- Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboards remove the ten-key pad, reducing the keyboard’s size by up to 40%.
- Mechanical keyboards offer different switch options for a customizable typing experience.
- The Razer BlackWidow V3 Tenkeyless is the best overall mechanical TKL keyboard with programmable keys and RGB lighting.
- The Logitech G413 TKL SE is an affordable option with pre-programmed FN keys and no RGB lighting.
- The keydous NJ80-AP is a hot-swappable mechanical keyboard with various switch options and a programmable aluminum knob.
- The Keychron C3 Pro QMK/VIA is a budget-friendly option with fully programmable keys.
- The KINESIS Gaming Freestyle Edge is a split mechanical TKL keyboard with ergonomic features and Cherry MX switches.
If space is an issue in your home office, you might want to invest in a tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard. These keyboards remove the ten-key pad, reducing the size by up to 40%. In the modern day, people are using it less. So, manufacturers have stopped including the ten-key pad as a default feature of the keyboard.
Those looking for the most comfortable typing experience may also want to pick up a mechanical keyboard. While most people are familiar with the clicky gaming keyboards, these aren’t the only types of mechanical switches you can buy!
Linear and tactile switches offer different experiences with less noise than a clicky keyboard. They’re very customizable! After looking through all the best options for mechanical TKL keyboards, we’ve narrowed the selection down to five excellent options:
- Best Overall: Razer Blackwidow V3 Tenkeyless
- Best Mechanical TKL Keyboard with a Mouse: Logitech G413 TKL SE
- Best Hot-Swappable Option: keydous NJ80-AP
- Best Budget Option: Keychron’s C3 Pro QMK/VIA Custom Gaming Keyboard
- Best Split Mechanical TKL Keyboard: KINESIS Gaming Freestyle Edge
#1 Best Overall: Razer BlackWidow V3 Tenkeyless
- 87 keys
- Supports 16.8 million colors on individually backlit keys
- Razer Hypershift allows for all keys and keypress combinations to be remapped
- Supports up to 80 million clicks
The Razer Blackwidow V3 Tenkeyless is our top pick for the best overall mechanical TKL keyboard. It presents an excellent marriage of value and quality, and it’s available with two types of switches: clicky Razer Greens and silent Razer Yellows.
Razer products aren’t just well-known for their quality of materials or for providing excellent customer service to their consumers. So, you know that when you buy a Razer product, you’ll be protected! Additional features of this mechanical keyboard include programmable keys, RGB lighting, and a USB passthrough port, allowing you to plug additional peripherals into your keyboard.
|The keyboard has a USB passthrough.
|It is rather expensive.
|It features programmable, RGB lighting.
|The keyboard uses proprietary switches.
|It has programmable keys.
Check out the Razer Blackwidow V3 Tenkeyless on Amazon.
Best Mechanical TKL Keyboard with a Mouse: Logitech G413 TKL SE
- Next-gen HERO mouse sensor
- 400 IPS precision and up to 12000 DPI sensitivity
- Ultra-fast LIGHTSPEED Wireless technology for lag-free gaming
- 6-key rollover anti-ghosting performance
If you need a keyboard and a mouse, Logitech’s G413 TKL SE can be bundled with their G305 mouse at a discount! The G413 TKL SE is about as close to a budget mechanical keyboard as you can get while buying from a reputable manufacturer.
However, this isn’t the most customizable option on the list. You can only get this outfitted with Kaihua Mechanical switches; tactile ones, to be exact. There are no clicky or linear options for this keyboard, and the backlight is plain white, which might be a definite drawback for people looking for a super-stylish keyboard.
The G413 is a bare-bones keyboard overall. It has some valuable functions programmed to the FN keys but no programmable keys, USB passthrough, or anything fancy. However, it’s a functional and accessible choice, especially for people who need to buy a mouse and keyboard.
|This keyboard is affordable, but still from a reputable brand.
|It has no RGB lighting.
|The keyboard can be bundled with a mouse.
|Unfortunately, it has no additional features.
|Pre-programmed FN keys provide additional functionality.
Check out the Logitech G413 TKL SE on Amazon.
Best Hot-Swappable Option: keydous NJ80-AP Wireless Mechanical Keyboard
- 75% layout (frees up desk space)
- Hot-swappable PCB
- The built-in Rogers INAOC Poron foams reduce unnecessary noise and hollow sound
- Bluetooth, 2.4 Ghz, and wired connectivity
If you want a hot-swappable keyboard, the keydous NJ80-AP is for you! Hot-swapping is all the rage on keyboards today. It’s a feature of mechanical keyboards where the switches aren’t solder-mounted to the PCB, allowing users to pull the switches out and change them without heavy tools, like a soldering iron.
Hot-swapping has ups and downs, but swapping out your switches on the fly is definitely a cool feature with its own advantages. This keyboard has a wide variety of little features that make it well worth the $100 price point.
Firstly, as mentioned, it’s got hot-swappable switches. You can also choose from various switches and keycap combinations, including Gateron and BOX switches. In addition, it has PBT keycaps, which are durable and comfortable. Further, it has pre-lubed stabilizers for the larger keys, like the spacebar and shift keys.
It also has an aluminum knob that’s defacto set to adjust the volume but can be rebound to any function the user might want to execute, like repeatedly scrolling. Additionally, the FN key can be rebound to any key on the keyboard, allowing users to execute FN combinations comfortably with their key of choice.
|The switches are hot-swappable.
|This keyboard is very expensive.
|It has a programmable FN key.
|Unfortunately, it features no Cherry MX switch option.
|It comes with a programmable, aluminum knob.
Check out the keydous NJ80-AP on Amazon.
Best Budget Option: Keychron C3 Pro QMK/VIA Custom Gaming Keyboard
- Double-shot ABS keycaps
- You can use the key combo FN + CAPS to toggle between macOS and Windows
- 1000 Hz polling rate
- QMK/VIA (open-source) software support
If you’re looking for a mechanical TKL keyboard that won’t break the bank, Keychron’s C3 Pro QMK/VIA Custom Gaming Keyboard is an excellent choice. Keychron is a famous mechanical keyboard manufacturer that makes both budget and standard keyboards.
Of course, when you choose a budget keyboard, you’ll sacrifice some features. This one doesn’t have fancy lighting or a million switch options, but you can choose between tactile and linear switches. It also has programmable keys, making it a good starter option for someone who needs to be able to change their keyboard layout on the fly.
|This keyboard is super affordable.
|Unfortunately, it uses proprietary switches.
|It can be outfitted with tactile or linear switches.
|It has fully programmable keys.
Check out the Keychron’s C3 Pro QMK/VIA Custom Gaming Keyboard on Amazon.
Best Split Mechanical TKL Keyboard: KINESIS Gaming Freestyle Edge RGB
- 16.8M color per-key RGB backlighting
- Split design for better ergonomics and less wrist strain
- Uses Cherry MX Red switches
- 10 customizable effects like wave, spectrum, rebound, pulse, and rain
The KINESIS Gaming Freestyle Edge is an excellent split mechanical TKL keyboard. Split keyboards are becoming more popular for their increased ergonomics. They allow you to adjust half the keyboard to different angles to improve the comfort of their hands.
They’re an excellent choice for anyone with an injury or disability that makes typing on a standard keyboard uncomfortable. Split ones allow you to move the halves of the keyboard out further, letting you spread your arms wider rather than having to move your hands directly in front of you.
The KINESIS Freestyle Edge keyboard has two connected halves outfitted with Cherry MX switches for maximum comfort. You can get this keyboard with Cherry MX Blues, Browns, Reds, or Silvers. So, you can customize this keyboard for your ideal use case.
|This features an ergonomic split keyboard layout.
|It’s pretty expensive.
|It features Cherry MX switches.
|It’s only got a limited selection of Cherry MX switches
|It has RGB lighting.
Check out the KINESIS Gaming Freestyle Edge on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best Mechanical TKL Keyboard: Step-by-Step
There are several factors you should consider when choosing a new keyboard. Most people don’t think about all the moving parts that go into a keyboard. Thus, they end up with one that isn’t ideal for them! The more time you spend researching and thinking about your future keyboard, the better your experience will be.
It’s not just about experience, either! If you use your keyboard often, you’ll want to consider which one you should buy for your health. Typing puts a lot of strain on your hands and fingers. Minimizing the damage from repetitive motion is crucial for people who often need to use their keyboards.
When choosing a mechanical one, there are even more factors to consider since they have far more moving parts than your typical membrane keyboard. They’re also generally more expensive. So, you should do your due diligence to make sure you’re spending the extra money on a product that’s worthwhile and ideal for your situation!
One of the most critical factors you’ll want to consider when buying a new keyboard is ergonomics and how they interact with your specific needs. While most consumers won’t experience a marked drop in accessibility from a standard keyboard, some people need a little extra help. Thus, an ergonomic keyboard layout can be essential to these people.
Some people may also want to consider what conditions you currently have and what you may develop in the future. People with a family history of arthritis or carpal tunnel may consider an ergonomic keyboard to prevent the early onset of these conditions. A properly ergonomic keyboard could help you avoid developing certain joint conditions.
A split keyboard can help people with joint issues in their elbows and shoulders. Meanwhile, ergonomic layouts can move keys to more comfortable and natural typing positions for people who have issues with their fingers and hands.
Since this article is specifically for mechanical keyboards, you’ll also want to consider the switch type of the keyboard you purchase. Everyone knows the standard clicky switches, such as Cherry MX or Gateron Blues. However, there are many types of keyboard switches on the market!
Linear switches have no tactile feedback and are excellent for people needing a silent keyboard. They also have a very low actuation force, meaning you can press them very lightly and still get a keypress out of them. This feature makes them excellent for people with repetitive motion since they take minimal effort to use effectively.
Tactile switches are an excellent middle ground between the feedback-free linear and the loud and obnoxious clicky switches. They provide a distinct tactile bump that indicates when you actuate the key without the distinctive “click” of a clicky type.
Like with anything, not all switch manufacturers are created equal. Most reputable keyboard manufacturers use switches from a company specializing in making switches, like Kaihua, Cherry MX, or Gateron. However, some companies, like Razer, prefer to use their proprietary switches.
This disparity can be a positive or a negative, depending on the company. While Razer switches tend to be pretty durable and well-made, other switches, like Royal Kludge ones, don’t perform as well as the leading brands.
Doing enough research on the switch’s durability will ultimately serve you well in the long run. Mechanical keyboards are expensive. So, you don’t want to replace the switches — or the whole keyboard — soon after purchasing. Switch durability is measured in several keypresses.
Essentially, they’re rated for how often the switch can be actuated before the materials degrade and the key starts to experience technical difficulties. Most mechanical switches start at a durability of around 20 million keypresses.
However, more durable switches can go up to 100 million keypresses before the switches begin to degrade. Compared to a membrane keyboard, there’s just no comparison since those keyboards max out at a durability of about 10 million keypresses for the most sturdy.
You’ll also want to consider whether you want a hot-swappable keyboard. Hot-swapping is when a keyboard switch is attached to the PCB without soldering, allowing the switch to be removed from the PCB without tools.
It’s excellent for people who need to be able to use multiple types of switches or someone who wants to outfit their keyboard layout with different switches for different keys. However, hot-swappable keyboards are also known to have stability issues since the keys aren’t physically attached to the PCB.
Backlit keyboards aren’t just stylish. They’re also functional for people who need to use their keyboards in low-light settings. While the standard office worker might not need that, people who work unusual hours or gamers might want to be able to see what keys they’re pressing at night.
When assessing lighting, the first thing to consider is whether you need it. While lighting can have some distinct advantages, the average person won’t get much more out of a backlit keyboard than a standard one.
If you’ve decided you want lighting, you’ll want to determine if you want RGB or programmable lighting. A white backlight is functional, but it doesn’t look very nice. RGB lighting might look flashy but comes with a premium price tag, and programmable lighting is even more costly.
Another feature you should consider is whether you want a USB passthrough on your keyboard. This feature allows you to use your keyboard as more than just a keyboard by allowing you to plug additional USB devices into your keyboard.
USB passthrough is a super premium feature seen on very few keyboards. So, if you want this feature, you’ll need to be willing to shell out for a premium model that has it. However, getting a keyboard with a USB passthrough can help free up the limited USB ports on your PC. It can also help you affix USB devices with shorter cables, like webcams and mice.
You’ll also want to consider whether the model you’re purchasing supports programmable keys. These keys allow you to change the input of the key to whatever you desire. You can set it to change input to a single key or a combination of keys, known as a macro.
Programmable keys and macros aren’t just some premium feature with no functional basis in reality. They can benefit people with disabilities who struggle to hit multiple keys simultaneously. They can also help reduce hand strain for people who use long key combinations often, like alt codes.
You’ll also want to consider the manufacturer of your keyboard. Like many things in life, keyboard manufacturers are not all equal. While some keyboards may advertise an exceptionally low price, we go by the mantra “You get what you pay for.”
Keyboards from reputable brands are generally made with better materials. They’ll typically put up with more abuse and last longer. If you’re like me and hit your keys like they owe you money, you probably want to invest in a sturdy keyboard to handle your aggressive keypresses.
Of course, you should also consider the price point of the keyboard you want to purchase. While “You get what you pay for” is typically an excellent motto to live by, it’s not always effective in the real world. Sometimes, you have to choose a model within your price range.
Typically, mechanical keyboards fall into the $30–$150 range. TKL keyboards are generally cheaper than standard keyboards because they’re smaller and cheaper to produce. However, on average, a good mechanical TKL keyboard will start at around $45.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©aldams/Shutterstock.com.