Casual users often wonder why keyboard enthusiasts have so many keyboards. What are they going to use them for? They can’t even use two keyboards at the same time! (In a normal use case scenario, at least). So why would anyone buy more than one custom keyboard?
Like any other hobby, there are plenty of reasons to invest in more than one keyboard. Some prefer having a different keyboard for specific tasks, while others prefer having different aesthetic options. Regardless of the reason, the keyboard hobby is incredibly engaging, making collecting keyboards fun and satisfying.
Some users will outright tell you that they fell into the custom keyboard rabbit hole. What started as a curious venture into the keyboard hobby ultimately ended with them buying multiple custom keyboard kits, keycap sets, and switches. And honestly, we can already end our discussion here.
However, we believe that there are multiple legitimate reasons to buy multiple custom keyboards. In this article, we will be discussing the common reasons why keyboard enthusiasts tend to buy different keyboards. And by the end, those who are new to the keyboard hobby should be able to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for those who have built up their keyboard collection.
Different Use Cases
The first major reason why enthusiasts buy different mechanical keyboards is that each keyboard excels at specific tasks. Some keyboards are better suited for gaming, while others are more optimized for typing and other work-related tasks. And while there are versatile keyboards, there isn’t a single keyboard that rules them all.
Different Keyboard Sizes
To help readers better understand what each keyboard excels at, let us talk about keyboard sizes. Compact keyboards (60%, 65%, 76%, etc.) have gained massive popularity due to how different they are from typical mechanical keyboards.
They have a smaller footprint, making them easier to carry around and fit in a desk setup. Their size also allows for wider mouse movements, making them perfect for gaming. However, since they are physically missing some keys (that can be accessed via the function keys), they aren’t the best for work-related tasks that require macros and shortcuts such as photo and video editing.
For these kinds of tasks, users tend to gravitate toward full-sized keyboards, TKL keyboards, and even 65% keyboards since they have the F keys. However, the added size of these keyboards creates problems for smaller desks and for gamers.
So instead of debating which size to use, which can compromise the end result, many users simply use different keyboards that work best for their current task. Also, swapping them out once the user is done is pretty simple since most custom keyboards feature a removable USB Type-C connector.
Different Mechanical Keyboard Switches
Aside from the size, different mechanical keyboards will feature different switches. And, of course, having different switches will alter the sound and feel of a certain keyboard. For instance, some will prefer the smoother travel of linear switches, while others will prefer the control and satisfying feel that tactile switches provide.
In addition, some will like lighter switches while others will prefer heavier switches. This applies to both linear switches and tactile switches.
Of course, many will suggest buying a hot-swap keyboard. This will allow the user to swap out the switches whenever they feel like using a different switch. However, the problem here is that swapping out switches is a time-consuming process, especially for larger keyboards.
Also, constantly swapping out switches will quickly wear out the hot-swap sockets of a keyboard. For instance, if a user swaps out switches daily, the sockets will eventually become loose.
And lastly, users who prefer more than one keyboard switch will obviously not be able to use them all at once in a single hot-swap board. So naturally, more advanced users simply buy more keyboards to use different keyboard switches.
Different Feeling and Sounding Mechanical Keyboards
Another reason to buy multiple keyboards is to have different kinds of typing experiences. As we have mentioned earlier, having different kinds of mechanical keyboard switches can alter the typing feel of a keyboard. However, the switches are not the only factor that affects the typing feel of a keyboard.
Many other factors, such as mods, plate material, mounting style, and even the keyboard kit itself, can all affect a keyboard’s typing feel. Some plate materials can give a softer or harder typing experience. Also, some mounting styles can contribute to a bouncier typing feel.
Taking things a step further, different keyboard kits will feel different from one another, even if they use the same plate material, mounting style, and switches. This is because each keyboard kit was designed differently, meaning all the parts inside will have different kinds of implementations.
For instance, the KBDFans KBD67 Lite/KBD67 V3 and D65 are both gasket mount keyboards. However, they are designed and constructed differently, meaning they won’t have the same feel, sound, and level of flex and bounce.
In addition to typing feel, another element that keyboard enthusiasts consider is the acoustics/sound profile of a keyboard. Just like with typing feel, each keyboard will have its unique sound profile. Keyboards typically tend to sound either clacky (high pitch) or thocky (low pitch).
Many mods can then be applied to achieve a user’s desired sound profile. Popular sound mods include the tape mod, the PE foam mod and the band-aid mod.
The point here is that different keyboards will sound and feel different from each other. And ultimately, there is no superior sounding and feeling keyboard, and it all depends on the user’s preference. Keyboard enthusiasts tend to accumulate multiple keyboards to experience different sounding and different feeling keyboards.
One thing that has drawn many users into the world of mechanical keyboards is their customizable aesthetics. You can customize each keyboard to tailor fit the aesthetic preferences of each individual user. Keyboards can look as clean and minimalistic as possible or decked out and over the top.
However, some aspects of a custom keyboard cannot be easily swapped. The case, for instance, is typically fixed for keyboards larger than a 60% keyboard, and this means that aftermarket cases are not easily available.
To give a concrete example, a Tofu65 cannot be customized to look like a Space65. This is due to a number of reasons, such as having different mounting points and mounting styles. Ultimately, You cannot convert simple-looking keyboards such as the Tofu keyboards into more advanced-looking keyboards.
This means that to achieve a specific theme or aesthetic, users need to buy the proper keyboard kit that will allow them to achieve their goals. Another reason to buy keyboards is to match certain keycap sets.
Keyboards enthusiasts love buying different keycap sets. This is because they either love the aesthetics of the keycap set or simply due to how rare they are (GMK keycaps, for example). Regardless of what their reason is, they will most likely be looking to mount these keycaps into a keyboard. So, of course, they will need more than one keyboard, especially if they have multiple keycaps.
So far, the points that we have discussed apply to more advanced users who already know what they want. However, owning multiple keyboards can also greatly help newer users, and this is because they will be able to establish their preferences.
For many users, simply reading about terms such as typing experience and typing sound won’t cut it. They have to experience these first hand to know whether or not they will like it. So if budget permits, many newer enthusiasts buy different keyboard kits to help them pick which features are important to them.
Using Keyboards For a Specific Task
Earlier, we talked about using different keyboards depending on the task. However, some users have taken this a step further. These users buy dedicated keyboards and reprogram them for specific tasks.
The most common example is utilizing a 40% keyboard as a macro pad. This allows them to make a dedicated device that they can assign shortcuts and various commands into. In many ways, this is the DIY counterpart of the famous Elgato Streamdeck.
These macro pads can be used for streaming, photo and video editing, Discord emojis, and many more. In fact, this isn’t limited to just small form factor keyboards, and even larger full-sized keyboards can be reprogrammed as secondary keyboards for shortcuts.
Lastly, many keyboard enthusiasts who own multiple keyboards also own multiple workstations. It makes sense for these kinds of users to own multiple custom keyboards. Some common use cases include having a dedicated keyboard for their office setup, home setup, and gaming setup.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all users. Some simply unplug their keyboard and use it with their different setups. However, for others, this isn’t possible.
In the world of custom keyboards, having more heft usually equates to a more premium product. Thus, many keyboard manufacturers incorporate a built-in weight to their keyboards. The problem with this is that these keyboards will be harder to transport. So for those who take their keyboards to their office setup, this is a no-go.
In addition, some users enjoy loud-sounding keyboards. For obvious reasons, they will not be able to take these kinds of keyboards to an office environment.
To sum it all up, the main reason to own different keyboards is to have variety. Today’s custom keyboard market is filled with different options, and nearly all custom keyboards will look, sound, and feel different from each other.
And ultimately, it is impossible to get all of these features on a single keyboard. Thus, keyboard enthusiasts go out and buy multiple keyboards to get the ultimate typing experience.
There are also other reasons for owning different keyboards. These include having multiple PC setups or using keyboards as dedicated macro pads. So in a lot of cases, keyboard enthusiasts have legitimate reasons for owning different keyboards.
Of course, there are still plenty of users who have fallen deep into the rabbit hole. And before they knew it, they had already acquired multiple keyboards. But in the end, there’s nothing wrong with it as long as you are enjoying the custom keyboard hobby.
Stephen is the head content creator of Keyboardsexpert. His mechanical keyboard journey began in 2014 when he got his Razer Blackwidow. Since then, he has been fascinated with all things mechanical keyboard-related. He later discovered the custom keyboard hobby and fell in love with the vast customization options. He is currently searching for his endgame and is very excited to share his journey and educate other keyboard enthusiasts.