Changing your keycaps is one of the easiest ways to customize the look of your mechanical keyboard and truly make it your own. There are lots of options out there but the most attractive sets are often locked behind group buys and months-long fulfillment times. AKKO, with the help of Epomaker, is stepping up to fill that void with its new line of doubleshot PBT keycaps. Coming to market between $59-69 and available in a wide variety of color schemes, are these keycaps worth a buy?
- Current Price: $59.99 - $69.99 (Epomaker, Amazon)
- Keycap Profile: ASA, Cherry
- Keycap Material: PBT
- Legends: Doubleshot
- Keycap Count: 108 + Extras (48 or 49)
- Accessories Included:
- Keycap Puller
- Plastic Storage Case
As a brand, AKKO has been around for some time. They first came to my attention a couple of years back when someone mentioned their connection to Ducky. It seems they collaborated with Ducky on at least one keyboard and were a distributor for its products but I've struggled to find more information. These days, AKKO is focused on releasing its own line-up of boutique keyboards and keycap sets, bringing custom-themed designs to affordable price points. While you could feel the budget leanings in some of its keyboards in the past, AKKO's keycaps were always a high-point, which is what makes the addition of its new keycap sets all the more exciting.
If you’re new to the world of enthusiast mechanical keyboards, aesthetics are huge. It makes sense: if you’re building a custom keyboard, why wouldn’t you want a unique set of keycaps to make the final product look great? That’s trickled down into the world of production keyboards with Razer, Corsair, HyperX, and more besides each selling their own custom keycap sets. The problem is that these offerings are usually pretty simple: single-color PBT or pudding keycaps with translucent sides. They’re something but a far cry from what can be found in the enthusiast community.
Through companies like GMK and ePBT, creators are able to submit orders for highly themed keycaps sets. In the last two years, there have been multiple sets themed after different anime, ninjas and samurais, seafaring, spacefaring, copper, coffee, camping, and more. The problem is that these sets are often very expensive — think $150 - 200+ — need to be paid upfront, take months to fulfill, and offer no guarantees that the colors will accurately match the renders used to sell the group buy in the first place. GMK and ePBT make excellent keycaps, so quality is less of a concern than time and cost.
That’s where AKKO comes in. As a larger company, it can afford to produce themed keycap sets without the group buy model and to price them reasonably. The new sets come in a wide array of bright colors and some clearly take inspiration from existing popular keycap sets. I purchased the AKKO Neon set several months ago, the same one featured on the 3061 compact keyboard, for $59.99. Visually, it’s extremely similar to the SA Laser keycap set I spent nearly $200 on last year.
These keycaps come in two profiles and they’re locked depending on which colorway you choose: Cherry and ASA. Cherry profile is much closer to modern keycaps but slightly shorter for a more low-profile feel than the OEM caps shipped on most gaming keyboards. ASA, on the other hand, is similar to the old school SA keycaps found on vintage computer terminals. It’s substantially shorter with a slightly different curvature, however, which makes it a nice middle ground between Cherry and full SA.
Here’s how ASA compares to full-size ASA:
For this review, Epomaker sent me five different sets to check out. We have:
This colorful set is themed after Evangelion.
This purple and yellow set borrows colors from the Los Angeles Lakers. It strikes me as a good fit for brass, purple, or yellow keyboard cases
Carbon is a classic colorway in the keyboard community. Offwhite, orange, and grey. This will fit with lots of builds and looks great.
This set is absolutely inspired by Zambumon’s GMK Nautilus keycap set. Blue and yellow all the way. This is a Cherry Profile set.
Black and Pink
This set is targeting a similar look to the incredibly popular GMK Olivia keycap set. As the name implies, it’s black and pink but the alphas and numpad are grey on black, so it’s not a 1:1 for Olivia Dark.
Forgive the lack of case image. The standalone keycap set has already been installed on another board I didn’t have access to photograph at the time of this writing. The set pictured above is the exact same, minus the extras for larger keyboards. It’s neon colors, just like the original Laser. It’s also available in ASA or Cherry profiles and is the only set to provide an option.
For the money, these are impressive keycap sets. Starting with the case, it’s simply one of the best keycap storage cases I’ve ever seen. Each set comes in a plastic case that’s held closed with strong magnets and slips into a nice cardboard sleeve. Inside, plastic tabs slot into the stem of each keycap. Overseas shipping did knock four or five loose in transit but they seem to hold the caps well when the boxes aren’t being handled normally.
The keycaps themselves are also very good. AKKO uses a doubleshot process for its legends which leaves them crisp and looking good (though, they’re not backlit, like most keycaps of this type) The keycaps themselves are PBT plastic, so you won’t have to worry about them shining or fading which is a concern with the pricey GMK sets. Stem alignment and orientation were all good on my sets with few noticeable irregularities.
The one thing I don’t like is that several stems do have a line cut out of the wall as part of the production process. They still fit on the keycaps securely but that does leave me concerned about their long-term durability. Still, for $69, it’s a small concern that doesn’t affect usability. Another minor inconvenience is that removing the keycaps from the case can be pretty challenging -- good for keeping them from falling out but it definitely makes changing keycaps
Another high point here is just how many keycaps are included. Every set includes the basic 108 keycaps for a full size keyboard plus at least 48 extras. There is compatibility in these kits for usually difficult layouts like 65-percent keyboards of the GK96S pictured below.
So how do they compare against the pricier options? On this level, my experience is limited since I don’t have many high-end keycap sets to compare against. Apart from the Laser set I purchased last year and a single GMK set from Drop, I only have more affordable sets. Yet, against both, the AKKO sets compare favorably. Because of the use of PBT plastic, the colors don’t pop as much as the GMK ABS plastics but still look very good. In actual use, they look and sound great. The ASA profile also feels very nice under the finger with its lower height and concave sculpting.
If you like the look of pricier keycap sets but don’t want to pay exorbitant prices before waiting months on delivery, these keycap sets are an excellent option. They are not 1-to-1 renditions of popular keycaps sets, nor should they be, but they’re close enough to scratch that same itch and get your keyboard looking great without breaking the bank. Check out the full selection over at the Epomaker webstore.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.