This compact and modern layout has a lot going for it
Minimalism is an artistic movement that strips away unnecessary elements until only the bare features required to express the idea remains. While you’ll often see the “minimalist” label given to architecture or fashion, it can also apply to objects you use every day, with the same philosophy, honing down an item until only the parts necessary to perform its function remain. If you’d like using your computer to feel a little more minimalist, you should start looking into 60% keyboards.
While the form lends itself to stylish looks, 60% keyboards also offer a superior function. With a modern approach to typing that positions all the most important keys as close as possible to where your fingers naturally rest, you can get more done in less time and in greater comfort. Read on to find out what has made this kind of board an increasingly popular choice for keyboarding enthusiasts and newcomers to the hobby alike.
Find the perfect keyboard size for your desktop or on-the-go setup with our guide to everything from full-size to 20% boards.
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What is a 60% keyboard?
A 60% keyboard is a subcategory of computer input devices that often take up roughly 60% of the space required for a full-size keyboard. Rather than shrinking all of the keys down to finger-contorting sizes, a 60 keyboard (as they’re sometimes called, sans percentage sign) pulls off its relatively tiny footprint by combining many of the lesser-used functions found in a full-size layout onto a single key. For instance, the arrow keys no longer stand alone, but are still easily accessible by pressing the Fn key in combination with others — and once your muscle memory adjusts, it’s often faster and more ergonomic than reaching over to a dedicated arrow key cluster.
If you worry you’d miss having dedicated keys for some of those functions, a 65% keyboard is basically a 60 keyboard with arrow keys, and 75% keyboards hold on to most of the keys you’re familiar with in a more compact layout.
3 benefits of a 60% keyboard
Now that we’ve laid out what the 60% in 60% keyboard means, it’s time to decide if one deserves to join your setup. Here are three of the biggest benefits to consider:
Did You Know?:The HHKB layout is an alternate take on 60%, with subtle changes including repositioning the control key to make it easier to execute more time-saving commands without leaving the home row.
They fit just about anywhere
It’s hard to overstate the difference in footprint between a 60% keyboard and a full-size one, or even a tenkeyless or TKL keyboard; the infographic presented here does a great job of visualizing it. Not only does it mean more room for other accouterments on your desk like a big, gaming-friendly mousepad, it also means 60% keyboards are much more travel friendly. Some manufacturers even offer stylish travel cases to keep them safe on the go.
They push modern simplicity
Your desk is the center of your workspace, and quite possibly also where you play and relax. Everything there should serve a purpose, and while “it looks cute” or “it lights up really cool” are both absolutely valid purposes, “I’m just used to having all those keys” is not. A 60% keyboard packs in all of the keys you need for daily use across web browsing, word processing, gaming, and beyond, and offers access to less commonly needed keys through clever combinations. Plus, less keyboard means less reaching out to the side to manipulate your mouse — a common contributor to poor computer ergonomics.
They have a ton of great options
Thanks in no small part to their popular ity with influential streamers and esports stars, 60% keyboards have become some of the most well-represented types of compact boards available on the market today. Whether you’re looking for a 60% gaming keyboard with brilliant RGB effects, a 60% mechanical keyboard with hot-swappable switches for easy customization, or beyond, you’ll find a number of different tempting representatives from the category. Speaking of which…
4 of the best 60% mechanical keyboards available today
Ready to start your search for the perfect 60% keyboard? Here are some great options from a range of manufacturers.
Did You Know?:HHKB accessories such as a specially designed travel case and keyboard lid help make the most of your board.
HHKB Professional Hybrid Type-S
If you’re ready to try a new kind of keyboard, why stop at leaving off infrequently used keys? The HHKB layout was developed by a computer scientist to promote a more ergonomic and efficient typing experience, and the HHKB Professional HYBRID Type-S represents the latest evolution of its more than 25-year history. With a fundamentally rethought key layout, best-in-class electrostatic Topre switches, and seamless support for both wired and wireless operation, it’s an excellent choice for anyone who types to live. Find your next daily driver in the full range of high-end keyboards from HHKB.
Kinesis TKO Tournament Keyboard
If you’re in the market for a compact board built specifically for gaming, the Kinesis TKO may be your huckleberry. It supports ergonomic tenting for more comfort during extended gaming sessions, RGB lighting both under the keycaps and around the edge of the board, and the Limited Edition even packs its own stylish hard-shell travel case for packing along to the site of your next (electronic) battle. You can pick one up for $125.
Ducky One 2 Mini
Ducky has quickly climbed the ranks as one of the best-known mechanical keyboard brands, and the Ducky One 2 Mini is its primary entry to the 60% keyboard category. It’s a popular base spec that’s available in a range of different special edition colorways — this Frozen Llama board, which is available for $119, features a striking yet dreamy teal, blue, and purple color scheme.
In our opinion, Keychron regularly creates some of the best entry points to performance keyboards for budget-minded shoppers, and its K12 Wireless Mechanical Keyboard does that lineage proud. While it can be used in wired mode, its built-in battery is well-equipped for extended use between charges. Prices currently start as low as $55.30.