Keyboard Sizes Explained

Different Keyboard Sizes Explained: Finding the Perfect Fit for Your Typing Needs


Keyboard sizes and layouts vary widely, catering to different needs and preferences. Whether you’re a gamer, programmer, or everyday typist, understanding the differences between various keyboard sizes can help you find the ideal one for your specific use case. In this article, we will explore the most common keyboard sizes, such as Full-Sized (104 key), TKL (87 key), and 60% (68 key), as well as less common sizes like 75%, 65%, and 40%.

The Full-Sized keyboard, also known as 104 key, is the most traditional layout. It features all standard keys, including a number pad, function row, arrow keys, and a home cluster. This layout is popular among users who require a comprehensive set of keys for data entry, number-heavy tasks, and those who prefer the familiarity of a traditional keyboard layout.

On the other hand, the TKL (Tenkeyless) keyboard eliminates the number pad, resulting in a more compact design with 87 keys. The removal of the number pad allows for more space on your desk and provides a more ergonomic typing position, as it allows you to keep your mouse closer to your body. TKL keyboards are favored by gamers who need the extra desk space for mouse movement or programmers who prefer a more compact layout without sacrificing essential keys.

The 60% keyboard takes compactness even further, featuring only 68 keys and removing the function row, number pad, arrow keys, and home cluster. Despite its smaller size, the 60% keyboard retains all alphanumeric keys and often includes dedicated arrow keys and function layers accessed through key combinations. This size is popular among gamers and those seeking a minimalist, space-saving design.

Beyond the common sizes, there are other options to explore. The 75% keyboard is slightly larger than a 60% keyboard, retaining dedicated arrow keys and often incorporating a function row. The 65% keyboard, as the name suggests, is 65% the size of a Full-Sized keyboard, often featuring arrow keys and a dedicated home cluster. Lastly, the 40% keyboard is the most compact, typically consisting of only the alphanumeric keys and a few additional function and modifier keys.

By understanding the unique features and advantages of each keyboard size, you can select the one that best suits your needs and preferences. Whether you require a comprehensive layout, a more compact design for gaming or programming, or a minimalist and space-saving option, there’s a keyboard size out there that will cater to your requirements. Use the accompanying example pictures of each layout to visualize and compare the different sizes, helping you make an informed decision when choosing your next keyboard.

Keyboard Sizes – The Mysterious Gamer

1. Full-Size Keyboards

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Full-size keyboards, also known as 100% keyboards, are the largest keyboard size available. These keyboards are designed to provide a complete set of alphanumeric keys, a numpad, function keys, and dedicated multimedia controls. Full-size keyboards offer a spacious typing experience and are ideal for users who require the full range of keys.

With a full-size keyboard, you have access to all the standard keys you would find on a traditional keyboard layout. This includes the alphanumeric keys for typing letters and numbers, the function keys (F1-F12) for various commands and shortcuts, and the dedicated multimedia controls for adjusting volume, play/pause, and other media functions.

The inclusion of a numpad is a significant advantage of full-size keyboards. It provides a separate set of number keys, as well as additional mathematical and navigation keys, allowing for quick and efficient number entry. This makes full-size keyboards particularly useful for tasks that involve working with numbers, such as data entry, accounting, or any other profession that requires frequent numeric input.

Moreover, the larger size of full-size keyboards provides more room for comfortable typing. The spacious layout allows for a natural hand positioning and reduces the likelihood of accidental key presses. If you have larger hands or prefer a more expansive typing surface, a full-size keyboard offers the convenience and comfort you need.

Full-size keyboards, or 100% keyboards, offer a complete set of alphanumeric keys, a numpad, function keys, and dedicated multimedia controls. They are ideal for users who require the full range of keys and prefer a spacious typing experience. Whether you’re working with numbers, typing extensively, or simply appreciate the convenience of having all the keys readily accessible, a full-size keyboard provides the comprehensive functionality you need.

2. Tenkeyless (TKL) Keyboards

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Tenkeyless keyboards, often referred to as TKL keyboards, are a popular alternative to full-size keyboards. As the name suggests, these keyboards omit the numpad typically found on full-size keyboards, resulting in a more compact form factor. While TKL keyboards remove the numpad, they retain the main alphanumeric keys, function keys, and multimedia controls, offering a streamlined layout without sacrificing essential functionality.

One of the key advantages of TKL keyboards is their space-saving design. By removing the numpad, these keyboards occupy less desk space, allowing for a more efficient and clutter-free setup. This compact form factor is particularly beneficial for gamers who require ample space for mouse movement, allowing for larger and more sweeping motions during gameplay. It also benefits typists who prefer to have their mouse positioned closer to their body, promoting a more comfortable and ergonomic posture.

The absence of the numpad on TKL keyboards also contributes to a more centered typing position. With a TKL layout, the alphanumeric keys are aligned more centrally, reducing the need to stretch your arm or shoulder to reach the mouse. This can alleviate strain and discomfort during extended typing or gaming sessions, enhancing overall ergonomics and reducing the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

Despite the smaller size, TKL keyboards generally retain all the essential keys needed for most tasks, including typing, gaming, and general computer usage. The function keys and multimedia controls are often present, allowing for quick access to various commands and media playback functions.

TKL keyboards offer a balance between functionality and space efficiency. They are favored by gamers who require a larger mouse area, typists who value a more centered typing position, and users seeking a streamlined and minimalist desk setup. If you prioritize space-saving and ergonomic benefits without sacrificing essential keys, a TKL keyboard is an excellent choice.

3. Compact Keyboards

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Compact keyboards come in various sizes and layouts, offering a space-saving solution for those who prioritize portability or have limited desk space. These keyboards, including the 75%, 65%, and 60% sizes, further reduce their footprint by eliminating additional keys such as the function row and navigation cluster, while retaining the alphanumeric keys and some essential function keys.

The 75% keyboard size strikes a balance between compactness and functionality. It typically retains the alphanumeric keys, arrow keys, and a dedicated row for the function keys. This layout is preferred by users who desire a more compact keyboard while still needing the convenience of dedicated arrow keys and function keys for certain tasks.

The 65% keyboard size takes compactness a step further by eliminating the dedicated arrow keys and sometimes the function row. Despite this reduction, the alphanumeric keys and a few additional keys are retained. This layout appeals to users who value a compact design and are comfortable using key combinations or programmable layers to access arrow keys and other missing functions.

The 60% keyboard size is the most compact among these options. It removes not only the function row and navigation cluster but also the arrow keys. However, the alphanumeric keys and a few modifier keys remain, providing the essentials for typing and general computer usage. Users who prefer a minimalist and space-saving design often opt for 60% keyboards, utilizing key combinations or programmable layers to access missing functions.

Compact keyboards are highly portable due to their reduced size and weight. They are convenient for users who frequently travel or have limited desk space, allowing for easy packing and a clutter-free work area. Additionally, compact keyboards can promote a more ergonomic typing position by keeping the mouse closer to the main typing area, reducing strain on the shoulder and arm.

While compact keyboards sacrifice some keys to achieve their smaller size, they retain the core functionality needed for most tasks. The omission of non-essential keys makes them ideal for users who value portability, desk space optimization, and a minimalist aesthetic without compromising essential typing and computing capabilities.

Compact keyboards, including sizes like 75%, 65%, and 60%, offer a space-saving solution by eliminating additional keys while retaining the alphanumeric keys and essential functions. These keyboards are highly portable, making them a preferred choice for users who frequently travel or have limited desk space. By understanding the different compact keyboard sizes and their unique layouts, you can select the one that best suits your portability needs and preferences while still providing the necessary functionality for typing and computing tasks.

4. Ortholinear Keyboards

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Ortholinear keyboards feature a distinct key layout that sets them apart from traditional keyboards. In an ortholinear keyboard, the keys are arranged in a grid pattern, aligning each column and row vertically and horizontally. This layout contrasts with the staggered arrangement commonly seen in most keyboards. Ortholinear keyboards aim to provide a more ergonomic typing experience by aligning the keys with the natural movement of the fingers.

The design of ortholinear keyboards takes into account the anatomy and mechanics of the hand. By aligning the keys in a grid pattern, the finger movements required for typing become more straightforward and more aligned with the natural motion of the fingers. This can potentially reduce finger and wrist strain, promoting a more comfortable typing position and minimizing the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

While ortholinear keyboards may take some time to adjust to, many users find that they offer benefits in terms of typing speed and accuracy. The grid layout of the keys allows for more consistent finger movements and can help users develop a more efficient typing technique. Over time, this can lead to improved typing speed and reduced errors.

One consideration with ortholinear keyboards is that they may require a slight adjustment period for users accustomed to the staggered key layout of traditional keyboards. The finger placement and muscle memory developed on staggered layouts might initially feel unfamiliar on an ortholinear keyboard. However, with practice and familiarity, users can adapt and take advantage of the ergonomic benefits and potential improvements in typing performance.

It’s worth noting that ortholinear keyboards are not as widely available as traditional keyboards, but they can be purchased or built by enthusiasts who appreciate their unique advantages. Additionally, some ortholinear keyboards offer programmability, allowing users to customize the layout and assign functions to specific keys, further enhancing their versatility and personalization.

Ortholinear keyboards feature a grid pattern layout that aligns each key column and row vertically and horizontally. This arrangement promotes a more ergonomic typing experience by aligning the keys with the natural movement of the fingers. While they may require an adjustment period, ortholinear keyboards can potentially improve typing speed and accuracy while reducing strain and promoting a more comfortable typing position.

5. 40% Keyboards

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40% keyboards represent the epitome of compactness in keyboard design. These ultra-portable and minimalistic keyboards are intentionally designed to omit nearly all function keys, navigation keys, and even the number row. Despite their small size, 40% keyboards offer an impressive level of functionality by leveraging the use of layers and programmability.

The main distinguishing feature of 40% keyboards is their compact layout, which removes the majority of keys found on larger keyboards. In a 40% layout, only the essential alphanumeric keys and a limited number of modifiers are retained. This reduction in size allows for an incredibly portable keyboard that can easily fit into a bag or pocket, making it an ideal choice for users who are frequently on the move.

To compensate for the absence of traditional keys, 40% keyboards employ layers and programmability. Layers enable users to access additional key functions by combining key presses or utilizing a function key. By switching between layers, users can access various sets of keys, including navigation, function, and even media controls. Programmability further enhances the versatility of 40% keyboards, allowing users to customize key assignments and create macros to suit their specific needs and preferences.

The minimalistic design and efficient use of layers and programmability make 40% keyboards favored by users who value simplicity, efficiency, and portability. They are particularly popular among minimalists, programmers, and users who prioritize a clutter-free workspace. Additionally, enthusiasts and tinkerers often appreciate the customizability and personalization options offered by programmable 40% keyboards.

It’s important to note that due to their significantly reduced key count, 40% keyboards have a steeper learning curve for users accustomed to standard keyboard layouts. Typing on a 40% keyboard typically requires the mastery of layer switching and function key combinations. However, for those who are willing to invest time in adapting to the layout, 40% keyboards can provide an efficient and highly portable typing solution.

In summary, 40% keyboards are the most compact and minimalistic keyboards available. They omit most function keys, navigation keys, and the number row, relying on layers and programmability to provide a surprising level of functionality. These keyboards are highly portable, making them ideal for users who prioritize mobility and value a clutter-free workspace. While they may require an adjustment period, 40% keyboards offer an efficient and customizable typing solution for those who appreciate minimalism and seek a highly portable keyboard experience.

Keyboard Features by Size

Keyboard Size # of Keys Number Pad Home Cluster Function Row Arrow Keys Number Keys (Top Row) Full Alphabet
Full-Sized (100%) 104
1800 Compact Full-sized 103-104
87 X
75% 80-84 X
65% 66-69 X X
60% 58-65 X X X
40% 40-44 X X X X X
Number Pad 17 X X X X X
Macro pad 8-16 X X X X X X


Keyboard Size Guide

The size of a keyboard matters because it directly affects factors such as portability, comfort, and functionality. Here’s why size is an important consideration when choosing a keyboard:

  1. Portability: If you need to carry your keyboard around frequently, such as for travel or work purposes, a smaller and more compact keyboard is ideal. Keyboards in the TKL (Tenkeyless) and smaller sizes are lightweight and easier to transport, fitting conveniently into bags or backpacks. On the other hand, larger keyboards like full-sized ones can be bulkier and less portable.
  2. Desk Space: The size of your keyboard also affects how much space it occupies on your desk. Smaller keyboards, such as 60% layouts, free up more desk real estate, allowing you to have additional room for other accessories or simply a clutter-free workspace.
  3. Typing Efficiency: When transitioning to a smaller keyboard layout, there might be a learning curve as you adapt to the absence of certain keys. For example, a 60% keyboard lacks dedicated arrow keys. However, with practice and customization options, you can still achieve efficient typing without these keys. It’s important to consider your comfort level and willingness to adapt when deciding on a smaller keyboard size.
  4. Aesthetics: Many people appreciate the sleek and minimalist appearance of smaller keyboards. If aesthetics are important to you, a compact layout like TKL or 65% can offer a more visually pleasing design.
  5. Personal Preference: Ultimately, the choice of keyboard size depends on your personal preferences and specific use cases. If you prioritize portability and desk space, a smaller keyboard may be the right fit. However, if you require a full set of keys, including a number pad, or if you don’t need to transport your keyboard frequently, a larger, full-sized keyboard might be more suitable.

Finding the balance between comfort and size is crucial, and for most individuals, the TKL to 65% keyboard range tends to be the sweet spot. It offers a good compromise between functionality, portability, and comfort. It’s worth noting that as you move towards smaller sizes, you may need to step outside your comfort zone and adapt to the absence of certain keys or functionalities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQ 1: Which keyboard size is the best for gaming?

The best keyboard size for gaming ultimately depends on personal preference. Gamers often prefer TKL or compact keyboards as they offer more desk space for mouse movement and can provide a more ergonomic hand position. However, some gamers may still prefer full-size keyboards for the convenience of dedicated multimedia controls and a numpad. Consider your gaming style, space constraints, and desired features when choosing a keyboard size for gaming.

FAQ 2: Are compact keyboards suitable for programming?

Yes, compact keyboards can be suitable for programming. Many programmers appreciate the compact form factor as it allows for a more ergonomic typing position and reduces strain on the shoulders and wrists. Compact keyboards can also be highly customizable, allowing programmers to optimize key placements for their coding needs. However, it’s important to consider the specific layout and functionality requirements of your programming workflow when choosing a compact keyboard.

FAQ 3: Can I use a compact keyboard for daily typing tasks?

Absolutely! Compact keyboards are suitable for daily typing tasks. While they may require some adjustment due to the reduced key count, many users find that the smaller form factor promotes a more efficient and comfortable typing experience. Compact keyboards are particularly beneficial for users who travel frequently or have limited desk space, as they offer portability and space-saving advantages.

FAQ 4: Are ortholinear keyboards difficult to get used to?

Ortholinear keyboards can take some time to adjust to, especially if you’re accustomed to the staggered layout of traditional keyboards. The finger movements and muscle memory required for typing on an ortholinear keyboard are different. However, many users report increased typing speed and accuracy once they adapt to the layout. If you’re interested in trying an ortholinear keyboard, be prepared for a learning curve and give yourself time to acclimate to the new layout.

FAQ 5: Do 40% keyboards lack essential functionality?

While 40% keyboards omit many keys found on traditional keyboards, they make up for it through layers and programmability. Layers allow users to access additional functions by holding down specific key combinations or through programmable key mappings. With proper configuration, 40% keyboards can offer all the essential functionality required for daily typing tasks. It’s important to consider your specific needs and workflow when deciding if a 40% keyboard is suitable for you.



Having a good understanding of the various keyboard sizes is crucial when it comes to finding the ideal fit for your typing needs. Each size, whether it’s a full-size keyboard, TKL or compact keyboard, ortholinear keyboard, or 40% keyboard, offers its own set of advantages that can significantly impact your typing experience. By considering factors such as your specific usage requirements, available desk space, portability needs, and ergonomic preferences, you can make an informed decision and select the keyboard size that best aligns with your needs.

Full-size keyboards, with their complete set of keys including the numpad, are ideal for users who require the full range of keys and enjoy a spacious typing experience. They are particularly beneficial for tasks involving number entry, such as data entry or accounting.

TKL or compact keyboards, which eliminate the numpad while retaining the main alphanumeric keys and essential functions, offer a more streamlined form factor. They are well-suited for users who value a clutter-free desk setup and desire more space for mouse movement. The absence of the numpad can also promote a more centered typing position and provide ergonomic benefits.

Ortholinear keyboards, with their unique grid-like layout aligning keys vertically and horizontally, provide a more ergonomic typing experience. By following the natural movement of the fingers, ortholinear keyboards can reduce strain and potentially improve typing speed and accuracy. While they may require some adjustment for users accustomed to staggered layouts, the ergonomic advantages can be significant.

For those seeking the ultimate in portability, 40% keyboards are the way to go. These keyboards are incredibly compact and minimalistic, omitting most function and navigation keys. However, through layers and programmability, they can still offer a surprising level of functionality. 40% keyboards are favored by users who prioritize portability and minimalism while maintaining efficiency.

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