For many beginners, it can be confusing if they find out while buying a keyboard that they come in different form factors.
And not only that. There are also different layouts of keyboards.
For everyone who needs help to understand the differences between mechanical keyboard sizes and layouts, we’ve prepared this easy to understand guide.
What Is A Keyboard Layout?
The shape and size of the keys are described as keyboard layout. Depending on the country you live in, the layout and number of keys can differ. The most popular layouts are:
- ANSI – American standard
- ISO – European standard
- JIS – Japanese standard
Whether you are using ANSI, ISO, or JIS keyboard layout, the physical appearance of the key sizes and placements are influenced by it.
What Is Keyboard Form Factor?
The keyboard form factor is a technical term describing the physical shape and size of the keyboard and the number of keys. There are many sizes of mechanical keyboards, here are the most popular:
Full-size keyboards have 104, 105 or 108 keys depending on ANSI (USA), ISO (EU), or JIS (Japan) layouts. These keyboards have an alphanumeric, navigational cluster and number pad separated, with the F keys running along the top.
The full-size keyboard is the most popular among people who need a number pad and won’t use a separate Numpad for occasional tasks.
Tenkeyless (TKL) Keyboard
Tenkeyless (TKL, 87%, 80%) is a compact keyboard layout, similar to the full-size keyboard without the number pad on the right side. This is resulting in 87 or 88 keys. Such a mechanical keyboard is about 80% of the width of a full-size keyboard.
These mechanical keyboards are hugely popular in the gaming community, especially among pro-gamers, because they give you more space for your mouse on the desk.
If you find a keyboard with a 75% label, you are looking at a compact layout, with 70-75% of the width of a full-size one. With the F key row at the top, of course. The difference between 75% and Tenkeyless (TLK) keyboard is in the reduction of the gap between different areas of the keyboard.
The 75% form factor has the same functionality of the Tenkeyless keyboard but without wasted space.
The 65% keyboard has a mini layout with arrow keys. They are typically about a width of 65% of a full-size keyboard and comes with 66-68 keys in total.
Take a look at a mechanical keyboard with a 60% form factor, and you will see an important change. The 60% keyboard removes anything right of the Enter key. And the function keys too. It is basically a 65% keyboard without arrow keys and with only 61 keys.
This is the most common layout after full-size and TKL, loved by people who like minimalism and aesthetics, or just need a simple keyboard for travel.
The 40% form factor removes everything except the letters and the modifiers. These keyboards are hard to buy, so if you want one, you will have to buy parts and build it yourself.