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When it comes to mechanical keyboards, one size does not really fit all. There are various sizes available, each with its own set of advantages and use cases. You might want a different sized mechanical keyboard for various tasks. For example, no one would ever use an 80-100% keyboard with a numpad if they didn’t need to do some kind of data entry. In this guide, we will explore the different mechanical keyboard sizes and help you choose the one that best suits your needs.
1. Full-Size Keyboards
Full-size keyboards, also known as 100% keyboards, are the largest mechanical keyboards available. They come with a full set of keys, including a numpad on the right side. These keyboards are ideal for professionals who require a numpad for data entry or calculations. They are also popular among gamers who need quick access to macro keys. Though full size keyboards are fully equipped, the proximity of the numpad to the arrow keys can be a bit jammy in my opinion.
2. Tenkeyless Keyboards
Tenkeyless keyboards, often referred to as TKL keyboards, are compact versions of full-size keyboards. They exclude the numpad, resulting in a smaller footprint for people who don’t need data entry or accessible numbers. TKL keyboards can be favored by gamers who need more space for mouse movement or those who prefer a clutter-free desk setup.
3. 60% Keyboards
60% keyboards are even more compact than TKL keyboards. They eliminate not only the numpad but also the function row and navigation cluster. Despite their smaller size, 60% keyboards retain all the essential keys and can be customized to access the missing functions using key combinations or programmable layers. These keyboards are highly portable and popular among enthusiasts who prioritize portability and minimalism. I am personally a fan of 60% as I think it pretty much includes all the main stuff that actually gets used and doesn’t have too many unnecessary double ups.
4. 75% Keyboards
75% keyboards strike a balance between compactness and functionality. They retain the function row, but exclude the numpad and navigation cluster. These keyboards are suitable for users who need the extra keys for programming or productivity tasks without sacrificing too much desk space.
5. Compact Keyboards (<50%)
Compact keyboards, which for the purpose of this analysis I will describe as 50% or under, are the smallest mechanical keyboards available. They are stripped down to the bare essentials, usually consisting of only the alphanumeric keys. Compact keyboards are a minimalistic setup. They’ll require mastering the use of key combinations or programmable layers to access additional functions. They are quite nice to look at, and uncluttered.
Choosing the right mechanical keyboard size depends on your specific needs and preferences. Full-size keyboards are great for professionals and gamers who require a numpad, while TKL keyboards provide a more compact and ergonomic solution. 60% keyboards offer the utmost portability, and 75% keyboards strike a balance between functionality and desk space. Compact keyboards are perfect for enthusiasts who value minimalism and have mastered the art of key combinations. Consider your use cases and decide which mechanical keyboard size suits you best!