Best Tenkeyless (80%) Mechanical Keyboards

An 80% or more popularly known as Tenkeyless or TKL keyboard has only 10 keys less than a 100% keyboard, i.e. the number pad is completely eliminated. The primary objective of an 80% keyboard is to save space. If you are currently reading the article that means you are definitely a serious working professional or a serious gamer, looking to upgrade and improve your keyboard experience, and we think that a Tenkeyless (80%) mechanical keyboard is a perfect choice.

What to look for in an 80% mechanical keyboard:

If you want to get complete benefit out of your choice of 80% mechanical keyboard, you need to identify the key characteristics along with your own requirement.

  • Additional keys: Some 80% of keyboards have additional multimedia keys or keys for other operations. Please check beforehand what additional keys will be able to fulfill your requirement.
  • Type of Connectivity: The popular connectivity options are wired (USB; USB-C, etc.) or Bluetooth wireless. There are also 2.4G or 2.5G wireless connectivity keyboards for a much better wireless performance. 
  • Backlit: There are options like customizable RGB, white backlit, preset modes, disable/enable backlit, etc. Some keyboards also provide per-key RGB light effect customization as well.
  • OS Compatibility: Most of the keyboards are compatible with Windows, as well as macOS, and come with shortcut keys for certain operations. You can select or program these special functions for each of these OS using the software provided by the manufacturer. Please check what all settings are provided. 
  • Hot Swappable: Mechanical keyboards are based on switches, and hence most of these come with swappable key options. On some keyboards, only a few keys are swappable, while on some keyboards you can customize each and every key. Please check the available settings to see if it works for you.
  • N-Key Rollover and Anti-Ghosting: Some keyboards come with 12 key rollovers, while some of them provide 16 key rollovers, and some keyboards also have a full key rollover feature. 
  • Switch types: Switch type is an important factor based on your individual requirements. There are manufacturers like MX, Cherry, Gateron, etc, and they produce keys in variants like Red, Black, Brown, Blue, etc, each one of them with certain characteristics. You need to understand your own usage pattern and identify which one will suit your requirement. Also, on some keyboards, you can change the switches.

Review of Best 80% Mechanical Keyboards

Here are our recommendations for the top 80% Mechanical Keyboards within the prescribed budget:

Our #1 Pick for TKL Keyboard
1. SteelSeries Apex Pro TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • Switch Type: OmniPoint adjustable – customizable actuation distance
  • Color: Black
  • Connectivity: Wired USB 

Additional Features:

  • Aircraft-grade aluminum alloy 
  • Dynamic per-key RGB illumination
  • Adjustable actuation switch
  • Each key can be adjusted
  • Premium detachable mechanical wrist rest
  • OLED smart display 
  • Dedicated media controls
  • Illuminated USB passthrough port
  • The durability of 100 million keypresses
  • Response time – 0.7 ms

When it comes down to find a feature-rich high-quality TKL keyboard, then you don’t need to look any further. The best of its features is the customizable actuation force of the magnetic switches used in this keyboard. With the Omnipoint adjustable feature, you can adjust the actuation force ranging from 0.4mm to 3.6mm. As these are magnetic switches there is no direct physical contact, hence there is less wear and tear, which assures a consistent performance for up to 10,000 keypresses. The RGB illumination offered with this keyboard comes with 16.8 million colors per key.

Another feature that we found great in this SteelSeries Apex Pro 80% mechanical keyboard is its OLED smart display. There is a command center integrated where you will be able to adjust the keyboard settings and the important details, like profile, settings, etc. will be displayed in the smart LED. We found it highly reliable in terms of build quality with its Aircraft-grade aluminum alloy frame. It comes with a really high-quality and premium wrist rest which can be attached magnetically with the keyboard, so it is easy to attach or detach the keyboard. At the top-right, a clickable roller is provided for quick media volume adjustments.

Our #2 Pick For The Best TKL Mechanical Keyboard
2. CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL
  • Switch Type: Cherry MX Silver
  • Color: Black
  • Connectivity: Wired USB

Additional Features:

  • N-key rollover design
  • Linear and fast response
  • Per key programmable RGB backlight
  • Special tournament switch – prevents accidental activity
  • PBT double-shot keys
  • Competition grade keyboard
  • Multimedia buttons
  • Powered by Axon hyper-processing technology (8x faster response)
  • 100 million keystrokes

CORSAIR K70 RGB TKL keyboard simply means performance. It is crafted and tested for high-end usage and performance, powered by AXON hyper-processing technology, which increases the response by 8 times (0.25ms) with its 8,000 Hz hyper-polling frequency. This competition-grade TKL mechanical keyboard has up to 20-layer hardware lighting effects, and a dedicated tournament mode switch to avoid accidental key presses hence provides a highly accurate gaming experience. You can also switch on no-distraction mode for minimal lighting effects. It has full N-key rollover and anti-ghosting to recognize faster actions.

Being a TKL what impresses us is their ability to provide full-fledged media keys, including volume adjustment, play, pause, previous and next buttons. The other mind-blowing feature is its 8MB onboard storage to save up to 50 profiles, with custom macros and effects. We enjoyed the experience of working on the Cherry MX silver switch which has perfect actuation force. The PBT double-shot keys enhance the premium look and feel of the keyboard and are also resistant to wear and fading, and offer a rigidity of 1.5mm thick keys. 

Our #3 Pick
3. HyperX Alloy Origins Core
  • Switch type: HyperX Red | HyperX Aqua | HyperX Blue
  • Colors: Black
  • Connectivity: Wired USB

Additional Features:

  • Aircraft-grade aluminum body
  • Detachable cable
  • HyperX Ngenuity software
  • Short travel time 
  • Low actuation force
  • Onboard memory for three profiles
  • Radiant lighting effects
  • More luminous RGB lighting
  • Rated for 80 million keystrokes
  • Three adjustable keyboard tilt angles (3°, 7°, or 11°)

HyperX Alloy origins core TKL keyboard is a real value for money product. It is available in 3 HyperX switch options to choose from. It has an onboard memory to create and save 3 profiles, where users can save custom-designed light effects. It has N-key rollover (NKRO) and 100% anti-ghosting features for faster and accurate response. There are no dedicated multi-media keys, but functions keys are dual-layered to work as media keys as well.

The RGB brightness toggle is worth mentioning, where you can easily switch between 5 different levels of LED brightness (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% brightness). For brighter effects, you can switch to double-shot PBT keycaps, which are available in black and white color options. Most of us in our team like the minimalist design, and this keyboard offers that, but with high performance beyond expectation. The keys are very simple and very smooth, and the keyboard also offers 3 levels of heigh/angle adjustment.

Best Logitech TKL Mechanical Keyboard
4. Logitech G PRO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • Switch Type: GX Blue
  • Color: Black
  • Connectivity: Wired – Micro USB

Additional Features:

  • Custom built for higher performance
  • Customizable lighting and animations using Logitech G hub software
  • 3-Pronged design
  • 3-step angle adjustment
  • Non-slip rubber feet
  • Clicky switches
  • 12-programmable F-keys
  • Audible feedback bump
  • Onboard memory to store lighting patterns

If you prefer using well-known branded products for higher reliability, then we will definitely recommend you the Logitech G-pro mechanical keyboard with TKL design. This keyboard is custom-made for pro-level performance, higher speed, and precision. With GX Blue switch you will get audible and tactile click for a solid, secure keypress. The keyboard also gives you an ergonomic work experience with suitable key size and shape, as well as height/angle adjustments. 

The feature that impressed us more in this keyboard is the 12 programmable F-keys, where you can use these keys as shortcut keys for the defined operation. This is really helpful in gaming as well as for certain repetitive functions. You can use Logitech G Hub software to define these programs, as well as use this software to configure your own light effects. You can also use light effects to highlight certain keys of your choice for easy accessibility.  The micro USB cable is detachable which has a 3-pronged design that provides it extra security and easy connection. 

Best Under $100 [TKL]
5. Keychron K8 Hot-swappable Wireless
  • Switch Type: 5 Gateron Switch options. Blue | Brown | Red | Optical Blue | Optical Red 
  • Colors: 2 color options. Classic Black | Quartz Pink
  • Connectivity: Dual mode: USB Type-C | Bluetooth

Additional Features:

  • 87 Keys 
  • White LED Backlight 
  • Hot-swappable tenkeyless
  • Connect with up to 3 devices using Bluetooth
  • 50 million keystroke lifespan
  • Compatible with almost all the MX style 3pin and 5pin mechanical switches (Gateron, Cherry, Kailh, etc.)
  • 240 hours battery (with backlit disabled)
  • 4000 mAh big battery (the best in 80% mechanical keyboard)
  • N-key rollover (NKRO) on wired mode or 6KRO on wireless mode

Out of all the keyboards we used in this category we found Keychron K8 the most feature-rich keyboard, with dual connectivity, 4000mAh battery, curved keycaps, adjustable feet, multimedia keys, compatibility with almost switch types, and a lot more. The backlit is white LED that gives a very elegant look and feel, especially while working in the office. Also, the experience of using the pre-installed Gaterib Briwn Switch was hard to match in terms of tactile response, and the switch sockets can easily fit any 3-pin or 5-pin MX style mechanical switch.

The 2-level adjustable feet make the more highly convenient, and you can further enhance your productivity by per-key customization. The Bluetooth 5.1 chipset is highly fast and advanced and can be connected to 3 devices. It provides ease of use for Mac and Windows alike, with essential multimedia and function keys, extra keycaps are provided for Windows as well as macOS. This is a highly reviewed and acclaimed keyboard covered by tech media publishings like The Verge, TNW, Cult of Mac, etc. It is completely made of high-quality plastic, which makes it lightweight, yet highly durable.

6. Durgod Taurus K320 TKL Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • Switch Type: 9 Cherry switch options: Black | Red | Brown | Blue | Clear | Silent Black | Silent Red | 
  • Colors: 5 color options. White | Corona (white backlit) | Nebula S (RGB) | Space Grey | Black
  • Connectivity: USB-C Wired 

Additional Features:

  • 87 Keys
  • Sturdy case
  • Adjustable feet for height/angle adjustments
  • Supports DURGOD Zeus Engine software
  • All the keys except FN Key are programmable.
  • Independent macro editor
  • Independent profile editor.
  • Windows key lock function programming.
  • 5.2 ft cable length
  • Full N‐key rollover and Anti‐ghosting technology

Available in many switch and color options to choose from the Durgod K320 TKL keyboard also offers features that will enhance your overall work and gaming experience. It supports DURGOD Zeus Engine software which can be used to reprogram the keys and set complex macros for convenient usage. You can use two interchangeable cables Type-A or Type C. It is compatible with Windows as well as Mac OS, and you can customize the default OS keys using the Zeus software. All the keys except the Function keys can be customized to provide you maximum convenience and comfort. 

The keyboard comes with 2 level height/angle adjustment to provide comfort to your wrists. It uses Doubleshot PBT technology for keycaps, where two layers of plastic are molded into each other so that the legends will last longer without fading away. We particularly liked the customization options provided under Zeus software, which allowed us to enable/disable certain keys, record key combinations, remap keys, etc. 

Best For Gaming
7. Razer BlackWidow V3 Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
  • Switch Type: Green – Tactile and Clicky
  • Colors: 2 color options. Classic Black | Quartz Pink
  • Connectivity: USB-C Wired 

Additional Features:

  • Powered by Razer Chroma RGB 
  • Customizable lighting and greater gaming immersion
  • Compact form factor
  • Fully programmable keys
  • Cable routing for easy cable management
  • Doubleshot ABS keycaps
  • Supports up to 80 million clicks; 
  • Made of the military-grade metal top plate

The Razer Blackwidow V3 keyboard is a high-performance keyboard, as it is made especially for gaming performance using the Razer green switches with 50G actuation force. Its military-grade metal plate at the top gives it the required durability, and the keyboard supports up to 80 million keystrokes. The highlight of the keyboard is the ability to completely reprogram the keyboard to make complex functions simpler for ease of operation and fast execution. The RGB lights are customizable and compatible with 30+ partner apps including Philips Hue, along with Razer Chroma. 

What makes it a truly high-performance keyboard is the Signature Razer Green switch, which gives a clearer click sound and a 50G of actuation force. Razer is the best-selling gaming peripheral company in the USA. The Razer Blackwidow V2 also has a detachable magnetic wrist rest and is ergonomically better than others on the list. It has Doubleshot PBT keycaps which give a very nice feel while working or playing games. 

Our Top Pick
8. Corsair K65 LUX RGB Compact Mechanical Keyboard
  • Switch Type: Cherry MX Red
  • Color: Black
  • Connectivity: Wired – USB

Additional Features:

  • Anti-ghosting Keys
  • Full N-key rollover
  • Textured FPS/MOBA keycaps (provided as alternate keycaps)
  • Large font keycaps
  • Dynamic per-key RGB backlit 
  • Limitless light color customization
  • USB pass-through port
  • Dedicated volume and multimedia keys
  • Durable anodized brushed aluminum frame
  • HID Keyboard Report Rate: 1000Hz
  • Red key switches with gold contacts
  • Smooth and linear German-made switch
  • Detachable full-length palm rest

Another keyboard from the stable of Corsair, simply because of its efficient performance, and convenient to use design. The switch used is German-made Cherry MX red, which has only 2mm of distance to actuation and needs 45 g actuation force, which simply means faster performance. The switch has gold contacts which makes it smooth, swift, and precise in response to key presses. The keyboard has an N-Key rollover with the anti-ghosting feature. The smooth and quick response makes it an ideal choice for people who love to type really fast or who need enriched gaming performance. 

The keyboard comes with a detachable full-sized palm rest to provide ease and comfort to the user. The keycaps are very well designed, with larger fonts, and an alternate set of textured MOBA/FPS keycaps is provided. You can use iCue software to control RGB lighting and effects, and can also be used to create Macros and reprogram keys. We were also impressed with its highly durable build quality, as it is made of an anodized aluminum frame which is lightweight as well as rugged. 

9. Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
  • Switch Type: Razer Red – Linear optical switch
  • Color: Black
  • Connectivity: USB-C

Additional Features:

  • Compatible with Alexa (Amazon certified)
  • Compact form factor
  • More responsive keystrokes
  • Textured Doubleshot PBT keys
  • Detachable Type-C cable
  • Onboard memory
  • Linear Optical Switches
  • ANSI US Layout
  • Chroma RGB Lighting
  • Ultimate Personalization & Gaming Immersion
  • Fully Programmable Macros

The manufacturer’s claim is that the Razer Huntsman Tournament edition has the fastest keyboard switches, and as we used it extensively we found that they are lightning-fast with just 1mm actuation, which is 15-30% shorter than other linear switches and a 40 mg actuation force.  We extensively used this keyboard with Alexa and it worked really well, and it is also compatible with other apps like Philip Hue, Razer hardware, and other gears from over 30 technology partners. You can remap the keys using Razer Hyeprshift to execute complex commands easily.

We also found that the keycaps are of elite quality, with Doubleshot PBT textured keycaps that are oil resistant. 5 mini LED lights are provided to indicate activation of locks like Caps Lock, Scroll Lock, etc. Using the onboard memory you can save certain settings related to RGB light effects and macros. It supports up to 16.8 million colors on individually backlit keys. 

10. RK ROYAL KLUDGE RK87 Sink87G RGB 80% Mechanical Keyboard
  • Switch Type: Tactile Brown switches 
  • Colors: Black
  • Connectivity: USB-C Wired; 2.4G Wireless
     

Additional Features:

  • 87 keys design
  • Dual connectivity
  • 1850 mAh Battery
  • 3-4 hours fast charging
  • 7-days long-lasting battery
  • 3 On-board macro
  • DIY keyboard customization
  • Dynamic RGB
  • Minimalist design, Clean layout
  • 8 Pre-set modes and 9 custom modes

You can definitely consider this for all your office work, as it has a very professional look with a minimalist design and cleaner layout so that you can work without any distractions. The tactile brown switches provide a little bump with a very low noise typing experience, which is perfect for an office environment too. You can enable/disable or change the RGB lighting effects with 8-pre-set modes and 9 customizable modes. Using the software’s DIY settings you can choose a 16-key rollover or full key rollover mode. The keys are very nicely designed for maximum comfort to the fingers and a slightly textured surface. 

We were impressed by the battery, as it provides backup for up to 7 -days (backlit disabled), with fast charging support and smart power-saving mode. This is an ultra-thin keyboard with about 2 inches thickness and weighing about 2.5 lbs. You can definitely save a decent amount of space on your work desk, and easy movements for your mouse. The wireless 2.4G is very reliable and stable and can be operated from a distance of up to 10 meters (30 ft). The detachable USB cable can be used to charge the keyboard, along with using it as a wired keyboard. It also has a smart sleep/wake-up mode, which is also very helpful and of course, saves battery.   

11. Drop CTRL Mechanical Keyboard
  • Switch Type: 7 options – Barebones | Cherry MX Blue | Cherry MX Brown | Halo Clear | Halo True | Kaihua Box White | Kaihua Speed Silver
  • Colors: 2 color options. Black | Space Gray
  • Connectivity: Wired – USB, USB-C 

Additional Features:

  • Solid aluminum frame
  • Built-in switch plate
  • Magnetic legs
  • Hot-swappable switch sockets
  • Fully customizable per-key RGB backlighting
  • Attractive under-lighting
  • Outfitted with two USB type-C connectors (one on each side)
  • Fully programmable
  • Spare connector for data transfer and charging devices
  • Compatible with Drop QMK firmware configurator
  • Built-in LED diffuser with a light-blocking material 

The Drop CTRL keyboard is available in the widest range of switch types and is also available in a fully customizable barebones version while providing various levels of feedback and response (tactile, clicky, and linear). One of the differentiating features of this keyboard is 2 USB ports, one on each side, so you can connect the wired USB connector in one of them, while the other one can be used to transfer data as well as to charge various devices and gadgets. The keyboard is ergonomically created using CNC aluminum, and inclined at a 6-degree angle that supports a natural wrist position. The slight texture over the keycaps is very comfortable and gives good feedback to the keypresses. 

The keyboard is fully programmable using QMK software, where you can assign macros and custom keybinds to every key. The RGB backlighting is highly customizable and gives attractive effects at a super-high frame rate (100 hertz). You can choose from the millions of colors for each of the individual keys. You can set dual-tone color settings as well, and its built-in LED diffuser with light-blocking material minimizes hotspots.  

FAQ’s

Is TKL keyboard better than 75% of keyboards?

What we observe is that it purely depends on your own requirement, and how soon and easily you can adjust to a particular sized keyboard if you are already using some other sized keyboard. In terms of functionality, there is not much difference, but primarily the difference lies in the placement of arrows keys and the navigation keys cluster. When it comes to usability, we found that 80% (TKL) are better than a 70% keyboard, as it is compact and has better spacing between the keys to use the keyboard seamlessly.

What are the popular type of switches in an 80% mechanical keyboard?

There are three basic types of switches, namely tactile, linear and clicky, based on the response of the keystroke. The linear ones are the most basic ones. When pressed, they just move down and jump back and don’t produce any clicking noise as feedback. Besides being simple in functionality, they are also very smooth and rapid. The tactile switches, when pressed give a bump effect so that the user knows that his keypress is successful, so you don’t need to press the switch completely as soon as you feel the bump, which is considered ideal for people with fast typing speeds.  The clicky ones work the same as the tactile ones, but instead of a bump, you get to hear a clicking noise as feedback of your operation. The switch types are color-coded so that you understand what to expect out of these switches. 

What are 80% mechanical keyboards?

An 80% keyboard is one with about 84 to 90 keys. Basically, the ten number keys or more popularly known as the Numpad is completely eliminated to provide more space on the desk, a compact design, and more space to operate the mouse. It has less width than a 100%, so the wrists are placed at a much better width, hence more comfort and convenience. 

What is Doubleshot technology for keycaps?

This technology uses 2 sheets of plastic and molds them into one, which makes the keycaps extra strong and long-lasting.

Conclusion

The TKL or 80% mechanical keyboards are gaining popularity, due to the benefits for gamers and working professionals alike. A TKL mechanical keyboard saves space, is more comfortable, highly utility-oriented, and is value for money. You can understand your own individual work requirement and usage behavior, and you will be able to find the most suitable one for your personal needs. There are many customization options available with these keyboards, and hence you will be able to take maximum benefits out of them. 

Related Articles:

Best 96% Mechanical Keyboards
Best 75% Mechanical Keyboards
Best 60% Mechanical Keyboards
Keyboard sizes explained

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I work from home. To do the best possible job I need the right accessories - the right desk, the right chair, the right keyboard, the right monitor, etc. When I work I want to feel comfortable. I review everything that's related to home desk setup - focusing on Monitors & Keyboards.

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