Mechanical gaming keyboards are the pillars of any decent competitive gaming setup. Though a capable gaming computer comes first, you won’t be able to take advantage of your lightning-fast reflexes to rise above the competition without a mechanical gaming keyboard.
Though most gamers are accustomed to full-size keyboards since they’ve been the industry standard for a while now, there has been a slight shift toward smaller keyboards mainly being tenkeyless (TKL) and 60-percent options. These more compact keyboards allow gamers to gain more desk space, which they use to move their gaming mouse more freely. They also work well in small setups where there is limited desk space.
The main difference between full-size and TKL keyboards is that TKLs come without the Numpad and macro keys. Considering you’ll still have access to numbers via your keyboard’s top row, you should still be fine, but the absence of macro keys could be a deal-breaker for some players. If you’d like to go even smaller, 60-percent form factor keyboards get rid of the arrow keys and everything above it alongside the function keys.
If you’re shopping through the best in the market, you’ll need to consider what type of mechanical switches you’d like in your keyboard and check out the general layout of each brand’s offering. The most popular keyboard switches on the market tend to be the blue, red, and brown switches, with reds taking the crown for being the best for gamers due to being linear and soft to the touch.
While custom made mechanical keyboards are the pinnacle of what the industry has to offer, they still cost significantly more than commercially available options. We’ve gathered some of the best TKL mechanical keyboards available, so you can enjoy a more roomy desk sooner and start your climb to the top of the leaderboards.
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition Gaming Keyboard
Razer’s been in the gaming industry since 2005, and the product range it has is undoubtedly one of the largest ones out there. From keyboards to mouse bungees, Razer has it all, and it continues to improve upon its already successful formulas with new additions.
Razer Huntsman is on its way to dethroning Blackwidow, the company’s iconic mechanical keyboard. The keyboard rocks Razer’s newest optical switch technology, which uses a light beam as a way of actuation. This allows optical switches to become more responsive than any other traditional switch type on the market, making them a must-have for competitive gamers. The Huntsman Tournament Edition uses the linear edition of Razer’s optical switches, which comes with a one-millimeter actuation point.
Optical switches also tend to double the lifespan of more commonly used switches. All the keys on the Huntsman Tournaments Edition are guaranteed to last for up to 100 million keystrokes.
The double-shot PBT keycaps on all the keys give the keyboard its premium feeling while making sure the labels on them never wear off. The compact form factor is accompanied by a detachable type-c cable, making the keyboard even more comfortable to carry around.
The keyboard is fully compatible with Razer Chroma, and you can download Razer’s software to sync your keyboard with other RGB peripherals you have or the game you’re playing.
Keyboard dimensions: 5.54 by 14.27 by 1.45 inches
SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL Gaming Keyboard
Keyboards always had the potential to become much more than what they are today. Some models have accomplished this by featuring phone docks and turning your keyboard into a command center where you can get all the latest updates while gaming via your phone. SteelSeries’ Apex 7 TKL, however, features an OLED smart display that delivers information straight from games or selected apps like Discord and Skype.
While this niche feature increases the keyboard’s price tag, its series 5000 aircraft-grade aluminum frame ensures both durability and that premium feel. Apex 7 TKL also comes with a detachable soft wrist rest that uses magnets to connect to the keyboard.
SteelSeries generally works with Kailh, a reputable switch manufacturer that produces almost identical Cherry MX switches. Apex 7 TKL features three different switch options being red, blue, and brown. Each switch type was tested to last for at least 50 million keypresses by SteelSeries. The built-in cable channels under the keyboard frame help players avoid a cluttered desk since cables can get out of hand quite easily.
The per-key RGB system in place makes way for some impressive lightning shows you can either design yourself or install via SteelSeries’ software. The same software lets you sync your SteelSeries’ products RGB as well, alongside further customization options.
Keyboard dimensions: 5.48 by 13.99 by 1.60 inches
Redragon K552 Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Even if you’re the most competitive gamer out there, it may not look beneficial to spend hundreds on a new keyboard. Though you will be cutting essential corners like software customizability options and the RGB, it’s still possible to get a top-tier gaming performance out of a budget mechanical keyboard.
Redragon was already a manufacturer for more prominent brands in the scene before it decided to make a name for itself, and it has been doing nothing but producing value products. The Redragon K552 is one of the cheapest TKL mechanical keyboards on the market, and it comes with MX red-equivalent switches. Outemu, another reputable name in the switch industry, produces these switches.
It offers a nice build quality for the price with its metal frame and also includes 19 different RGB modes. The keyboard’s two color options add a little variety into the mix since most keyboard hit the market with a single model.
Keyboard dimensions: 4.86 by 13.94 by 1.46 inches
Logitech G Pro X Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
There are many different keyboard switches on the market, each offering something that the other one doesn’t have. While some take pride in how silent they’re, others are defined by their clicky noises.
If you’re new to mechanical keyboards, you may decide that the initial switch type you went with wasn’t for you, and getting a new keyboard can just be out of your budget. This would eventually force you to stick with the keyboard you have unless you have a Logitech G Pro X mechanical keyboard.
Logitech G Pro X mechanical gaming keyboard comes with user-swappable mechanical switches, allowing gamers to change their switches with other compatible models if their tastes shift over time. You can choose one of the big three switches while first ordering, which are GX Blue Clickies, GX Brown Tactiles, and GX Red Linears.
The G Pro X uses a 5.9 feet detachable cable to power itself, and the detachable cable makes it easier to stuff it into a bag, which can come in handy for LAN players. Logitech G Hub allows users to customize the colorful RGB lights on the keyboard in a way that you can use it to highlight the crucial keys in the game you’re playing. The software also includes the color and keyboard profiles of professional esports players who regularly use the G Pro X.
Keyboard dimensions: 1.40 by 14.20 by 6 inches
Ducky One 2 TKL Gaming Keyboard
There was always a demand for compact keyboards, but they weren’t as popular as they’re today until Ducky came into the scene with its sleek designs. The soldering technology that the company uses, in addition to the customizability options it offers, made them one of the most reputable brands in the industry.
Ducky One 2 TKL comes with Cherry MX Red switches, and the manufacturer chose to cover them with PBT double-shot seamless keycaps that have a premium and durable feeling. The art soldered onto the space bar takes the keyboard’s RGB game to another level, and a detachable USB Type-C cable makes sure you don’t run into any space troubles while packing it.
Though the first iteration of this keyboard features the classic Cherry MX Reds, it’s possible to find versions with more unique switches. Cherry MX Silvers, Blacks, and Silents are the first notable ones that aren’t commercially available anymore due to blues and reds being more popular in general.
The keyboard’s Razer chroma Broadcast compatible, but it also comes with its own software. Don’t be surprised if you get a different space bar than the one that’s advertised in pictures since there are a handful of different versions of Ducky One 2 circling around the market. You should either have a Year of the Pig or the Rat motives for now. If the company turns this into a habit, however, you can cross your fingers for a dragon version since the Year of the Dragon starts in 2024.
Keyboard dimensions: 1.57 by 14.37 by 5.31 inches