Decoding Keyboards: How Many Keys on a TKL Keyboard

In the world of computing, the keyboard is more than just a tool; it’s an extension of the user. The size and layout of a keyboard can significantly impact user experience, productivity, and comfort. “how many keys on tkl”

Among the various types, Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards have gained popularity for their balance of functionality and compactness. But what exactly is a TKL keyboard, and how does it compare to other sizes?

IntroductionKeyboards are crucial in computing, impacting user experience, productivity, and comfort. Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards are popular for their functional and compact design.
Understanding TKL KeyboardsWhat is a TKL Keyboard?: A compact version of the full-size keyboard without the number pad. Retains essential keys like alphanumerics, function row, and navigational cluster.
Key CountTKL Keyboards: Typically have 87 keys, a reduction from the 104 or 108 keys in full-size keyboards.
Advantages of TKL KeyboardsSpace-Saving Design: Ideal for smaller workspaces.
Portability: More portable due to smaller size.
Ergonomic Benefits: Promotes natural hand placement, reducing strain.
Other Popular Keyboard SizesFull-Size Keyboards: 104 or 108 keys, suitable for data entry and gaming.
60% Keyboards: About 68 keys, omitting the number pad and other clusters.
75% and 65% Keyboards: Balance between compactness and functionality.
40% Keyboards: Minimalistic, with 40-44 keys, for advanced users.
Specialized Keyboards: Includes 1800-Compact, Macro Pads, and Binary Keyboards.
Choosing the Right Keyboard SizeFactors to Consider: Usage type, desk space, portability.
Pros and Cons: Varies based on keyboard size, balancing functionality and space requirements.
Customization and AccessoriesCustomizing: Options like custom keycaps, switch types, and DIY kits.
Accessories: Include separate number pads, wrist rests, and cable management solutions.
Future Trends in Keyboard DesignInnovations in Layouts: Diverse layouts like ANSI, ISO, JIS.
Ergonomic and Eco-Friendly Keyboards: Focus on user health and sustainability.
ConclusionThe right keyboard size enhances user experience, with each type offering unique features and benefits.
FAQsTKL Keyboards with Mechanical Switches: Yes, available.
Compact Keyboards for Professional Use: Suitable for those prioritizing desk space and portability.
Choosing Keyboard Layouts: Depends on personal preference and typing habits.

Understanding TKL Keyboards

What is a TKL Keyboard?

A Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard is a streamlined, compact version of the traditional full-size keyboard. The defining feature of a TKL keyboard is the absence of the number pad, which is typically found on the right-hand side of standard keyboards.

This design choice is not just about reducing the physical size; it’s about optimizing the keyboard’s functionality for users who don’t frequently use the number pad.

By retaining the essential keys, including the alphanumerics, function row, and navigational cluster (which includes keys like Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down), a TKL keyboard provides a balanced experience between functionality and compactness.

How Many Keys on a TKL Keyboard?

The standard TKL keyboard comes with 87 keys. This count is a reduction from the 104 or 108 keys found in full-size keyboards, depending on whether they follow the ANSI or ISO layout, respectively.

This 80% reduction in size is significant for those looking to save desk space without sacrificing the utility of having a full range of keys.

The layout is designed to maintain the integrity of the keyboard’s functionality, ensuring that all the essential keys are still accessible for general computing, gaming, and typing needs.

Advantages of TKL Keyboards

TKL keyboards are not just about what’s missing; they’re also about the benefits they bring to various user scenarios. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Space-Saving Design: The compact size of TKL keyboards makes them ideal for smaller workspaces. By eliminating the number pad, these keyboards free up valuable desk space, allowing for a more organized and less cluttered setup. This space efficiency is particularly beneficial for users who operate in confined areas or prefer a minimalist approach to their workstation.
  • Portability: The reduced size and weight of TKL keyboards make them much more portable than their full-sized counterparts. This portability is a boon for users who travel frequently or attend events like LAN parties or coding bootcamps. The smaller footprint of TKL keyboards makes them easy to pack and carry, fitting comfortably into backpacks and laptop bags.
  • Ergonomic Benefits: One of the less obvious but significant advantages of a TKL keyboard is its ergonomic design. By removing the number pad, the mouse can be placed closer to the keyboard, promoting a more centered and natural posture. This arrangement reduces the need to stretch or reach out excessively while using the mouse, thereby minimizing strain on the shoulder and wrist. For users who spend long hours at their computer, this ergonomic benefit can lead to reduced fatigue and discomfort, making for a more comfortable and productive work experience.

Other Popular Keyboard Sizes

 Full-size keyboards are the quintessential choice for many users, offering the complete set of 104 or 108 keys, including the number pad, function row, and navigational cluster.

This layout is particularly favored in professional environments where data entry is frequent, as the dedicated number pad allows for efficient numerical input.

Gamers also often prefer full-size keyboards for their comprehensive range of keys, which can be crucial for complex game controls and key-binding options.

The full-size layout is typically based on the ANSI or ISO standards, with the latter having a few additional keys.

60% Keyboards

60% keyboards represent a significant shift towards minimalism in keyboard design. With approximately 68 keys, these keyboards eliminate the number pad, function row, and navigational cluster, focusing solely on the essential keys.

This reduction in size and keys leads to a compact and sleek design, making 60% keyboards a favorite in the gaming community and among users who appreciate a minimalist aesthetic.

Their small footprint not only saves desk space but also makes them highly portable. The 60% keyboard is ideal for users who rely heavily on shortcuts and are comfortable with layering functions to access less frequently used keys.

75% and 65% Keyboards

75% and 65% keyboards are designed for those who seek a middle ground between full-size and ultra-compact keyboards.

The 75% layout, with 80-84 keys, and the 65% layout, with 66-69 keys, both exclude the number pad but include most other essential keys.

These keyboards often integrate the arrow keys and some navigational keys, making them more functional than 60% keyboards while still saving space.

They are suitable for users who need more keys than what a 60% keyboard offers but want to avoid the bulk of a full-size keyboard.

40% Keyboards

The 40% keyboard is the epitome of minimalistic design in the keyboard world. With just 40-44 keys, it challenges the conventional keyboard layout, focusing on the bare essentials.

This type of keyboard is best suited for enthusiasts and advanced users who are comfortable with a heavily layered key setup.

Users of 40% keyboards often rely on a combination of key presses to access functions that would normally have dedicated keys on larger keyboards. This keyboard size is all about maximizing efficiency in a minimal space.

Specialized Keyboards

  • 1800-Compact: This layout is a variation of the full-size keyboard, offering a more compact arrangement without sacrificing key count. It’s an excellent choice for users who need all the functionality of a full-size keyboard but have limited desk space.
  • Macro Pads: These are small, auxiliary keyboards designed for specific functions or shortcuts. Macro pads are often used in gaming, streaming, and productivity contexts where having quick access to certain commands can significantly enhance the user experience.
  • Binary Keyboards: An unconventional and niche choice, binary keyboards use a unique input method based on binary code. They are more of an experimental design, showcasing the versatility and creativity in keyboard design rather than being practical for everyday use.

Choosing the Right Keyboard Size

Selecting the ideal keyboard size is a critical decision that can significantly impact your computing experience. To make an informed choice, consider the following factors:

Factors to Consider

Usage Type:

  • Gaming: Gamers might prefer full-size keyboards for their extensive key range or opt for compact sizes like TKL or 60% for more desk space for mouse movement.
  • Typing/Data Entry: Full-size keyboards with a dedicated number pad are ideal for professions involving extensive data entry.
  • Programming: Programmers may benefit from a keyboard size that balances key availability (like TKL or 75%) and ergonomics.

Desk Space:

If you have a spacious desk, a full-size keyboard might be a comfortable choice.

For smaller desks, compact keyboards (TKL, 60%, or even 40%) can free up valuable space.


If you frequently travel or attend events, smaller keyboards (60% or 65%) are more portable and convenient.

For stationary setups, portability may be less of a concern, making full-size or TKL keyboards suitable options.

Pros and Cons of Each Size

Full-Size Keyboards:

  • Pros: Comprehensive key range, dedicated number pad, ideal for gaming and data entry.
  • Cons: Larger footprint, less desk space for other items, not as portable.

TKL Keyboards:

  • Pros: More desk space than full-size, retains most essential keys, better ergonomics.
  • Cons: Lacks a number pad, which might be a drawback for some users.

60% Keyboards:

  • Pros: Highly compact and portable, minimalist design, suitable for small workspaces.
  • Cons: Missing function row, number pad, and navigational keys, which might require time to adapt to.

75% and 65% Keyboards:

  • Pros: Compact yet functional, includes arrow keys and some navigational keys.
  • Cons: Smaller than TKL, might have a learning curve for key placements.

40% Keyboards:

Pros: Extremely compact, encourages learning efficient typing through layers.

Cons: Significant learning curve, not suitable for all users, especially those reliant on traditional key layouts.

Specialized Keyboards (1800-Compact, Macro Pads, Binary Keyboards):

  • Pros: Customized for specific needs, can offer unique functionalities.
  • Cons: Might not be suitable for general use, often more expensive.

Customization and Accessories

 The world of keyboards extends far beyond just choosing the right size. Customization and accessories play a significant role in enhancing both the aesthetics and functionality of your keyboard.

Let’s delve into how you can personalize your keyboard and the accessories that can augment your typing experience.

Customizing Your Keyboard

Custom Keycaps:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Keycaps come in various colors, materials, and designs, allowing you to personalize the look of your keyboard.
  • Material Choices: Options range from ABS (lighter, more affordable) to PBT (more durable and resistant to shine).
  • Themes and Designs: From minimalist to thematic designs, custom keycaps can reflect your personal style or interests.

Switch Types:

  • Variety: Mechanical keyboards offer a range of switch types, each with different actuation forces, tactile feedback, and sound profiles.
  • Popular Choices: Brands like Cherry MX, Gateron, and Kailh offer diverse switch types. For instance, Cherry MX Reds are favored for gaming due to their smooth linear action, while Browns are preferred for typing due to their tactile bump.
  • High-End Options: Keyboards like Filco Majestouch-2, Topre Realforce, and Ducky Shine come with high-quality switches that offer superior durability and typing experience.

DIY Kits:

  • Build Your Own: For the enthusiasts, DIY kits allow you to build a keyboard from scratch, choosing every component from the PCB to the case.
  • Custom Layouts: DIY kits can also allow for unique layouts that might not be available in pre-built keyboards.

Accessories for Enhanced Functionality

Separate Number Pads:

  • Full-Size Functionality: For those using TKL or smaller keyboards, a separate number pad can be added for tasks requiring heavy number input.
  • Flexibility: These can be placed on either side of the keyboard, offering ergonomic benefits and flexibility.

Wrist Rests:

  • Comfort: Wrist rests help maintain a neutral wrist position, reducing strain during long typing sessions.
  • Materials: They come in various materials, including foam, gel, and wood, catering to different comfort preferences.

Cable Management Solutions:

  • Organization: Cable management accessories like clips, sleeves, or under-desk trays help keep your workspace tidy.
  • Reduced Clutter: Effective cable management not only enhances the appearance of your setup but also prevents tangling and damage to your cables.

Additional Accessories:

  • Keyboard Stands: For an optimal viewing angle and to save desk space.
  • Switch Testers: To try out different switch types before committing to a particular one.
  • Keycap Pullers and Switch Pullers: Essential tools for maintenance and customization.

In conclusion, customizing your keyboard and adding the right accessories can significantly enhance your typing experience.

Whether it’s for ergonomic comfort, functionality, or simply to express your personal style, the possibilities are vast and cater to a wide range of preferences and needs.


Future Trends in Keyboard Design

The landscape of keyboard design is continually evolving, driven by technological advancements and changing user needs.

As we look to the future, several trends are emerging that are set to redefine the way we interact with keyboards.

Innovations in Keyboard Layouts

Diverse Layouts:

  • Global Adaptation: The standard ANSI layout is being complemented by layouts like ISO (popular in Europe) and JIS (Japanese Industrial Standard), catering to a global user base.
  • Custom Layouts: Customizable layouts are gaining traction, allowing users to rearrange keys based on personal preference or specific use cases.

Split and Ortholinear Designs:

  • Ergonomic Focus: Split keyboards, which divide the keyboard into two distinct parts, are designed to promote a more natural hand position, reducing strain on the wrists and arms.
  • Ortholinear Layouts: These layouts align keys in straight rows and columns, differing from the traditional staggered design, potentially offering a more efficient typing experience.

Programmable Layers and Keys:

  • Enhanced Customization: Keyboards with programmable layers allow users to assign multiple functions to a single key, enhancing efficiency and reducing the need for extra keys.
  • Software Integration: Advanced software is enabling more intuitive customization of these layers and macros, making them accessible to a broader audience.

The Rise of Ergonomic and Eco-Friendly Keyboards

Ergonomic Innovations:

  • Health-Centric Designs: There’s an increasing focus on keyboards that reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Adjustable Features: Keyboards with adjustable angles, palm rests, and key positions are becoming more prevalent, allowing users to tailor their setup for maximum comfort.

Sustainability in Materials:

  • Eco-Friendly Materials: The use of sustainable materials like bamboo, recycled plastics, and biodegradable components is on the rise.
  • Durability and Repairability: There’s a growing emphasis on building keyboards that are not only durable but also easy to repair, reducing electronic waste.

Energy Efficiency:

  • Low-Power Designs: With the rise of wireless keyboards, energy efficiency is becoming a critical aspect. Innovations in battery technology and low-power electronics are making keyboards more energy-efficient.
  • Solar-Powered Options: Solar-powered keyboards, which can charge using ambient light, are an emerging trend, offering an eco-friendly alternative to battery-powered devices.

Smart Integrations:

  • AI and Machine Learning: Integration of AI to learn user typing patterns for predictive text and customized layouts.
  • Connectivity: Enhanced connectivity options, including seamless switching between devices, are becoming standard features.

In summary, the future of keyboard design combines ergonomic excellence, environmental consciousness, and technological innovation, incorporating factors like keycaps same size for a standardized experience.

These trends reflect a deeper understanding of user needs and a commitment to sustainability, pointing towards a future where keyboards are not only tools for typing but also instruments of wellness and environmental responsibility.


Choosing the right keyboard size is crucial for an optimal user experience. Whether it’s a compact TKL or a full-size keyboard, understanding the specific features and benefits of each type can significantly impact your computing experience.


Q: Can I get a TKL keyboard with mechanical switches?

A: Yes, many TKL keyboards come with mechanical switches, offering a range of typing experiences.

Q: Are compact keyboards like 60% and 75% suitable for professional use?

A: Absolutely, these keyboards can be quite efficient for professionals who prioritize desk space and portability.

Q: How do I choose between different keyboard layouts like ANSI and ISO?

A: It often comes down to personal preference and typing habits. ANSI is standard in the US, while ISO is common in Europe.

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