Guide: XDA, SA, Cherry, DSA Keycap profiles explained

The world of mechanical keyboards has almost an infinite variety of choices. This is perhaps even worsened when talking about Keycaps. At ELOQUENT CLICKS, we understand the headaches and hours of reading looking for all these different options. 

In this guide, we focus on keycap profiles only and hope to avoid confusion among newcomers to the hobby. What is a keycap profile? Very simply a keycap profile is the overall size and shape of a keycap set. The size and shape will determine a lot of the feel and sound when typing on a keyboard.

Here is a quick breakdown of the most popular keycap profiles in the market now If you look at the above comparison, you will notice these differences  Keycap Profile Height Shape Comments OEMNormalSculpted One of the most common profiles. Shaped differently for typing comfortCherryShortSculpted Lightweight. Shaped differently for typing comfort.  Very thin keycapsSATallSculptedThick, tall, and louder “thock” soundXDAShortUniformLightweight, and shaped uniformly for style. DSAVery shortUniformLike the XDA, but shorter keycaps OEM PROFILE Most popular Keycap size, as these are found on a big number of pre-built keyboards. Their shape and height changes depending on the row (hence sculpted) to facilitate typing comfort, whether you are gaming or typing.  Cherry Profile Very popular keycap profile within the enthusiast scene. Cherry shares a similar sculpture as OEM, except that the height of the keycaps is almost half the height of regular OEM height. Because of this reason, most find that Cherrys are a very comfortable profile, only requiring a minimum amount of experience to get used to these.  These keycap profiles have a more bassy sound, as there is less room for the sound to bounce. Whether focusing on typing or gaming, cherry profiles satisfy all tastes. SA PROFILE The SA profile is the most iconic profile due to its “Iconic” size and sound.  It is of the tallest profiles or boasts large sculpted keycaps to ease typists. You may recognize the SA profile look from old keyboards (like the IBM model M) that usually had similar keycap heights.  The SA Profile is very well known for its “Thock” sound when pressed and satisfying weight feel. However, it might take a few hours of typing to get comfortable with this profile type. Also, gamers might be put off by the profile, since it won’t grant you the speeds that competitive gaming often requires. 

We personally have typed and gamed using the set, and we felt that our game performance was unchanged, once we got used to the height of the profile.  XDA PROFILE XDA profiles are well known for its pleasing aesthetic. They are low profiled, light, and uniform across all rows. 

In short, XDA retains the lightness of the cherry keycaps, but without sculpting its rows. XDA might be a challenge to get used to due to its uniform shape. Gamers and typists might have troubles finding the keycaps, as they can be difficult to differentiate by feel alone.  DSA Profile DSA, one of the most popular uniform profiles, is a low-profile keycap type. These keycaps will not be sculpted, meaning that it may be difficult for some users to get used to Many people love the look of these because of the consistent height and general aesthetic  between rows The profile is also known to produce similar key sounds like cherry, and other thin keycap profiles. 

This concludes our entry-level guide. We hope that you are now more comfortable jumping into this journey. Remember, building your own mechanical is a social experience. Connect with others through /r/mechanicalkeyboards, or multiple discord servers, or even our own server, where we will never hesitate to answer any questions! We are a small e-commerce keyboard store, based in Spain, serving the EU region. We are passionate about all keyboard things. If you would like to say hi, send us your keyboard pictures, and follow us on our social media platforms, like Instagram and Twitter Good luck!