Getting into the mechanical keyboard hobby, you’re probably wondering what mounting styles are and why they are important. To put it simply, a mounting style is how the PCB or plate is secured to the keyboard housing or case. It affects the assembly method as well as the overall sound and feel of the keyboard. It can also affect how rigid or how flexible you want your keyboard to be.
Gasket mount keyboards utilize a piece of foam, called a gasket, to isolate the PCB and the plate from the rest of the keyboard case. This mounting style significantly reduces vibrations inside the case and provides a flexible, softer, and quieter typing experience.
There are different types of mounting styles based on the typing experience that the user wants to achieve. One of the most popular mounting styles currently used by both entry-level and high-end custom keyboards is gasket mount. In this article, we will be discussing what gasket mounting is, why it’s been gaining traction in the keyboard community and other cheaper alternatives.
In gasket mounting, a piece of rubber or similar material called a gasket is placed between the plate or PCB on the top and bottom sides. The plate or PCB is sandwiched by gaskets to prevent it from making direct contact with the case since its original purpose is to isolate vibration as well as noise traveling from the plate or PCB.
Yet because of this, it also gives the plate a small amount of room to bend, which produces a softer feel with less sound. It allows the plate to stay in place without being directly attached to the keyboard housing due to the pressure from the gaskets that makes it remain steady. Therefore, not only does it become more flexible but also softer and quieter.
Although, one of the downsides to gasket mounting is that it is quite expensive to produce. The keyboard housing is complex to manufacture since it has to accommodate the rubber pieces and fit within the housing.
Diving deeper into the gasket mount, different materials are used in this mounting style. The most commonly used are Poron gaskets, as it is a type of foam made especially for gasketing. It has excellent compression set resistance and is made to last for a long time.
O-rings are also used as an alternative as it is way cheaper but work as well as Poron gaskets. It is commonly made out of silicone and is used as a mount mod for stiff keyboards like the KBDFans Tofu as it produces a clean sound close to a gasket. It is easily accessible and easier to use as you can fit the screw that secures the PCB and plate through its hole.
The Rising Popularity of Gasket Mounted Keyboards
- Some sources say that gasket-mounting is overrated, while some do say that it is the future and goes further in even saying that it is the best “mounting style.”
- Ultimately, it is subject to personal preference (as always).
- Emphasis on the point wherein why do people switch to gasket-mounted keyboards
One of the main reasons gasket-mounted keyboards are gaining more popularity in the community is the sound and feel. Many people like the idea of gaskets as it absorbs the impact of every keypress. This offers a cleaner sound profile compared to other mounts, and the typing experience has more flex.
Another reason why some people switch to gasket-mounted keyboards is that gasket mounting works best with stiffer boards or metal parts which offers a more premium typing experience– from the overall acoustics of the board down to the feel of it.
This popularity has sparked a debate in the community, claiming it may be the next best mounting style or that it’s overrated. Well, depending on the keyboard, gasket mounting can be hit-or-miss. Not all keyboards with gasket mounting sound or feel the way you want them to.
One of the main reasons is the different implementations of the mounting style and the unique features of the board. Therefore, not all gasket-mounted keyboards are guaranteed to sound clean or feel softer, and there are cases wherein some offer a firmer feel and sound high-pitched.
Typing Experience of A Gasket-Mounted Keyboard
How Gasket Mount Keyboards Sound
Gasket-mounted keyboards are quieter as they produce less sound, and this is because the point of contact between the plate or PCB is with a gasket rather than the case itself. It also produces a cleaner sound profile as the gaskets absorb the impact when keys are pressed.
How Gasket Mount Keyboards Feel
Gasket-mounted keyboards offer a lot more flex compared to other keyboards as it is suspended from the case. It also offers a softer and more cushioned feel because of this.
Should You Get A Gasket-Mounted Keyboard?
If you’re new to the hobby, it is not recommended to buy a gasket-mounted keyboard right off the bat, mainly because of its price and accessibility. Due to its complexity, the manufacturing of gasket-mounted keyboards is quite expensive and limited. It might be better to invest in a keyboard that you can experiment on to discover your preferences regarding the acoustics, feel, and overall typing experience you want from a keyboard.
Although if you have been in the hobby for a while and are new to this concept, gasket mounts would offer a different experience compared to other mounting styles as the PCB or plate is suspended in the case. It is worth looking into if you plan to buy a high-end keyboard or if you’re planning to build your own.
One way to experience gasket mounting is to implement the O-ring mod on stiffer boards to see if you like it or not. Gasket mounting works best on metal parts– usually modded with foam dampeners in the case and between the PCB and plate to reduce hollowness and pingy noises.
All in all, it all boils down to personal preference. If a softer, flexible, and quiet typing experience is something that piques your interest, then this might be for you.
Cheaper Alternatives to Gasket-Mounting
- O-rings, mods, etc. to create a typing experience as to sound and feel near or comparable to what a gasket-mounted keyboard provide
Despite its reputation for being expensive, its popularity has allowed enthusiasts in the community to find a cheaper and more accessible alternative to gasket mounting. As mentioned before, another material used in this mounting style is O-rings.
Enthusiasts have called this the O-ring mount mod, where they put the O-rings in the screws that are placed between the case and the PCB. It makes stiff keyboards more flexible and sound cleaner. It is arguably one of the closest experiences in both sound and feel one can get compared to a gasket-mounted keyboard.
A gasket mount is a popular mounting style usually consists of a piece of rubber, called a gasket, that isolates the plate or PCB from the keyboard housing to prevent it from making direct contact. The gaskets absorb the impact of every keypress, which creates a flexible, softer, and quieter typing experience.
Enthusiasts like this type of mounting style because of the clean sound profile and the overall feel that it produces. Although it has great qualities and offers a unique typing experience, it is quite expensive and inaccessible due to its complexity in manufacturing. But because of its popularity, enthusiasts have found a cheaper and more accessible alternative called the O-ring mount mod, which is a close experience to the gasket mount.
If you’re new to the hobby, it is not recommended to buy a gasket mount immediately since not all gasket-mounted keyboards sound the same. They do not guarantee the sound profile you want as they differ in their implementations and unique features. It might be better to invest in a keyboard that you can freely experiment with to figure out your preference in terms of sound, feel, and overall typing experience.
But if you have been in the hobby for a while, it may be worth looking into as it offers a unique experience compared to different mounting styles. It’s worth considering trying the O-ring mount mod to see if this is for you.
Overall, it boils down to preference. This mounting style may or may not be for you, depending on what sound profile, feel, and typing experience you want to achieve.