Mechanical keyboards have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years among typists, gamers, and tech enthusiasts. Unlike membrane keyboards that use rubber domes under each key, mechanical keyboards use individual switches for each key. This gives mechanical keyboards superior tactile feedback, durability, and allows for customizability with different switch types. When shopping for a mechanical keyboard, one of the biggest considerations is the size and layout. Here’s an overview of the common mechanical keyboard sizes and layouts to help you choose the right option for your needs.
Full Size (104 Keys)
The most common and standard size for mechanical keyboards is 104 keys full size keyboard which follows the typical QWERTY layout. This includes the full alphanumeric key set along with a number pad, full-size modifier and function keys, navigation/arrow keys, and media controls. Full size keyboards are excellent choices for those who need to use the number pad regularly for data entry or calculations. The only downside is the larger footprint which takes up more desk space. Brands like Das Keyboard and Ducky offer great full-size mechanical keyboard options.
Tenkeyless (TKL) (87 Keys)
For those looking to save a bit of desk space, tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards omit the number pad while maintaining the standard QWERTY layout. You still get the full set of letters, modifiers, function keys, arrows, and media controls just without the number pad. This makes them better suited for gaming where the number pad is rarely used. Popular tenkeyless mechanical keyboards include the Cooler Master MK730 and Logitech G Pro Mechanical.
60% (68 keys)
60% keyboards represent an even more compact and minimalist style for those with limited desk space. Besides the standard letter keys, 60% keyboards typically only retain the essential modifier and function keys. To free up space, navigation keys, number pads, and some function keys are removed. But secondary functions are still accessible via use of the Fn key. If you can live without arrow keys and function keys, 60% models like the Ducky One 2 Mini and Anne Pro 2 provide excellent typing experiences.
65% (70 keys)
Splitting the difference between 60% and TKL sizes are 65% keyboards. They add back just a few more keys for additional functionality while retaining a smaller footprint. Expect arrow navigation keys and some function keys but no number pad. Great options in this category are the GMK67 keyboard and the Drop ALT mechanical keyboard.
Other Sizes and Layouts
There are also more unique keyboard sizes like 75% and 80% models that integrate elements from different layouts. Ergonomic mechanical keyboards allow for split designs and angled key sets to promote better hand positioning. You can also find mechanical keyboards specifically made for gaming with additional macro keys. Determine how you’ll use your mechanical keyboard most before deciding on size and layout. Checking out reviews can also help you find the perfect fit.
With knowledge on the common mechanical keyboard sizes and layouts, you can zero in on the right blend of features, functionality, and compactness for your needs. The typing experience and customization of mechanical keyboards make them a worthwhile investment for your desktop setup.