Looking for an interesting upgrade to our mechanical keyboard? Cerakey is back with its second round of ceramic custom keycaps, this time with silicone inserts for easier installation. They’re more than a little unique but are they worth the $126 cost of entry?
They look and sound good, instantly deepening the sound of your keyboard. There’s also something really novel and interesting about ceramic keycaps in general — who else in your life will have such a thing, and they genuinely make your keyboard feel better to use. But there are some issues and limitations to be aware of before you buy.
- Current Price: $126 to $144, depending on color (Cerakey)
- Material: Alumina Ceramics
- Stem: ABS Plastic
- Profile: Cherry Profile
- Total Keys: 114
- Support: 61/68/84/87/96/98/104 layout
- Compatibility: Cherry MX switches and MX clones
Cerakey MX Ceramic Keycaps (V2) - What Is It?
In May of 2022, a new company came into the keyboard scene, introducing a novel, not-seen-before concept: ceramic keycaps. This company was fittingly called Cerakey and introduced the world to a brand new type of keycap. One that, while expensive, was genuinely neat and offered immediately tangible improvements to the look, feel, and sound of just about any keyboard. These keycaps were made of ceramic and its proof of concept videos and early reviewer videos propelled its Kickstarter campaign to quick success. Its original funding goal of 50,000 HK (about $6,500 USD) was quickly surpassed, and its campaign ended with 4.4 million HK, just under $570,000 USD.
The company is now back again with a V2 version of its ceramic keycaps, but while there have been a number of changes, the basics remain the same. The keycaps are made of an alumina ceramic, which increases their durability against drops and normal wear and tear. They’re also glazed with a glossy finish that should prevent fading or corroding over time.
Since the process of making these keycaps is very different than virtually any other type of keycap you might consider, Cerakey is able to glaze them in some strikingly vibrant colors. Altogether, we have black, white, green, pink, red, indigo, canal blue, and indigo blue. Each is available with or without legends. For RGB backlighting, white is reflective and absolutely enhances the effect. Even black seemed to enhance the backlighting on my Fiio KB3, and I suspect it’s because the underside of the keycaps is white and reflects the light back down into a smooth, flowing bed.
This release also comes with a striking Crazed colorway unlike any other keycaps I’ve ever seen (and I browse keycaps literally every single week). This effect is almost like an iced white. The base is a smooth, glassy white blue fractaling across its surface. It looks fantastic. Just know that the colored keycaps can impact how RGB backlighting filters through. With the Crazed keycaps on my Wuque Studio’s keyboard, the rainbow effect was blue tinged.
They keycaps are thick and weighty, though maybe not as much as you might think. While certainly heavier than plastic keycaps, the single-unit keys (like letters and numbers) weigh only 3.5 grams each. The spacebar, taking up 6.25 units, is much heavier and can present issues for lighter switches. Using my Laguna Blue switches from Bolsa Supply, the keycap struggled to return. Thankfully, Cerakey gives you a couple of heavier switches in the box for the spacebar. More powerful strings help it return, but your keyboard will need to support hot-swapping switches if you run into an issue — or break out the soldering iron.
The biggest change with this new version is that the stems — the part that fits onto your switches — now use embedded plastic stems. This improves the keycaps’ durability for different types of switches that might have slightly different tolerances. Plastic stems are able to give a touch, allowing them to fit on more switches without issues. More on that later.
The kits also come with enough options to fit a range of different layouts. Full-size and tenkeyless keyboards will be covered, but you’ll find that your options for 65% and 75% keyboards to be more limited. Cerakey does provide an array of keys to make this work — both of the keyboards I used for this review are compact. But the kits lack support for the usual arrangement of right or left row keys. The most common arrangements of keys are:
- Home, Page Up, Page Down, End
- Home, End, Page Up, Page Down
- Delete, Page Up, Page Down, End
Though there are options for each of these keys in different rows, none of them had all the keys matching in the kits I received. In the photos of the black keyboard, End and Page Down, for example, are both from the same row, when Page Up should be shorter and angled differently. There is also no key to put End at the bottom at all.
As you can see, it’s not impossible to make it work, but there are some compromises for the actual layout you’ll be able to do. There is also no 7-unit spacebar, so these kits won’t work at all for that type of mechanical keyboard.
Cerakey MX Ceramic Keycaps (V2) - Typing and Gaming Impressions
I’ve spent a little over two weeks with the Cerakey MX Ceramic keycaps and in a lot of ways, I love them. The glossy, glass-like feeling under the fingertips is really nice. They’re flat-out pleasant to use, though a bit of a fingerprint magnet with the black version.
And just because they’re ceramic doesn’t mean they have a glassy sound to them. Far from it actually. I expected these keycaps to have a higher pitched sound. Instead, they’re deep and, as the community likes to say, thocky. The higher density of the ceramic, and the thickness of the keycaps, allow these keycaps to offer an instant enhancement to the sound of a keyboard. The spacebar can sometimes have a very quiet, very subtle tink sound that’s rather nice, unlike when this happens on other keys.
They’re also a great conversation starter. That may not mean much for actual performance, but it’s a neat quality they bring that goes beyond color. People have seen different colors of keycaps, but have they seen glazed ceramic keycaps? Where would you even get such a thing? You see where I’m going. It’s a fun little extra.
For gaming, they work perfectly fine. I could wax on about how their glossiness makes them slightly less grippy, and that’s true, but it’s not a big enough difference to impact gaming negatively at all. As I’ve long said, it’s much more important that your keyboard feels good to use and makes you want to come to your PC to play, or if you’re competitive, practice. A great feeling keyboard makes everything you’ll do with it more satisfying.
But while I really enjoy most aspects of them, the plastic stems can create some issues. In speaking with Cerakey, they described the process of adding these plastic stems as being done by hand using a special tool and utilizing glue. Due to the nature of this process, it’s less precise than traditional keycap manufacturing, which means there may be slight imperfections with how keys align. In one instance, one of my keys (right shift) was making contact with its neighboring key, causing a tink sound every time it was pressed.
I also ran into an issue on one of my keyboards where the spacebar didn’t fit tightly on the stems of the stabilizer. This is easily fixed by putting a tiny piece of paper inside the stem before pressing it into place. This has apparently been an issue since the first version. So, you might need to do some minor modding to make sure they work perfectly with all types of switches.
When I reached out to Cerakey, they shared that they are aware that, though they should be rare, they are aware that there could be alignment issues due to the nature of the production process and have a strong replacement policy in place to exchange faulty keycaps. They’re a small team that’s still perfecting the manufacturing process to improve QC and even shared some of their ideas with me. It’s promising, but for now, this is something to be aware of going in.
Final Thoughts - Should You Buy Them?
The Cerakey MX V2 keycaps have a lot going for them. They’re glassy, heavy, and can transform virtually any keyboard into a thocky, reflective, conversation starter. At $120, they’re expensive for some of the issues that persist, however. You need to go in with eyes wide open on this one and know that it’s possible you may or may not have an issue that requires support from the company. Once they’re set (which will hopefully be straight out of the box for you), they’re pretty great and I’m looking forward to seeing how they improve in future versions.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.