The most common types of profiles found on the market today are on keycaps between Cherry Profile and OEM Profile. Hence, it’s only natural that Cherry vs OEM has become a hot topic within the community.
The design and sculpt of Cherry and OEM profile keycaps are very similar. On the other hand, Cherry profile keycaps are slightly shorter and more difficult to find when looking for custom keycaps. OEM profile keycaps are commonly found on many prebuilt mechanical keyboards and are likely what the majority of people have previously typed on.
Today, let’s pitch these two profiles together and determine which one is best for your purposes.
Overview of Cherry and OEM profile keycaps
OEM profile vs Cherry profile: which one should you choose? is the most common question for anyone who is interested in building their own keyset. However, many people don’t even know what kind of keycap profile they are using. That’s why we’re here to help all keyboard enthusiasts know what they’re using and how well the specific profile feels to their experience.
Let’s get to know Cherry vs OEM profiles in depth.
What are Cherry Profile Keycaps?
Cherry profile keycaps are a sculpted set that many people find more comfortable to type with than OEM profile keycaps. Point one for Cherry in the OEM profile vs Cherry profile debate.
Keycaps with Cherry profiles are very expensive because they have a unitary design, sculptural textures on each key, precise carvings, and the best quality and thick plastic as if they can support your every finger while typing.
These characteristics are the hallmark of genuine Cherry profile keycaps, which can improve your typing and registering key feels. The keycaps’ tops are cylindrical, hugging your fingers with each keypress. As a result, you can type or play games with maximum ease. Although big companies like GMK and ePBT manufacture them, they’re challenging to find in large quantities.
To get to the door, you need to become a community member and participate in group purchases, which can take months. There is an easy way out – visit mechanicalkeyboards.com for Cherry profile keycaps from GMK, which are now easier to obtain.
Cherry profiles are also highly familiar with gaming and LED-induced setup. Hence, if the mechanical keyset has LEDs – or backlit for a more common term, on the base of the switches, Cherry profile keycaps may interfere with them (south-facing).
The keycap may rub against or hit the LED, but this is a simple fix. You can sand or shape the LED until it no longer interferes with the keycap. The optimized solution here is to use a keyboard without any LEDs or position the LEDs at the top of the switch (north-facing).
A quick recap of the Cherry profile keycaps:
- Comfortable keycaps
- Distinctive key rows
- Difficult to get to.
What are OEM Profile Keycaps?
OEM sculpted keycap sets are commonly found in pre-built mechanical keyboards. They are mass-produced and widely accepted among typically branded mechanical keyboards. Logitech, Corsair, and Razer are a few examples.
OEM profile keycaps have a higher outlook in the battle between Cherry vs OEM Keycap Profiles. When used on a mechanical keyboard, each row’s OEM profile Keycaps have a Different design and height. OEM profile keycaps have a top cylinder design above the surface of their keycaps, which makes them comfortable for typing or gaming.
Because OEM keycaps are the industry standard, they are inexpensive and available in various colors and designs. To kick it off a notch, you might have come across the company Hirosart while looking for artisan custom keycap sets. Most of our keycap sets are OEM compatible. However, we and other custom keycap makers also provide the product in different profiles, so make sure you read the descriptions carefully.
This profile is ideal for users who want to get their hands on keyboards that can perform a wide range of tasks. They are also very comfortable to use. It makes sense to have them because they can be obtained almost immediately.
1-liner that captures the best and shortcoming of the OEM profile: It’s easily accessible, finger-fittings, full of customizable features; however, most of the material is thin.
Cherry vs OEM Profile: Comparison Table
To determine which profile is superior, we must consider several factors, including price, availability, material, sound, and comfort/feel. Keep in mind that there is no concluded answer when deciding which profile is better. It genuinely comes down to personal choices and which style you can purchase with your budget.
Here is a quick table for your convenience to separate Cherry vs OEM keycap:
|Commonality||Widely available||Much exclusive|
|Height||Only below SA in height||Genuinely in the lower height profile|
|Feel||Similar to membrane keyboards||Comfortable, upper class registered keys.|
|Built||Slick texture that is a little uncomfortable to the touch||A one-of-a-kind design with a unique texture and engraving on the surface of the keycaps|
When comparing the price point between OEM and Cherry profile keycaps, OEM keycaps will be cheaper, always. Because they are the standard on most pre-custom mechanical keyboards.
The overall height is the most noticeable distinction between Cherry vs OEM. Cherry keycaps are typically a millimeter shorter, making it an excellent choice for you if you prefer this low-profile built.
Speaking of material made, you can encounter Cherry or OEM profile keycaps in ABS or PBT. Generally, OEM profile keycaps found on the large stock mechanical keyboards markets are made of a thin ABS plastic. Cherry alternatives made by GMK are built with high-quality and thicker ABS plastic.
Due to the plastic made, the sound of each mechanical keyboard is highly subjective and unique. When it comes to sound, it’s impossible to accurately compare Cherry and OEM profile keycaps – however, Cherry representatives have a deeper, more bassy sound.
Now, let’s discuss these differences in detail.
OEM vs Cherry Profile keycaps: Which is Better
OEM profile keycaps today are pretty affordable based on the materials and designs used. OEM keycaps sets range in price from $20 to $50. Cherry profile keycaps are challenging to find in your favorite marketplaces because they are rare items in today’s world.
Cherry profile keycaps from GMK can cost anywhere between $110 and $220, which is an extremely high price for just a Keycaps Set. But this is what has happened so far.
Furthermore, they sell exclusive keycaps for the spacebars, modifier keys, escape keys, and other keys to increase compatibility with various mechanical keyboard layouts. You can also find counterfeit Cherry keycap sets for $30 to $50, though vastly different quality and comfort.
In terms of quality Cherry vs OEM profile keycaps, this “feel” criterion is difficult to determine. This will only compare the keycap height factor and the ease or difficulty of the keycaps for your fingertips to stretch when navigating from one to the next.
People are more familiar and comfortable with OEM Profile Keycaps products because they are widely used and the industry-grade standard.
However, after a while of using Cherry profile keycaps, you become accustomed to the lower keycap height and tend to prefer the Cherry profile design. Since the keycaps are shorter, you don’t have to raise your hands as much to type, and the sculpted design prevents you from stretching your fingers when typing or gaming.
Cherry and OEM profile keycaps are typically made of two plastic materials: ABS and PBT plastic.
Preferably, you want to invest in Double Shot PBT keycaps with OEM profiles that are of exceptionally high quality, thick, and very comfortable to use for typing. The counterpart made with ABS material is not up to standard with a slippery texture that can stick oil on your fingers.
Speaking of cherry profile keycaps, since GMK is the most popular manufacturer, ABS becomes the standard for this profile. If you prefer PBT plastic, you should check out the set made by ePBT. Cherry profile keycap sets can also be purchased on Amazon. They are, however, more uncommon and less legit.
OEM profile keycaps are abundant in the market due to the large number of companies that manufacture these profile keycaps.
As previously stated, these are the standard keycaps found on mechanical keyboards currently on the market. When you purchase a mechanical keyboard, you will receive a free OEM profile keycap on your switch.
These are available from various mechanical keyboard manufacturers, including Logitech, HyperX, Razer, Steelseries, Red Dragon, Durog, and others.
Cherry profile keycaps are more challenging to find because they are usually purchased to replace the provided OEM keycaps that come with the keyboard.
On Amazon, there are some low-cost options. The higher quality and more sought-after Cherry profile keycaps, on the other hand, are GMK keycaps.
These can be purchased in a group buy or on the secondary market for a higher price from other people. They can also be purchased from mechanical keyboard specialists such as KBDFans, Novelkeys, and Drop.
OEM profile keycaps are sculpted keycap sets that are common in prebuilt mechanical keyboards. They are uniform, short, and genuinely embrace an inclination on top. The Cherry counterparts are not much different, only a tad shorter.
Moreover, any Cherry-style key stem can be fitted with O-rings.
Since cherry profile keycaps have a low profile and are typically made of thick plastic, the sound produced is quite muffled because there is no room for sound reflection.
In contrast, OEM keycaps produce crisper sound because they have a tall profile and a plastic fabric that is not as thick as Cherry Profile Keycaps. After all, there is enough room for sound reflection inside these keycaps.
The sound difference is more noticeable if we compare both profiles in ABS material. OEM keycaps in this style do not have the most pleasing sound – they are much click-clack and loud due to the thin plastic cover. Whereas a set with the same material in Cherry style provides a universally-agreed grounded sound.
But there is an entirely different story with PBT-made keycaps. They are higher quality, thicker, and significantly provide a near-identical sounding experience regardless of the profiles.
However, there are other factors that change the sound of your keyboard beyond keycap-used and switches, namely:
- Whether the controls are lubed
- Whether the stabilizers are modded
- The material on the surface of each key (for artisan keycaps only).
Which is better for Typing or Programming?
Since the profiles are shorter, you don’t have to raise your hands as much to type, and the sculpted design prevents you from stretching your fingers as far as typing. That’s what makes Cherry win in the Cherry vs OEM debate.
Cherry’s surface also encourages a more comfortable typing experience with a sculpted top that is easy to navigate. However, OEM is a great alternative if you’re leaning toward the laptop-like keyboard.
Which is better for Gaming?
Cherry and OEM profile keycaps are incredibly reliable for gaming use. In addition to having a profile that isn’t all that different, these two keycap profiles are excellent for gaming. Gamers generally prefer Cherry Profile keycaps over OEM ones due to the low profile and the excellent registered speed.
Cherry vs OEM? It’s a classic debate. In the end, it comes down to personal preference, as with almost everything else related to mechanical keyboards.
However, I believe that availability and affordability are what people look for these days. OEM profile keycaps are very common to many people and have a lot of options at affordable prices, so people prefer OEM profile keycaps over Cherry Profile keycaps.
- The OEM profile is more comfortable because it is the profile used by the majority of built-in mechanical keyboards.
- Cherry profile is more difficult to master and feels more novel.
- Many users also mentioned that after switching from OEM to Cherry for a while and getting really used to the Cherry profile, they discovered that pressing the keys was softer and more comfortable, because Cherry has a lower key height, so the hand does not need to reach out as much as OEM.