There are many different sizes, shapes, and names for mechanical keyboards. In this article, we will be doing a deep dive on Tenkeyless, or 80% keyboards. These Tenkeyless keyboards, or “TKL” for short, are essentially full-sized keyboards, without the addition of a number pad.
TKL keyboards are perfect for those that may have a confined working or gaming space, or for those that could simply do without the functionality of a number pad/ten-key. If you’re looking to increase mouse pad space for gaming, or lessen hand travel time from keyboard to mouse, then a Tenkeyless is an ideal solution. Additionally, TKL keyboards provide ergonomic benefits that may be absent with a full-sized keyboard. If you’re spending a significant amount of time in front of a screen, whether it’s for work or a hobby, you might as well be comfortable!
We’ve reviewed a few of the best tkl mechanical keyboards so that you can make an educated decision and figure out which build is right for you.
The Leopold FC750R is our top pick, Leopold offers high-quality boards and polished minimalist designs. Leopold is a Korean company, well respected amongst the StarCraft and Korean gaming community for providing long-lasting and polished products.
The Top 4 Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboards
|Best Overall||Leopold FC750R||4.9|
|Runner Up||IKBC MF87||4.8|
|Budget Pick||Ducky One 2 TKL||4.6|
|Best Customizable||GMMK TKL||4.6|
The 750R comes jam-packed with all the best features. The keycaps are 1.5mm PBT, which are guaranteed to survive years of daily wear and tear from typing and gaming. These keycaps are also resistant to temperature and solvents, so they shouldn’t wear out from natural oils that are left by your fingers. A 1.8m removable cable makes traveling with the 750R easy and harmless.
Leopold’s 750R also offers ergonomic benefits, the adjustable feet allow you to customize the height of the keyboard, so you can find the most comfortable position during use. The 750 also boasts an ergonomic key shape, so if you value comfortability this might be the right keyboard for you.
As for the most important part of the keyboard, the switches, the Leopold FC750R comes with your choice of Cherry MX switches. It’s offered with Blue, Brown, Clear, Red, or Silent Red switches provided they are in stock. If you don’t have much experience with mechanical keyboards, Cherry MX switches are popular and well-liked around the mechanical keyboard community. If you’re worried about noise or are regularly in quiet environments, the keyboard comes with a sound-absorbing pad to help reduce noise.
The 750R is equipped with 100% anti-ghosting keys, the standard multimedia keys, 4 DIP switches for customization, and N-Key rollover. There is also a 6-key rollover function switch if for some reason you want to limit the number of keys that can be pressed simultaneously. As for looks, the 750R comes in white/gray, blue/yellow, black/graphite, and gray/light blue. Plenty of color options to choose from, or you can buy your own keycaps to customize your look. Keep in mind this board does not come with any backlighting
- Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.3 x 14.2 in
- Weight: 2.2 lbs
- Cord length: 5.9 ft
Runner up for best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard is the IKBC MF87. Let me start off by saying this keyboard is an absolute unit. Made of 5 lbs of solid CNC aluminum, it’s built like a tank and guaranteed to last.
Along with its solid build, the MF87 is visually stunning. It comes equipped with 9 pre-set RGB backlighting modes, with the ability to program each individual key to a different color. Fully-fledged customizability is rare with most RGB keyboards, which makes the MF87 particularly appealing to many mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. Additionally, there is an on-board brightness toggle, so you can tweak the RGB LEDs to your liking.
The MF87 comes with 3 built-in layouts, Qwerty, Dvorak, and Colemak. Qwerty is generally the standard layout for most people, but it’s nice to have the option to change should you prefer another layout. Like most mechanical keyboards, this IKBC has 100% anti-ghosting keys and N-Key rollover, so it’s ideal for gaming where you are likely registering multiple keystrokes at once. The standard multi-media keys and F1-F12 are also included.
Akin to many other mechanical keyboards in this price range, the MF87 is issued with Cherry MX switches. This model has Cherry MX Reds, which do not have a tactile bump or a click. Along with their low articulation force, these switches are ideal for gamers who enjoy a quieter mechanical keyboard experience, or for those working in a quiet environment.
The MF87 has a detachable USB 2.0 cable which makes taking this keyboard on-the-go simple and worry-free.
- Dimensions: 20 x 10 x 4 in
- Weight: 4.5 lbs
- Cord length: 4.9 ft
Our best budget mechanical keyboard is the Ducky One 2 TKL. Ducky is a highly reputable Taiwanese company, they produce high-quality keyboards at an affordable price. If you’re shopping on a budget, we would recommend choosing a Ducky keyboard.
The Ducky One 2 is a very minimalistic keyboard, it goes without the usual fancy visuals and instead offers great performance. There is standard blue LED backlighting, with no option to tweak or change the colors. As for the keycaps, the One 2 is equipped with double shot PBT keycaps, which are guaranteed to last through daily wear and tear. If you’re a frequent traveler, the removable micro USB makes packing and transporting the One 2 easy.
This particular board comes with Cherry MX Blue switches, if you are a fan of audible clicks when pressing keys then MX Blues are the right switch for you. Not suitable for a quiet working environment.
At a glance
For under $100, the Ducky One 2 is a great keyboard. A solid, sturdy build that is will definitely last years of use. It’s a perfect entry-level mechanical keyboard for anyone looking to dive into the mechanical keyboard space.
- Dimensions: 14.04 x 1.61 x 5.24 in
- Weight: 2.4 lbs
- Cord length: 4 ft
The GMMK TKL from Glorious PC Gaming is an extremely versatile and easily customizable keyboard. Glorious is a fairly new company started in Texas in 2014, they offer high-quality mechanical keyboards targeted towards gamers, at an affordable price.
The GMMK TKL is a visually stunning keyboard, it comes with fully customizable RGB backlighting, change the color of any key via software or directly on the keyboard. Additionally, pre-set lighting effects are included direct from the manufacturer. This minimalist keyboard has a floating keycap design, with a standard keycap layout that makes personalizing your keys simple. One knock on this particular keyboard is that the factory keycaps are double-shot ABS, which are generally inferior to double-shot PBT. If you’re swapping the default keycaps for aftermarket it obviously won’t make a difference, but it is definitely something to keep in mind if you are keeping the stock keycaps. Want to learn more about keycaps? Check out our extensive guide on the different types of keycap materials.
The most enticing feature of the GMMK TKL is the hot-swappable switches. Generally, on most keyboards, there is soldering involved in order to change switches. The GMMK requires no soldering in order to swap out switches, and it’s compatible with Cherry, Gateron, Kailh, Outemu, and Zeal switches. This particular unit is equipped with Gateron Browns, which are similar in quality to Cherry MX Browns. If you prefer a quieter typing experience this is the switch for you, otherwise, you can easily change the switches out to a variant you prefer.
This keyboard offers a solid and sturdy build with a high-quality aluminum faceplate, this unit is about 2.25 lbs so it should stay planted firmly on your desk. The USB cable is detachable and braided, so you can swap out the cable to match your customized look. All the regular multimedia keys are included, and if you are interested in creating macro keys Glorious software will enable you to do so.
- Dimensions: 14 x 5.1 x 1.4 in
- Weight: 2.4 lbs
- Cord length: 6 ft