If you’ve found yourself lost in the maze of different keyboard layout designs (sizes) or simply curious about what lies beyond the standard full-size keyboard, you’re in the right place!
Mechanical keyboards are famous for their durability, ability to be customized, and pleasing tactile response. They are available in a wide variety of designs, ranging from the large and comprehensive full-size layout (100%) to the compact and minimalistic 40%. Whatever your task, preference, or desktop space, there is a keyboard design that will suit you.
Each layout (size) offers a distinctive mix of practicality and comfort, improving your typing experience in its own unique way.
In this blog post, we’ll journey through the most common, yet distinctive, mechanical keyboard layouts: full-size, 40%, 60%, 65%, 75%, Tenkeyless (TKL), and the 1800-Compact.
We’ll highlight their features, advantages, and potential use cases. By the end of this article, you’ll have the insights to choose the keyboard layout that matches your needs, whether for coding, gaming, writing, data entry, or simply everyday use.
Below are some of the most popular mechanical keyboard layouts at the moment, and they are relative to the full-size normal keyboard, which is 100%.
- Full-size keyboard layout (100%) will have a Numpad, which is very important for people who work as accountants or enter a lot of data.
- 40% keyboard layout is the smallest one that you can ocasionally see. It doesn’t have a number row, function (F) row, navigation or cursor keys, and Numpad. It only has a limited number of punctuation keys.
- 60% keyboard layout is quite similar to a 40%, but it has the number row.
- 65% keyboard layout has some extra buttons like the cursor and navigation keys (Page up, Page down, Delete, Insert, End, and Home).
- 75% keyboard layout is like the keyboard on a laptop, where you can find almost all the keys except for the numeric keypad.
- Tenkeyless (TKL – 80%) keyboard layout is an adaptation of the full-size layout, where the major difference lies in the absence of the Numpad. This compact design is highly appreciated by those seeking more desk space without sacrificing essential keys.
- 1800-Compact keyboard layout is a unique design that cleverly incorporates a Numpad, similar to a full-size layout. But unlike full-size, it clusters keys closer together, much like smaller form factors. It integrates arrow and navigation keys into the Numpad area, presenting a compact yet function-rich layout.
Please take a look at the keyboard layout infographic by Minehacks below for more details!
Which keyboard layout is the best?
The best keyboard layout really depends on personal preference. You may find that 75% is the right choice if you feel the Numpad is unnecessary.
If you want to save some space for your desk or normally carry the keyboard around, then the layout 60 or 65% is the best choice. You can still get full access to the keyboard by using Fn keys and some key mappings.
Note that: If you buy the case separately, matching the size of the PCB and plate is very important. If not, they won’t fit together. The easiest way is to buy a kit that includes the PCB, case, and plate together.
Once you have decided on the keyboard size, you must choose the case material. There are plenty of them, each of them has their own unique characteristics, such as look, feel, and weight.
They will affect your keyboard and typing feel in many ways. Again, it all comes down to personal preference and your budget to choose the most suitable one. Take a look at our keyboard cases guide for further information.
How Do 40% Layouts Make Up for Missing Keys?
When looking at a smaller keyboard layout, you may wonder how users can navigate and accomplish tasks with fewer keys.
However, compact keyboards have proven to be useful for even gamers and programmers as well.
The secret is the functionality of the compact keyboard, which may be small, but offers many possibilities due to the presence of function keys. These keys expand the capabilities of your keyboard.
For example, a function key can be assigned to replace missing arrow keys, allowing you to use W, A, S, and D keys as directional keys.
What are the Advantages of 75%+ Layouts?
The beauty of 75%+ keyboard layouts is that they offer a wide range of keys, making them a great choice for those looking for versatility. If you use your keyboard for various activities, these larger layouts are perfect for you.
They offer direct key access, which can be more convenient for professional tasks that go beyond gaming or programming.
Plus, if you’re used to the traditional full-key set, you’ll likely find comfort and confidence in these more expansive models.
What Makes Small Layouts Great?
Smaller keyboards with compact layouts are usually more affordable than their larger counterparts. They are also easier to carry around, making them ideal for travel and outdoor activities.
Moreover, gamers and programmers might prefer these keyboards since they tend to have a more efficient use of function keys compared to bigger keyboards.
Ultimately, using a compact keyboard can help declutter your workspace, creating a minimalist and efficient desk setup.
Exploring the realm of mechanical keyboards can lead to a maze of layout options. Whether you’re overwhelmed by the variety of choices or just curious to venture beyond the typical full-size keyboard, we trust that this blog post has provided some valuable insights.
During our search, we have ventured through the complicated terrain of mechanical keyboard layouts, ranging from the spacious full-size (100%) to the simple 40%.
Every design has its own special appeal, designed to accommodate your needs, preferences, and space requirements, providing a delightful combination of usefulness and comfort.
Please keep in mind that there is no universal keyboard layout that suits everyone’s needs. The optimal layout for you depends on your personal preferences and specific requirements.
You can choose from large 75% or more models that have a complete range of keys, or smaller layouts that are both cost-effective and portable.
The decision is entirely up to you and what works best for you.