Full Size Keyboards vs Compact Keyboards

In the realm of typing, gaming, and general computer usage, the choice between a full size keyboard and a compact keyboard can be surprisingly significant. With the increasing popularity of minimalistic desk setups and portable workstations, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each style. If you’re considering a new keyboard, you may be weighing the benefits of the spaciousness and functionality of full size keyboards against the portability and space-saving design of compact keyboards. This article will guide you through the differences, helping you make an informed decision tailored to your needs.

What Are Full Size Keyboards?

Full size keyboards, also known as full form factor keyboards, are the traditional style most people are familiar with. They typically have between 104 and 108 keys, including function keys, a number pad, arrow keys, and navigation keys. They are the go-to for those who value having dedicated keys for every function and often feature additional keys that can be programmed for specific actions.

Benefits of Full Size Keyboards

Comprehensive Layout

The full size layout includes a separate number pad, which is essential for professions that require frequent number entry, like accounting or data analysis. It also provides a full suite of function keys and often dedicated media controls, which can improve productivity.

Programmable Keys

Many full size keyboards come with programmable keys that can be customized for different functions or macros. This is particularly useful for gamers or professionals who use complex software and can benefit from having specific commands at their fingertips.

Comfort and Ergonomics

A full size keyboard typically offers a more spread-out key layout, which can be more comfortable for long typing sessions. The additional space can help reduce hand strain and provide a more ergonomic typing experience.

Who Should Choose a Full Size Keyboard?

Full size keyboards are ideal for users who:

  • Regularly work with numbers and require a dedicated number pad.
  • Prefer having all possible keys and functions readily available.
  • Have ample desk space and do not need to frequently move their keyboard.
  • Work long hours typing and require an ergonomic setup.

What Are Compact Keyboards?

Compact keyboards, also known as tenkeyless (TKL) or 60% keyboards, remove the number pad and sometimes other sections like the function row or navigation keys. This results in a smaller footprint, which can be beneficial in various situations.

Benefits of Compact Keyboards

Space-Saving Design

The most immediate benefit of a compact keyboard is the space it saves on your desk. This can be crucial for users with limited desk space or those who prefer a minimalist setup.


Compact keyboards are easier to transport due to their smaller size and lighter weight. They are an excellent choice for people who work from different locations or attend LAN parties and want to bring their own equipment.

Aesthetic Appeal

Many users find the sleek and minimalistic look of compact keyboards to be aesthetically pleasing. They can contribute to a clean and modern desk setup, which is a trend in workspace design.

Enhanced Mouse Movement

With the extra desk space provided by a compact keyboard, users have more room to move their mouse, which can be particularly beneficial for gamers or designers who require a wide range of motion.

Who Should Choose a Compact Keyboard?

Compact keyboards are suitable for users who:

  • Have limited desk space or prefer a minimalist desk setup.
  • Frequently travel or work from different locations.
  • Do not rely heavily on a number pad or can adapt to using a top-row number layout.
  • Appreciate a modern and sleek aesthetic in their workspace.

Comparing Key Features

When comparing full size and compact keyboards, it’s important to consider specific features that may impact your decision.

Functionality and Accessibility

Full size keyboards offer more dedicated keys, which can be crucial for certain tasks. Compact keyboards require users to rely on function layers for some keys, which can slow down workflow if you’re not accustomed to it.

Typing Experience

Both keyboard types can be found with various switch types, including mechanical, membrane, or scissor switches. The typing experience is more about the quality and type of switches rather than the size of the keyboard.


While full size keyboards often offer more programmable keys, many compact keyboards also provide customization options. The difference lies in the number of keys available to program.


The cost of a keyboard can significantly fluctuate depending on its features and construction quality. Generally, full size keyboards might be slightly more expensive due to their larger size and additional keys, but compact keyboards can also reach high prices, especially if they offer advanced features or are made from premium materials.

Considerations for Gaming

Gaming is a particular use case where the choice between full size and compact keyboards can make a significant difference.

Full Size Mechanical Keyboards

Full size mechanical keyboards are a favorite among gamers for their durability and the satisfying tactile feedback they provide. Programmable keys and dedicated macro keys can give gamers an edge in complex games that require quick command sequences.

Compact Keyboards for Gaming

Compact keyboards are becoming more popular in the gaming community due to the extra desk space they provide for mouse movement. They also tend to encourage a more comfortable hand position, which can reduce fatigue during long gaming sessions.

Conclusion: Which Is Right for You?

Choosing the right keyboardChoosing between a full size and compact keyboard comes down to personal preference and specific needs. If you require a full range of keys and don’t mind a larger footprint, a full size keyboard is likely the right choice for you. On the other hand, if desk space, portability, and a clean aesthetic are your priorities, a compact keyboard might be the perfect fit.

Consider how you plan to use your keyboard, the amount of space you have, and whether portability is a factor in your decision-making process. By weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each type, you can select a keyboard that enhances your productivity, comfort, and enjoyment in your daily computer use.

For more information, visit Apzo Media


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