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There’s no doubt tenkeyless mechanical keyboards are awesome. They’re perfect for those who are looking for a great typing keyboard, and for those looking for a great compact gaming mechanical keyboard.

When it comes to looking for a great tenkeyless mechanical keyboard your main focus should be on the build quality as most of them have more or less the same features. It’s better to invest in a solid keyboard that will last a long time rather than one that looks flashy but provides a terrible typing experience.

We recently wrote a post on the best mechanical keyboards and we featured a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard, so they are definitely worth looking at.

Benefits of Compact Tenkeyless Keyboards

Tenkeyless vs Full Size keyboard

The great thing about these compact mechanical keyboards is that you will have much more desk space which allows for comfortable right-handed mousing. This feature makes tenkeyless keyboards better from an ergonomic standpoint, as you can more naturally align your shoulder with your mouse since it’s closer to the center of your body.

Drawbacks of Compact Tenkeyless Keyboards

Of course, the major drawback of a compact mechanical keyboard is that you will have no numpad. This definitely might be a problem if you are looking to use it for gaming as some games require the numpad for certain tasks. This means that Tenkeyless mechanical keyboards would be better suited towards typists or for work.

Another drawback is that if you work with numbers a lot, you’re going to definitely miss having a numpad. Also, entering non-standard characters (º, ¿, Ü, etc.) is more difficult.

Top Picks for Best Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard

CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Tenkeyless

Overall Rating:

The CM Storm QuickFire Rapid Tenkeyless mechanical keyboard provides a great mix of features in a compact and sleek design. The keyboard combines comfortable typing and good gaming performance in a small, light form factor.

If you are looking for a keyboard that has mechanical switches in a tight, well-built keyboard, the CMStorm QuickFire Rapid is a perfect choice.

The QuickFire Rapid is available in a variety of Cherry MX switches, which is great because the type of mechanical switch is a personal choice. I prefer the Cherry MX Blue switches. The MX Blue is a tactile, clicky switch. When pressed it provides feedback to your fingers due by the way the key seems to snap down. It also provides feedback to your ears through a “click” noise which occurs at the point where a key press is registered.

The CM Storm connects via USB and features a detachable cable so that it is easier portability and storage.

It is worth noting that the keyboard is pretty basic in terms of functions as it provides no macro keys or backlighting (backlighting is available on the Rapid-i model). This may be a positive for those who prefer a sleek and simple design.

Interested in backlighting? Read more about the Rapid-i here

In terms of keycaps, the keyboard comes with a keycap removal tool which assists in keyboard cleaning, but more importantly Cooler Master has gone to the extra trouble of including four unique red key caps with arrows on them. These will provide an extra gaming touch when you replace the default WASD key caps.

Overall the keyboard is simple and has a robust build quality. There is no learning curve. You can plug in the keyboard and game or type with it immediately.

PROS:

  • Affordable
  • Excellent key feel for typing
  • Available in Cherry MX switches
  • Good build quality

CONS:

  • No macro keys
  • No backlight color options

FILCO Majestouch 2 Ninja Tenkeyless

Overall Rating:

FILCO keyboards are some of the best keyboards you can buy. They come with loads of customization options and their build quality is absolutely excellent. FILCO keyboards are aimed at the high end of the market.

The most noticeable feature of this tenkeyless mechanical keyboard is the style of letter printing – front printing. This feature gives a look of “almost” a blank keycap keyboard. I must say I really like it, I thought it would be difficult to type with as I sometimes have to look down at the keyboard but that was not the case at all.

This unique printing is also great because over time the font on normal keycaps tend to fade with excessive use, which is not the case with this keyboard.

The front face printing can be a challenge for some, and may take a while to get used to.

The FILCO Majestouch Ninja is available in 3 varieties of Cherry MX switches, Blue, Brown and Black. The keyboard also features a true N-key rollover and comes with a USB to PS/2 adapter.

The FILCO Majestouch Ninja has some customization options beyond the type of switches, it comes with a keycap removal tool so if you don't fancy the front face printing you can choose new keycaps to your liking. In the box it comes with extra windows keycaps so you can either have the original embossed windows keys or front face printing versions.

The keyboard has four rubber pads to secure it on the desk and prevent it from moving around. Coupled with the fairly weighty mass (around 2.2lbs), this means the keyboard won’t move unless you want it to.

In terms of performance, the FILCO Majestouch Ninja is a very solid feeling keyboard. The feel offered by the keyboard compared to a normal rubber dome type is far superior. There is no ghosting or blocking due to the n-key rollover, though these problems are seldom experienced in today’s cheapest keyboards.

Side printed key caps not only look the part, but also offer a clear advantage in longevity of the finish, and are the perfect balance for those who want stealthy looks but not at the cost of a complete loss of information associated with blank key caps. The only downside is that there are no macro keys, so it may not be the best gaming keyboard but is definitely one of the best keyboards for typing.

PROS:

  • The build, feel and performance are of extremely high quality
  • Excellent key feel for typing
  • Available in Cherry MX switches
  • Full n-key rollover

CONS:

  • No macro keys
  • No backlight color options
  • One of the more expensive mechanical boards

Cooler Master Novatouch TKL

Overall Rating:

The NovaTouch TKL sells itself as the “ultimate typing experience.” Now, this isn’t exactly a pure mechanical keyboard, and by that I mean instead of relying on mechanical switches, the NovaTouch makes use of hybrid capacitive switches (also popularly used by Topre). Now what this results in as Cooler Master says is, a faster, quieter mechanical keyboard designed to be easier on the fingers.

I have to agree, the NovaTouch TKL is definitely one of the quieter mechanical keyboards I have come across. I’m not really a big fan of quiet mechanical keyboards as I do love the clicky sound I get when I type.

While this tenkeyless mechanical keyboard does feel more responsive than some tested, I miss the tactile bump you find in most traditional mechanical boards. So what that means is you don't exactly feel when the key actuates but instead feels like you are bottoming out the key.

The keyboard also has the ability to tweak the repeat rate of the keys, up to eight times their normal speed. Perhaps the best news for fans of customizing their keyboards is that the NovaTouch stems are Cherry MX-compatible, meaning you shouldn't have any trouble finding replacements for those keys.

The keyboard is relatively simple, no backlighting and no macro keys. The build quality is also good, it feels solid. This really is a more plug in and go type of keyboard, suited towards typing. I could definitely see myself using one for work.

This keyboard has a very unique key feel that makes it palpably different from both Topre's own keyboards and cheaper Cherry MX-based solutions. You might hate it and think it's not worth the money, or you might fall in love and decide you can't live with anything else.

PROS:

  • The build, feel and performance are of good quality
  • Excellent key feel for typing
  • Ultra Smooth switches
  • Full n-key rollover

CONS:

  • No macro keys
  • No backlight color options
  • A bit expensive

Corsair Vengeance K65 RGB

Overall Rating:

The Corsair K65 is the most full featured “gaming” tenkeyless mechanical keyboard on our list. The Corsair K70 is pretty much the smaller version of the K70 in that they both share the same features. It’s got the same incredible construction, the same key feel- the only difference is that it’s as if someone took a machete to the right side of the keyboard and hacked off the number pad and media controls.

Read more about the K70 Review here

The keyboard is now smaller (14 inches vs 17 inches) and lighter (1.90lbs vs 2.73lbs) and thus that much more portable. This is definitely for a gamer on the go or anyone that has a small desk.

The compact size does mean that the media controls that are on the K70 are not on the K65 which is a bit disappointing, but it still has volume and mute buttons on the top.

The keyboard features an aircraft grade black anodized brushed aluminum backplate which makes this keyboard absolutely beautiful as well as structurally sound.

The keyboard also features Cherry MX Red switches which is great for gaming. It's also got 100% anti-ghosting with full key rollover just like the K70, and the detachable wrist rest is just as springy and comfortable. It's more of a keyboard for a gamer than for a writer, since the deep grooves in the keys are meant to hold your fingers in the midst of frantic gameplay.

The backlighting is probably one of the biggest features on this keyboard, there are loads of customization options available. The K65 RGB can have each key assigned its own unique backlighting color and intensity for virtually unlimited customization. The backlighting is controlled by the software provided by Corsair, and features 4 modes, Static lighting, Color Cycling, Waves and Ripples as well as Reactive typing. If you don't like what's been created you can easily create your own using Corsair's Utility Engine software.

Using Corsairs Utility Engine software you are also able to set up any key to trigger a macro. Which is something you don't often find on compact mechanical keyboards.

Overall it's a robust built keyboard that can stand up to the gaming abuse. Corsair Gaming's first line of products is near-flawless, all of them getting strong recommendations from us.

PROS:

  • The build, feel and performance are of good quality
  • Excellent key feel for gaming
  • Available in Cherry MX Red switches
  • Full n-key rollover

CONS:

  • Only available in Cherry MX Red switches
  • Expensive

Conclusion

Choosing a keyboard can be a personal decision, but hopefully you now have an idea of what to look for when choosing a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard. If you are looking for the best, the FILCO Majestouch Ninja is the way to go.

If you are relatively new to the world of mechanical keyboards, then the other options may be a better choice for you. If budget is a concern, you can't beat the CM Storm QuickFire Rapid

About The Author

Eric Matius

Passionate about tech, passionate about gaming. What more can I say?

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