Best Tenkeyless Mechanical Keyboard in 2021
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Tenkeyless mechanical keyboards or TKL for short are a big hit with gamers and those with little room on their desk due to their compact size and the removal of keys that are simply not needed when playing your favorite titles. The keys that are removed in TKL mechanical keyboards are the right hand side numbers usually used for calculations and more business-like functions rather than for gaming or multimedia use.
Nowadays, there are a whole host of TKL mechanical keyboards around with a wide number of manufacturers making their way into the market so it is a little tough to find the selection for you. So, without further ado, let’s help you out and get into the best TKL mechanical keyboards on the market today.
How We Choose
In trying to pick up the best TKL mechanical keyboards we aimed to provide those that had vibrant RGB lighting as well as fantastic build quality so that whatever option you decide to pick up stands the test of time and will be by your side for years to come. We’ve also tried to cover a range of budgets so that no matter how much you have at your disposal, you should be able to pick up a TKL mechanical keyboard.
Best TKL Mechanical Keyboards
Best TKL Mechanical Keyboard
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL
Razer is certainly known for its fantastic peripherals and keyboards in particular, so it’s no shock that one of their tenkeyless options makes this list of best TKL mechanical keyboards. The model that we hand selected is the Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL which provides everything that the full size variant has but in a more compact form factor.
The Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL utilizes Razer’s linear optical switches rather than the traditional mechanical ones which offer big improvements, especially while gaming. The optical beam-based actuation registers key presses at incredible speed, between 15-30% shorter actuation distance than other linear switches on the market.
Obviously, it comes with the trademark Razer RGB lighting which is vibrant and will fit into any gamer’s dream setup. It also syncs up with not only other Razer hardware and other companies like Philips, it’ll work flawlessly with popular games that support reactive lighting.
For the connectivity, it is wired and not wireless unfortunately which could be annoying for those with wireless setups but if you’re not too bothered about that then this shouldn’t be an issue. Additionally, it does utilize USB-C connection which is far better than micro USB of old with a more robust connector and the new USB tech that will likely be in place for years to come.
Best RGB TKL Mechanical Keyboard
SteelSeries Apex 7 TKL
SteelSeries products feature prominently on HowToGame for example in our best gaming keyboard under $50 review so you already know that you’re going to be receiving quality when it comes to its TKL mechanical keyboards. The model we think is the pick of the bunch here is the Apex 7 TKL.
It utilizes red switches that guarantee 50 million keypresses, perfect for those wanting a tenkeyless mechanical keyboard for the long term that also offers smooth movement without any bump, allowing for lightning fast actuation.
As with all SteelSeries keyboards, the Apex 7 TKL shows off fantastic RGB lighting that’s extremely vivid and customizable to your liking.
The build quality of the keyboard itself is pretty fantastic with its aircraft-grade aluminum body and robust keycaps that should last a lifetime. Moreover, SteelSeries has included a magnetic wrist support which is also of stellar quality and gives you more comfortability on those longer sessions.
The most surprising feature of the Apex 7 TKL is that it has a screen built into the keyboard itself which allows you to quickly access settings on the fly, checking your chat notifications, and info from your favorite music player.
Best Budget TKL Mechanical Keyboard
If you’re on the lookout for a more budget TKL mechanical keyboard, there are a few on the market that live up to the high standards consumers set. One such model is the Redragon K552 which delivers surprisingly good performance considering the low cost.
Looking initially at the switches, the K552 uses Outemu Red switches which are the equivalent to Cherry MX Reds and boast a quiet click sound coupled with a fast action, minimal resistance press leading to exceptional gaming performance. This is surprising considering the low cost but a welcomed one all the same.
For lighting, the K552 does offer RGB elements that shine through every key, adding flair to your setup. There are 19 different lighting effects to choose from as well as multiple brightness and breathing modes. Moreover, you can have user profiles thus allowing you to quickly switch up your custom lighting in an instant.
One area where you might think Redragon would falter is the build quality but, this isn’t the case. This budget TKL mechanical keyboard is made from a highly durable metal-abs construction with plate-mounted mechanical keys and switches that will last thousands upon thousands of presses. Yes, it might not be as high quality as a more expensive variant, but it’s still exceptional due to its budget nature.
Best Value TKL Mechanical Keyboard
Cooler Master MasterKeys Pro S
While you usually associate Cooler Master with internal PC components, they also produce a variety of other products, with one being TKL mechanical keyboards.
The MasterKeys Pro S boasts 100% authentic Cherry MX red switches which are regarded as some of, if not the best switches around. This is a huge plus for this TKL mechanical keyboard and something that other options choose to not include.
The RGB lighting is of great quality and definitely emits enough light to satisfy you gamers out there. Moreover, it can be customized to the Nth degree thanks to software made by Cooler Master themselves. You can either choose to customize it with your own preferences or download templates that you can simply apply with ease.
The build quality is quite impressive being very durable and taking those bumps and knocks that would occur if you were either to take it out and about or if any drops were to occur at home.
The only real flaw in the Cooler Master is that we think it does look a little plain and more of a run of the mill keyboard you’re used to seeing in offices. Yes, it does have that RGB lighting, but if it didn’t or you choose to have it turned off, the aesthetics just aren’t so appealing.
Best Professional TKL Mechanical Keyboard
Logitech G PRO TKL
Logitech are definitely positioning themselves as the brand for those that want to take PC gaming seriously by offering eSports ready peripherals. The G PRO TKL mechanical keyboard slots right into that category also.
For those all-important switches, the G PRO uses custom durable GX Blue Click switches which aim to deliver an audible and tactile click for an accurate and secure key press. This will ensure that when you’re competing in those high-level tournaments, those key presses are going to register every time.
The RGB elements are subtle and classy, not being too garish and distracting you when you need to concentrate the most. But, they still offer enough luminosity for those wanting to add to their current lighting setup.
The G PRO is sadly powered through micro USB which doesn’t have the same durability as the newer USB-C but thankfully, Logitech has made the cable itself more robust and less prone to failure. This, therefore, should put your mind at ease a little, especially if you’re someone who takes your keyboard to all sorts of events.
Things To Consider
Wired vs Wireless
Wired vs wireless keyboards always comes up as a debate when weighing up which to go for as many like the flexibility a wireless option offers. However, with TKL mechanical keyboards, the go-to here is wired due to better overall performance and giving you the edge in the heat of battle on your favorite games. Moreover, there aren’t too many wireless TKL mechanical keyboards out there and those that do offer that oltion come at a premium. Therefore, we’d recommend to sticking to wired unless you really have to choose a wireless variant.
Like most things, if you want the creme de la creme of TKL mechanical keyboards, you’ll have to pay a premium. These options do usually detail the best overall features and the performance that top-end gamers require. However, you can get by on a budget tenkeyless mechanical keyboard, especially if you find the right one. Essentially, it’s up to you how much you want to spend but in our opinion, if you don’t want the absolute best features, you’ll still do well with a more low-cost option.
Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL
Overall, it’s clear to see that when it comes to the best tenkeyless mechanical keyboards, there needs to be a consideration on what purpose you need to use it for. If you’re a gamer and want to compete with the top players in your favorite game, you’re probably going to want a top of the line model. However, if you’re simply wanting a more compact keyboard, a budget TKL mechanical option like the Redragon might be more up your alley.
Concluding though, we think the best TKL mechanical keyboard around when combining all aspects is the Razer Huntsman Tournament Edition TKL. It provides stellar switches and performance as well as top tier build quality and RGB lighting. It’ll fit perfect into whatever setup you have and is certainly compact enough to slot into compact spaces on your desk.