60 keyboards are mechanical keyboards with only 60 percent of the keys a full-size keyboard has. There are plenty to choose from on the market, but are you just paying for the brand or are you buying premium features? We check out some of the most popular 60 keyboards, and see what you get for your money.
I’d like to preface this article by highlighting that there are in fact other options in keyboard size besides full-size and 60% mechanical keyboards. The most well-known are full-size and 60 keyboards, but others like the TLK and 1800-Compact sizes are in fact very functional and deserves a mention for the discerning MnK gamer.
Here are the various sizes: -
Full-Size Keyboard (100%)
104 – 108 keys
The full-size keyboard has the usual alphabet keys, function keys along the top, navigational keys and directional keys (up, down, left and right). Additionally, you will also have a numeric keypad. Depending on your location you will have between 104 and 108 keys, and in the UK there’s usually 104 like the Kensington keyboard in the image above.
104 – 108 keys
The 1800-Compact gives you all the functionality of a full-size keyboard with a little less footprint, with the keys packed tighter together. Especially useful for those with limited desk space, or those who require a smaller target area for their fingers.
Ten Key Less (TKL) Keyboard
One of the increasingly popular keyboard sizes as big brands get in on the gaming keyboard action, the TKL keyboard is also known as an 87% or 80% keyboard – usually with 87 or 88 keys.
As you can see from the Ducky One 2 Horizon pictured above, the TKL is more or less a regular compact keyboard less the ten numeric keys.
The 70%/75% keyboard is a compact keyboard that has multiple uses with gamers and other users. The 75 keyboard features function keys and only loses certain keys to stay aesthetically cool and compact. This layout is also quite popular among designers and creators who need the functionality of movement keys and function keys. Usually, bigger brands will allow hot-swappable keys on the board, allowing you to create new functions and add in some colour, too.
What the 60% keyboard lacks, it makes up for in eye-catching compact aesthetic. With most manufacturers retaining the F key functionality by pressing a Function key, the only keys you will be lacking are the directional and navigation keys, as well as a numpad. For gamers, this is not essential keyboard real estate and can be dispensed with.
Why Choose a 60 Mechanical Keyboard
The pros and cons of the 60 keyboard are many, but definitely need weighing up if you take your gaming seriously. If you do anything else with your keyboard besides gaming, you might not want to lose the functionality of having a function key array along the top and a numeric keypad available to you. Of course, one of the pros of having a 60 mechanical keyboard is that they are ultra-portable, and the Bluetooth options are now super responsive – so you could just pop your 60 keyboard away and swap out for a wireless full-size keyboard when it’s time for work. Certainly, navigating Word or Excel documents is much easier with a full-size layout, but it looks pretty tame as a gaming peripheral.
Let’s look at the pros and cons for this keyboard from a few different perspectives.
60% Mechanical Keyboard Positives
· Accuracy – When typing on membrane keys, it can be easy to accidentally tap another key. With mechanical keyboards, the risk of an error is minimised due to the mechanism requiring an actual keypress. This means better feedback when typing and better accuracy in the target area when gaming.
· Cross-Platform – Most of the top brands will be compatible with Xbox and PlayStation consoles, allowing you the freedom of choice when it comes to MnK gaming. Being compact, the keyboard will store on a TV or entertainment stand when not in use (or even in a drawer!).
· Customisable – As a mechanical keyboard, keycaps are available for them to give the keyboard a unique style just for you
· Longevity – Less wear and tear. Mechanical keyboards are known for their familiar feel no matter how old the keyboard is. The 60 mechanical keyboard is no different and will feel like the first day you owned it even after years of use.
· Longevity – Mechanical keyboards last longer than membrane keyboards. Most of the mechanical switches in modern keyboards are tested for 30 - 70 million keystrokes, and even as many as 100 million keystrokes. As an example, Cherry MX Mechanical Switches guarantee at least 50 million keystrokes. Membrane keyboards will generally only offer a life span of approximately 5 million keystrokes.
· Optional Switch Types – Some key switches are designed for typing where some are designed for gamers, and there will be noticeable differences in feedback on the two types of switch.
· Portable – Slip it into a backpack for on-the-move intuitive gaming
· Programmable – Being designed for gamers, keys are usually programmable so you can customise for your games
· Small – Because you will have your mouse much closer to your keyboard with the small footprint of a 40% shorter keyboard, this will enable you to have a much tighter gaming area on your desk
· Small – Takes up very little desk space
· Small – With prolonged use, the 60 mechanical keyboard will reduce wrist and hand pain, as you can place it anywhere on your desk and adjust to your seating position with little movement across the actual keys
· Stability – As mechanical keyboards are heavier than membrane keyboards (even the 60 mechanical keyboard), the keyboard will not slide around as easily when in use. A plus point for gamers especially.
60% Mechanical Keyboard Negatives
· High Price – One of the main drawbacks of entering into the mechanical keyboard realm is the price point. The caveat, however, is that if you look at the longevity of a keyboard, you are paying for much longer usage with mechanical keyboards. The price is often double that of a membrane keyboard, but will actually last 2x or 3x as long.
· The Thocc – Typing on a mechanical keyboard is louder than regular keyboards, but if this bothers you, there are O-rings and dampening methods to quieten the noise. Some mechanical keyboards are even silent, or whisper-quiet. That said, the allure of a mechanical keyboard is usually the reassuring thocc and clunk it makes when typing!
· Raised Keys – Going from a membrane to a mechanical keyboard will be something to get used to. The keys and keyboard itself are higher than membrane – and this is by design. Most membrane keyboards advertise their low profile as a feature and benefit, where mechanical keyboards are designed to be raised up higher for a more comfortable typing position.
There aren’t many negatives when it comes to mechanical keyboards, but this is generally because they were designed to fill a gap in the market and add more features and value to the gamer/PC user. In the case of 60 mechanical keyboard, the features are added even further, being lighter and more compact than their larger cousins.
What Are Cherry MX Switches?
You will notice that most manufacturers prefer to use Cherry MX switches in 60 mechanical keyboards. These German-made mechanisms are the most reputable and trusted type of mechanical key, with a customised feel to the keystroke.
Which Cherry Switch Is Which
If you need to know what kind of Cherry MX switch is best for your style, check out this handy flowchart: -
The Best 60 Mechanical Keyboard
Each of our chosen best brands of 60 mechanical keyboards come with options for RGB, backlighting, Bluetooth and USB connections as well as having the ability to swap out keycaps and program functions to your keys.
| ||Customisable ||Programmable ||RGB ||Illuminated ||Wired/Wireless |
|Vortex Tab 60 ||Yes ||Yes ||No ||No ||Bluetooth |
|Corsair K65 RGB MINI ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||USB |
|Cooler Master SK620 ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||USB |
|Vortex Cypher USB ||Yes ||Yes ||No ||No ||USB |
|Ducky One 2 Mini RGB (Blk) ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||USB/USB-C |
|Ducky One 2 Mini RGB (Wh) ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||USB/USB-C |
|Ducky Mecha Mini ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||Yes ||USB/USB-C |
|Vortex RGB Core ||Yes ||Yes ||No ||Yes ||USB |
Ducky One 3 Classic Mini RGB Mechanical Keyboard in White with Cherry MX Switches
For the best value for money, and with plenty of customisation/programming options, the Ducky One 3 Classic Mini (in black or white) is a great choice for your first 60 mechanical keyboard. Ducky’s build quality allows you to take advantage of world class engineering and precision response, while paying close attention to the aesthetic requirements of today’s gamers.
Note: Ducky offer various options when it comes to switches, using Cherry MX technology. Check the flowchart above before purchase!