Keyboard mounting styles aren’t something that you often hear about due to them not being something that keyboard manufacturers really market as they do with layouts and switches. Alongside this, it’s not possible to see the mounting style of a keyboard without disassembling it, which makes it even more obscure.
Despite not getting a lot of attention, the mounting style of a keyboard significantly impacts your experience. Even though the choice is mostly not available with regular keyboards, it’s a factor to consider if you’re planning on building your own.
While there are plenty of different mounting styles to choose from with their advantages and disadvantages, gasket mounts are becoming especially popular in the keyboard enthusiast world.
So, what is a gasket mounted keyboard, and what makes gasket mounts so popular?
A gasket-mounted keyboard’s plate is held by elastic material inserted between the top frame and the bottom frame, unlike conventional mounting styles where the plate is attached to either of the frames with screws.
While gasket-mounted keyboards being quieter and softer to type on makes them popular among keyboard enthusiasts, they are also more complex and expensive to manufacture.
As gasket mount is the only mounting style that employs pressure to hold the plate rather than a direct attachment, it significantly splits itself from other mounting styles both in terms of manufacturing and experience.
What Is a Gasket Mount?
Gasket mount is a keyboard mounting style where pieces of rubber are placed between the plate and the top frame and between the plate and the bottom frame, essentially sandwiching the plate between these pieces of rubber.
This process allows the plate to stay in its place without the need for directly attaching it to the case of the keyboard, as the pressure generated by the pieces of rubber allows the plate to remain steady.
Unlike any other mounting style, a gasket mount prevents the plate from having to be in direct contact with the case of the keyboard. This factor allows the plate to have a small amount of wiggle room during typing, which translates to a softer feel with less sound for the user.
Unfortunately, the complexity of manufacturing a keyboard case that can accommodate these rubber pieces is much higher than usual, which makes it also more expensive to manufacture them.
Because of this, you most likely won’t find any keyboards that employ gasket mounts on the market unless you specifically search for them, as only high-end keyboards that are produced with keyboard enthusiasts in mind utilize gasket mounts.
How Does a Gasket Mount Feel?
We can describe the feel of a gasket-mounted keyboard as soft and cushioned due to the usage of rubber for holding the keyboard plate.
It’s hard to explain the exact difference in feel with mere words, but you can think of it as keys having less resistance when you press them as the board pushes into the rubber instead of applying counter-resistance to your presses. Naturally, this also causes gasket-mounted keyboards to produce less noise, especially if you bottom your keys out often.
Of course, this is not to say that gasket-mounted keyboards are objectively better than others despite being only found in high-end keyboards, as some people feel like there is too much flex when gasket mounts are used, taking away from the feel of the keyboard switches.
The main reason behind gasket mounts being expensive is the complexity of their production due to how different they operate compared to other mounting styles. While it’s natural to think expensive is better, preference is the key to make a good choice between mounting styles.
Just as with everything else, it’s best to give gasket mounts a try and see for yourself if you like them instead of going with them simply because they are trending now.
Top vs. Gasket Mount
In top-mounted keyboards, the keyboard plate is attached to the top frame of the keyboard, and the top frame of the keyboard is attached to the bottom plate.
This mounting style is mostly known for providing a consistent and sturdy experience without being way too stiff, especially compared to other mounting styles such as tray mounts that can be inconsistent in feel or sandwich mounts that achieve consistency with the cost of stiffness.
So, how do top mounts compared to gasket mounts?
The main difference between a top mount and a gasket mount is that while a top mount uses the conventional method of directly attaching the plate to the keyboard frame with screws, the keyboard plate is secured to the top and bottom frames with rubber in the case of a gasket mount.
Now, let’s see how this difference changes your experience as the user.
- Feel – In terms of feel, while top-mounted keyboards aren’t too stiff, the feel of a gasket-mounted keyboard is quite softer, with more room for the plate to flex as you type.
- Sound – Naturally, a gasket-mounted keyboard produces less sound compared to a top-mounted one due to the keyboard plate being in contact with a rubberized surface rather than another rigid component.
- Price & Availability – Due to the assembly of a top mount being similar to other mounting styles, despite being more complex than mounting styles such as tray mount or integrated mount, top mounts are frequently found in flagship gaming keyboards. On the other hand, the added complexity and difference in methodology of manufacturing gasket mounts make them quite limited and expensive.
While top-mounted keyboards are considered to be easier to manufacture than gasket-mounted keyboards, the choice between these two mounting styles comes down to preference at the end of the day.
Other Keyboard Mounting Styles
If you are curious about how other, less popular mounting styles operate, here is a list of different keyboard mounting styles with their advantages and disadvantages.
Tray mounts are one of the cheapest mounting styles to manufacture, and they are commonly found in budget keyboards due to their ease of manufacturing.
In tray-mounted keyboards, the PCB is directly attached to the mounting posts that exist on the bottom of the keyboard case with screws, and the plate is similarly attached to the PCB.
As mounting posts are located in a few areas of the keyboard case, the keyboard feels stiffer when keys closer to the mounting posts are pressed, causing an inconsistent feel and sound.
Unlike more advanced methods of the bottom mount, top mount, and sandwich mount, the case of a tray-mounted keyboard consists of a single piece.
The integrated plate style employs a method where the top frame and the plate are produced as a single piece, effectively combining them without the need for externally attaching the two.
While it eliminates the inconsistency problem while staying cheap and easy to manufacture, this mounting style also comes with some issues.
The top frame and the plate of the keyboard being combined during the machining process (also causing the keyboard plate to use the same material as the case) cause the feel to be quite stiff and the sound of the keyboard to be quite loud.
Plateless (PCB) mount
In the plateless mount style, the switches are mounted directly on the PCB instead of a plate, and the PCB is attached to the top frame or the bottom frame of the keyboard.
While the lack of a plate allows the feel of the keyboard to be soft, it also causes the PCB to be prone to breakage. Since PCBs are made out of a material that can flex, they can easily snap when switches are directly mounted on them.
As expected, plateless mounts are also cheap and easy to manufacture due to their simple design.
The sandwich mount style utilizes a system where the plate is sandwiched between the top and the bottom frame with screws holding all the layers together.
While this style provides sturdiness and consistency, it’s known to cause a certain degree of stiffness during typing.
In bottom-mounted keyboards, both the keyboard plate and the top frame are attached to the bottom frame of the keyboard.
Just like top mounts, bottom mounts are also considered to be one of the more complex mounting styles, but they also come with the advantages of consistency without stiffness.
While uncommon in the market and expensive compared to other mounting styles, gasket mounts are a great innovation that you should be considering if you are looking to purchase a high-end keyboard or planning on building your own.
The elimination of direct contact between the plate and the keyboard case is what really separates gasket mounts from other mounting styles, giving them softness in both feel and sound that you won’t be able to achieve otherwise.
Remember that the feel of a keyboard ultimately comes down to preference, meaning that gasket mounts may not be for you at all. Considering that they are considerably different than the rest, it’s best to give them a test before fully committing.