.
True, but Tai Hao is quite thin and I wasn't hugely happy with the feel. They do have a grainy and cheap feel to them, I don't know.

Oh yeah, and the Tai Hao sets I like the look of aren't in ISO.

Gampela

15 Nov 2019, 11:38

Another thing with EnjoyPBT (and I guess this is relatively minor issue since I don't hear much complains about this) is their scooped homing keys tend to interfere with the switch housing when bottoming out. There's no noticeable difference in feeling or travel but you can definitely hear the extra clack once you notice it, at least if you are using silenced switches.

Wazrach

15 Nov 2019, 11:41

Gampela wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 11:38
Another thing with EnjoyPBT (and I guess this is relatively minor issue since I don't hear much complains about this) is their scooped homing keys tend to interfere with the switch housing when bottoming out. There's no noticeable difference in feeling or travel but you can definitely hear the extra clack once you notice it, at least if you are using silenced switches.
I did see a video about that this morning, but that's not really that much of an issue for me. Thanks for letting me know, though. :)

Gampela

15 Nov 2019, 11:53

Wazrach wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 11:41
Gampela wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 11:38
Another thing with EnjoyPBT (and I guess this is relatively minor issue since I don't hear much complains about this) is their scooped homing keys tend to interfere with the switch housing when bottoming out. There's no noticeable difference in feeling or travel but you can definitely hear the extra clack once you notice it, at least if you are using silenced switches.
I did see a video about that this morning, but that's not really that much of an issue for me. Thanks for letting me know, though. :)
Yeah, it's not a biggie. Didn't notice anything on my previous loud Pok3r with mx browns. Only after swapping and comparing between stock Leopold keycaps and ePBT did I start noticing it on my fc980m pd with silenced reds. Now it's lowkey driving me mad. But probably not something most people would care.

User avatar
jani80k

15 Nov 2019, 13:30

Wazrach wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 11:32
jani80k wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 09:44
This is just my opinion. But it makes no sense from my point of view to buy a keycap set with 3 times the amount of keys needed and high compatibility for all kinds of layouts.
If you buy a Tai Hao keycap set you already have much higher quality keycaps than what Steelseries provided with the board initially. You can get double shot ABS or PBT from Tai Hao and they have some nice looking colorways, too. Tai Hao won't break the bank either.
True, but Tai Hao is quite thin and I wasn't hugely happy with the feel. They do have a grainy and cheap feel to them, I don't know.

Oh yeah, and the Tai Hao sets I like the look of aren't in ISO.
Which ISO Layout do you need?

Wazrach

15 Nov 2019, 14:05

jani80k wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 13:30
Wazrach wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 11:32
jani80k wrote:
15 Nov 2019, 09:44
This is just my opinion. But it makes no sense from my point of view to buy a keycap set with 3 times the amount of keys needed and high compatibility for all kinds of layouts.
If you buy a Tai Hao keycap set you already have much higher quality keycaps than what Steelseries provided with the board initially. You can get double shot ABS or PBT from Tai Hao and they have some nice looking colorways, too. Tai Hao won't break the bank either.
True, but Tai Hao is quite thin and I wasn't hugely happy with the feel. They do have a grainy and cheap feel to them, I don't know.

Oh yeah, and the Tai Hao sets I like the look of aren't in ISO.
Which ISO Layout do you need?
UK ISO TKL. Tried to upload an image but good old Deskthority is having none of that.

User avatar
jani80k

16 Nov 2019, 16:12

OG keycaps are really only a feasible option for ISO-DE. For other layouts they are much more difficult to find and more expensive. Moreover the bottom row will not fit your keyboard.

If you don't want Tai Hao, try ePBT from Taobao with basic ISO support. It's much cheaper there compared to KBDFans or other vendors. You're going to pay for extra keys whih you don't need.

User avatar
jani80k

16 Nov 2019, 16:14

Also check KPRepublic. They have no name PBT sets with basic ISO support sometimes.

Wazrach

16 Nov 2019, 16:47

jani80k wrote:
16 Nov 2019, 16:14
Also check KPRepublic. They have no name PBT sets with basic ISO support sometimes.
I'm eyeing up this: https://kprepublic.com/products/kprepub ... 6982714412

I really, really like the look of these. I just hope the quality is good.

User avatar
jani80k

16 Nov 2019, 17:33

Well the risks are that some legends are slightly off (only visible to the trained eye), shouldnt be an issue if you ask me, or that the spacebar is warped.
Thise two risks go for any PBT keycap set.
Warped spacebars can be fixed with boiling water to soften the plastic and a heavy book to put on top of the key while its cooling down on a straight surface.

Wazrach

16 Nov 2019, 17:59

jani80k wrote:
16 Nov 2019, 17:33
Well the risks are that some legends are slightly off (only visible to the trained eye), shouldnt be an issue if you ask me, or that the spacebar is warped.
Thise two risks go for any PBT keycap set.
Warped spacebars can be fixed with boiling water to soften the plastic and a heavy book to put on top of the key while its cooling down on a straight surface.
Thanks for the tip! I'll keep it in mind. Do you know where I can get POM spacebars for a nicer sound?

User avatar
jani80k

16 Nov 2019, 19:39

No, I haven't come across those, yet. There are slight differences in height between manufacturers. If you buy a different spacebar, it might look odd. PBT will sound nice, too.
What also influences the spacebar sound are keyboard case, plate and stabilizers.

Ilostmytoeinvietnam

13 Dec 2019, 18:03

This is so totally a personal opinion, but the white and grey/beige color scheme doesn’t seem that appealing to me. But since this doesn’t pertain to the question, I will say that they are good quality durable keycaps.

HungerMechanic

15 Dec 2019, 23:49

I own a GMK set and an ePBT set.

GMK has better legends, it is known for 'legend perfection.' The consistency of both the legends and the keycaps themselves will be better than ePBT.

However, as noted, ePBT is among the top Chinese keycap producers. They are using good blanks, maybe still Gateron blanks, and their dye-sub is the best mass-produced Chinese process.


I have ePBT 9009 R4, and it's pretty good, but it's not perfect.

Image

First, the good. The colours are basically what I expected, and look close to the photos of 9009. I'll have real GMK 9009 eventually, and will be able to compare. The feel of the keycaps is great, among the very best. They feel creamy smooth, while having the barest hint of texture to help with grip. The weight and thickness is good, they are top performers here. The sound is also good.

The bad? First, legends are not GMK precision. They are good for China dye-sub, but still flawed. The letters/numbers are blurrier or otherwise less sharp than GMK. Not that they are bad on their own, but compared to GMK they suffer. I forget what words like 'kerning' and such mean, but there are little issues with the quality of the dye-sub print, where characters are placed, and so on.

You can get good information from this review:

https://brianlee.blog/2018/07/26/review-enjoypbt-9009/

Similarly, keycap consistency is not perfect. If you put GMK and ePBT keycaps on two identical boards side-by-side, I think the ePBT keycaps will not be quite as straight or aligned as the GMK. This could be an issue when building an endgame keyboard.

Image
Not exactly perfect

However, ePBT are still good on their own, and even good value if you need extended layouts and a huge number of keys in certain sets. [Other ePBT sets are cheaper if they are just 104/108/110-key. Like Sushi, maybe?]

Which would I rather own, GMK 9009 or ePBT 9009? Well, GMK 9009 is going to have perfect or near-perfect colours, since it is coming from the original manufacturer. It will be an authentic descendant of the OG 9009. As real as its gets. It will have better legend quality and keycap consistency.

However, ePBT, obviously using PBT, means that ePBT will not discolour as much or as quickly over the years. And the same goes for shine. I think it may stand the test of time better, and retain its quality.

From a pure typing feel standpoint, I would rather use ePBT. From an aesthetic standpoint, GMK.

I tested GMK and ePBT on Zilents V2, and ePBT felt better. Even though ePBT keycaps contact the Zealio switch housings because they aren't 100% Cherry-profile, allegedly, I still enjoyed the ePBT more. I also find that ePBT is lower-pitched and deeper than GMK on my MJ2 (MX Brown), and GMK is very chittery.

So go ahead and order ePBT knowing that it is the best mass-market Chinese dye-sub PBT that you can get. But some filing or whatnot may be required on your end. There's an expectation that 'hobbyists' will work out some small kinks with ePBT.

The other Chinese PBT dye-subbers are not as good. KPRepublic dye-sub is observably inferior to ePBT. I posted a comparison on another forum, and the relative blurriness was there for all to see. Some of the bottom row characters were runny and elongated! Not all KPRepublic keysets are that bad, but the QC is markedly inferior.

I would still buy a KPRepublic set, like Muted, knowing its weaknesses, and just use it on a more lower-priced and expendable board.

The other, no-name Chinese dye-subbers often have reliable QC in producing legends, and their blanks aren't bad. Maybe some are using Gateron blanks. Those $30-40 sets on AliExpress are okay, if you understand their limitations. They tend to have less caps (around 110), and far fewer colour options. They have bold fonts are are pretty consistent, although almost comically bold. It looks to me like there was heavy standardization among equipment to produce these dye-subs, and among the keycaps and colour availability. So they found a few colours they could produce consistently, and used common molds and a common dye-sub process so that they could churn it out cheaply. Kind of like what Tai Hao does, but with PBT and more limitations. Those sets are okay if you have a normal ANSI keyboard and your needs are modest. Decent prices, and big sales sometimes.

I hope the OP did not buy the kprepublic Japanese root keycap set. I am informed that the <country> "root" sets are among the worst in terms of keycap feel. The blanks they are using are not top-of-the-line.

HungerMechanic

16 Dec 2019, 00:32

A few other important points:

-All large PBT keys come with the risk of warping. But ePBT is known to have better QC in that respect. I have several spacebars from the 9009 set (one of the reasons it is more expensive), and it's not a serious issue. Although some people had problems.

KPRepublic is worse at preventing warping, from what I understand. I have KPRepublic spacebars and a few keys from their 9009 sets. The KPR spacebars are further away from the 'post-it note' colour of the ePBT 9009, and are more slightly generic. The KPR spacebars are also more angular, while the ePBT is slightly smoother. We're talking differences of degree, here.

But the ePBT legend quality is markedly superior. KPR suffers from elongated, blurrier letters. You might notice the difference side-by-side on the same board. It looks like KPRepublic was dyeing its keysets in a hurry! So you have to know what you are getting into.

So what should you get?

-From KPRepublic, I've seen satisfied 'Muted' customers, and I like it too. It goes on sale sometimes, and would be fine for a cheaper board.

Here's Muted with ISO for $46

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000253046873.html

-From ePBT, you had been looking at 'Sushi Japanese.' That's a popular set, and well-regarded. You can get it at a discount during their regular sales. If it has ISO, I say go for it. I tried it briefly at a meetup once. I think it may not have felt as good as 9009, but is that really such a big deal? The legends are great.

-Consider JTK keycaps. You can get sets starting at around $60, or maybe around $80 on a GB for something normally more pricey. They're not quite as good as GMK, but they're good enough, and retail is cheaper.

-Varmilo keycaps used to be stocked pretty heavily at outlets around the world. [Around USD $60 for a full set.] I enjoy them immensely, and there are some nice colours. Very good profile. You can order custom colour combinations from Varmilo, although that is pricier.

-If you want an affordable ABS set and hate thin Tai-Hao, consider their Cubic profile. It's a squarish ~OEM height, I think, and uses thicker walls. People say it feels higher quality than regular Tai-Hao OEM that you get in those little boxes.

What about the cheap Chinese stuff?

-If you had been there around the 11.11 sale, you could have purchased Kit 4 of Hami Melon dye-sub PBT for around $26, which was an insane steal. Looks like it had enough for a full-size ISO.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000069304725.html

-You can get 'Apricot' with ISO:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/33008730316.html

ePBT sells it too. $48 right now on AliExpress, but lower during sales.


--

BTW there are affordable SA-profile ISO keysets on AliExpress, look up 'Domikey.'

HungerMechanic

21 Dec 2019, 17:40

Here's some people who are selling their KPRepublic 9009 and Muted sets.

From the images they have posted, you can get a sense of KPRepublic dye-sub quality.


9009

https://imgur.com/a/URKLyfH


Muted

https://imgur.com/a/ToKlk0O


These sets aren't too bad. The legends are a little blurry on 9009, but not egregeious. I don't like the placement of some of the legends. Muted is pretty good for the money, and I'd buy that particular set seen in the images. YMMV.

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