Although keyboards have similar components, including the case, plate, PCB, stabilizers, switches, and keycaps, certain aspects set keyboards apart from one another. The mounting style of a keyboard has a significant impact on any keyboard build because it affects the overall typing experience.
Top mount and gasket mount keyboards are popular in today’s custom keyboard market. The most notable difference is the typing experience. Gasket mounts generally provide a soft and flexible typing feel, whereas top-mounted keyboards tend to be stiffer. Each mount style has advantages and disadvantages depending on personal preferences and typing style.
The mounting style of a keyboard refers to how the plate or PCB is placed or secured in the keyboard case. This topic may be overwhelming to those new to the hobby due to how many different mounting styles there are. And to further add to the confusion, some keyboards have multiple mounting styles, such as Exclusive Keyboard’s E8.5. The brand’s latest 80 percent keyboard lets users choose between gasket mount and top mount, depending on their preference.
As good as it may sound, not everyone can afford the price of keyboards like E8.5 or prefer the aesthetics it possesses. So to simplify our discussion, we will be sticking with the two most common keyboard mounting types: gasket mount and top mount.
Top-mounted keyboards have always been the most common mounting style for mid-range and high-end keyboards in the mechanical keyboard market. However, gasket-mounted keyboards nowadays have stolen the show and have become a hot trend even in entry-level keyboards.
In this article, we will be discussing all there is to know about top mounts and gasket mounts, especially for beginners. Hopefully, this information will come in handy for those who are still undecided which keyboard to buy. We will be going through the differences in the mounting styles, examples of keyboards available in the market, and the average prices depending on mounting styles.
Plate-Mounting Style, Defined
As for the top mount, the PCB and plate are attached to the upper portion of the case or the top case, which results in a relatively consistent typing experience and sound. The plate is screwed to the upper portion of the casing, which results in the flex of the plate downwards on contact to reduce harshness in typing feel.
However, these types of keyboards require custom plates—for example, KBDFans’ TFV2. Although the board is truly aesthetically pleasing, not all users prefer brass plates as it gives a clacky sound profile. Due to TFV2 having only a brass plate as an option, people tend to customize 3D printed plates or go to custom plate makers to attend to their preferred sound profile while enjoying the TFV2.
On the other hand, a gasket mount incorporates a gasket material on both the top and bottom edges of the plate and isn’t in direct contact with the case. Gasket mount keyboards provide a softened and flexible typing experience.
Gasket-mounted keyboards have recently stolen the scene in the mechanical keyboard community, resulting in many entry-level keyboards that adopt the well-known mounting technique. Nevertheless, having a gasket mount feature does not necessarily mean that a keyboard is good quality.
People often prefer gasket mounts because it gives them a soft and flexible typing feel, which is not the case for some boards. There are gasket-mounted keyboards that are not as flexible as they should be due to the poor gasket quality and lack of room for the plate to move.
Distinguishing Both Mounting Styles
Top mount keyboards are mostly straightforward with their execution as it only requires the plate to be screwed in the top case of the board. However, there are different modifications that one can do to improve the sound and feel of a top-mounted keyboard, such as using rubber o-rings to soften the feel of the board.
On the other hand, gasket mount keyboards use different materials depending on the brand or the manufacturer of the keyboard. Some use silent cotton gaskets, Poron foam gaskets, rubber gaskets like o-rings, and more. One common gasket that enthusiasts buy in the market is the D65 gaskets from KBDfans, priced at $5.00 per pack. The D65 gaskets are made of Poron, giving the keyboard a more cushion feel when applied.
Compared to a top mount system, a gasket-mounted keyboard has a cleaner sound profile because the gaskets cushion the shock of each keypress. Gasket-mounted keyboards also give a softer typing experience, which helps avoid hand fatigue for those who type for long periods.
On the other hand, top-mounted keyboards tend to be stiffer. However, their strongest suit is their consistency. Both their sound profile and typing feel are consistent throughout the entire keyboard. Gasket mounts, in comparison, are usually more flexible on the middle but are stiffer on the sides of the keyboard.
Average Price and Examples of Top-Mounted Keyboards
It is rare to find a top-mounted entry-level keyboard, as this mounting style is more available in the mid-range and high-end mechanical keyboards. For users who prefer this type of mounting but are on a tight budget, KBDFans has some options to choose from.
Mid-range top mount keyboards start from $199 to $289. Examples include the KBD67 MKII, KBDFans Pebble, TFV2, Bounce 75, and KBD8X MKII. Mode’s SixtyFive is also a good option that starts at $300 and can vary depending on the board’s configuration.
For high-end top-mounted keyboards, Mode’s Eighty, priced at $460, is a good contender as it is one of the sought-after keyboards in the market. The Godspeed75 from The Key Dot Co is also the same price as the Mode Eighty.
However, keyboards mentioned above are mostly only available in group buys. Thus, to get a good-quality top-mounted keyboard, you should either have the money to buy aftermarket stocks or have the patience to wait for group buys.
Average Price and Examples of Gasket-Mounted Keyboards
Due to gasket mount being in popular demand, there have been many entry-level keyboards in the market that have this feature. One of the recent keyboards that feature gasket mount is the KBD67Lite. Akko Gear has also joined the fad with different keyboard variations such as ACR67, ACR75, MOD 007, MOD 005, and more.
Keychron’s Q1 and Q2 are also highly praised by Youtubers for their gasket mount execution. The Keychron Q1 claims to have a maximum flex of 2.5mm, while the Q2 features a double gasket design.
As for the high-end keyboards, Owlabs has been one of the most trusted brands among enthusiasts worldwide. Some notable keyboards from the brand are Jelly Epoch, Jelly Epoch SSE, and Mr. Suit, originally priced at $400 to $500.
Angry Miao has also shared their high-end gasket-mounted keyboard dubbed the Cyberboard. However, most high-end keyboards are often out-of-stock, on a group buy, or high-priced.