Drop just released its latest line of keycaps, this time in the all-new DCX profile. Featuring a spherical profile similar to Cherry and doubleshot ABS construction, these keycaps take aim squarely at GMK while coming in at early bird pricing of only $89. Join us as we take a closer look and see how they stack up!
In the mechanical keyboard world, GMK has been the go-to manufacturer for high-end ABS keycap sets for years. As the hobby has exploded, so has the lead time for these sets, recently approaching wait times of 18 months to two years. That’s obviously untenable, but the company had what amounted to a death grip on the hobby. For high-end ABS sets, they were the market leader.
But all of that may be changing with Drop’s new DCX keycaps. These new keycaps are made with similar doubleshot ABS construction, a great attention to detail, and come in at a much cheaper price. Right now, the three available sets — white on black, black on white, and Genesis colorways — are available for only $89 dollars with normal pricing only $10 more. GMK sets are often $120 or more and then skyrocket in price once they hit the aftermarket.
Perhaps best of all, you won’t be left waiting months for these keycaps to be available to buy. According to Drop:
DCX Keycap sets will be produced with the same ethos as all of our keycap offerings: to expand community accessibility via in-stock availability. It takes us 4 – 6 months to go from an idea, to color matching, to resin acquisition, mass production, quality control, and finally shipping. When in production, we can make sets quickly and efficiently at scale so that we can deliver preorders and have sufficient inventory for drop.com and other distribution channels.
Of course, all of that matters little if the keycaps don’t live up to the high standards set by GMK, so let’s take a closer look.
DCX Black on White: Closer Look and Comparison
Starting with packaging, we have a pretty good arrangement here. There’s no exterior sleeve like GMK sets have, so it’s a bit less fancy, but given the cost difference, I’m not bothered. The keycaps are held in plastic trays with bubble wrap. Even though the keycaps had been handled through shipping and then moved around repeatedly in their shipping box, there wasn’t a single keycap flipped or out of place. The packaging is simple but effective, which is what matters.
At first glance, the keycaps appear well-made with very crisp legends. I wanted to see how they would stack up against GMK, however, so I pulled a selection of keycaps from my Blue Samurai set I picked up earlier this year ($150, by the way).
The first thing that stood out to me is just how crisp the legends are. Drop’s doubleshot process results in very nice legending. This comparison is a bit slanted due to the high contrast of the white on black set, but it also highlights how consistently well done it is across these keys. There are some differences between sets where one looks better than the other — the GMK Esc key looks slightly more crisp than the DCX set, but the arrows on Tab are way more crisp on DCX — but these differences are small and generally reflect very well on the DCX keycaps.
Like GMK, the caps are lightly textured. They feel slightly smoother under the finger, but Drop states that “not all ABS plastics are created equal” and that these are made from the same blend as found on its MT3 profile keycaps. These are fairly shine resistant, in my experience, but like all ABS will shine more quickly than PBT. Still, as someone who hates shine, I’m happy to hear resilience was a key factor in the plastic blend used here. Time will tell how they hold up.
Also notice that Drop got rid of the centered Control legend from the GMK set, which makes it look more unified with the rest of the bottom row.
Flipping them around, the DCX caps are way cleaner. There’s no comparison. Look at those solid doubleshots! The sprue marks on the DCX caps are smaller and harder to notice too. Here’s a close-up that shows the sprue mark on a 1u a bit better:
Thickness is comparable between the two sets, but it looks like GMK may have the slight edge — I will update this review with caliper measurements as soon as my new set arrives. Visually, both sets are thick and feel substantial under the finger.
Installed on the keyboard, you can see that the DCX set sits ever so slightly higher. It’s visible, but in truth, I was able to type with these keycaps installed and not really feel any difference. The change is present but hardly a game-changer.
When it comes to typing on them, the sound and feel is incredibly similar to GMK. On recordings, typing sounds identical. In person, I find the DCX keycaps to have a slightly lower pitch, but it’s so close it could be a placebo effect. There is virtually no difference between them when it comes to sound and feel.
Final Thoughts - A Worthy Alternative to GMK
Taken as a whole, Drop has really done a great job with this new profile. It’s close enough to Cherry that you can easily jump between the two profiles without missing a beat, and the doubleshot process is excellent. Sound and feel are both on par with GMK, with the side benefit of much cleaner doubleshots and legends that are frequently crisper. Add in the much cheaper pricing and ready availability, and you have a keycap set that’s a worthy alternative to GMK.
Right now, Drop is launching this set in three colorways (Black on White, White on Black, and Genesis) to start. It plans to launch many more in the future, and if its MT3 keycaps are anything to go by, I’d say that’s a safe bet. While we’ll have to see how subsequent sets turn out, I think this is a very good thing for the industry and provides a great alternative to fans of ABS keycap sets.
Find out more and read the development story of these keycaps at the official site!
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.