While we do what we can to protect our laptops, there are times when the keyboards get damaged no matter what precautions we take. Is it better to only replace the keys you need or the entire keyboard? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has some helpful advice regarding a reader’s keyboard woes.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Eman Slitheran wants to know if it is better to purchase single keys or replace the entire keyboard:

The keyboard on my Asus ROG G73JH-A1 laptop was recently damaged with several of the keys having been ripped off. I would like to know which repair option is better:

  • Purchasing single keys online to replace the ones missing on my laptop’s keyboard
  • Replacing the entire keyboard

Is it better to purchase single keys or replace the entire keyboard?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor JakeGould has the answer for us:

In broad/general terms, the answer depends on how common your keyboard is, how much you are “married” to it, and whether you are 100 percent positive that it is a simple case where you just need to replace the ripped off key caps.

For example, this website sells single keyboard keys for an average cost of around $5 each, which seems like a decent deal at first. But just doing a casual check shows that getting three replacement keys for a MacBook Air (MD711LL/A) keyboard would run approximately $27 without shipping included.

But then a quick look on eBay for a full replacement keyboard for a MacBook Air (MD711LL/A) shows that there are whole keyboards available with free shipping that are much cheaper than buying a handful of single keys.

In the case of your specific laptop model, an Asus ROG G73JH-A1, a quick search on eBay (using Asus G73 as the search term) shows that you can purchase a complete, brand new replacement keyboard for approximately $8 and up with free shipping. So in my opinion, a full replacement keyboard is your best bet.

In general, even without knowing what make/model of laptop you have, I believe that purchasing a full replacement keyboard will always cost less than purchasing individual keys. The nature of the way many keyboards are manufactured these days—small components, very little standardization, and even variance in size/shape/layout within a model line—makes them essentially disposable commodity components.

A full keyboard replacement is a common commodity that can often be purchased for less than individual keys. Changing individual keys is an anachronism at best nowadays and only seems to happen when one really wants to customize their laptop’s look or they are using editing tools with elaborate key combos that require a custom set of key caps.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Image Credit: [MP] – Michael Pecirno (Flickr)

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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