Ah, the fabled 9009. Originating from this CHAD of a keyboard, the Cherry G80-9009, this pastel green, pastel pink, beige and white colorway is very popular in the keyboard community. Like, VERY POPULAR. In this review, I’ll be taking a closer look at the EnjoyPBT (ePBT) version of this colorway — the EnjoyPBT 9009 to see how far ePBT has come over the years and how it stacks up with the other PBT dye-subs I have with me.
The unboxing experience is, as the kids would say, kinda whatevs. The keycaps came in 3 ziploc bags packed in a cardboard box. Not my ideal method of storing/shipping keycaps (I prefer trays like how GMK, JTK etc do it) but it gets the job done. One worry with storing keycaps in bags is that there’s a chance of the keycaps being nicked and scratched while in the bag. Thankfully, there is none of that here.
Layout Support here is nothing short of amazing. Most layouts I can think of are supported with this keyset and we get 9 (!!!) spacebars to choose from. KBDFans even threw in a free set of 1u blanks to support folks with ortholinear, ergonomic etc. layout keyboards. In GMK terms, it means this set comes with a Base Kit, a lesser Spacebar Kit and a 40s kit minus legends. That equates to, let’s see, a lot of bleeping PBT caps.
There’s an argument to be made about whether paying for so many keys is necessary as the for 120 dollars the buy-in price is the same as a GMK set’s. But, for a relatively high-end, probably long-lasting set like this, the huge keycap compatibility is important as it means the set will support most of your future keyboard purchases. Also, the complete compatibility means that selling the set in the future is easier as this keyset will support other people’s keyboards too. Personally, I wouldn’t mind paying a little extra for that security, whether or not it encroaches into GMK price territory.
Most importantly, for all you folks who have attained enlightenment, the set comes with modifier-colored pipe/backslash and backtick/tilde keys for the A E S T H E T I C symmetry.
One minor gripe is that the 6u spacebar does not have a center mounting stem, which is a problem for Razer/Logitech/Corsair users. Yes, yes, Razer is bad. I get it. However, my dad bought this set thinking that it would fit his Razer Blackwidow’s strange bottom row but the 6u spacebar only has an off-center stem and not a center one. I don’t know how difficult it would be to add a 6u spacebar with support for both but considering that 50% (a wild estimation) of mechanical keyboards out there have 6u centered stem spacebars, not having it is a missed opportunity. Still, it’s a pretty minor issue, but I would be remiss to not mention that.
9009 is an iconic (and straight up overplayed) colorway in the keyboard community, with the OG version and GMK versions of the set selling over retail (and sometimes WAY OVER RETAIL) on r/mechmarket. Hype aside, I do enjoy this colorway for it’s simplicity and classic design. Beige and grey sets get me every single time
because I’m an unapologetically, vintage-loving hipster normie and this is no different. While I do not own a GMK or OG set to compare the colors of this ePBT version with, I do think the pastel pink and pastel green accents are pretty (regardless of whether it’s a faithful reproduction of the original). Props to KBDFans and EnjoyPBT.
The keycaps themselves are very thick. At 1.5mm thick, these Gateron-made PBT keycaps are absolute units. Here’s a photo comparing the thickness of the caps with the other PBT dye-subs I have on hand.
They’re joint thickest with IMSTO Ural (which makes sense since this IMSTO set utilized Gateron/ePBT blanks just like the 9009 set) and /dev/tty, while also quite a bit thicker than the Topre ones.
The ePBT caps have a uniform matte finish to them with a very slight glossy sparkle when viewed at from an off-angle. You can see said gloss on that F8 key on the right side of the picture above. It’s not super bright or even noticeable head-on, but it’s still brighter than my future as a reviewer.
The texture of ePBT/Gateron keycaps is my personal favourite of all the keycaps I’ve tried. Up close, the skin-like, pore-ish texture of the /dev/tty is an immediate turnoff (and downright icky if you ask me!), while the stock Realforce keycaps have too visible and rough a texture to my liking. Meanwhile, ePBT keycaps have a texture that’s soft to the touch, yet provide just enough friction to rest your fingers on. Very nice.
However, the keycaps are not all perfect.
As seen in the photo above, the edges of the keycaps are pretty jagged and rough. In some cases, there are even extra PBT bits protruding outwards from the keycaps. Nothing that a file can’t solve, but I wish it were better. You get jagged edges with most PBT sets, even the more expensive ones like IMSTO Ural. However, the edges on /dev/tty are near perfect on every key and are the benchmark of PBT quality (as in the keycap itself, not the legends) to me so seeing burrs on the ePBT is off-putting.
Warping is a serious issue that past iterations of ePBT/Gateron caps and most PBT keysets face. In many cases, the long modifier keys and spacebars are so warped that even with the most well-lubed of stabilizers, they would cause an uneven depress and as such cause the stabilizer to rattle.
In the case of the ePBT 9009, warping is still an issue on the longer keys, but much less so. On the shorter keys like both shifts, backspace and enter, warping is a mild issue at best. The keys look relatively straight on all 3 axes and probably won’t cause an issue with your stabilizers. Peep these photos:
Even the spacebars are relatively straight on all the axes, with /dev/tty edging out ePBT and IMSTO VERY slightly in the 6.25u test, and with both 7u ePBT and IMSTO spacebars performing admirably. Well done, ePBT. While I may have gotten lucky with this set and have no warped spacebars in them, this is very promising as most ePBT sets I’ve seen have had bad 7u spacebars. Are the days of banana modifier keycaps finally gone? See for yourself:
Legend quality is an often overlooked part of keyset design. I mean, as a touch typist myself, I don’t even look at my keyboard while typing so it shouldn’t matter that much, right? Well idgaf and I like my legends so why I can sometimes be very
anal passionate about it. The way I did this part of the review is by IRL pixel peeping the legends for inconsistencies and comparing them to my IMSTO dye-subbed set. IMSTO is renowned in the community for making the best dye-subs ever, so if past ePBT keysets are any indication, they *should* be blown out of the water here.
Surprisingly, from a distance, none of the keycaps stood out as atrocious, which surpassed my expectations of it already. At a glance, that already makes it better than the tilted by an angle, off-center and feather-prone /dev/tty set. And we all know it’s gonna be better than JTK. Get your shit together, JTK.
Another good thing I noticed about ePBT (and IMSTO Ural) is that the legends have mostly consistent cap and midline heights. To illustrate what I mean:
Many keysets out there cannot get it right 100% of the time because it takes a lot of design effort for it to be so. Well done.
In the above close up images of the 8/* key, we can see that the legends of the ePBT keycap are very sharp, possibly even sharper than the IMSTO one, though I do not have a microscope on hand to verify. This could be due to the darker black utilized in the ePBT keycap, or due to the fact that I’m not looking close enough, but I truly believe the sharpness on the ePBT cap is similar to the IMSTO one. Another positive.
However, like the rest of the keyset, there are some flaws in ePBT’s dye-sub that stem not from the quality of the dye-sub process but from the typography used in their raw files.
Against the Realforce key, ePBT wins hands down as the Realforce key has way too much feathering around the legends. The Realforce key has cleaner lines and zero flaws that I can make out, but its lines are not sharp at all.
Here are more pictures comparing the legends side-by-side with IMSTO:
One problem I noticed with the ePBT spacebar row keys is that they are shifted up away from the center axis. When I first noticed it, I thought it was an optical illusion or something because every other key was centered well. But up close, it definitely fails the eye test. In the case of the IMSTO, every, and I mean EVERY legend is centered correctly. Minus points for the ePBT here.
Kerning is another issue as seen in the picture above. On the one End (ha!), the letters are too close and are touching each other on the ‘End’ key; on the other, the space between the ‘i’ and the ‘o’ on ‘Option’ is so big your mother will fit in it. Plus points for me for being able to hang with the teens with that joke, minus points for ePBT for that spacing.
There is inconsistent kerning on most of the other word legend keys too as seen in the picture above.
Overall, though, ePBT 9009 only falls slightly behind IMSTO Ural in terms of typography, kerning and centering while besting all three of /dev/tty, HHKB and Realforce keycaps. It still has some egregious issues with legends, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed in future iterations of EnjoyPBT. I like ’em. A lot.
Now I’m just going to start by saying PBT is my preferred keycap material for sound
AND IT SHOULD BE YOURS TOO. I kid, but I’ve tried many keycap materials in many profiles and I found myself going back to /dev/tty’s PBT for the best sounding keycaps. So how does Gateron/ePBT caps sound compared to /dev/tty?
The ePBT caps have a slightly higher-pitched, softer in volume bottom out sound compared to /dev/tty’s louder, more full and deeper bottom out. The ePBT caps are more consistent in its sound (which sometimes makes it dull, but that’s a matter of preference) compared to the more lively, dare I say even musical sound of the /dev/tty.
In the grand scheme of things, ePBT sounds amazing in its own right and definitely sound better than some other PBT (DSA, XDA) and ABS (SA, GMK, etc) keycaps, but I still prefer the more inconsistent but fun /dev/tty bottom out.
In my opinion, there’s not much to say here other than the fact that Cherry profile is the far superior layout compared to anything I’ve used over the years. I’ll be writing a Long Term Review on Cherry profile in the coming months but in short, I prefer cylindrical keycaps because they are easier to move between rows with and I prefer a lower profile sculpted set because I’m just not used to typing on a high profile set (that’s why I cannot use /dev/tty for any extended period) or a flat set (DSA and SA R3, BEGONE!). This set being run in Cherry profile is the best thing KBDFans could have done in this regard.
If you have 120 dollars to blow on a keyset, and you like the 9009 colorway, buy this one. Everything about this keyset in terms of layout, keycap quality, legend quality, sound and typing feel is on the better end of what’s available in the keyboard community. KBDFans is a reputable seller with very good communication so I have no qualms recommending them to anyone in this hobby. EnjoyPBT has stepped up their game and, in my opinion, officially stepped into the big league. With improvements to their typography and maybe the introduction of 5-sided reverse dye-sub for custom color keysets, ePBT has the potential to be the biggest player in this space.
As of the time of writing, there are still some sets available directly from KBDFans and some available on r/mechmarket.
I’m not sponsored by KBDFans btw. I just really like this set.