Keyboard Sizes & Form Factors - What's The Best For Gaming?

One of the most important factors to consider when buying a new keyboard is the size, also known as form factor.

That’s because everyone has different styles, needs and limitations.

For example, pro players like Sinatraa have told us that they prefer smaller tenkeyless keyboards to make sure that he has enough desk space at LAN events.

We will go over exactly what to consider, why they’re important, and how to find the perfect keyboard size for you.

Keep reading if that sounds interesting.

Common Keyboard Sizes/Form Factors

The most common keyboard sizes/form factors are Full, Tenkeyless, and Compact.

Let’s go over what they are, one by one.

Full-Size Keyboards

This is the Logitech G915, which is a full-size keyboard.

As you can see, full-size keyboards have the F1 to F12 keys, arrow keys, and the numpad.

It may have multimedia keys such as volume control and previous/next tracks, which you can see at the top of the G915.

Some keyboards, including the G915, have extra keys that can be programmed as macro keys or other functions. You can see there are 5 additional keys labeled G1 to G5 on the left side of the keyboard.

These keyboards are called full-size, full, or 100%.

Pros

  • Full-size keyboards have all the keys so you can use them conveniently (i.e. using the numpad for calculations)
  • Some come with multimedia keys so you can control music while gaming, and extra keys that can be useful for games such as World of Warcraft.

Cons

  • They take up the most space, which leaves less room for your mousepad, mouse and desk. If there are extra keys, it takes up even more space.

Tenkeyless Keyboards

Above keyboard is the Corsair K63, which is a tenkeyless keyboard.

They have the F1 to F12 keys and arrow keys, but do not have the numpad.

Depending on the keyboard, it may have multimedia keys. Corsair K63 has them at the top of the keyboard.

Tenkeyless is often abbreviated TKL.

Pros

  • TKL keyboards take up much less space than full-size keyboards.
  • Some have multimedia keys, so you can control music without having to Alt-Tab out of the game.

Cons

  • It does not have the numpad, which may be useful in some games.

Compact Keyboards

This is the Glorious Gaming GMMK Compact, which is a compact keyboard.

It does not have F1 to F12 keys, arrow keys, or the numpad. It also does not have other keys such as Delete, Page Up, Page Down, Scroll Lock, Print Screen, etc.

Instead, they come with a Function key. In the GMMK Compact, it’s located next to the Right Alt key, as “Fn”.

You have to use the Function key to use keys that are not physically on the keyboard. For example with the GMMK Compact, pressing Fn + 1 is F1, and Fn + U is Page Up.

Compact keyboards are also called 60% keyboards.

Pros

  • Compact keyboards take up the minimum amount of space, leaving you as much room as possible for other peripherals.

Cons

  • You have to memorize the shortcuts for keys that are not on the keyboard.
  • It does not have a lot of keys that may be useful for some games.

There are also many other sizes, but most keyboards are full, tenkeyless or compact.

We’ll go over more keyboard sizes later.

How To Find The Perfect Keyboard Size For You

Now that you know the difference between the keyboard sizes, let’s find what would be the best keyboard size for you.

We will go over the most important factors to consider in keyboard sizes.

Desk Size

The first thing you should think about is how much desk space you have.

If you have a very limited amount of space, you should consider a tenkeyless keyboard or compact keyboard.

To get an exact measurement, use a ruler to measure how much free space you have for a keyboard on your desk.

According to the size of over 2000 keyboards at Gearrate, the average width and length of each keyboard sizes are:

WidthLength
Full-size449.94mm (17.71 in)148.31mm (5.84 in)
Tenkeyless376.28mm (14.81 in)139.31mm (5.48 in)
Compact300.82mm (11.84 in)107.3mm (4.22 in)

Try and see if you’ll be able to fit the desired keyboard size on your desk.

Obviously if you’re looking at a specific keyboard, use the dimensions of that keyboard instead.

In-Game Sensitivity

Your in-game sensitivity affects how far your mouse moves, and how big your mousepad should be – which may affect your keyboard placement.

For example if you play games with a low sensitivity, you may hit your keyboard with your mouse while gaming.

In that case, you need to put a few inches of space between the keyboard and mousepad.

You should also think about the size of the mousepad. If you plan on getting a bigger mousepad in the future, you should also take that into consideration.

Comfortable Mouse and Keyboard Placement

So far, we’ve covered the limitations you might have in placing your keyboard. Now, we’ll get into your preferences and style.

Everyone has different keyboard placements. Some pros such as Space places the keyboard at a diagonal angle.

Notice how he has his keyboard turned at a 45 degree angle:

You should also think about what keys you press the most, and where the keyboard needs to be in order to press them comfortably.

So imagine where your fingers will be placed when you’re playing your games, and see if it feels comfortable.

For example if you play FPS games like CSGO, Overwatch or Valorant, you should place the keyboard where you can press W, A, S, D keys comfortably.

What You Use The Keyboard For

Another important aspect is what you use the keyboard for outside of gaming.

Sure, using a compact size keyboard would be good for your gaming setup.

But it would be very inconvenient if you have to crunch a lot of numbers in a spreadsheet.

Or, you may play FPS games as a hobby, and have to type a lot for work.

In that case, you need to make sure that you can press WASD keys comfortably for gaming, and you have enough room to move the keyboard to the middle for typing.

Try to imagine all the scenarios where you would use your keyboard for a prolonged time, and make sure your keyboard can fit wherever it needs to be in.

Let us know if you have any questions or comments below!

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