What is a 60% keyboard? Pros and Cons

There are tons of keyboard options in the market, a 60 % keyboard being one. With different varieties available in the market, it’s best to understand the different specifications of the various options.

A 60% keyboard is mechanical with each key having its own switch, making it more accurate and responsive when individual keys are pressed. The keyboard does not have extra keys to the right, making it smaller and more ergonomic than most other types of keyboards.

What is a 60 Percent Keyboard?

What is a 60% Keyboard

A 60% keyboard is a mechanical keyboard with only 60% keys of a full-sized keyboard. Each of the keys uses its own switch – that’s why it is more accurate with each key press compared to keyboards that use a membrane switch.

The 60% keyboard is as popular as TKL keyboards (80% size), but less popular than a full-size keyboard. It allows direct access to all buttons in what’s referred to as the alphanumeric cluster.

A pure 60% form factor lacks the arrow keys, the F-row, and the navigation cluster. Nevertheless, these keys are available but not in their dedicated forms.

Advantages of a 60% Keyboard

The size of a sixty percent keyboard is one of the main reasons for its popularity. However, there’s a lot more benefit it presents compared to a full-fledged keyboard. While it is more expensive, its build and mechanics make up for the price tag while offering many advantages.

Here are the advantages of 60% keyboard:

It is small in size and easily portable

The 60% keyboard measures approximately 11.5 inches by 4.25 inches. It is much smaller than the Tenkeyless keyboard (TKL). This means that it takes a much smaller space in your bag, which improves its portability. You can easily carry it around along with your laptop or other devices.

The size of this keyboard leaves enough space on your working desk to set up monitor speakers, big monitors, and a mousepad. The space to the right will also be enough for you to position your mouse closer to your keyboard and “at a more ergonomic angle to the rest of your body.”

It is easily customizable

A 60% keyboard lends itself well to customization. It comes with a standard layout, and it can be compatible with every single custom keyset that exists. There are also several custom cases for the keyboard, making it easy to turn it into something unique.

It is easily programmable

Since it focuses much more on getting the minimalist appearance and lack some keys, the manufacturers designed a simple solution called the programmable layer to fill the gap. The layer often takes the form of PN- key. When you hold it, the function of each key changes. All 60 percent keyboards have this functionality.

You can program the layer whichever way you want with just a few keypresses. Additionally, you can easily set the keyboard to record simple macros without installing complicated software. The programmable layer enables you to tune and modify the layout to what you enjoy the most.

Disadvantages of a 60% Keyboard

Since it’s small in size, it doesn’t contain the dedicated keys like the F- keys, the number pad, and the navigation cluster (arrow keys, home, delete, page down, page up, and print screen).

The layout is compressed into a single block, leaving no free sections or gaps. Sadly, the escape key can’t roll alone, as it needs extra space. Even though you will get access to these keys, they wouldn’t just be as functional like in the full-size keyboard.

For example, to access the F- row keys, you have to hold the FN-keys, press numbers 1-9 plus the symbols to create the rest of the row. To successfully do this, your fingers need to be at particular positions. They either have to hold the FN or PN keys to access the different functionalities, which can be pretty challenging to master.

How Many Keys are on a 60% Keyboard?

What is the size of a 60 percent keyboard

A 60 percent keyboard has around 58 to 68 keys depending on the different layouts.  It has only 15 units and 5 rows.  Although it has a thin frame, the exact numbers of keys differ between the designs. For instance, ANSI-derived layout like the KBC Poker has 61 keys. A Filco Minila ISO has 68 keys, while HHKB has around 60 keys.

60% keyboard vs. Full-Size Keyboards

A full-size keyboard has 104, 105, or even 108 keys depending on whether the model is ANSI (USA), ISO (EU), or JIS (Japan) layout. It contains a number pad, function keys, arrow keys, and a home cluster. Because of its size, the manufacturers usually get more creative and fill the keyboards with several features. Some even come with extra keys and media controls.

The excess keys are called the macro keys. They are useful as they save you time while using the keyboard, and translate to more functionality. A full-size keyboard is excellent for anyone who needs to have the different types of keys at their disposal. It could be for gaming, work, or browsing.

This keyboard is also more expensive than the 60 percent one as it requires several extra switches when creating it. The functionality of a full-size keyboard comes at the expense of size, as it takes a lot of space.

Most people opt for a 60 percent keyboard because of the small form factor. Unlike a full-size keyboard which eats tons of space a, 60% keyboard occupies little space. Moreover, it allows freedom and a user can effortlessly adjust the position of their keyboard.

The size makes it easily portable from one place to another. However, with fewer keys, it has less functionality than its counterpart thus challenging to use.

If you are low on space, looking for comfort, or need something you can easily carry around, the 60 % keyboard is perfect. However, if you want a keyboard that’s widely available in the markets, has all keys with the widest variety to choose from, a full-size keyboard is what to go for.

60% vs 65% Keyboard

60% keyboard has a close relationship with its sister 65% keyboard. It has an ultra-compact layout, and it’s comfortable to type on. At a first look, you might think these two are the same. Both are small in size and are great options for those who want to save on space.

Most people who can’t get used to 60% keyboard have the alternative to go for 65% keyboard.  The two are the same, but the 65% keyboard has arrow keys.

The 60% keyboard is less common, unlike its counterpart which is popular and easy to find.  If you can’t get used to the FN and PN layer to access the arrow keys, 65% of the keyboard is suitable for you. They are great for gaming, and since they have arrow keys, it’s easy to move them around while typing.

The disadvantage of 65% keyboard is that there are fewer customization options. With the arrow keys fitted in, the right-side modifiers are squeezed, and the nav cluster keys are pressed on the incorrect row making the custom keysets unlikely to fit in. However, when they do, they will just look funny.

Also, it’s hard to find custom cases that fit the 65% keyboard.

Are 60% Keyboards Good for Typing?

60% keyboards are more popular for gaming. However, they are also great when it comes to typing. But before purchasing it, you must know what you are getting into. Since it lacks some keys, it can prove challenging to navigate through. But by learning how to use it; you can manoeuvre. Nonetheless, it doesn’t affect some people typing experience that much.

Best 60 Percent Keyboards.

There are tons of 60 percent keyboards in the market. If you are wondering which ones to opt for, below are some suggestions to help you.

Corsair 60 keyboard

Corsair k65 RGB keyboard has a 60% design that makes it feel natural. It has a top-level performance, and it’s portable. Its keys are high enough with the Speed Silver and the Cherry MX Red switch enabling smooth typing. Corsair 60% keyboard uses a detachable USB-C cable.  

It has a replacement bar for those who don’t like the geometric motif on the default option. Also, it contains heavy but powerful iCUE software that enables you to program macros and rebind keys. If you don’t mind the noise it produces when typing or the price; you should go for it.

Razor 60 Percent Keyboard

The razor Huntsman mini comes with two different switch options. It’s available in either black or mercury white and has a standard layout. Its razor optical switches are designed for fast reaction and speed. You can access them by clicking the purple or red linear option.

 It’s an ideal keyboard for minimalists, small set-ups or people who require the bare minimum of the dedicated keys.

Despite its excellent features, it’s pretty pricey, with the stabilizers tending to make a lot of noise.  Its optical switches are unfortunately light; thus, it’s easy to make typos. It however contains a detachable USB-C cable.

HyperX 60 keyboard

HyperX keyboard is a powerful wired keyboard that offers a remarkable typing experience. It has full-size keys almost placed identically so that it doesn’t cramp your hands. Also, the keys feel amazing when typing. Although heavy, it’s supremely portable.

It’s pretty easy to be confused about whether to go for size or convenience. A 60% mechanical keyboard is excellent if you want to switch to something different than the one you are used to. The keyboard allows you to attain the balance you need. Depending on your desires and preference, you can always get the model you want in the market.

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