“What keyboard is that?” I seriously can’t even count how many times I get asked this question per day. Instead of trying to explain to everyone individually how to either get the parts or how to configure the pre-assembled unit off KBDfans, I though I’d launch a small article about. I had to make it aesthetically pleasing, since that’s my vibe. Okay, let’s kick this off with the parts, since I feel that’s important to know before you make any decisions.
This is going to be a quick overview. A basic custom keyboard consists of a few parts. A case, PCB, stabilizers, plate, switches, and keycaps. Let’s start from the bottom up.
CASE – This is what houses all your parts. There are different sizes and colours. In the case of this board, it’s the frosted acrylic part that diffuses the case. The see through acrylic case works in conjunction with a PCB that has LEDs on the underside of it. (TOFU Frosted Case)
PCB – The circuit board is essentially the “brain” of the keyboard. Before you pick out anything you should first decide on what size keyboard you use (60%, 75%, etc) and then pick a case and PCB to work with that. Some PCBs have back lighting built in, some have under-glow, and some have nothing! In this case I use the DZ60. (DZ60)
Stabilizers – Without over complicating it, this is what stabilizers do, it reduces the wobble of the larger keys like the shift, enter and space bar. The purchase link for these can be found along side the PCB.
Plate – The plate assists in mounting your switches to the PCB. It allows the housing of the switch to essentially lock into place aiding it in securing positioning and then the switch can be soldered into the PCB. Which plate you chose can affect your layout. I prefer the ANSI layout, but this is up to you. (Plates)
Switches – This is the fun part! Each switch is so different so it’s hard for me to explain this. Feeling them really helps. If you’re looking for something clicky, so far my favourite has been BOX Jades, something in between are Browns and my favourite linear switch stock are Tealios V2. The switches solder to the PCB and sit in the plate. (Switches)
Keycaps – You can let creativity shine with these. These can be found on a number of website and can broken down into a few things. Profile, keycap sets, and artisan keycaps. Popular sets I’ve found typically are sold in SA, which are taller caps, but most people are use to the height of OEM caps. I’ll do another article show casing the difference of these another time. Keycap sets are the entire set and again, you just want to make sure they support your layout. Artisan keycaps, which you see all over my Instagram, are the very unique keycaps to decorate your keyboard with. There will be a giant hub of artisan vendors that are located on my vendor list. (Keycaps KBDFANS)
Okay, so you have a basic understanding of what you’ll need and what you’re getting. You can either pick out all your own parts using the links above or buy the pre-assembled kit below (keep reading).
I’ve built a few myself now and it’s a lot of fun but if you’re not comfortable doing it, don’t force yourself. KBDfans has a pre-assembly service and I really like it!
Oh and you can use code “alexotos” for 3% off the pre-assembled version only.
What options do I even pick for the pre-assembled page to get it to look like that?
Well make sure you have the following selected as shown in the web page screenshot.
Plate: This is your choice, I prefer brass for the weight and sound but aluminum is cheaper
Stabilizer: Again, your choice. I prefer GMK Screw in but cherry is cheaper.
Layout: This is important. I use layout 2 but you can review the layouts on the website. Make sure you choose the layout you’re most comfortable with.
Switches: I love Zeal switches but this is all up to what you prefer. This will add a separate sku into your cart. Do not remove it.
That’s it! You’re done! Add the discount code “alexotos” and pick out some keycaps and you’re good to go!
I’m about to make a purchase for the acrylic board I just have 2 questions.
1) The RGB used for your board – is that an additional LED that you added or is that purely from the switches?
2) Do you recommend Kailh or Gateron? I like the Bronze Kailh but I really want them to be RGB and unfortunately I can’t find an option for it.
1. The the keyboard itself is under-glow only. The lights are not from the switches, but instead from LEDs on the bottom side of the PCB (which are pre-installed). You can solder in per switch LEDs but as of now it will only be single colours and not RGB for backlighting on the keys.
2. With that being said, you can go with whatever you feel comfortable with! I tend to prefer the Gateron linear switches, but I own some Kailh switch that feel fantastic as well.
I hope this helps!
Just to make sure. Acrylic option is the see through RGB case? 🙂
You got it boss! it is indeed the see through case that is frosted and allows the RGB to go through 😀
I love how informative you were. I watched a video by another youtuber who recommended you about this keyboard. He says your the guy to go to for advice. I have a few questions if you don’t mind answering.
1) When I buy the prebuilt TOFU acrylic, are the switches already lubed? no matter what switch I pick?
2) If they aren’t lubed, is the keyboard set to be Hot swappable?
3) In your opinion, what are your top three switches?
The reason I think I want to opt onto paying for it prebuilt. I am just too nervous to take the time to do it myself and I feel like I will mess up!
Hey thank you so much! Which YouTuber was it out of curiosity?!
To answer your questions:
1. The stabilizers come pre-lubed and clipped but the switches do not when buying the pre-assembled version.
2. It is a soldered PCB but you do some simple changes to the build to buy a hotswap PCB from 1up keyboard that is hotswap that works in this case and then buy pre-lubbed switches from places like auramech.com. Then you just buy a plate and some stabilizers. It ends up being more work but better pay off
3. I really like my Tealios v2, Gatereon Inks and Holy Pandas.
Otherwise, the pre-built keyboards still feel amazing and I highly recommend them.
Thank you so much!
Brandon Taylor and Badseed Tech have recommended you!
Thank you for the help and I will probably still buy the keyboard.
You are amazing!
I just made the keyboard and I was wondering how do you control the RGB.
Hey there! You can use the FN+W keys to swap the lighting modes.
I was wondering if you have step by step instructions or video? If you don’t someone that does. Just got the hotswap version in the mail and want to build it just nervous is all.
Hey! So I don’t really have an instructional video, but tomorrow live on Twitch I am putting together a hotwap TOFU at 7:30pm EST!! https://www.twitch.tv/alexotos_live If you miss it, it will be available via VOD too
If I buy the prebuilt version of this keyboard and the switches aren’t lubed, what are your recommendations on which best sounding budget switches to get?
That’s a toughie! But IMO the Gat inks and Tealios v2 sound and still feel good unlubbed!
Hi where did you get your blue keycaps because I’d like the same ones.
Are you referring the keycap set? That is from mechsupply 😀
Heya just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know
a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue.
I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same outcome.
when buying the preassembled board with the acrylic case, do they put in a pcb with rgb?
Yupp! They use the DZ60 which has underglow 😀
Hey, so i’m looking to buy the keyboard but i want to know about the underglow, i’m new so i don’t know, does it come with it? there is no RBG option just acrylic. Do i need to buy RBG separate or will it come with it when i buy the keyboard as it sits on the website. I just need to know if i buy the “acrylic” option and just the keyboard will i get the RBG. Thanks
Hey so the underglow RGB aspect is actually part of the DZ60 PCB that you get with the kit or that you can buy separately! So yes, the acrylic option for the kit is what you’d need to look for!
Hey man im looking to buy the pcb hot swap edition, but its sold out on 1 up, is there any other way to purchase a hot swap pcb for the tofu build? Thanks!
So currently the only HOTSWAP Pcbs that i know of that will be restocking shorting will be from 1upkeyboards.
Can you let me know what does the MO1 mean from the keyboard layouts?
And why is layout 2 have 2 windows key? What about the function key?
Definitely a noob question but I would appreciate your reply.
Thanks a lot!
Hey there! So the MO1 means the layer key and that is typically what the layout would have, is two windows keys. Unsure the exact reason behind it but i know it’s rather standard. You can also flash the PCB to have a customized layout too.
hey I have a question what if I want the under glow and the pcb to glow instead of under glow im new to this but I want a under glow and my keycaps to have rgb
Hey! So you would need to get a PCB that supports both you can install LED diodes if the PCB supports it.
Hi Alex! 😁 May I know do I have to put case foam for acrylic tofu 60 or 65?
Typically I do these days! You can see an example here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v613sO7-M4U