Mechanical TKL keyboards (“ten keys less”) are models that do not have a numeric keypad on the right side. They are more ergonomic, take up less space on the desk, and still include all important blocks: arrows, navigation, F1-F12, and numbers. TKL or 80% keyboards are great for typing text. There are also shortened models with keys for macros.
A Tenkeyless or TKL keyboard is constructed as follows: switches are installed on the backplate, which are then covered by keycaps. This design allows the keys to last longer, and the tactile sensations are much more pleasant, as the user doesn’t need to press the key all the way down.
If you only approach your computer in the evening to watch a movie, there is no point in spending money on a mechanical keyboard. Mechanical models are suitable for people who spend the entire day typing.
Criteria for selection
When selecting the best 80% keyboards, we relied on three parameters:
- Switches. These are mechanisms located under each keycap that ensure smooth key presses. Some of the best switches are made by Cherry.
- Keycap material. The buttons should be made of durable PBT plastic.
- Price. We have collected keyboards with different costs.
We also took into account customer reviews, the appearance of the keyboards, ergonomics, and typing experience.
What to pay attention to when choosing mechanical keyboard?
If you have used a full-size keyboard before, the transition to TKL won’t take much time. However, users of miniature 60% models will have to spend a few hours getting used to the new distance between the keys. If you are ready for this step, pay attention to the following points when choosing.
Sound and feel
The most attention when choosing is paid to the switches, as they are the ones that affect the typing experience. The leader among switch manufacturers is Cherry, so we will focus on their products. The Cherry MX line includes the following models:
Brown – versatile switches that provide a good tactile bump. Blue – switches for typing. Users love them for their distinctive click, which mimics a typewriter. Red – linear switches. Suitable for gaming. Silent Red – the quietest switches. Silver – the fastest switches. Suitable for people who type quickly.
You can also find models from Kailh – a Chinese clone of Cherry. They are cheap, but sometimes they have a slight wobble when pressed.
Wired or Wireless
A wireless keyboard will help eliminate clutter on your desk. However, it is not suitable for gamers due to latency. Even a few milliseconds can hinder a player from achieving victory. Therefore, it is not recommended to purchase a wireless keyboard for gaming. The exception is models with wireless USB. This technology provides a speed of 480 Mbps, which is sufficient for a mechanical keyboard.
Connecting via a wire is more reliable and suitable for gamers.
The most popular material is ABS plastic. It is inexpensive but easily breaks and is susceptible to ultraviolet rays. Additionally, the surface of such keycaps quickly wears out and becomes glossy. Another option is PBT. It is a more durable material but also more expensive. Its surface will never wear out.
Labels are applied in several ways, but the best is Double Shot. The keycap is assembled from two parts: the first forms the label, and the second fills in the gaps. Sublimation has also proven to be effective – a technology in which the labels are pressed into the keycap.
If you see a mechanical keyboard with Double Shot or sublimated keycaps, consider yourself lucky. Such labels will never wear off.
|Fnatic miniSTREAK||Cherry MX||RGB||ABS||0.7||Wired|
|Corsair K63||Cherry MX||Red||ABS||0.5||Wired|
|Varmilo MA87M||Cherry MX||White||PBT||1||Wired|
|Velocifire TKL02 (WS)||Durable Brown Switch||No||ABS||1.1||Wired, wireless|
Top 80% Keyboards
Here are the best TKL keyboards. Most models are versatile, meaning they are suitable for both work and gaming.
Best overall: Fnatic miniSTREAK
Best for gaming: Corsair K63
Best for typing: Varmilo MA87M
Best budget: Velocifire TKL02 (WS)
Best 80% Keyboards: Review and Recommendations
- Weight (kg): 0.7
- Size (WDH, mm): 360*142*36
- Switches: Cherry MX
- Backlight: RGB
- Wireless: No
This is a great 80% mechanical keyboard for any purpose. The classic key layout will help you quickly get used to the new layout. Also, through the Fnatic OP program, you can customize macros on any key. The miniSTREAK supports RGB backlighting with 17 million colors.
The keycaps are made of ABS plastic, so their surface will quickly wear off and become shiny. Cherry MX switches are used for this keyboard, but you can also find keyboards with Kaihl switches. A synthetic leather wrist rest is included in the package, and its position can be adjusted to your liking. Four rubber feet are glued to the bottom of the miniSTREAK, which grip the desk well and prevent the device from sliding.
- Weight (kg): 0.5
- Size (WDH, mm): 365*41*171
- Switches: Cherry MX Red
- Backlight: red
- Wireless: no
This 80% mechanical keyboard is designed for gamers but can also be used for typing. The keyboard’s case is made of matte plastic, which does not get dirty easily and does not bend. The keycaps are made of ABS plastic, but the manufacturer has installed Cherry MX Red switches, which are pleasant and not too clicky. Some buyers complain about Backspace and Space keys being faulty: the stabilizers of these keys are quite weak and have a slight wobble.
In addition, the manufacturer has installed nine macro keys. By default, they control music playback and backlighting, but their functionality can be changed through iCUE. Anti-Ghosting is supported.
- Weight (kg): 1
- Size (WDH, mm): 356*134*33
- Switches: Cherry MX
- Backlight: white
- Wireless: no
Varmilo has always created the best mechanical keyboards for typing, and the MA87M is no exception. The manufacturer includes two replacement keycaps and a keycap puller.
The keyboard’s body is made entirely of metal, with the top plate made of matte plastic. There are no fingerprints left on the surface, and the keyboard does not wobble or squeak while typing. The PBT plastic keycaps are durable and do not wear out over time. The lettering is applied using dye-sublimation. There is white backlighting, but due to the opaque keycaps, it does not look very attractive.
Velocifire TKL02 (WS)
- Weight (kg): 1.1
- Size (WDH, mm): 355.6*127*25.4
- Switches: Durable Brown
- Switch Backlighting: None
- Wireless: Yes
The TKL02 is the cheapest 80% mechanical keyboard. The body is made of durable plastic with rubber feet on the back to prevent it from sliding on the table. There are also stands, but according to user reviews, they quickly come off. Otherwise, the body does not have any major flaws.
Durable Brown Switches, a Chinese equivalent of Cherry switches, are used. The key strokes are smooth without clicks, making it ideal for typing. The keycaps themselves are made of ABS plastic but have a matte finish. It supports Anti-Ghosting, macro recording, and wireless connectivity. The battery capacity is 1850 mAh, which is enough for two days of work.
Is a mechanical keyboard better for the wrists?
Long hours of work on a computer can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. But it can be avoided by buying an ergonomic keyboard. However, mechanical keys are easier to press, so fingers and wrists tire less, which prevents inflammation in the carpal tunnel.
Is such a keyboard suitable for the office?
The downside of a mechanical keyboard is noise. In an office where silence prevails during work, switch clicks will greatly disturb other employees. However, such models allow for faster typing. If you decide to use a mechanical keyboard in the office, then buy Cherry MX Silent Red.
What is the difference between tactile, linear, and clicky switches?
Switches are divided into two categories:
Tactile – a slight bump is felt when a key is pressed, which helps control typing better.
Linear – the button is pressed evenly all the way down. They are suitable for gaming and quiet keyboards.
There are also clicky switches. They make a loud click sound.
What is a low-profile keyboard?
A low-profile keyboard is a device with keys that are much smaller than standard keys. A low profile is often chosen by people suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
Will a mechanical keyboard work with Mac?
Yes, any keyboard will work on a Mac. However, if the device does not have Command, Option, and Control buttons, they will need to be manually configured.