What is a Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard?

what is a tkl gaming keyboard

As gaming has become more and more popular over the years, gamers have increasingly started looking for an edge over their competition. I mean, every one wants to win right? And the gaming keyboard market is happy to feed our desires with newer tech and innovative ways to give gamers more options. 

The Tenkeyless keyboard, or TKL for short, is one of those innovations. Below we explore a bit more about what a TKL keyboard is and why you might want one.

What does TKL keyboard mean?

Simply put, a Tenkeyless keyboard has the dedicated "ten keys", 0 to 9 number pad keys on the right, removed from the keyboard.

how many keys does a tkl keyboard have

This results in tkl keyboards being approximately 80% the size of a full sized keyboard. Besides the dedicated number pad keys 0 to 9, a few others usually found on the right of a full layout keyboard are also removed. Keys like the extra enter key, num lock, scroll lock, plus, minus etc.

How many keys does a TKL keyboard have?

tenkeyless keyboard size and number of keys

Source:  Hardware Canucks - https://youtu.be/K-NjMNEPBz0

A TKL mechanical keyboard has a total of 87 keys versus a full layout size keyboard which usually has 108 keys. Ok, so not actually ten keys less then because that would be 94 not 87. Yeah we're a bit confused too, but the ten keys referred to that are removed are the dedicated number keys on the right side of the board from 0 to 9. Additionally there's also s few extra keys removed like the extra enter key on the right side etc.

There is also a less common variant of the TKL keyboard with 92 keys.

Are TKL keyboards better?

TKL keyboards are better if you're looking for a keyboard that is more compact. The reasons for this could be to save space or wanting something that's more travel friendly.

If you're into spreadsheets then it's likely that you would need or want to use the dedicated number keys on the right hand side of a full-sized keyboard. But if you not or don't use those number keys often enough, then a TKL keyboard might just fit you better.

For gaming this could be more true where you don't need the extra dedicated number keys on a full-size keyboard and want to maximize your gaming desk space for better mouse movement.

Benefits of a TKL keyboard

  1. Takes up less space on your desk

    This is often because you have less space available on your desk. TKL keyboard for this reason are popular with gamers who want a gaming setup that maximizes the space they have available to move their mouse.

  2. Easier for gamers that tilt their keyboard
    Another reason is many gamers will tilt their keyboards at a 45 or 90 degree angle while gaming, so the shorter width of a TKL keyboard makes this tilting easier.

  3. More ergonomic
    When gaming your shoulders, wrist and hands take quite a lot of strain. The smaller width of a TKL keyboard means you can get your mouse closer and therefore you arm more in line with your shoulder. That means less strain overall. You can also read more info here on how to place your hands while gaming.

  4. Travel friendly
    Being roughly 80% the size of a normal keyboard makes them ideal to throw into your favourite backpack and take them with you, or when travelling. Many TKL keyboards also have detachable USB cables that can be removed. And this just makes them even more portable.

Video - Is a TKL keyboard right for you?

Why are TKL keyboards more expensive?

Well, the simple answer is, they aren't. TKL keyboards are a niche product that is mostly aimed at the gaming enthusiasts. Because of this they tend to mostly be mechanical switch based keyboards. And mechanical keyboards are generally more expensive than cheaper non-mechanical keyboards (like membrane or rubber-dome keyboards). So it's more accurate to say that mechanical keyboards are more expensive.

But if you compare a full mechanical keyboard versus a TKL mechanical keyboard from the same manufacturer you'll mostly find the TKL version is cheaper or the same price.