Keyboard enthusiasts love taking apart and tinkering with their keyboards. In recent years, the ability to disassemble your keyboard has almost become a necessity with the number of mods that can vastly improve the sound and feel of your keyboard. However, not all mechanical keyboards can be taken apart easily.
Gaming mechanical keyboards usually restrict access to their internals. The warranty may even be voided if the user attempts to open up their keyboard. In contrast, pre-built custom and custom mechanical keyboards give the user more liberty in accessing their internals. While there are some risks involved, disassembling custom keyboards are usually safe and risk-free.
But with that said, there are some risks that keyboard enthusiasts have to take note of if they are planning to disassemble their keyboards. These include wear and tear or damage to sensitive components such as ribbon cables. These risks are small but are still very important to take note of.
In this article, we will discuss the many benefits of a keyboard that can be dismantled, which kinds of keyboards can be disassembled, and the risks involved with dismantling your keyboard. Keep on scrolling to learn more about mechanical keyboard disassembly.
Can You Disassemble Any Mechanical Keyboard?
Before we get started, let us first make one thing clear. Not all mechanical keyboards are meant to be dismantled by the user. Some are designed to be easily accessed, while others can take a lot of effort to open.
Generally speaking, custom keyboards are meant to be taken apart, while gaming keyboards restrict how much you can customize them. Most mechanical gaming keyboards do not have any exposed screws or any obvious way to access the internals. Opening up and modifying these kinds of keyboards is mostly not worth it, especially since most companies void the warranty as soon as you attempt to open the keyboard case.
So, in summary, if you are dealing with a gaming mechanical keyboard manufactured by mainstream gaming peripheral brands, you will most likely not be able to open them easily. But if your keyboard is specifically marketed as a custom keyboard or has customizable features such as hot-swappable switches and compatibility with third-party stabilizers, you can most likely easily access the internals.
Why Take Apart Your Custom Keyboard?
Now that we know which kinds of mechanical keyboards we can safely disassemble, let us now talk about why keyboard enthusiasts even want to disassemble their keyboards in the first place. One of the main reasons for dismantling keyboards is to apply mods.
Out of the box, most pre-built mechanical keyboards need some work to get them to sound and feel better. Some common mods that can be done include adding a case foam/dampener, doing the tape mod, and adding PE foam. Additional steps can be done, such as lubing and modding the stabilizers and replacing parts such as the plate.
Another reason why enthusiasts might want to open up their keyboards is to diagnose and fix issues. Sometimes, the PCB can become faulty and may need to be replaced by the user. Most pre-built custom keyboards supply extra parts, including PCBs, to address these issues. The bottom line is that having the ability to open up and access the keyboard’s internals allows users to fine-tune the performance of their keyboards and address issues down the line.
What Can Go Wrong During Keyboard Disassembly?
Despite the fact that many custom keyboards are meant to be taken apart and tinkered with, there are some risks involved when opening up your mechanical keyboard. Of course, this isn’t surprising as disassembling any electronic equipment has some risks.
The first thing that can go wrong is stripping the screws. This issue can occur for older mechanical keyboards that have been disassembled several times. It can also happen if you try to use the wrong type of screwdriver forcefully. As long as you are careful, you can avoid this issue. And if it happens, you can always replace the screws.
Another issue that can happen is loose hot-swap sockets. When fully taking apart a custom keyboard for maintenance and cleaning, the switches also have to be removed. Unfortunately, the hot-swap sockets can become loose over time. And when this happens, the switches may no longer reliably connect to the PCB.
When this happens, the user can opt to replace the hot-swap sockets or outright replace the PCB. But to be on the safe side, make sure to only fully disassemble your keyboard when needed. There is no need to often dismantle your keyboard.
Lastly, when dealing with more complex mechanical keyboards that have daughterboards, there is a chance that the user can damage the ribbon cables. This is a small risk, especially if you already know how to reliably disconnect the ribbon cables on your keyboard. For those who have never dismantled a keyboard before, we highly recommend looking up a guide or a disassembly video and to familiarize yourself with all the components and cables that have to be removed.
General Precautions When Dismantling Your Mechanical Keyboard
As we have mentioned earlier, always learn about the internals of your keyboard. Check out assembly/disassembly videos to help you get acquainted with any sensitive components such as ribbon cables and batteries. These videos will also let you know about any other risks, such as weak components in plastic cases that can break when too much force is applied.
Another general precaution is to always use the right tools for the job. We highly recommend multibit screwdriver sets to ensure that you always have the correct screw bit.
And lastly, when attempting to replace parts such as the PCB and plate or when applying mods, make sure to check for compatibility thoroughly. This is especially true when using third-party parts that have not been confirmed to work with your mechanical keyboard. When in doubt, you can always ask various forums first before dismantling and installing the mods and aftermarket parts.