Gaming keyboards are notorious for being bright, big, and really loud. That might be okay if you live alone, but the sound will become frustrating to your significant other or roommate after a while. But why are they so loud?
Gaming keyboards are so loud because they’re made using plastic, and most high-end gaming keyboards have mechanical switches as actuators under each key. Other factors include sticky or faulty switches, no buffer between the keyboard and desk surface, unusual keycaps, or unstable support sliders.
In this article, I’ll explain why gaming keyboards are so loud in greater detail.
Then, we’ll discuss why each of these reasons contributes to the sound, and I’ll offer some solutions for silencing a keyboard in each of these scenarios!
So read on and prepare to quiet down your roommate’s gaming keyboard forever.
1. Plastic rattling against plastic
Sometimes, a gaming keyboard is very loud because there’s a lot of empty space inside the keys. Also, if there’s any friction between the plastic pieces, the resulting vibration of the plastic will create sound.
Since there’s empty space inside the keycaps, the sound has a lot of room to echo, resulting in a loud noise when keys are pressed.
If the plastic pieces rattling against each other is an issue in a keyboard of your own, there are a few inexpensive and easy solutions to quiet the sound.
All you need to do is lessen the empty space inside the keys, and the sound will be dampened.
Using rubber o-rings on your switches
If you’re trying to find an inexpensive way to lessen the clicks and clacks of your keyboard, then installing rubber o-rings might be the perfect solution.
Installing the rubber o-rings is very easy. Gather all the o-rings of your choice, your keyboard, and a key-cap puller optionally.
Once you have everything gathered, here are the steps you should take:
- Use the key-cap puller or fingers to remove a keycap from the switch.
- Locate the attachment under the keycap.
- Stretch a rubber o-ring onto the attachment.
- Click the keycap back onto the switch.
- Repeat until the whole keyboard is complete.
One thing to note is that it might be a good idea to test how a few keys feel with the rubber o-rings before doing the entire keyboard as they can change the feel of the press of the keys.
Some people don’t notice or mind, but it can give the keys a “gummy” feel. If you’re not a fan of how the test keys end up feeling, then it’d be good to know before your entire keyboard has been done.
Using film inside your keyboard
Another way to reduce the empty space inside your keyboard is to use a vibration dampening film in each keycap.
If you spend a little bit more and get a film made for sound dampening, the effect can be quite dramatic.
This will still allow you to press the keys without any change in feel while filling in the space and lessening the echo.
To add the film to the keycaps, you’ll need to remove them and then place a small cut-out inside each. Then click them back into place!
A little bit more work is involved when adding the film into the body of the keyboard. You’ll need a screwdriver and maybe a butter knife if clips need to be pried open.
After you have everything ready to go, it’s time to get started. Here are the steps:
- Flip the keyboard over so that the base is facing up.
- Unscrew the screws and put them aside.
- If there are other fasteners, open those up.
- Measure out the film and cut it to fit on the inside of your keyboard, then place it inside.
- Put everything back together the same way as it came apart.
2. No buffer between the keyboard and desk
Believe it or not, the sound of your keyboard can be amplified if you’re furiously clicking away directly on a desk.
Similar to the empty space of the keycaps discussed above, the plastic keyboard’s friction against the desk’s hard surface makes for a louder keyboard.
A simple solution is to add a desk mat to your computer setup and then put your keyboard on top of it. There are many options, so it’s easy to keep the look of your setup intact.
This is a great choice for reducing keyboard sound because, even if you don’t find that it does enough sound dampening, there’s no lengthy process of undoing a complicated mod. Instead, just lift, place the mat, and put it back!
3. Type of switches under keycaps
Not all switches are made equal. Some are meant to be loud, while others are intended to be completely silent.
If a gaming keyboard comes with the former, it’s very noticeable when someone types with it.
The standard switches with a mechanical gaming keyboard are typically between moderately loud and very loud.
This is because, generally, gamers like to have tactile confirmation that the button was pressed. But, unfortunately, the mechanisms creating that sensation will also make a noise.
However, there are other options for switches that’ll reduce the sound output or even silence it completely.
To swap out the controls on a loud keyboard to lessen the sound, you’ll want to know what kind of switches you’re looking for.
In order of loudest to quietest, there are three types of switches:
- Clicky Switches – these switches are the classic gaming options since they create both a loud click and clack, in addition to substantial tactile feedback.
- Tactile Switches – very similar to clicky switches, except that both the sound and the tactile feedback are dialed back a little bit.
- Linear Switches – these switches have very little to no sound, with a smooth button press with no tactile feedback.
First, find out which of these you currently have, and then you can adjust as needed. If you’re already sporting tactile switches, then linear will be your best option.
However, if you’re rocking clicky switches, you might consider tactile before going utterly silent with linear. The best choice depends on your preferences.
Switching your switches
Unfortunately, though this solution will offer the best results, it’s also the most complicated. It will take time and patience if you have a keyboard with hot-swap switches.
You’ll need soldering tools, wire, desoldering pump, and a switch puller. Optionally, you can also get a keycap puller.
Once you have everything you need, I recommend following this YouTube video:
The video explains and shows each step very clearly. Changing the switches is a job where seeing each step beforehand makes a huge difference in your success.
The video is all about doing things correctly without spending tons of money on unnecessary items. The dry sense of humor is an added bonus!
4. Sticky switches
Some keyboards have perfectly good switches that just need a little TLC to get the sound in check.
So, if your keyboard is making lots of noise outside the average clicks and clacks, it could be that the switches need to be lubricated.
How to lube keyboard switches
First, you’ll want a few hours and a clear workspace. The process can take a while to get through on every single switch.
As well as the lube, you’ll also need:
- Soldering tools.
- Small screwdriver.
- Small paintbrush.
After gathering all of the materials, I recommend following along with this YouTube video:
This is another process where seeing the work being done can help you out. Once you are comfortable, you don’t necessarily need to rewatch the video for each key.
Instead, just put on some good music and think of it as a meditative self-care exercise.
5. Type of keycaps used on the keyboard
Almost all keycaps are made of two types of plastic — ABS or PBT. The sound that each of these plastics makes is slightly different, with PBT being thought of as the better choice for click and clack quality.
While PBT is considered the better choice, it’s also the more expensive choice. However, they also tend to last longer and are made better from the start.
PBT keycaps are thicker and more rigid. As a result, they’re slightly louder, but it’s a deeper and much fuller sound than ABS keycaps.
ABS keycaps are a cheaper plastic. They’re thinner and lose their texture relatively fast. The noise they produce is a bit quieter but of a higher pitch.
If you’re trying to quiet your keyboard, they check to see if you have PBT or ABS switches. You may find that you prefer the sound of the other option.
6. Unstable stabilizers
The stabilizers on a keyboard hold the larger keys steady in an attempt to limit the rattle that larger keys can have. These are found on the following keys:
If the stabilizers lose some of their stability, the result can be a keyboard that’s a lot noisier than it’s supposed to be.
There’ll be a loose, rattling noise when these keys are pressed or if you’re typing somewhat fast.
While some gamers like their keyboards to have a particular sound, this isn’t usually one of the sought-after sound profiles.
When this happens with a keyboard, many people will decide it’s time for a new one.
While this can be a lot easier and maybe even more exciting, there are a few ways that you can restabilize those stabilizers and quiet the sound of your keyboard.
I’ve never personally done this particular mod to my keyboard, so I’ve found an in-depth video on the process.
Here’s the most highly rated YouTube video on how to stabilize your stabilizers with lube and some bandaids:
Before you set out to do some serious keyboard modding, you’ll want to make sure that you have some equipment beforehand, such as:
- Nail clippers or cuticle scissors.
- Small paintbrush.
- Soldering tools.
- Optional: keycap puller.
Make sure that you have just regular cloth bandages. I have a houseful of small children, so all of my bandaids have Disney princesses and Tonka Trucks on them, which wouldn’t be ideal.
7. Gamer preference
Last but definitely not least on the list is gamer preferences. The main reason gaming keyboards are so loud is that gamers like them.
Redditors on the mechanical keyboard subreddit rave about their gaming experiences on loud keyboards that they’ve handcrafted.
The click and clack of their fingers pushing down the keys gives them a sense of satisfaction.
I think it might be kind of like the feeling of ASMR. The clickity-clack of a typist typing away on a mechanical keyboard is surprisingly relaxing and pleasant.
However, that pleasant sound is quickly drowned out if the gamer in your life tends to get a little bit short with their game or their teammates.
An angry gamer is the only thing louder in a gaming setup than the gaming keyboard.
There are many reasons why a gaming keyboard can be so loud, but the biggest one is that gamers usually like their keyboards this way.
Of course, these solutions can be reversed in some way to increase the clicks and clanks of your keyboard if that’s something you are also looking for!
Whichever your preference, always be courteous with a loud keyboard in shared spaces.