If you read our article on the best 60% mechanical keyboards, you know that some people value compact designs and minimalism so much that they are willing to remove 40% of their keyboard and keep just the essentials. But while some people can function without arrow keys or an F-row, others might not be as space-restrained or may not be ready jump all the way from a full-size keyboard to a 60% design. Luckily, there exists a very happy medium: the TenKeyLess (TKL) keyboard.
Whether you are an exclusive gamer, a heavy coder, or a wireless fanatic, this guide will help you choose the best tenkeyless mechanical keyboard available to give you all the keys you need while still saving some space compared to a full-size input device.
As a refresher, or an introduction for anyone new to mechanical keyboards, we are looking for the right switches (clicky, linear, or tactile), good quality control and durable construction, and any specific features that will make our keyboard our best friend. Be sure to think about your needs before picking a keyboard as no matter how high quality it is, if it doesn’t satisfy your needs, it isn’t the best keyboard available for YOU.
With that in mind, let’s jump into our recommendations for the best TKL mechanical keyboards around in 2019:
Best Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboards – My Recommendations
Best Budget Gaming TKL Mechanical Keyboard
Just like with 60% mechanical keyboards, when it comes to gaming, mechanical keyboards are favored for their precision and NKRO to ensure that every key actuation is captured. In addition, most gamers favor linear switches (typically red or black) because the lack of tactile feedback bump is easier for repetitive actions. Red or Black switches have the added benefit of being much less loud than blue switches (which are clicky), although that is a subjective advantage. Finally, although strong wireless performance exists (like the Logitech G613 or new G915), most gamers prefer wired keyboards as true lag-free wireless performance comes at a price premium.
And because the TKL is the most popular alternative to full-size keyboards, there are some great budget gaming options that are very affordable while retaining great features and build quality. In this category, although you can save an extra 10-15 dollars by going with an unknown brand, we recommend sticking with a big name and going for the Corsair K63. With original Cherry MX red switches and some nice features like backlight and a hi-profile case, the K63 is a lot of keyboard at a low price. And with the great reputation of Corsair backing it up, this is a keyboard you can trust.
At $50, the Corsair K63 is tough to pass up for anyone looking for a TKL budget gaming mechanical keyboard.
Alternative Budget TKL Mechanical Keyboard
Maybe you don’t like the lack of the standard bottom row on Corsair keyboards, or maybe you just don’t connect with red switches, even for gaming. Or maybe you’ve been reading our other articles, and you know you may want a wireless option because like many others, you see wires as unnecessary in the majority of cases. Wireless connectivity keeps getting better and better, and options are now available at almost any price range. With that in mind, a great alternative for a budget TKL (wireless!) mechanical keyboard today is the Royal Kludge SINK87G.
With the choice of blue or brown switches, this keyboard may not be a pure gaming option, but it will certainly serve you just as well for a quick-paced FPS shooter as for typing up that big essay you’ve been putting off. With some nice features like RGB lighting and macro-binding, this keyboard is a strong alternative at the budget price point for someone that doesn’t mind giving up red switches or the Corsair brand for the still respected Royal Kludge name and blue/brown switches.
For right around the same $50 price point, if you are looking for a wireless TKL that won’t break the bank, the RK Sink87G is a great option.
Best High-end Gaming 60% Mechanical Keyboard
Everything we’ve just said for the Corsair K63 is equally true for our high-end recommendation from another big name competitor, the Steelseries Apex 7 TKL. For more than double the price, the Apex 7 TKL offers a step-up from the already very good K63 by bringing per-key RGB, a detachable magnetic wrist rest, a standard bottom row, aluminum housing, and my favorite feature that really sets this keyboard apart: a Smart OLED screen.
Steelseries gets some flak around enthusiast communities, and it is almost always because of price. No one argues that their high-end offerings have top-notch quality for the different peripherals, and the designs are very appealing as a medium between subtle and exciting. This keyboard falls right within those characteristics. It isn’t cheap, but it looks great and works well.
At $130 the Apex 7 TKL is a lot for a TKL keyboard, but if you have the cash and like the design, it will not let you down.
Best Typing/Coding 60% Mechanical Keyboard
For an office setting or for typing, we get that all that gamer RGB and stylized font might not be quite as professional. Or maybe you just like solid, reliable, function-over-form gadgets that simply work. Luckily for you, some manufacturers remember that mechanical keyboards existed long before the gamer community, and not everyone is looking for the quickest linear switches available. For you, we have the classic, reliable, high-quality, Filco Majestouch2 TKL or the Filco Ninja Majestouch2 TKL.
Aside from the minor differences in looks (the Ninja features side-print keycaps for example), these minimalistic typing machines are the definition of no-frills quality. The brown Cherry MX switch has a light tactile feedback to help you type accurately, while the anti-ghosting and NKRO features ensure your keyboard will not hold you back, no matter how fast you type. The stabilizers will keep your keys from rattling and the high-quality frame will last you for years and years to come. The keycaps are not the best, but there are plenty of options available for high-quality keycaps that can either add some personality or simply provide the key-feel you are looking for.
At $130 -$140, the Filco TKL choices are a beautiful mixture of high-quality components and terrific build quality without the unnecessary bells and whistles that many gamer-centric keyboards contain. I am not saying this keyboard will make you want to type more just because it looks great and the brown switches are very satisfying to type on….but it won’t make you procrastinate writing the next essay any worse than your current keyboard and this one at least will ensure you’re getting plenty of quality for the price.
Best Silent TKL Mechanical Keyboard
If you read our article on the best quiet mechanical keyboards, you might have seen that we included a TKL as one of the best available choices. In fact, due to its great value and overall stellar feature set, we recommended it as the best overall quiet mechanical keyboard. And while technology changes quickly, it doesn’t change that quickly and we have no reason to recommend anything other than the Fnatic miniSTREAK.
As we said in that article, the keyboard uses quality parts like a metal top-plate and high-quality stabilizers, and includes some nice features, like RGB lighting and a leather wrist rest. The only improvement we would make is to include some high-quality PBT keycaps, but the ABS keycaps that come with the keyboard are smooth and offer windowed lettering to see that sweet RGB, so they are by no means bottom-of-the-barrel.
If you are looking for a TKL that won’t burst your eardrums, the Fnatic miniSTREAK comes in at $100 and is definitely one to consider.
Best Small (<75%) TKL Mechanical Keyboard
If you love the arrow-keys and F-row, but after reading this guide, you still want to find a way to save more space, do not despair! You still have one more form factor that saves you as much space as possible without removing the arrow-keys or F-row: the 75% form factor keyboard.
Essentially, by slightly shortening the size of the right shift key, and by pushing all the keys together, the 75% form factor takes the TKL functionality and puts it in the most compact form factor possible. While many of the choices in this form remain DIY solutions (like the KBD75), we do have one great solution from one our favorite manufacturers, the Vortexgear Race3 75% mechanical keyboard.
With a variety of choices for switches, very high-quality PBT keycaps (including some nice colored modifiers), and great build quality, the Race3 is a great choice for a 75% form factor pre-built mechanical keyboard. It is not cheap at $120-$130, but you definitely get great quality for the price.
If you like things not too hot and not too cold, or in this case not too big and not too small, the TKL mechanical keyboard offers a perfect mix between a compact form factor and utility that is tough to beat. If you game or code, want to eliminate wires or need the quickest response times possible, the availability of TKL choices include any switch imaginable and plenty of customization. And for those that want to reduce the size footprint of their keyboard just a bit more than the average TKL the 75% option is a compromise worth exploring.
Remember to find a retailer to test the different switch types if you have never used a mechanical keyboard before to determine which one you like best, and always put your needs first in terms of features when choosing a mechanical keyboard. Then, once you have decided on the basics, our recommendations will help you get the most bang-for-your-buck for your next TKL mechanical keyboard.