Compact Mechanical Keyboards – Why are They Popular?

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Compact Mechanical Keyboards Cover

One of the most prevalent complaints among full-sized keyboard users is that their keyboard takes up too much workspace and puts a lot of strain on their hands. The full-sized keyboard is also inconvenient to carry while traveling; compact keyboards have grown in favor with these concerns in mind.

Compact keyboards are keyboards that are smaller in size in comparison to full-sized keyboards. The compact keyboard’s size provides more desk space than full-sized ones, making it preferable for users who like to have space for their mouse and other accessories. Some popular sizes include 60%, 65%, 75%, and TKL. 

This post will tackle what made the compact keyboard popular, the different types of compact keyboards, the advantages and disadvantages of using a compact keyboard, compact keyboards in comparison to full-sized keyboards, and the best compact keyboard size. 

Why are Compact Keyboards Popular?

BM 65 and GK 61
KPRepublic BM65 and Skyloong GK61

The compact keyboards have been rising in popularity in recent years. It has been highly favored by some casual users, keyboard enthusiasts, and even the gaming community. There are a lot of reasons why the compact keyboard is very popular nowadays.

The first reason for its popularity is that it is very portable. Due to the compact keyboard’s small size, it can be easily stored in a bag, thus making it easier to carry during travels. The second reason why the compact keyboard is very popular is because of its efficiency. Compact keyboards do not require the user to use a lot of movements in comparison to a full-sized keyboard. 

Another reason why compact keyboards are popular is because of the cool factor. The users that use smaller keyboards tend to feel that they are cool or better than the users who use full-sized ones. They feel that the smaller the keyboard is, the cooler it looks. Another reason for its popularity might be attributed to user preference. Some users just prefer smaller or compact keyboards to full-sized ones.

Types of Compact Keyboards

TKL (Tenkeyless)

Durgod Taurus K320 TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard - 87 Keys - Double Shot PBT
Durgod Taurus K320 TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

The tenkeyless keyboard is commonly known as the TKL, 80%, and 87% keyboard. The TKL has no Numpad keys, which means that it only has 87or 88 keys. The TKL also has a full-sized setup, and it has at least 80% of the width of a standard keyboard. The TKL is heavily favored by some users because it is simple to use and takes only a small space in the user’s table.

The size of the TKL also makes it very portable due to the smaller size compared to a full-sized keyboard. The TKL is also lighter than that of a full-sized keyboard. Due to the TKL having fewer keys, this means that the TKL has fewer switches making it cheaper or cost-effective to produce. The TKL is also easy to find in the market. It is commonly produced by big and popular mech companies like Razer, Corsair, and Filco

75% Keyboards

Glorious GMMK Pro Mechanical Keyboard
Glorious GMMK Pro

The 75% keyboard can be described as a keyboard with at least 75% of the girth of a standard or full-sized keyboard, and it has the F keys positioned at the very top. The 75% keyboard’s keys are tightly knit together to save more space than that of a tenkeyless keyboard.

The 75% keyboard also positioned the enter, insert, and delete keys in one line or column. Due to the placements of these keys, the keycaps of a 75% keyboard have a different shape and size than that of a full-sized keyboard, making it sometimes difficult to find a replacement or substitute keycaps for the 75% keyboard.

75% keyboards are starting to become more popular. They were previously only available via brands such as Cannonkeys and KBDFans. However, more mainstream brands such as Glorious and Keychron have recently been adapting the exploded 75% design.

65% Keyboards

Cannonkeys Savage65 with GMK Red Samurai Keycaps

Just like the 75% keyboard, the 65% keyboard has all its keys closely positioned together. It’s a very compact keyboard that has its arrow keys mixed in with the rest of the other keys. Just like the TKL and the 75% keyboard, the 65% keyboard also saves a lot of desk space due to their smaller size.

Some of the keycaps of the 65% follow the standard shape of keycaps while some of its keycaps are quite unique, which means that some of its keycaps are fairly easy to find while some are hard to find. The 65% keyboard has no function keys, which makes it difficult for some users to use.

60% Keyboards

ROYAL KLUDGE RK61 61 Keys Wireless 60% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Royal Kludge RK61

The 60% keyboard is considered to be very common and easy to find, just like the full-sized keyboard and the TKL keyboard. The 60% keyboard also has no Numpad and no f keys. However, unlike on the already mentioned compact keyboards, the arrow keys are no longer available on the 60% keyboard.

The functions of the missing keys in a 60% keyboard can be used, however, by using the function keys found on the compact keyboard’s lower right side. For example, the user can press the function key and the WASD keys to replicate the arrow key functions. Even though the 60% keyboard can perform the task of a full-sized keyboard, it can be very confusing for some users who are not used to it.

The 60% keyboard offers a lot of advantages like being super portable, it only takes little desk space, and it has a very pleasing aesthetic. However, the user must learn all the functions of a 60% keyboard to utilize the compact keyboard fully.

40% Keyboards

Vortex Core 40% Mechanical Keyboard grey and beige
Vortex Core 40% Mechanical Keyboard

The 40% keyboard is said to be the most compact or smallest fully functioning compact keyboard. The 40% keyboard only has alphabet keys and modifiers. This keyboard has no number keys as well. The 40% keyboard is not produced by the big mech companies yet. It is usually custom-made by some keyboard other keyboard enthusiasts that offer service or the user himself.

Building your own 40% keyboard can be very expensive and hard to assemble. It is hard to assemble because the user needs to find and buy the parts himself. The user can also choose to hire someone to make the keyboard itself, but that can cost the user a fair amount of money.

Other Small Layouts

Some other compact keyboards are procured or adapted from some of these compact keyboards and have an odd size. The brand Royal Kludge is recognized for producing unusually sized compact keyboards. Some of their compact keyboards deviate slightly from the standard designs of other compact keyboards.

Pros and Cons of Using Compact Keyboards


According to some users, there are a lot of advantages to using a compact keyboard. One of the advantages is that it is very light and very portable. A compact keyboard enables users to store their keyboards in a bag easily.

The small size of the compact keyboard also makes it take less desk space, which means that the user can use the keyboard even with limited or tiny space. Another advantage of a compact keyboard is that it is very efficient to use. 

As previously said, due to the compact keyboard’s small size, the user does not require a lot of movement to use it, which makes it efficient to use. With less movement required, the user will not have weariness in their arms, wrists, or shoulders.


According to the users who enjoy using a compact keyboard, there are only two disadvantages that they could think of when using a compact keyboard. The first con or disadvantage of using a compact keyboard is that they feel that their palms should always be facing downwards when typing on a compact keyboard. They said that continuous typing in this position puts a strain on their hands and wrists.

The second disadvantage of using a compact keyboard is that some of the new users can be confused with how some functions of the keyboard are executed. Due to some keys being excluded in a compact keyboard, some of the new users may be confused at first on how to fully use or operate a compact keyboard. Replacements for some of the compact keyboards are also hard to find. 

For example, on the keycaps, the compatibility differs as they have different sizes depending on the size of your keyboard. The keycaps on your 75% size keyboard may not fit on your other compact keyboards. However, you can buy a keycap kit from various brand manufacturers, such as GMK. Quite prices buy definitely worth its price, find out why their keycaps are expensive in our dedicated article.

 Are Compact Keyboards Better than Full-sized Ones?

Skyloong GK61 with Coiled Cable

The compact keyboard and the full-sized keyboard have their own perks and advantages. The answer to the question of which keyboard is better depends on the user. The full-sized keyboard offers more features and functions than a compact keyboard. Full-sized keyboards have media controls that can help the user easily adjust his computer’s audio and other functions that the compact keyboard lacks.

Some if not all the full-sized keyboards have macro keys. These macro keys can help the user perform better on their computer or online games. With these macro keys, the user can bind some of their keys to do a task or function easily. To summarize, full-sized keyboards offer more functions and features than compact keyboards.

UNIQEY Q100 Keyboard

On the other hand, compact keyboards offer more desk space than a full-sized one. With compact keyboards, the user can easily use the keyboard even with small desk space. The compact keyboard also boasts portability, unlike the full-sized keyboards. Compact keyboards can be easily stored in a bag and be carried around during travels. When using a compact keyboard, the user can also position the mouse near the keyboard.

Which Compact Keyboard Size is the Best?

Vortex Tab 75 TKL Dye Sub PBT Mechanical Keyboard
Vortex Tab 75 TKL

Although all of the different compact keyboard sizes are excellent in their own right, some users believe that TKL is the best of the bunch. According to users, the TKL compact keyboard is just the correct size to carry in a bag, making it incredibly convenient to travel with.

The TKL also takes up a minimal amount of desk space, making it ideal for those with limited workspace. Despite the fact that it is smaller than a full-sized keyboard, it offers more functions to help you get more work done than the other compact sizes. To put it in other words, the TKL compact keyboard offers portability and space without compromising functionality.


To summarize this post, compact keyboards are very popular among users because they provide portability and efficiency. There are different types of compact keyboards that can cater to the varying needs and preferences of the users.

Some of them have more or fewer keys than the other types, which means that some compact keyboards might have functions not present in the other types. Among the types of compact keyboards, the TKL keyboard seems to be the most favorable among the different types. However, all the other compact keyboards also have their own charms.