Tenkeyless mechanical keyboards having soared in popularity recently thanks to their portability, compactness, style and widespread adoption by popular Twitch streamers.
Picking one, however, can be difficult, due to the vast amount of available keyboards on the market and the jargon that comes with them.
This is my list of the best tenkeyless mechanical keyboards currently available in 2019.
I have researched across all the big brands to find out which tkl keyboards are worth your attention. Having owned many boards myself I have a good understanding of what to look for.
It is hard to pick one keyboard that stands out, any of the keyboards you see in my list are worth picking up, it is up to you to decide which one you like the best as they are all similar in terms of features.
I have broken this list down into separate categories as some people have different budgets and preferences. You will find the categories separated out below so there should be something in there for everyone.
A tenkeyless mechanical keyboard provides a few benefits over the usual full size board. The first and obvious reason is its portability. It is deceptively smaller than you think which is great because it provides you with more room for your mouse.
If you are not a numbers man and don’t find much use for the numpad then you will thank me later for the extra space you have for swiping in game and general mouse use.
A personal opinion on the matter is that they look nicer, sharper and more sleek. They also make my desk look tidier (notice I said tidier, my desk is a mess).
In general, the feeling you get from a mechanical keyboard can’t be matched. There is fluid, consistent and satisfying feedback with every key press that really improves your typing and gaming experience.
It is a prime example of something you have to try before you understand it. There is also a wide range of different switches that you can choose from when it comes to mechanical keyboards. You aren’t stuck with those boring archaic dome switches!
The various mechanical switches can completely change the feel and weighting of the keys you are pressing. There is a range to choose from so you can be sure that you will find one that will be an upgrade from your cheap dome keyboard.
If you are a gamer, most mechanical keyboards offer ‘N-key rollover’ and ‘ghosting’ capabilities to enhance your competitiveness and response times.
What is ‘N-key rollover’ and ‘Ghosting’?
N-key rollover or x-key rollover as it is sometimes called tells you how many keys can be pressed down at once while still being registered by the computer. X-key rollover is usually 4 or 6 keys, N-key rollover claims to register any and all keys at once.
Try testing this on your dome keyboard now if you have one, you might notice depending on the quality, that not all your keys are registered. This can have a huge impact in games especially for movement with the WASD keys.
Anti-ghosting is somewhat similar and usually means the keyboard can handle some variation of 3-key rollover, often gaming keys like WASD. The term ghosting is somewhat dated now as it used to be used to prevent ‘phantom keypresses’ in older boards.
Mechanical keyboards also offer reduced response time, meaning there is less delay between you pressing to go forward and your character actually moving. Admittedly this is a very small time frame, but who knows what effect that could have on a clutch game!
Listen Up! Choices to Make Before Buying
Before looking at the list below you need to know what you are looking for. You need to decide on the type of switches you want on your tenkeyless keyboard.
The most common type of switch is the Cherry MX switch. I wrote a detailed guide with the sounds of each switch to help you pick the right switch for you. This is the switch I recommend especially if this is your first tenkeyless mechanical keyboard.
Next, you want to decide whether you want PBT or ABS keycaps on your board. In general, PBT keycaps are seen as the higher quality keycaps. They tend to be more durable, their colour doesn’t fade and they don’t develop a shine effect like ABS keycaps do.
Once you have your switch and keycaps locked in, decide whether or not you want RGB lighting. This usually adds an extra cost to the board but if you have an RGB setup then go ahead.
If the height of your keyboard is important to you then you might want to investigate what height the feet can be adjusted to.
Lastly, make sure that the keyboard your buying is in the correct layout that you want. The keyboards below will all be QWERTY and will range from either ANSI layout or ISO layout depending on your country.
Best Overall Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard
The following are the best tkl keyboards you can get your hands on at the moment. They provide the best value for money, a solid selection of Cherry MX switches and have a great track record for build quality.
#1. Filco Ninja Majestouch-2
Filco have been around for a while now and although they are slightly harder to get your hands on they are definitely worth your time if you can find them in stock. The Ninja Majestouch-2 is my personal favourite and after testing my colleagues, this is definitely going to be my next board to add to my collection.
There are two variants, one with the keycap printings on the top and the other with the keycap printings on the front.
So far I have only been able to find the Filco Majestouch-2 with Cherry MX browns. These are my favourite Cherry MX switch due to their actuation force and gentle bump. They are similar to Cherry MX reds but with more of a ridge at the bottom. UPDATED: It looks like due to Filco’s popularity Amazon are now shipping all variants of Cherry MX Switches.
Cherry MX switches are widely considered the best mechanical switch you can buy. It comes down to personal preference as to which type of switch is best for you. You can check out my guide to the switches here that include the sounds too to help you decide.
The Majestouch-2 has full N-key rollover allowing for simultaneous key pressing. The board has dedicated circuitry to the PCB which means it avoids double pressing.
The board also interfaces with either USB or PS/2, the latter allows for more key rollover. There is no macro functionality or media keys so if this is something that is important to you then wait for the upcoming boards on the list.
This is a simple looking board but it is everything you want from a tenkeyless keyboard. It has solid build quality, the best switches on the market and looks elegant.
#2. Ducky One 2
No mechanical keyboard list is complete without at least one showing from Ducky. Widely considered one of the top if not the top keyboard manufacturer when it comes to mechanical keyboards, the Ducky One 2 does not disappoint.
There are a variety of colours and switch types you can choose from too. The Ducky One 2 Horizon and Skyline both have different coloured bezel designs which really adds to the board.
The Ducky One 2 Skyline is my current mechanical keyboard that I am using to type this article. I did a review of it here which you can check out for more information.
No surprises here, the Ducky One 2 comes in a variety of Cherry MX switches from black, brown, blue, red to Cherry speeds. The keycaps are PBT material so you can be sure they are solid and durable. PBT are better than ABS which you might find on the cheaper models. They don’t create a shine effect after years of use and are much more durable.
The Ducky One 2 series comes with full N-Key rollover and a dual-layer PCB to prevent key blocking which Ducky claim will provide longer life expectancy and signal stability to the board.
There is also the potential for macro shortcuts and a detachable USB-C cable to improve portability. There are indicator lights for the scroll and caps lock although they are above the insert, home and page up which make them a little hard to see.
A great feature on the Ducky One 2 series is the 3 level angle adjustment of the keyboard feet. This gives you much more flexibility and customisation on how high you want your keyboard to be and at what angle.
The keyboard also ships with a variety of custom keycaps in a particular colour depending on which version you choose from the series.
Best RGB Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboards
You either love them or hate them, this is a list of the best RGB tkl mechanical keyboards . The list takes into consideration price and features, particularly price because some RGB keyboards can be hugely overpriced just because they are RGB.
#1. Fnatic miniSTREAK Tenkeyless Cherry MX Keyboard
Fnatic have entered the tenkeyless keyboard market with their miniSTREAK series. The board has been a pleasant surprise featuring a range of Cherry MX switches (blue, red, brown, red silent) to pick from and including RGB all for under $100.
As shown above the miniSTREAK features your typical Cherry MX Switches and you can pick from either blue, red or brown or red silent. Being able to select red silent is a great addition as it can be difficult to find keyboards that support this newer switch.
The switches seem comparable to any other board that uses Cherry’s so you can be guaranteed the usual quality of the German MX switches.
The RGB is an obvious plus here and is the best RGB lighting out of all the boards I have featured here. It is bright and fully customisable through the software which is really simple to use.
Fnatic have created something special here by having a magnetic signature plate on the back panel of the board. They will allow you to get your own name or word printed from their site to have on the back to replace the stock Fnatic logo. This is a nice customisation touch that I haven’t seen on any other board.
It features a detachable USB cable so transporting or moving it is easy and Fnatic have added durable rubber feet to avoid any slipping or moving of the board while gaming.
There is also a competition mode which allows you to customise what buttons you can press and turn off the lighting effects to avoid distraction. By default it will turn the keyboard into a low brightness orange backlit mode.
The free wrist rest is a welcome introduction for when you aren’t gaming and want that extra support for your wrists. It is completely detachable and has 3 adjustable levels so that you can get it to fit the way you want. It is made of padded PU leather and is slightly textured.
Overall a great entry to the market by Fnatic, creating a well rounded, stylish and very affordable RGB tenkeyless keyboard.
#2. Logitech G Pro Tenkeyless Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
Logitech are at the top of their game when it comes to peripherals and their keyboards don’t disappoint. The Logitech G Pro is their keyboard for the ‘G Pro’ series product line alongside the G Pro mouse and headphones.
A solid RGB tenkeyless mechanical keyboard with all the features you need. Let’s get into the details.
The G Pro uses Logitech’s Romer-G switches, which are described as an ‘enhanced mechanical switch purpose-built for pro-grade performance’. They claim that the switches are 25% faster than the competitions standard mechanical switches.
I am not sure how Logitech are measuring that but they feel similar to Cherry MX browns in terms of actuation force.
Logitech also claims the Romer-G switches will last up to 70 million clicks opposed to Cherry MX’s 40 million. Either way, plenty of clicks for most people!
The most obvious of the features is the RGB lighting, allowing for complete customisation of how you want you board to look.
The G Pro also has 26-key rollover and anti-ghosting functionality for all those rapid key presses.
It is extremely portable thanks to its detachable USB cable which makes it great for travelling to and from competitions and tournaments.
The board also has a three-step angle adjustment with rubber feet for complete customisation of the height so you can be sure it sits at the perfect height.
Like most mechanical boards on the market today the G Pro also boasts your typical function key macros allowing you to setup some quick shortcuts.
If you are like me and keep hitting that awful windows key by accident while gaming then your in luck. G Pro has ‘game mode’ which allows you to disable keys that you don’t need to stop you accidentally minimizing while in the heat of the moment.
It is a great board but the Romer-G switches aren’t quite as good as Cherry MX switches in my opinion. However, some people prefer the Romer-G so its personal preference.
#3. Cooler Master MasterKeys S PBT RGB
If you are mad about RGB then take a look at the Cooler Master MasterKeys S RGB. This board is actually available in a couple of versions including one with no backlighting if you prefer the more simplistic approach.
Cooler Master has been receiving a lot of praise for there keyboards more recently and deservedly so.
The MasterKeys S series come in a variety of Cherry MX flavours including red, brown, blue, silver and green. Out of all the boards on the list the MasterKeys S provides the most choice for your preferred switch.
The keycaps, as hinted by the name, are PBT so you can’t go wrong there either. The printings are very clear and crisp. The font is a particular favourite of mine as I find it very easy on the eye. The perfect combo; Cherry switches and PBT keycaps.
The MasterKeys S has N-Key rollover and switchable OS key layouts. If you switch from Windows to Mac or Linux then you can easily switch between Dvorak and workman with simple keyboard shortcuts.
I like the positioning of the caps and scroll lock LEDs as it makes them easy to see, a nice touch. On my Ducky One 2 the lights are above the insert, home and PgUp keys which makes them hard to see.
The MasterKeys S also has onboard macros for creating simple shortcuts as well as alterations in the repeat rate of the board.
Portability is no problem as there is a detachable micro USB, perfect for transporting around without causing any damage to your port.
Best Budget Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboards
If you are on a strict budget then these are my top picks for boards that still provide excellent value but a cheaper price. These boards may not have all the features of the top-end boards but they are great entry level products.
#1. iKBC CD87 PBT
iKBC are growing and growing thanks to their solid boards and consistent recommendations from the mechanical keyboard community. The iKBC CD87 is simple and elegant and provides you with all the features in a more subtle way.
The CD87 comes in two varieties of the Cherry switch, blue and brown. As the name suggests the keycaps are PBT which is the highest quality of keycaps you can get. They have a matte feel to them and don’t become worn over time.
They also don’t suffer from the ‘shine’ effect that you often get with some of the other boards on the list. Particularly if they are ABS keycaps.
The CD87 has the usual 100% anti-ghosting and full rollover alongside a lockable Windows key for all your gaming needs. There are multimedia keys but they must be used alongside the function key, they are not standalone.
There is 3-way cable through to help you manage those pesky cables to keep your workspace looking tidy. There isn’t much more to say for the iKBC CD87, it is a great all-rounder at a very competitive price. The perfect board for a first timer.
#2. HyperX Alloy FPS Pro
Minimalistic with all the features you need, that is the best way of describing HyperX’s Alloy FPS Pro. The Alloy FPS Pro has a slightly smaller frame than the G Pro yet shares much of the same features.
If you like your Cherry MX switches then the Alloy FPS has you covered. It ships in either Cherry reds or blues so if you like Cherry browns you will have to opt for the full size version.
The Alloy FPS Pro also has backlighting, not RGB but a more minimal red hue glows through the keycaps. A nice touch and definitely keeps with HyperX’s ‘red’ branding.
The frame is made of steel which provides better durability and stability if you are a button masher.
There is also full N-Key rollover for multiple key pressing and 100% anti-ghosting. In addition, you have game mode to stop those windows key presses mid-game. There are also media shortcuts although they are not standalone keys, they must be used with the function button.
The Alloy FPS also has detachable cable for travelling or general portability. Overall a solid board that gives you a little more headroom to play with due to its more minimalist design.
#3. CORSAIR K63
The Corsair K63, you have probably heard or seen it before as its highly popular. A stylish, black compact mechanical keyboard with ‘per-key’ red backlighting. The K63 has been received extremely well with rave reviews across many of the top tech websites.
Similar to most of the boards on the list the K63 has Cherry MX reds. There doesn’t seem to be an option to change the switches which is a shame if you prefer other variants of the Cherry switches.
The K63 also boasts the usual anti-ghosting and full key rollover. It also has dedicated volume and multimedia buttons. Game mode is also featured here as a separate button to lock down the windows key.
The space bar is textured which is unusual, something I haven’t seen before on a board. The keycap print is really big which might put some off if they like the minimalist style.
The K63 has access to ‘the power of CUE’ which is Corsairs software to allow you to assign macros to any key and customise the lighting effects on the board. This is a nice touch as usually, you have to do this manually on the keyboard itself which is often unintuitive.
A good option if you are looking for an all-round board. The keycaps are personally not my favourite on the list but the features are all still there.
Choosing a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard is not easy. Especially when it seems like a lot of the keyboards look very similar on paper. This is the tricky part as you don’t really know which one is best for you until you try it.
My advice is to go for the keyboard you like the look of the most yet still has the features you want. Some of the features you might initially feel like you want but you won’t even end up using.
This happened to me when I purchased my first RGB keyboard. The lights ended up just irritating me and I never turned them on.
Last Price Update on 2019-02-20 / Data taken from the Amazon Product API