We say it time and time again: mechanical keyboards have a lot of advantages over a regular membrane board, and one of those advantages is the fact that there are so many variations and options out there. That not only goes for switches, size, and build materials but also for your keycaps. Changing your keycap set (or just changing out a couple of accent caps) is an easy and relatively cheap way to spice up your favorite keyboard, and adding keycaps with a different profile or a different build quality can make a board feel different, too.
Since we’re all pretty much stuck at home due to the recent coronavirus outbreak (we hope you’re all well and safe by the way) it can be an ideal time to pimp your keyboard a bit so what better time to send a couple of custom sets over to our reviewer? Ducky are well known for their high quality mechanical keyboards, and today we’re finding out if their newest keycap sets are up to those standards. Read on to find out!
Update 2 November 2020: the Cotton Candy set has been added to the review. Changes have been made to the conclusion part to reflect that.
For this review I received three different sets of keycaps: Ducky’s own take on pudding keycaps with a shine-through bottom part for maximum RGB gorgeousness, their new ABS double-shot Horizon SA profile keycaps, and an early version of their very own rubber caps. These are all very different when it comes to feel and looks, and that’s a good thing. It allows me to test a wide variety of Ducky’s caps and it means that this new release should have a little something for everyone.
The keycap sets come in a nice box that has ‘Ducky’ cut out on the front so you can see a glimpse of the actual product underneath and the caps themselves are nicely placed (in the correct layout) in a foam frame with a cardboard backing so you can take them out without making a mess. That’s all rather standard perhaps, but it does make the process of swapping them out a lot easier and intuitive for people who don’t know keyboard layouts by heart, as you can just work your way down the box and replace each individual key.
Inside the box you’ll find enough caps to swap out an entire full sized board or (obviously) something like a Ducky One 2 Mini, but to my dismay some of these sets (Horizon and Pudding) aren’t compatible with one of Ducky’s own keyboards, namely the One 2 SF. I noticed that almost straight away because that’s my main keyboard so it’s a bit of a shame that I couldn’t slap these shiny new caps on my trusty board. I pulled out my One 2 Mini to test them though, and upon contacting Ducky I learned that this should be rectified in the future, so no real harm done.
Of course keycaps are mostly an aesthetic thing as opposed to something to improve your gaming performance, so I’ll mostly be commenting on how these look and feel. It’s a bit different than the reviews that I usually do but hey, what’s life without a little variety right?
Ducky Pudding Keycaps
Ducky isn’t the first company to come out with this type of keycap, but they definitely want to be the best at it, and as far as I’m concerned they’re going a good job at that.
These pudding keycaps are made for people who love their RGB and they absolutely do not disappoint. When I installed these on my Ducky One 2 Mini and first connected it to my PC I let out an audible ‘wow’ because it looks so mightily impressive. Ducky keyboards already look pretty good on the RGB front but thanks to the shine through bottom part of these pudding caps your keyboard really comes alive.
The combination of the white backplate on the One 2 series and the semi-translucent caps makes for the best RGB experience I’ve seen on a keyboard to date. If that’s something that you care about you should definitely consider this set. As with most RGB greatness I find that it’s hard to really convey how it all looks in real life through a picture, but the way the keys seem to almost float in a sea of light is a thing to behold.
Of course none of this would matter if the caps felt or looked cheap but that’s not the case here. These are double-shot PBT so they’ll last and last, and the font on the caps is a nice and neutral one. That’s always a bonus for me; I’m really not a fan of sci-fi looking fonts so the choice to go for a subtle font is the right one as far as I’m concerned.
What also deserves a mention is the clean finish of the caps. The line between the translucent part and the black top of the keys is pristine: there are no black speckles on the bottom part of the caps nor are there any tiny shine through spots on the top.
All in all this is a high quality set of pudding keycaps. The regular size and form factor means that you can slap it on your existing board without having to worry about it feeling different, and if you’re a fan or RGB lighting this is a no-brainer upgrade to your board if you’re asking me.
Ducky Horizon Keycaps
The first thing I thought when I looked upon my finished board with the Horizon set is ‘wow that looks good.’
To me this set has a sort of retro vibe with the large, old-school font and the SA profile and I really love the various tints of blue (my favorite color) that they used along with the orange/yellow accents. Of course that’s all personal, so whether or not you like this look is completely subjective but for me it’s a straight hit.
This is not a 1:1 replacement set though. This is an SA profile set, which in short means that the keys are quite a bit higher than what you’ll find on most gaming keyboards, and the tops of the caps are also angled differently in relation to each other, forming a sort ‘bowl’ when looking at the side of the board. This takes some getting used to, and for me they’re not really ideal for gaming because of the height and overall unfamiliar form factor but on the other hand I do love them for typing.
These ABS double-shot caps are pretty thick and heavy and that does give you a slightly different typing/gaming experience in my opinion; these feel a bit more substantial and weighty when compared to something like the pudding caps above. The height of the caps can also make them feel slightly more wobbly and the glossier feeling of the Horizon set is also a bit different to the touch than what you get on most other caps so all in all this is a set you’ll have to get used to if you’ve never used something like this before. It’s definitely a beautiful and nicely made set though, so people who’d love to try this out can order one in peace.
Ducky Rubber Keycaps
Some people (myself included) love to put some rubber keycaps on their ‘gaming keys’ such as WASD. The problem with these rubber caps is that, when companies include them, they usually feel like kind of an afterthought or don’t really look the part. Ducky is now trying to change that with their own rubber caps.
Coming in at various colors (I got neon green and pink to test, but according to Ducky they’ll be released in a bunch of colors) these caps include a fully rubberized space bar, and they feel great if you ask me. The rubber texture on it has that grippy feeling that people want them for, but it’s not too rough where you get a sandpaper-like sensation when you glide your finger across something like the spacebar.
The caps that I got to test were a bit shorter than Ducky’s regular ones and that’s done to give users a distinct feeling when they use these ‘gaming keys’ but I can’t really say that I noticed the difference. That’s a good thing if you ask me though. I like my keyboard to feel as consistent as possible since I use I don’t use different boards for gaming and typing/work so I don’t really need my gaming cluster to feel vastly different than the other keys on the board.
As far as the feeling of these caps goes they pretty much nailed it if you’re asking me. Some rubber caps feel almost like dirty regular caps because of the lack of texturing but here there’s just enough texture to provide that different feeling when gaming while also being minimally noticeable when typing. Of course the rubber caps do sound a bit different than the plastic ones but the typing and actuation feeling is very much the same so that’s a win in my book.
Since this isn’t a full replacement set I just placed some of the rubber caps on my regular SF board and I haven’t taken them off since so I do really love these, but of course you need to be a fan of rubber (accent) keys in the first place to appreciate this kind of thing.
Ducky Cotton Candy Keycaps
The Cotton Candy set is another SA profile keycap set. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and while I quite like the look of this board for a bit I wouldn’t personally use it as my main board. Of course that’s completely subjective so if you quite like this kind of upbeat, cheery look you’ll be happy to know that these do feel really nice.
These caps are thick and weighty, making the typing experience feel great, especially if you’re coming from cheap and thin ABS caps. The finishing actually reminds me of cotton candy in a way, with a slightly matte and non-textured coating on these caps that almost looks a bit powdery, for lack of a better word. They don’t actually feel all that different to the touch than the Horizon caps that I reviewed earlier but there’s without a doubt a different look to them.
As with all SA caps these can feel a bit wobblier than sets with a lower profile but I didn’t really have an issue with that during my testing period with these keycaps. Whether or not these are ‘better’ for gaming than regular caps will honestly depend on your personal experience: I prefer a cherry profile for gaming since it feels just a bit easier to hit keys during intense games thanks to the larger surface area of the regular caps but it’s not as if my performance actually suffered in a real way when using the SA set either: this is mostly a ‘feeling’ thing for me.
One last aspect I should mention is that this set is fully compatible with Ducky’s SF boards. That’s great news for people who prefer that layout over others (me) since you can now install this set without having to resort to using keys with the wrong legends on them or what have you.
Ducky Keycaps Review – Conclusion
For me the performance of my gear always comes first but I do admit that a clean and matching setup can really tie a room together so I love me some quality keycap sets. Ducky has really impressed me with these sets that I got to test. Of course a set of keycaps is at the bottom of the list when it comes to ‘things you should buy to improve your gaming performance’ but if you’ve already found your (near) perfect keyboard it can be fun to change things up a little bit by swapping out your keycaps.
If you want to swap it out you’re in safe hands with Ducky. These sets are very different from each other, but all four of them reach the quality standard that I’ve come to expect from Ducky. If you want to go for a different kind of look I can wholeheartedly recommend these. Just make sure the replacement set fits your board in case you’re rocking a 65% Ducky keyboard.