What Is a TKL Keyboard?

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Updated July 26, 2022

Minimalism has wormed its way into many markets, and technology is no exception. When you look through lists of the best keyboards, many are full of compact models that focus only on the essentials. The TKL keyboard was one of the first models to move away from the standard full-sized layout. So, if you’re curious to learn more, we’ll explain what is a TKL keyboard and the benefits of owning one.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The TKL keyboard eliminates the number pad found on full-size keyboards and reduces gap space between keys.
  • TKLs are built with portability in mind and often have features to enhance it, like detachable cables.
  • Many models come with low-profile switches, making keys easier to press and type.

For anyone interested in researching specific keyboard models, we have a great article comparing the Anne Pro 2 vs Ducky One 2 Mini.

Insider Tip

If you want a smaller keyboard but still need the Numpad, you can buy a separate device and plug it into a USB port.

What Is a Tenkeyless Keyboard?

Let’s begin by defining terms. TKL stands for Ten-key-less, meaning it eliminates the number pad found on the right side of most full-sized keyboards. A TKL more closely models the size of the original typewriter format, whereas full-sized models were built with number-crunching in mind.

The TKL also reduces the size of some larger keys, like the space bar and shift key. In addition, depending on the manufacturer, the gap space between the keys may also be reduced, thus bringing the keys closer together and further reducing the size.

Overall, the TKL is a more straightforward design that eliminates the extra baggage of full-size keyboards.

Benefits of a TKL Keyboard

Whether at an office, a warehouse, or working from home, a TKL is an excellent way to save desk space. The TKL fits in a work bag or backpack, and many come with detachable cables, making it easier to work on the go.

The TKL is an excellent middle ground between the full-sized keyboard and more compact designs like the 65 and 60. A TKL retains many essential keys and doesn’t force users to get used to a new typing layout while cutting down on the bulk of the full-size board. And because there are fewer parts needed to manufacture, TKLs are usually more cost-effective than regular full-size models.

However, if you think a more compact keyboard is what you want, we have a great article explaining what a 60 keyboard is and the merits that come with it. And if you want to look at some examples of keyboard sizes, we have a review comparing the Keychron K2 vs K6.

Warning

Because TKL keyboards are more compact, they often forego things such as additional USB ports and media controls. If these are things you are used to, adjusting to a TKL might be difficult.

Finally, TKLs often come with low-profile keys, which are easier to press down to speed up typing. Because of this, many prefer the typing experience of TKLs mechanical switches for their gaming keyboard.

STAT: The average TKL keyboard comes with 87 keys, while a full-sized one comes with 104. (source)

What is a TKL Keyboard FAQs

Are TKLs the same thing as 75% keyboards?

TKL and 75 keyboards are very close in size. However, putting a TKL into numeric perspective would be an 80, meaning they are 80% the size of a full-size mechanical keyboard.

Are TKL keyboards good for gaming?

Many TKL keyboards are built with gaming in mind, offering RGB backlighting and customizable key layering.

Are TKL keyboards ergonomic?

By reducing the keyboard's width and including low-profile keys, TKLs are said to be more comfortable and often come with ergonomic features.
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