Compact mechanical keyboards offer a convenient and comfortable form-factor, without sacrificing productivity. If you are working with limited desk space, or are frequently taking your keyboard on-the-go, then a 65% mechanical keyboard might be the right fit for you.
65% keyboards usually consist of around 66-68 keys, they are very similar to 60% keyboards as they lack the entire function row and number pad.
The slim difference is that 65% keyboards come equipped with arrow keys and four standard navigation buttons (page up, page down, delete, home).
If you absolutely can’t do without dedicated arrow keys, a 65% is the perfect condensed mechanical keyboard to cater to your needs.
- The Top 5 Best 65% Mechanical Keyboards
|Top Pick||Durgod Hades 68||5.0|
|Runner Up||Vortexgear Cypher||4.8|
|Budget Pick||Akko 3068||4.6|
|Best DIY||TOFU65 Kit||4.7|
|Best Hot Swappable||Drop Alt 65%||4.8|
Durgod Hades 68
The Durgod Hades 68 is our choice for the best 65% mechanical keyboard. It offers the perfect combination of price, performance, and quality that we would expect from a high-end keyboard.
The hefty aluminum case and non-adjustable rubber mounting feet give this keyboard a solid and immoveable feel, this isn’t a unit that’s going to slip and slide around during use.
Durgod has preserved the symmetrical compact look with the Hades 68, there is no blank keyspaces that you may see on other 65% keyboards. In order to make this work, they’ve sacrificed the right alt key, replaced it with a function key, and brought the right shift key down to a 1.75u size. Although this does give the Hades 68 a sleek look, it does make finding aftermarket keycap sets a bit of a chore.
There are a few different switch options available for purchase:
- Cherry MX
The Cherry MX and Kailh switches make this keyboard a bit more expensive as they are much higher quality than Gaterons. This unit comes with pre-lubed switches straight from the factory, along with high-quality stabilizers. Overall the typing experience on this keyboard is immaculate, super smooth without any key rattle.
Last but not least is the very enticing Durgod Hera software. Four function layers allow for endless customizability, and tweaking the RGB lighting modes is made easy. Most mechanical keyboard software packages are pretty clunky and unrefined, so the Hera software is a breath of fresh air.
The Vortexgear Cypher is the perfect minimalistic 65% keyboard. There is no flashy RGB lighting included, it’s just a simple and streamlined mechanical keyboard.
The Cypher is fully hardware programmable, with 3 different layers available for customization. It includes a UBC type-C connection, and laser engraved PBT keycaps. The Cypher case is plastic, if you’re a frequent traveler and are constantly lugging around your keyboards, this unit would be preferable than a heavier alternative. Although the USB C cord is detachable, this unit is not wireless and does not have Bluetooth capabilities.
The Akko 3068 is our choice for the best budget 65% mechanical keyboard. The 3068 is one of the best compact keyboards to take on-the-go, weighing only ~1.8 lbs this keyboard is extremely light and portable. It has wired and Bluetooth capabilities with a 1800mAh battery, which is good for about 120 hours of typing before it will need to be charged.
Dye-subbed PBT keycaps are included, with a light blue/gray/white theme. There is plenty of aftermarket keycap sets available for this keyboard if you’re looking to further customize.
The Perfect Entry-Level 65%
Some people find that the Bluetooth connection can be a little hit or miss with this keyboard, however, we have not personally experienced any Bluetooth problems with this board.
KBDFANS TOFU65 KIT
The TOFU65 is our pick for the best DIY 65% mechanical keyboard. This kit is a thrill to build, complete with high-quality components, and endless customizability. The only downside is that this DIY kit is perpetually out of stock, it’s really not easy to get your hands on.
What’s included in the TOFU65 DIY KIT:
- Aluminum case
- Aluminum plate
- Cherry stabilizers
- USB cable
- Screws and rubber feet
- Brass weight
This PCB does not contain any RGB backlighting. The TOFU65 is compatible with QMK firmware, which is probably one of the best open-source tools for mechanical keyboard customization.
Assembly of this kit is fairly challenging but extremely rewarding. For any mechanical keyboard enthusiast looking to dive into the DIY kit space, this is the perfect starting package.
If you’re looking for an assembly guide, this TaeKeyboards video shows you how to put together all the parts.
Drop Alt 65%
The Drop Alt 65% is our choice for the best compact hot-swappable mechanical keyboard. The Alt contains all the bells and whistles that you would expect to be included in a higher-end keyboard.
RGB lighting is included in this keyboard, each key is customizable to your preferred color. Additionally, an RGB under-glow light runs around the perimeter of the case, which can be customized for added effect. This keyboard is topped with double-shot PBT keycaps, this is generally the best combination of plastic material and keycap manufacturing process for longevity.
Since this PCB is hot-swappable there are a few different switch options available:
- Cherry MX
- Halo switches
Last but not least is the very enticing QMK firmware that functions with the Alt. With QMK firmware the Alt is fully programmable, the process of making macros and custom keymapping is extremely simple. The Drop Alt 65% carries a pretty hefty price tag, but when you consider the quality components it’s built with, along with its hot-swap capability, it becomes a fairly good deal.