There are many variants of keyboard form factors. From the standard full size to the gamer-oriented tenkeyless, you’ll have a hard time finding one that’s not right for you. The 60% is just what I used to find before I found that the tenkeyless would suit me better and there are those who have never seen a keyboard marked 60% at all. However, their close sibling is 65%, which makes them an easy target for little mistakes like misidentification.
The 60% keyboard
The 60% keyboard covers about 60 percent of the full size keyboard. In practice, this means having direct access to all buttons on a keyboard rather than having to use a secondary or tertiary mouse.
Some people may wonder what the point of going so minimal might be. You might notice that the pure 60% form factor has no arrow keys, no F-row and no navigation cluster, and you would be right. All of these functions are accessible, but not with dedicated keys. You’re giving up quite a lot to reach this state of minimalism.
Advantages of 60% keyboard
By removing the number pad, you gain approximately six inches of workspace in front of you while keeping your keyboard close to your hands. This has a lot of benefits, including increased comfort and ease of use.
People who type a lot on laptops eventually need an efficient way to find more room for their mouse, which is becoming more and more of an issue because computers are often placed side-by-side. Considerably angling your keyboard picks up some space for a mousepad and will increase your typing speed on your laptop. This can become unbearable when you try to take it with you, however, so keep in mind that it’s lightweight and compact when folded. If you have a good laptop with a chiclet keyboard, this might be worth considering if you write often at home or office.
60% keyboards are also customized easily. They usually come with standard layouts and thus they enjoy the luxury of being compatible with basically every single custom keyset. There are also a number of 60-only keysets being made, which naturally sets you back less money since they only come with enough keys for a 60% keyboard.
This takes the form of a programming software and allows you to make modifications to how each key works by holding it, typically with 60% keyboards. These functions can be modified or programmed exactly how you want with a few simple keystrokes. They can typically be utilized for recording macros, without installing complicated software. The programmable layer is both a solution to a problem and an advantage in that it can be tuned to your liking.
For some, the size of the keyboard is a drawback. With smaller layout of the keys and lack of dedicated function keys such as F-keys and navigational cluster, this keyboard makes for a more inconvenient typing experience.
These three keys make up most of the F-keys. The FN-key needs to be both held and pressed to check any other function. All this is hard on your fingers, but so worth it for all the neat functions you get with these few keys.
The 65% keyboard
The 65% keyboard is a godsend for people who just can’t get used to using the 60% keyboard. They are quite similar, but with arrow keys on the side (which I mention later in this paragraph). The advantages and disadvantages are similar.
65% keyboard advantages
The size of the 65% is close to its 60% counterpart, allowing for the same advantages. Like an ergonomic mouse, its added inches give you more ergo and space to work on your laptop. You will also get this added navigational cluster which I find valuable when working on my computer.
The main advantage over the 60% is the dedicated arrow keys. If you find it difficult to adjust to FN- and PN-layer jiggling, the 65% keyboard is ideal for you as it places close access to the alphanumeric cluster of keys. It’s not that difficult to get used to.
To fit in the arrow keys, the 65% keyboard has sacrificed customizable options and inconvenient key organization. The main downsides are: the right side modifiers are squished, and navigation cluster keys are incorrectly located.
However, if that’s how you want to go, cases are going to be a difficult find–with the Tada68 as an exception. The aluminum case option is an option for some keyboards, but most of the time there will be plastic casing.
Which one should I get?
For FPS and MOBA gamers, the 60-65% range is the sweet spot because most games typically don’t have many buttons. You can find a suitable 60 keyboard at 60-keyboard.com. If you find that you need arrow keys or have to leave them out, I recommend going for the 65%. For people who can’t live without arrow keys, even less is plenty because these keyboards are spacious.