If you want to build a competitive gaming setup, you surely need to use a good mechanical gaming keyboard. Obviously, the capable gaming computer is the most important part of the setup. However, if you cannot take advantage of the technology you have access to, the investment is useless. This is why the peripherals you choose make a difference.
Most gamers are now already used to the full-size keyboard layout. This has been the gaming industry standard for a very long time. However, TKL keyboards are enjoying growing popularity. More and more professionals and streamers use them.
Should you get one?
This all depends on your personal preferences but there are some clear advantages of using TKL keyboards you should be aware of. This is what we will talk about in the following paragraphs.
What Is A TKL Keyboard?
First off, let’s see what these keyboards are.
TKL stands for “tenkeyless”. Just as the name implies, the big difference between a TKL keyboard and a regular keyboard is that the TKL keyboard has fewer keys. It is more common among gamers and many professionals prefer it, together with several content creators. It is not common among other users.
The removal of the excess Numpad keys is preferred by a growing number of users because those extra keys are not needed for competing and gaming. As a result, some manufacturers, like Razer, refer to TKL keyboards as Tournament Edition or TE keyboards. There are also some smaller keyboards with fewer keys, like 60% keyboards. However, these are not suitable for gaming.
TKL Keyboards – Advantages
Some advantages of using the best TKL keyboards (which are presented on WhatIfGaming) are obvious but others are not. Here’s why you might want to consider them.
Increased Desk Space
Numerous professional gamers prefer smaller keyboards. TKL keyboards instantly stand out due to their size. Because they are smaller, gamers have more mouse and desk space available.
Obviously, the extra desk space you get is highly beneficial when you have a smaller desk. But it can also be a great solution when you simply want more room. For some games, this can be quite useful, as is the case with CSGO and Fortnite since you need more precise movement and accuracy.
Note: The TKL keyboard is the smallest one you can get that still has keys of all types. This is because the numbers on the Numpad are present in the number row, just like all the others that are removed.
More Comfortable Gaming Setup
If you simultaneously use your keyboard and mouse during a game, it can be uncomfortable when the keyboard is large. This is because of how your hands are positioned. With a TKL keyboard, your hands are closer together.
For many, this is not an important factor that would dictate the purchase of a TKL keyboard but for gamers it is. A gaming session tends to be very long. A wide hand placement eventually leads to discomfort. Professional gamers scrim a lot. Streamers play numerous hours per day. They would get tired faster if they wouldn’t use a comfortable gaming setup.
Great Typing Experience
Since TKL keyboards are designed for gaming, they feature mechanical keys. The popular belief is that these are not comfortable for office use or general typing but this is incorrect. Have you ever noticed the professional gamers type? They are very fast because mechanical keys have a fast response time. You can easily increase typing speed and keep up with the fast pace action in modern competitive esports games.
With membrane keys, you need to press them all the way down. With mechanical switches, the actuation point is at the halfway of the press. An early actuation allows you to type faster. You basically spend only half the time pushing. At the same time, there is a tangible and audible queue for when you should release after pressing. It might not seem like much but when typing thousands of words daily, milliseconds saved can add up.
Note: The force needed does depend on the switches used for the TKL keyboard. If typing speed is equally important as gaming for you, this is a factor to take into account.
Both TKL and 60% keyboards are easier to transport because of them being lightweight. The smaller size makes it very easy to pack the peripheral. You might want to participate in gaming tournaments or be on a work trip. In both situations, the TKL option is better.
Every single professional gamer knows how important it is to use gaming accessories that you are completely comfortable with. Bringing your own keyboard to an event is a huge advantage and TKL is simply easier to carry with you. The really large gaming keyboards are bulky and heavy. TKLs are small and light.
The best keyboard brands in the gaming industry manufacture full-size keyboards with alternative TKL versions. These use fewer components. As a result, the price tag is lower when compared with full-sized counterparts. However, when you compare a TKL keyboard with a regular keyboard, you will notice a higher price. This leads many to think that TKL is more expensive.
TKL keyboards are preferred by gamers, which makes them a niche product. Most buyers are gaming enthusiasts, which is relevant because the keyboards usually use mechanical switches. Mechanical keyboards are more expansive to make than other options, like rubber-dome or membrane keyboards. This is why TKL keyboards are more expensive than regular keyboards even if they are smaller.
One of the very common features you notice when you compare TKL keyboards is the use of detachable cables. This is another big advantage that relates to travelling since the cable can be packed separately. It is also a lot easier to replace broken keyboard cables. The default one can even be replaced with a custom one, which is important for some users because of aesthetic reasons.
The shorter structure of TKL keyboards leads to increased durability. For most people, this is not a concerning factor. However, it is a big advantage in several cases. Simply put, such a keyboard tends to last longer than other keyboard types. And they can withstand more pressure when involved in exciting gameplay scenarios that make you press your keys harder.
Note: This does not mean that TKL keyboards can withstand being thrown against a tree or punched through because of TILT or stress-related situations, although they stand a better chance than the regular keyboards of the past.
As you can see, the TKL keyboard does have very interesting advantages that you should take into account if you are a gamer. They allow you to have a faster and better gaming setup while increasing your in-game performance. At the same time, if the noise of the mechanical keys is not a problem, the keyboard is even suitable for office use.
Should you buy a TKL keyboard?
At the end of the day, this is a subjective choice. The truth is that for most people, TKL keyboards are not necessary and cheaper options or keyboards designed for other uses might be better. However, for the serious gamer, there is no replacement for mechanical key switches. As a result, TKL keyboards should be at least considered.
Will you get a gaming advantage when using TKL keyboards? Not really. But you can play games for a longer time and get better at what you play.
Overall, TKL keyboards are more durable, much easier to transport, are cheaper than the larger versions of the same models, and offer a more comfortable gaming setup for serious gamers and content creators.