What is a 60 per cent keyboard?

Cut back on keys and save some space

What is a 60 per cent keyboard?

by Kyle Purves |
Published on

We've talked about the best keyboards of 2024, but if you feel your desk space is too limited, you might like the sound of a 60 per cent keyboard. As the name suggests, these keyboards are smaller and have fewer keys overall.

That might sound like a bad thing, but a quality 60 per cent keyboard is actually a great investment. Much like a TKL keyboard, the fact the keys are closer together means your fingers stretch less to reach them, and thus it's better ergonomically.

A 60 per cent keyboard does away with the Numpad section, as well as the area where the arrow keys and those above them usually reside. In most cases, losing the Numpad isn't a big deal, as most of us don't use it regularly. The arrow keys are the most significant omission, but their function is usually available on another set of keys.

That's a brief summary of what a 60 per cent keyboard is, but we'll be discussing it further. If you want to weigh up the pros and cons of using a 60 per cent keyboard, continue on reading.

Lightweight and portable

Since a 60 per cent keyboard is smaller, it's also a fair bit lighter. Those factors combine to make them pretty much the best portable keyboard design without looking into folding options.

A regular keyboard isn't practical to pack away and take with you while travelling. Although folding designs do exist, they never feel quite as stable, so we'd recommend sticking to 60 per cent if you frequently travel. Even if you just like to do some laptop work at a cafe, a standalone keyboard is much more pleasant to type with.

Saving desk space

60 per cent keyboards also save desk space. Many of us need to fit a laptop, monitor, mouse and more all on our desks while still needing to find room to fit a keyboard. If you use a wrist rest, that struggle becomes even more difficult. That's why the shrunken size of a 60 per cent keyboard is so handy. Not only will your desk look neater, but it will also feel less limited overall.

The keys are closer together on a 60 per cent keyboard compared to a regular model. This is great for ergonomics, but you will want to factor in your hand size. While this is only a benefit for those with smaller hands, those with larger ones may feel a bit cramped. Of course, that's something that doesn't apply to everyone.

What is a 60 per cent keyboard?
Say farewell to these keys ©Matheus Bertelli, Pexels

Missing keys

As we mentioned earlier, the most apparent omitted section of a 60 per cent keyboard is the Numpad. The arrow key and nav cluster (page up, page down, etc.) are also missing, along with the function row, which usually rests above the number row. That's certainly a lot removed, but it sounds worse than it actually is.

The Numpad is easy to forgive; most of its uses are filled in by the number row anyway. The nav cluster is handy, but how often it gets used varies from person to person, so it's something that you may not miss.

The arrow keys and function row are likely what you'll miss the most, but they aren't exactly gone. While the keys have been removed, their function remains. Most 60 per cent keyboards include an "Fn" key, also known as the function key. This opens up the possibility of combo shortcuts, so for example, often you will be able to hold the function key and use WASD to replicate the arrow keys. If you miss the nav cluster, those keys are also usually adapted to shortcuts.

If you don't mind trading away a few lesser-used keys, the shortcuts counteract the main issues that losing them would cause.

What about TKL?

We brought up TKL keyboards earlier, so you might be wondering what exactly is one. In brief, TKL stands for "tenkeyless", and means it's more or less a regular keyboard with the numpad section removed. As such, they act as the in-between option of 60 per cent and standard keyboard designs.

If you think that a 60 per cent keyboard shaves off too many keys for your liking, then a TKL model is definitely worth considering. They share much of the same benefits as a 60 per cent model, just to a lesser degree.

What else?

While they are uncommon, you can find 65 per cent keyboards. These models aim to bring the arrow keys and a few parts of the nav cluster into the main body by shortening the length and adjusting the shape of a few other keys. Occasionally, the function row may still remain, but it is usually the same as with a 60 per cent keyboard.

Usually, Enter, Right Shift, and Right Control are adjusted to accommodate the arrow keys, with the nav cluster lined vertically to the side, sharing functions thanks to the Fn key shortcuts.

Since Enter is not longer the right-most key, it can take a fair bit of time to adjust to this new layout, but if your main issue with 60 per cent keyboards was the removal of the arrow keys, 65 per cent designs are worth looking into.

Kyle Purvesis a Commercial Content Writer for What’s The Best, with an avid interest in all things gaming and tech.

They’re well-versed in reviewing a variety of tech products, with a soft spot for speakers and earphones. They’re also no stranger to hunting down the best savings, always wanting to get the best deal possible. Outside of work, they can often be found playing through an RPG, listening to Japanese noise rock, or trying to catch up with their ever-expanding list of shows and anime to watch. If possible, they try to play Dungeons and Dragons a couple of times a week, but getting six adults to be free at the same time is easier said than done.

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