Compact keyboards are generally a keyboard without the num pad area. Over time, great innovators thought about making the TKL mechanical keyboards even more compact. Hence, you have quite a few variants in the compact keyboard category such as the 60. 65, 75, and 80+ percent.
The percentage varies on how many keys are made available. The most difficult type to get a hold of are the 75% mechanical keyboards, which are a somewhat compact version of the tenkeyless(TKL) keyboard.
Compact keyboards are becoming a fast-growing trend within the mech keyboard community. These are what modern gamers are looking for these days. This is because it still provides you with the keys that you need for most modern games. This rising trend has led bigger brands to get involved. Yet, the best compact keyboards are still hard to find, but we did find 9 of the best compact keyboards made available in the market right now.
If you don’t have the time to read the full review, you can just click on the links below to skip to that TKL mechanical keyboard:
The 8 Best Compact Keyboards
The best compact keyboards are designed to offer maximum usability in a smaller form factor than traditional keyboards Compact keyboards come in different shapes and sizes and with differing numbers of keys. We searched the web and spent dozens of hours reviewing and comparing the different compact keyboards. This list is a result of a lot of research and analysis, finally reduced down to this list of the best compact keyboards.
Overall Best Compact Mechanical Keyboards
# of Keys: 87 keys| Dimensions: 1.46 x 13.94 x 4.86 in. | Switch: Outemu Red Switch| Lighting: Rainbow RGB
The Redragon K552 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard provides the ultimate gaming experience for an affordable price. The brand itself is known for providing one of the best best compact keyboards, even the full-sized boards, plus other gaming equipment for budget-friendly price tags.
The K553 is equipped with dust-proof mechanical Outemu Cherry Red MX switches which offer a quiet typing experience and the most premium tactile bump feel. The keys are ultra-durable with a life span of 50 million keystrokes. It works with an 87-key layout with 12 multimedia keys.
The base, on the other hand, is made with ergonomically designed metal alloy and ABS construction. This is surely a must-have TKL mech keyboard; the lighting itself is very pleasing to the eyes. Plus, it comes with Rainbow RGB lighting with 19 different modes.
Best Compact Mechanical Keyboard with Electro-Capacitive Switches
# of Keys: 87 Keys| Dimensions: 16.69 x 9.17 x 2.36 in. | Switch: 35-gram electro capacitive (Compatible with Cherry MX switches)
The EPOMAKER Niz Plum x87 35g Electro-Capacitive Keyboard makes one of the best compact keyboards because its construction combines its rubber dome’s silent operation with the reliability and tactility of the well-loved mechanical keyboard. And, of course, since it sports a unique set of switches—the electro-capacitive. It’s quite different from the mech switches we know of.
It is used to open and close electrical circuits. So an electro-capacitive switch will emit a small electrical current across the button, which is why the Nix Plum uses a rubber dome that houses a whole board of 35g pressure switches. Mech gamers can even add 10g spring to increase the percussion based on preference. The whole layout is free to adjust; meaning it is programmable (via software) and macro-compatible. This keyboard also uses a Type-C USB connection.
The keycaps, on the other hand, are designed to be very durable and resistant to oil.
Best Bluetooth 75% Mechanical Keyboards
# of Keys: 84 keys| Dimensions: 13.58 x 6.57 x 2.17 in.| Switch Type: Gateron Red/Blue/Brown Switch| Lighting: RGB Backlight
The Keychron K2 Wireless Bluetooth/USB Wired Gaming Mechanical Keyboard is your ultimate wireless fix to a Bluetooth-enabled 75% mech keyboard. Aside from that, ists 75% layout with 84 keys provides for everything you will need for all the necessary Mac function keys. Yet, it is compatible with Windows too.
The Keychron K2 makes one of the best compact keyboards because of its versatile functionality—among others. Connectivity-wise, it can be used wired via a Type-C connector or by the use of its Broadcom Bluetooth (5.1) which can connect with up to 3 devices (with easy device switching).
For wireless usage, it can last you about 10 hours of continuous use with its 4000 mAh rechargeable li-polymer battery. It’s one of the biggest batteries that you’ll find in mechanical keyboards.
As for the design, it has more than 15 RGB lighting options and it has a 9° inclined bottom frame for a more ergonomic experience even without a palm rest.
Best 75% Mechanical Keyboard with Interactive Lighting Modes
# of Keys: 84 keys| Dimensions: 12.52 x 5.2 x 1.22 in. | Switch Type: Outemu Blue Switch | Lighting: RGB Music Rhythm
There are a lot of features that Smart Duck XS-84 75% TKL Wired Mechanical Gaming Keyboard possess that make the product worthy of one of the best compact keyboards title. One noteworthy feature is its RGB Music Rhythm lighting. It has a total of five (5) interactive lighting modes that’ll spice up your typing experience, for sure! Just make sure you install the latest drivers for the model to make your desktop come to life. But if that’s not your cup of tea, you can still enjoy the 7 global lighting modes and be able to adjust the brightness and speed of the lights to achieve your preferred setting.
As to the switches, this mech keyboard is equipped with high-performance Outemu mechanical switches. It can be used up to 5,000 times and it has excellent touch, sensitivity, and response performance. Also, the brand understands the current customizable trends and so it offers a keycap puller and a switch puller in its packaging.
The Smart Duck XS-84 is powered by a Type-C connection.
Best Programmable TKL Mechanical Keyboard
# of Keys: 87 keys| Dimensions: 14.07 x 5.31 x 0.96 in. | Switch Type: Cherry Mx | Keyboard Rollover: NKRO & Anti-ghosting
The Durgod Taurus K320 TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is quite special as it sports an 80% TKL design. It is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux. It comes with two cables: a USB Type-A to USB Type-C (1.6m) and a USB Type-C to USB Type-C (1m).
It makes it to the list of the best compact keyboards because, for one, it is compatible with Durgod Zeus Engine, which means you can customize and disable any key, set up macros and multimedia key, even remap the keys.
The keycaps are Doubleshot PBT and the body sports an OEM profile. Meanwhile, one of its noteworthy features is the adjustable feet which allow you to prop the keyboard up based on your desired angle.
Most Minimalistic TKL Mechanical Keyboard
# of Keys: 87 keys | Dimensions: 14.1 x 5.1 x 1.4 in.| Switch Type: Cherry Mx| Keyboard Rollover: 100% anti-ghosting & full n-key rollover
The HyperX Alloy FPS Pro - Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard is very fancy looking with its minimalist TKL design which is deemed to be ideal for FPS pro players. It sports a solid steel case, Cherry MX mechanical switches, and not to mention, a detachable and portable Type-C power connection.
Because it’s designed for a more pro-gaming setup, this model only plays around with the color red for its backlight. Although it still offers a few lighting modes to accentuate the minimalist style. It’s powerfully packed, despite its compact and portable design; it is equipped with Game Mode, 100% anti-ghosting, and N-Key rollover.
It’s jam-packed with features and premium design yet it still sports a budget-friendly price which is just under $80.
Amazon’s Choice for 75% Mechanical Keyboards with Black Switch
# of Keys: 82 keys| Dimensions: 12.24 x 4.72 x 1.46 in.| Switch: Special Modified Black Switches| Lighting: RGB LED Backlight
The AJAZZ AK33 Geek RGB Mechanical Keyboard is highly notable for its mechanical black switches. It takes pride in its special modified black switches which reduce 20g trigger pressure resulting in one of the fastest response times for mech keyboards. As to its lifespan, about 60 million—talk about the ultimate gaming experience. The reason behind earning a spot in our best compact keyboards list.
Maintaining its unique branding, the AK33 sports a unique 82-keys layout design. Still ensuring complete functionality, the keyboard is compactly designed to fit its 12.2 x 4.72 in. full-anodized aluminum frame casing, to save desk space and gives your mouse a wider scope to move around.
It is powered by a detachable Type-C cable connection that is about 1.6m long. Also, the keyboard is finished with a splash-resistant design.
Best Linear and Quiet Mechanical Keyboard
# of Keys: 81 keys| Dimensions: 12.6 x 5.91 x 1.38 in.| Switch: Outemu DIY Red Switches | Lighting: RGB Backlit
The E-YOOSO 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard, specifically with the red switches, can give you one of the best quiet typing experiences, compared to the brown and blue switches.
The build quality is very good, as it is very solid. It includes extra switches, keycap, and switch pullers in the package which not all brands do—so it’s a big plus point already. It comes with a splash-proof design as well, so you’re somehow safer even with a glass of drink placed on your desk while you game or type.
It is equipped with quite interesting RGB backlit modes. The included manual will tell you which keys to press to enable the different modes. Some are awesome to look at but may not be very comfortable to work, especially those modes that dim the keys unless pressed.
If you are not quite familiar with your key layout, especially if you’re still transitioning from a full-sized to a 60% TKL, then some of these modes might not work out. Nonetheless, it does give great aesthetics
This product bags a spot in our list of best compact keyboards because of a few noteworthy things such as its ABS metal base, giving you a robust and sturdy keyboard; the gold-plated USB connector, and the matte finish texture—another aesthetically pleasing feature; Also, its wide compatibility with the Windows MAC operating systems.
Most Light 82-Key TKL Mechanical Keyboard
# of Keys: 82 keys| Dimensions: 13.86 x 6.65 x 2.68 in.| Switch: Gateron MX Switches| Keyboard Rollover: Anti-ghosting & full NKRO
The Epomaker Magicforce Smart 82-Key Mini Mechanical Keyboard is not your typical compact keyboard. It sports an 82-key design, removing all the infrequently used key functions. It only carries about 70% of the standard keys. Despite being
Our last entry for the best compact keyboards list is lighter than most of the products of its kind because it makes use of an aluminum alloy plate instead of the usual steel medium plate. This is a switch that many users seem to enjoy. The same goes for the Gateron MX switch. Other Epomaker TKL mech keyboards sport the Cherry MX switch, but the Magicforce Smart makes use of the Gateron MX. Although some may still prefer the Cherry, others have grown fondly of the switch type because of the overall performance they are still getting.
Thrown in the warm experience it offers with its white backlight that comes with 9 blacklight support and 6 brightness options. You’ve got an elegant, light, and super compact TKL mechanical keyboard.
Compact Keyboard:s Buyer’s Guide
There are a lot of factors that people consider, especially enthusiasts when looking into the best compact keyboards in the market. Gone are the days that keyboards only come in one large—most often bulky—size. If you’re just hopping in now with the current mech keyboard trend then there’s a lot to learn to make sure you get the best experience with the right product in your possession. Here’s a comprehensive buyer’s guide to help you out:
Type of TKL mechanical keyboard
What started out as removing the Numpad out of the equation for a more efficient gaming experience, became a start of a new trend and it just gets smaller and smaller. Narrow your search to the number of function keys you will actually use as this will determine the type and dimension of your TKL mechanical keyboard.
The smallest type is the 40% TKL mech keyboard which basically takes out the whole number row at the top and leaves you with the letters and modifiers. If the numbers aren’t something that important for the purpose you seek, such as primarily for gaming, then this may suit you best. This can provide the widest area for your mouse and the most minimum distance between the keyboard and mouse—better for your arms.
Following the smallest is the 60% TKL mech keyboard, which is probably one of the most common types you can find in the market. You may find a slightly bigger variant which is 65%. Aside from the number pad, this TKL type took out F keys at the top (F1, F2, etc.). Instead, It’ll make use of the Fn key, combined with the numbers at the top, i.e., Fn + 5 = F5.
Then there’s the 75% TKL mechanical keyboard.This is a newcomer to the scene and is usually the most difficult to find. It provides the perfect balance that people seek between the ultra-compact 60% and the full-sized TKL. What it offers is almost all the keys you may find in a full-sized TKL but arranged differently to make it more compact. For instance, the Insert, Delete, and Home keys are vertically placed on the right side of the keyboard instead of having it in a 3×3 format. It took out all the space between the main keys, the special functions, and the arrow keys. Those who would like to work and play on their keyboard prefer this type.
Lastly, we have the mother of it all—the Tenkeyless (TKL) mechanical keyboard. This is the mainstream mechanical keyboard offered by big manufacturers such as Razer, Logitech, Corsair, etc. It’s everything but the number pad—hence the name, ten-key-less. But because TKL is already a broad concept it still has sub-variants such as the 87% and the 80%. This means that it is about 80% the width of a full-sized keyboard.
Number of keys
The number of keys will not necessarily be directly proportionate to the TKL. There are 60% TKL mech keyboards that still possess 81 keys, while a 75% type can come with 84 keys. It’ll depend on the design, functionality, and build. So you will need to determine what key functions do the best TKL mechanical keyboards carry and which ones can I live without and which one can I not?
Currently, Cherry MX and Gateron switches are the two of the hottest or most popular switch types (or brands) in the market right now. Each offers different performances, durability, overall experience, and of course, price range. One of the most noteworthy differences is the feel, and long-time mech keyboard enthusiasts can immediately decipher which is which.
Generally, the Gateron switches offer a smoother experience while the Cherry MX is a bit scratchy in comparison. The latter tend to last longer than the former but it’s more expensive.
The Cherry MX is easier to find and can be seen equipped more frequently than the Gateron. Although, Gateron does offer more options and it tends to be quieter in terms of its clicking sounds. So which one will you choose? It will all depend on your preference. Each brand will offer switches that’ll cater to every type (linear, clicky, and tactile). Each will offer somewhat the same operating force, activation point, and noise level. It will all boil down to what you would prefer based on the key differences mentioned.
The dimensions of the keyboard are not quite as important as the other factors. Nonetheless, it is still a relevant factor for some who have a limited desk space or those who are very specific with how compact the mech keyboard should—probably a personal preference or a requirement in-game events or whatnot.
Most of the best compact keyboards will offer fun RGB lighting but there are those that offer single color backlights such as red and white but they will still come with different lighting modes and even brightness options.
Not all keyboards, even the best compact keyboards, will offer both N-key rollover (NKRO) and anti-ghosting. Although most of them will. Others will even throw in a Game Mode.
To simply put it, a rollover is how well a keyboard can competently register correct multiple keys that are being pressed simultaneously. The “N-key rollover” is a quantifier, with the “N” as the number of keys it can correctly register simultaneously. You’ll see a few that are labeled 2KRO, 6KRO, and for those mech keyboards that can register all of their pressed keys correctly, they are tagged as “NKRO”.
Meanwhile, anti-ghosting is a feature that blocks or jams any registered unpressed key. KROs have limits such as the 2KRO. With the anti-ghosting feature, the keyboard can block a third key registry that was not even pressed. It ensures that the keyboard stays within its KRO limit.
Do you need both? Generally, it’s good to have them both because it’ll securely minimize such errors from happening. Although most manufacturers of cheaper mech keyboards opt to put a KRO limit to avoid the added cost.
The modern age of technology is upon us and all there is left to do is embrace it. Bask in the freedom and versatility it brings to everyone’s life. The best compact keyboards offer a great alternative to maximize space, productivity, and work efficiency by eliminating infrequently used keys and eliminating the space in-between. Even typewriter keyboards had narrow dimensions.
If you’re new to the trend, give yourself some time to adjust. Just make sure you get the best product offered to give you less hassle in transitioning. The market for TKL mech keyboards is getting wider by the minute, so there’s surely a perfect one out there for you.
Last update on 2021-07-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API