Long gone are the days of standard keyboard sizes. With the introduction of custom keyboards, the mechanical keyboard community now expects a wide spectrum of form factors to fit every personal need. That extends to the board size and layout they prefer.
In this comprehensive guide, let us explore the various keyboard sizes available in the market, ranging from full-sized keyboards to compact options like 60% keyboards. Understanding these sizes will help you make an informed decision when purchasing your next mechanical keyboard.
1. Full-sized keyboard (100%)
A full-sized keyboard is what most people think of when imagining a mechanical keyboard due to its prominence. This board remains the go-to for most users in Singapore, as it comes standard with a number pad, home cluster, function keys, and arrow keys; everything you need for a variety of typing needs. The number pad is usually located on the right, but some have it on the left.
Due to its versatile selection of keys, they are suitable for every task, whether gaming, work, or browsing the internet. Although, it tends to be popular among those who need to perform data entry and require frequent use of the number pad. This variety also offers numerous options for programmable keys, and the keyboard is easy to type on since none of the keys are on a lower layer, except for the standard ones.
However, this means full-sized mechanical keyboards tend to be bulky and more expensive since they require extra switches and keycaps to complete the build. As such, it may be costly to build a custom full-sized keyboard. Fortunately, it is possible to find various pre-built ones for an affordable price online.
2. 1800 compact keyboard (96%)
The 1800 compact keyboards are ideal for users seeking a middle ground between full-sized keyboards and tenkeyless (TKL). These boards still offer a number pad for those who cannot live without one while providing a smaller, more compact frame that makes it easy for users to pack the keyboard up and take it with them. Therefore, many find this mechanical keyboard hits the ‘sweet spot’ between convenience and functionality.
Generally, this compact full-sized layout does not drop any keys, making it easy and comfortable to type on. With that said, some boards may drop the home cluster keys depending on the specific keyboard layout. So, be mindful when shopping for an 1800 compact keyboard and ensure all the keys you want are present.
3. Tenkeyless keyboard (80%)
Tenkeyless (TKL keyboards) are often the perfect keyboard size for most users, providing the ideal balance between size and functionality. Understanding that most people do not use the number pad heavily, manufacturers have eschewed this component in TKL keyboards to eliminate extra baggage without affecting the typing experience significantly. Rest assured that the arrow, home cluster, and function keys remain, so you can still game and type comfortably.
A more compact keyboard not only makes it easier to take on the go. It also allows for more desk space. As such, you may find it more comfortable jotting down notes on a notepad on the side of your mechanical keyboard without feeling constrained by a lack of space. Meanwhile, your mouse remains much closer to your hand while typing, meaning you have to cover less ground to reach the peripheral.
4. 75% keyboard
While 75% keyboards are less common in the mechanical keyboard community, they boast a fascinating design. Their design features a more compact version of a TKL board, as the arrow and home cluster keys are situated right next to each other, with the home cluster keys aligned vertically to save space.
Due to this design, you might require some time to get used to the unique key sizes and placement. Thankfully, the impacted keys are not typically used often. Therefore, you should not be affected too much by this change. Please note that you might have to put in extra effort to find customised keycaps that work with a 75% layout because of the strange key sizes.
5. 65% keyboard
65% keyboards take compactness to the next level, eschewing the number pads, function row, and the home cluster (on specific layouts). This mechanical keyboard is the smallest board size you can purchase that still has the arrow keys, making it extremely light and portable while still being functional.
However, this keyboard size may not be everyone’s cup of tea, as the missing home cluster keys and function row can feel like a significant handicap. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. Nevertheless, these keyboards are still excellent for gaming and writing, as they retain the arrow keys that are helpful for moving around a page while typing.
6. 60% keyboard
While 60% keyboards are not as common as TKL or full-sized boards, they remain a fan favourite among the gaming and mechanical keyboard enthusiast community due to their small, compact, and symmetrical shape. In fact, they are the most popular board size for those looking to build a custom keyboard.
Thanks to its smaller size and popularity, it is easier and relatively cheaper to buy keycaps and switches for a custom build, as there are numerous PCB layouts and case designs specifically for 60% keyboards. Those looking to go down the pre-built route will also find plenty of affordable options.
However, similar to the 65% keyboard, this board may be outside the comfort zone for most users due to the lack of arrow keys, function row, home cluster, and number pad. As such, many may find that typing on this keyboard is akin to learning a brand-new skill. So, it is vital to know what you are getting into before trying this size out.
At the end of the day, choosing the perfect keyboard size depends on your specific needs and preferences. So, invest time researching and figuring out what works best for you to ensure you make an informed purchase.
If you are struggling to find the correct mechanical keyboard for your needs, do not hesitate to reach out to us! At The Masked Studio, we carry a wide range of mechanical keyboards, from pre-built Keychron boards to custom bases for those looking to build their own personalised keyboard. Contact us today for firsthand advice on selecting your ideal mechanical keyboard.