Keyboard stabilizers are an essential, if often overlooked, part of a great mechanical keyboard. Switches and keycaps rightly get the most attention, as they have the biggest impact on how your keyboard feels to type on. But given how often we press stabilized keys like the Spacebar, having the best keyboard stabilizers is crucial for a smooth, rattle-free typing experience.
You can mod almost any stabilizers to feel good (if not great), so it’s not necessarily the most critical choice you’ll be making. That said, having a good starting point always helps, and that’s what these stabilizers provide: a good baseline for modding or using stock, no matter how you roll. Let’s get started.
- Best Screw-In Stabilizers: Durock V2 Screw-In Stabilizers are pre-clipped stabilizers with smooth, mostly rattle-free operation and several attractive color schemes.
- Screw-In Stabilizers Runner-Up: Gateron Ink V2 Screw-In Stabilizers are premium, high-quality stabilizers using the same material as Gateron’s highly-regarded Ink switches.
- Best Plate-Mounted Stabilizers: Durock Plate-Mounted Stabilizers are high-quality stabs that prove plate-mount stabilizers can feel great too.
- Best Snap-In Stabilizers: Cherry Snap-In Stabilizers require modding to feel their best, but they’re a cheap and readily-available way to learn all the essential stabilizer mods.
Our Favorite Keyboard Stabilizers
No conversation about keyboard stabilizers would be complete without mentioning Durock’s V2 screw-in stabilizers. These are some of the best and most popular keyboard stabilizers, offering great performance and a high-quality typing feel at a reasonable price.
Durock’s screw-in stabs come pre-clipped, which cuts down on setup time and lets you either go straight to lubing or installing them, depending on your preferences. We recommend lubing these slightly for the best feel, but you could also get by without doing so.
While lube is still ideal, we think the Durock V2 stabs feel fine without other common stabilizer mods. For example, the Durocks are perfectly enjoyable without the “Holee” mod. Sure, they’ll feel better with it, but these have impressively little rattle in stock form, which makes the mod less essential than with cheaper stabilizers.
Durock claims that the V2 housings are molded to prevent the stabilizer wire from dropping out when you remove keycaps. While we don’t think that’s as huge a problem as it may seem, these Durock stabilizers have a much better grip on the wires than many cheaper stabilizer kits.
Another point in the Durock V2 stabilizers’ favor is their aesthetics. Not only do you get gold-plated wires, but the housings come in a variety of eye-catching colors. There’s the clear color seen above, alongside options such as Miami Vice Teal or Miami Vice Pink if you prefer something more vibrant. If you’re after a more low-key look, there’s always the traditional solid black or Smokey options.
Overall, Durock V2 stabilizers are some of the best options for screw-in stabs. If you’re building a board that supports screw-in, PCB-mounted stabilizers, grab a set of these and don’t look back.
Note that Durock also makes all the Everglide-branded stabilizers you see on retailers like Amazon and Drop. So they’re identical to these and are a viable alternative if you happen to find a good deal on them.
Gateron’s Ink V2 screw-in stabilizers share a lineage with the company’s much-loved Ink switches. These use the same “proprietary ink material” as the switches for a classy smoky look and smooth operation.
Gateron is well-known as the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for Zeal products. So it won’t surprise you that these are similar to the highly-regarded ZealPC stabilizers, if not identical. So expect pre-clipped, very low-rattle stabilizers with gold-plated wires that feel great out of the box and only get better with tasteful modding.
While these Gateron Ink V2 stabs are smoother than many affordable options, they’ll still benefit from a layer of Krytox 205g0 for optimal performance. But you could conceivably get away without the band-aid or Holee mods and still have a satisfying, enjoyable mechanical keyboard to type on.
We also like how the Gateron Ink V2 stabilizers look. They’re similar to our top pick’s “Smokey” colorway, but with slightly clearer plastic. This makes them really stand out on brightly colored keyboard plates. It’s a small touch, but one that we enjoy all the same.
Overall, Gateron’s Ink V2 screw-in stabilizers are a strong alternative if you’re in the market for premium screw-in stabilizers. They’re a bit pricey, which keeps them from the top spot on our list, but their smooth operation and classy look may be worth the premium.
Durock’s plate-mounted stabs are every bit the equal of the company’s screw-in stabilizers. They feel great to type on and use the same lightweight and durable polymer, but cost significantly less than their screw-in cousins.
Like most enthusiast-focused stabilizers, the Durock plate-mounted stabilizers come pre-clipped. This saves you some time and eliminates any risk of messing up and removing the wrong parts of the stabilizer stem. It also means that these feel reasonably stable and solid stock, which is handy if you don’t feel like performing any of the other mods.
That said, while you could use these stock, some lube will definitely help make these feel even smoother. It’ll also help cut down on noise and stabilizer rattle even more, helping these feel even more premium than they already are.
Durock’s plate-mounted stabilizers also have the same molding that stops the stabilizer wire from popping out easily when you remove keycaps. It’s a minor bonus, to be sure, but it’s nice to have for added peace of mind.
These Durock plate-mounted stabilizers also come in several different colors. However, you sadly don’t get any of the eye-catching “Miami Vice” colorways of the screw-in versions. A Smokey version is still available, but you’ll otherwise have to make do with more subdued colorways like all-white, all-black, and the half-and-half Piano.
Plate-mounted stabilizers often get a bad rap, but a good set like these Durocks will definitely feel closer to the solidity of screw-in stabilizers than you may expect. And, given how affordable these are, there’s no reason to go for anything else if your board needs plate-mounted stabs.
If you’re interested in these, you may also want to shop around for Everglide-branded plate-mount stabilizers to see if you can find a better deal. They’re Durock stabilizers as well, just with a different brand name.
Cherry’s stabilizers are the OG stabilizer choice. They’re a bit old-fashioned compared to some of their Far East rivals, but they’re still a solid option if your keyboard requires snap-in stabilizers.
Unlike some modern competitors, Cherry’s stabilizers aren’t pre-clipped from the factory. So if you want these to feel their best, you’ll have to clip the stems yourself. It’ll take a few minutes at most and will eliminate the rattle and noise these will have out of the box. It’s a massive reward for comparatively little effort; highly recommended if you use these.
You could use these Cherry stabs without lube, but, as with most stabilizers, they benefit greatly from some lubrication. At a minimum, you want to lube the points where the stabilizer wire comes in contact with the plastic housings. Ideally, you should also lube the stabilizer housings and stems.
It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s not that bad. Just be sure to do it before you assemble the stabilizers, as it can be a pain lubing stabs that are already in place. Also, note you’ll have to dismantle your keyboard and unclip these from behind the PCB to remove them, unlike screw-in or plate-mount stabilizers.
These Cherry clip-in stabs require more work to get them feeling great. However, their affordable price and wide availability make them a great way to familiarize yourself with stabilizer mods. They’re also one of the few readily-available clip-in options, so they’re still relevant despite not being as usable in stock form as some other stabilizers.
Before You Buy
Buying stabilizers isn’t too complicated, especially now that Cherry-style stabilizers are the norm. However, there are still a few features and compatibility issues you should be aware of. So let’s review them here to ensure you get the right stabs for your keyboard.
Screw-In vs. Snap-In vs. Plate Mount Stabilizers
Broadly speaking, there are three types of stabilizers present on modern mechanical keyboards. These are screw-in, snap-in, and plate-mount stabilizers. The names refer to the way the stabilizers mount to your keyboard.
Screw-in stabilizers, as the name suggests, attach to the PCB and are held in with screws. Enthusiasts generally prefer screw-in stabilizers, as they feel more stable and vibrate less than plate-mount stabilizers. These are the least common type of stabilizer, usually reserved for custom keyboards and higher-end DIY keyboard kits.
Snap-in stabilizers (also known as clip-in stabilizers) also attach directly to the PCB but use snap-in plastic pins instead of screws. They’re somewhere between the two other types, offering a slightly more secure feel than plate-mount stabilizers but without the rock-solid feel of screw-in stabilizers. The biggest issue with snap-in stabilizers is that they often pop out of the PCB when you remove keycaps.
Plate-mount stabilizers, on the other hand, clip into your keyboard’s plate (the metal sheet present in most keyboards). Plate-mount stabilizers are more common than screw-in stabilizers but don’t feel as good. They feel more rattly and less secure than screw-in stabilizers but are very easy to replace, which can be handy for hot-swap keyboards.
The three stabilizer types can be interchangeable, but only if your keyboard supports all of them. PCB-mount stabilizers require holes in the PCB; if your keyboard doesn’t have them, then you’re stuck with plate-mount stabs. For example, the Skyloong GK61 I reviewed has no PCB holes for PCB-mount stabs, so it only works with plate-mount stabs.
However, some keyboards will have the right plate cut-outs and PCB stabilizer mounting holes. If yours does, you should be able to go with either screw-in or plate-mount stabilizers, depending on your preferences.
While you can use most stabilizers in stock form, even the best stabilizers usually require modding to operate at their best. The most common stabilizer mods are lubing, clipping, the band-aid mod, and the Holee mod.
Lubing is as straightforward as the name suggests. You use a brush to apply lube (usually Krytox 205g0) to the stabilizer housings and inserts, along with any areas where the stabilizer wire contacts the plastic housings.
The lube helps reduce friction between all the moving parts, so your stabilizers feel smooth and consistent whenever you hit a stabilized key. A single coat of lube is enough for most stabilizers; too much can make your stabilizers feel sticky and mushy, so you want to err on the side of caution.
Clipping involves removing small sections of the stabilizer insert (or stem), which is the part that moves up and down with your keycap. Removing these protruding sections reduces wobble and rattle, making for a more solid-feeling key. But make sure you only remove the parts we’ve highlighted above; remove any other parts, and your stabilizers may not work correctly.
The band-aid mod requires you to place a small strip of band-aid on the PCB beneath the stabilizer housings. This dampens the stabilizers and gives them a more solid feeling when you bottom out a key. It’s slightly fiddly, but you may as well do it before you install your stabs.
Finally, the Holee mod, which is likely the fiddliest mod of them all. The Holee mod involves inserting a thin sliver of fabric band-aid into your stabilizer stems. This eliminates stabilizer rattle by ensuring the stabilizer wire fits more tightly inside the stems. It’s hard to explain in text, so watch the video above to learn how to perform this mod.
Spending $20 to $30 on the best keyboard stabilizers may seem like an optional luxury. Still, a good set of stabilizers can make the difference between a great keyboard and a merely good one.
The Durock V2 screw-in stabilizers are the best choice for most users, as they’re high quality and readily available on various online retailers. If your keyboard needs plate-mount stabs, then the plate-mount Durock stabilizers are an equally strong option.
Looking for new switches to go along with your premium stabilizers? Check out our list of the best places to buy switches for some guidance.