Keyboards have come a long way from the typewriter. Yet they seem to be returning to the tactile feel they had years ago.
Mechanical switches have this sensational click that just beats the limp and lifeless cheap budget keyboards of the last decade.
I’ve burned through a pile of cheap dell keyboards and found that going mechanical is lifechanging.
Amidst the revolution of keyboard, technology is a form factor known as tenkeyless or TKL.
This literally means it has ten keys less than a traditional keyboard.
Best Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard Buying guide
This is accomplished by dropping the oft unused and space-wasting number pad to the right of the directional keys.
You don’t realize how much space it takes up until you start rolling the mouse around in a CS:GO session.
I’ve been looking at the best and brightest models to come out and assembled a hardware roundup.
I’ll walk through my five favorite tenkeyless mechanical keyboards and help you make an informed decision!
Why go mechanical?
Mechanical keyboards offer a lot of features, from RGB lighting to a better weight, to the most important feature, mechanical switches.
There are several forms of switches and preferences for what type but basically most modern keyboards save money by using a squishy non-mechanical material underneath the keys.
What once was a very feeling-based experience feels loose. It’s hard to type when all the keys just crumble like wet bread under your fingertips.
I use a Mechanical Keyboard for work and play as it helps me write better.
This does come at a cost, they’re more expensive and louder so that is something to consider when thinking about taking the plunge.
They also tend to have what is called USB-Pass Through, adding a USB port to the keyboard.
This is extremely convenient for those who use USB slots often for offloading video content or pictures or you can put a mouse in as well.
1. HyperX Alloy Origins Core
Best Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard For Value
- HyperX Mechanical Switches rated for 80 million keystrokes
- Full aircraft-grade aluminum body
- Ultra-compact, portable design with detachable cable
HyperX rarely disappoints so you can rest knowing that they’ll make a stunning keyboard with a killer RGB profile.
I think this keyboard is one of the few that chooses to use custom made switches rather than the more common Cherry MX.
These switches in particular have quite a long lifespan (80 Million keystrokes is 30 million more than several competitors).
If you brute force your keyboard and use it every single day, this might be the best option.
As a writer, I find I put my keyboard through quite a bit of chaos and nothing is worse than breaking the space bar or an important letter when trying to finish the latest page.
They have four switch types, basically blue and red with HyperX versions of blue and red as well.
It’s a bit confusing but consider the HyperX switches which are custom made for the Alloy Origins Core and last FOREVER.
- HyperX Mechanical Switches last for 80 million keystrokes!
- Detachable cable for easy setup
- Aircraft-grade aluminum shell
- Onboard memory for 3 profiles
- Switch types can be confusing
2. Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition
- The No.1 Best-Selling Gaming Peripherals Manufacturer in the US: Source - The NPD Group, Inc., U.S. Retail Tracking Service, Gaming Designed: Keyboards, Mice, PC Headsets, and PC Microphones, Based on dollar sales, Jan. 2017- June 2020 combined
- Faster Than Traditional Mechanical Switches: Razer Linear Optical switch technology uses optical beam-based actuation, registering key presses at the speed of light (15-30% shorter actuation distance than other linear switches at 1.0 millimeter)
- Ultimate Personalization & Gaming Immersion with Razer Chroma: Fully syncs with popular games, Razer hardware, Philips Hue, and gear from 30+ partners; supports 16.8 million colors on individually backlit keys
Razer has made a pretty powerful little keyboard here that takes into account the lifestyle of a gamer.
They claim to actually register presses at the speed of light using the Razer Linear Optical switch technology.
As impressive as that sounds, most likely the edge you need isn’t coming from something as responsive as Albert Einstein’s favorite number but it is cool.
Optical switches do have a bit less wear and tear and need less actuation force.
It’s possible it’ll actually become an industry-standard in the future.
You can find models of the Huntsman without the optical switches as well. Add to this that they also allow for a pretty robust macro system.
Macro setups are fantastic for MMORPG gamers but users can get pretty creative such as setting a macro to trigger a hard to press combination in an FPS.
Like most of our picks, this has the heft and feel of aluminum and is a solid little piece of equipment.
I love this keyboard for the particular feel. I also appreciate that it functions well without the wrist guard as that can be an obnoxious addition to a keyboard.
- Insanely fast responsiveness limited by your hardware not the keyboard
- RGB through Razer Chroma, a stellar provider of all things light
- Portable USB-C detachable connection
- Fully programmable macros with Razor Hypershift
- Pricier than the HyperX
3. Cooler Master MK730
- Cherry MX switches 100 percent Genuine switches good for 50 million keystrokes and available in tactile, linear or click
- Brushed aluminum, compact form keyless design with slim profile and floating switches
- Rib Backlighting with light bar illuminate your keyboard with lighting effects in 16. 7 million colors
I always love a good cooler master product. This RGB TKL is a solid little piece of tech coming with four switch options including Brown.
Brown switches are great because they hit a good balance between blue (The typist) and red (The gamer).
Basically, if you want it to feel good typing without waking up your family, brown is a good switch type.
They have other switch styles as well. Most TKL options use proprietary software to help with RGB and macro adjustments but Cooler
Cooler Master baked controls into the design meaning you can create a Macro or change RGB settings without needing to boot up special software.
It’s a pretty sweet feature for those who are serious about macro life (Streamers and gaming pros!).
There are a ton of neat lighting combinations that you can just boot up as well that make this a fun gadget to just play around with and see what you can find! The programming is done simply by holding a special key and getting at it meaning you technically although foolishly could make a Macro in the middle of an online match.
- USB Passthrough and tons of switch options
- Great feel with industrial style
- Really awesome interface for changing things on the fly
4. SteelSeries Apex 7
- Linear red switches: guaranteed for 50 million keypresses, red switches provide consistently smooth movement without any bump, allowing for lightning fast actuation
- OLED smart display: an integrated command center for adjusting settings and tracking on the fly info straight from your game, Spotify, discord, and more
- Aircraft grade aluminum alloy: built for a lifetime of durability and stability
SteelSeries is usually known for killer headphones so it would make sense they took noise into account.
Offering near-silent whisper-quiet switches, this TKL is perfect for those living with family or roommates who can’t handle the relentless pounding noise of Blue switches.
Rated for 50 million keypresses and coming with RGB, I like the design of the Apex 7 a lot.
Not only does it offer much of the quality and value of the other competitors, it also has a unique folded metal frame that just looks awesome.
The best part is the OLED display that integrates into a variety of apps such as Spotify and Discord meaning you don’t have to Alt-Tab every time a great song you don’t know comes up.
It also opens up unique methods of communication and play during gaming sessions.
Finally, that magnetic wrist rest is fire! It attaches and detaches easily meaning you can play comfortably or ditch it depending on your Carpal Tunnel tendencies.
- The OLED screen is awesome!
- Really fun folded metal design
- Has a quite option!
- At this price and quality, it’d be nice to get just a little more switch durability
5. Corsair K65 LUX RGB
- 10 keyless design for easier travel and more room for your mouse
- Aircraft grade anodized brushed aluminum frame for superior durability
- Advanced lighting control and large font keycaps deliver dynamic, vibrant multi color backlighting
Corsair has a pretty militaristic style (Just check out some of the RAM options from them) and this keyboard fits that aesthetic not only in style but with a textured space bar and rest that reminds me a little bit of the grating underneath a truckers gas pedal.
Pulling out the RGB and classic Cherry MX switches, the K65 LUX is a great keyboard. Like the others, it has an aluminum shell, USB pass-through, anti-ghosting, and more.
The outward look of terminator-esque font and easy to find media controls is a highlight.
For a Tenkeyless, it’s a pretty small model too meaning you have more room for mouse play.
There isn’t a lot that stands out with the K65 LUX, meaning it’s not going to turn heads at the office any more than the other keyboards we selected.
That’s ok though. It’s a solid product. I love the feel and look even if the other options have some niche features.
- The design of the spacebar and wrist guard is pretty cool looking
- Very responsive contacts on the switches
- Red LED option for a stripped down look
- Not super special when compared to other keyboards
While it took me years to upgrade to a mechanical keyboard, I wish I had so much sooner.
I remember the feel of 1990’s keyboards and didn’t realize that they had slowly changed overtime.
Typing felt less enjoyable, less responsive. Upgrading really brought the simple joy of typing back to the forefront and made my ability to type accurately far greater.
I also had been struggling with ghosting in any FPS that made me move and jump at the same time! If you are looking into a new keyboard, we suggest any on this list.
Since they drop that deadbeat numbers pad, they’re a bit more mobile and enjoyable to type on as well! The biggest benefit is that your mouse isn’t knocking into the side of the keyboard anymore.