How Many Keys Are on a Gaming Keyboard?


The past few years have been marked by a significant increase in the growth of the global gaming market. In order to get the best gaming experience, gamers need to have a good understanding of their gaming devices. One of the key concepts that should be understood is the keyboard form factor, which basically refers to the physical shape and size of a keyboard and how many keys the keyboard has. 

A full-size keyboard has between 104 and 109 keys. A tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard has about 87 keys, a 65 % keyboard has between 66 and 68 keys, and a 60 % keyboard has about 61 keys.

Based on the keyboard form factor, there are 4 main types of keyboards: A full-size keyboard like this, a Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard, a 60 percent keyboard, and a 65 percent keyboard.

How many keys does a gaming keyboard have? The keys of a full-size gaming keyboard add up to 104 or 109 keys.
A full-size keyboard has between 104 and 109 keys. Image Source: Amazon.

How Many Keys Are on a Full-Size Keyboard?

A full-size keyboard is one that contains all the alphabet and number keys including the function keys, shift keys, space bar, arrow keys, and the number pad which is usually located on the right-hand side of the keyboard. 

Most full-size PC keyboards have ‌104 keys that include 1 escape key, 12 function keys, 61 keys on the main typing keypad, 9 control keys, 4 arrow keys, and 17 keys on the numeric keypad.

Our article about the differences between a gaming keyboard vs. a regular keyboard discusses some of the extra keys that are available on a full-size keyboard.

Though it’s expected that most full-size gaming keyboards have about 104 keys, this number isn’t universal for all full-size keyboards. The number of keys on a full-size keyboard will often depend on the keyboard's functionalities and layout. A full-size keyboard with more functionalities will often have extra keys that allow the user to carry out special actions, thus increasing the number of keys on this type of keyboard. 

The number of keys on a full-size keyboard also depends on the layout of the keyboard. A full-size keyboard like this with the ANSI layout has 104 keys. This post by ANSI.org explains a bit more about an ANSI keyboard layout. 

A full-size keyboard like this with an ISO layout has 105 keys, while one with the ANSI layout has about 109 keys. The full-size keyboard is also known as the 100% keyboard, as it has all the function keys that are available on a keyboard. They are thus ideal for those who prioritize keyboard functionalities and maximum work productivity.

A full-size keyboard is recommended if you want your gaming keyboard to have all the function keys.
The full-size keyboard is ideal for those who prioritize functionalities and maximum work productivity. Image Source: Amazon.

How Many Keys Are on a Tenkeyless (TKL) Keyboard?

A Tenkeyless keyboard is one that doesn’t have the 10-key numeric keypad which is usually found on the right-hand side of a traditional full-size keyboard. Because of the absence of the numeric keypad, Tenkeyless keyboards are considered to be compact and portable. 

A Tenkeyless (TKL) keyboard has about 87 to 88 keys, depending on its model. It’s also called an 80% keyboard because it has about 80% of the total number of keys on a full-size keyboard.

The minimalist look of a Tenkeyless keyboard like this is the main reason they are loved by users who value keyboard functionalities and simplicity. Our article about the 10 best wireless Tenkeyless keyboards lists some of the most popular compact keyboards available. 

A tenkeyless gaming keyboard gets its name from the fact that it doesn’t have the ten keys of a numeric pad.
The Tenkeyless keyboard has a simple and minimalist look, lacking the 10-key numeric keypad. Image Source: Amazon.

How Many Keys Does a 65% Keyboard Have?

The 65% keyboard is one that has roughly 65% of the keys of a full-size keyboard. They’re usually much smaller than the full-size or Tenkeyless keyboard, but have higher functionalities and are slightly bigger than the 60% keyboard. 

The 65% keyboard typically has about 66 to 68 keys spaced across 5 different rows. The first and second rows have 15 keys each. The third and fourth rows have about 14 keys each, while the fifth row has 10 keys.

Unlike a 60% keyboard that doesn’t have arrow keys, a 65% keyboard like this has a dedicated set of arrow keys, as well as a home button, a delete button, a page up, and a page down button. However, a 65% keyboard has neither the function keys nor the numeric keypad.

A 65% keyboard is perfect for those who love a compact and minimalistic keyboard but hate the limited functionalities of the 60% keyboard, and find it hard using the FN and PN keys on the 60% keyboard. The 65% keyboard is perfect for gamers or coders who are highly transient, and whose work demands very minimal use of the numeric keypad and the function keys, but still yearn for more functionalities in a keyboard. 

Our gaming keyboard recommendations explain the functionalities to look for in a keyboard when considering its portability and aesthetics.

A 65% gaming keyboard has a few more keys than a 60% gaming keyboard but that means that it is also slightly bigger.
The 65% keyboard has a compact size, with more functionalities than the 60% keyboard. Image Source: Amazon.

How Many Keys Does a 60% Keyboard Have?

A 60% keyboard is one that doesn’t have a number pad, function keys, navigation keys, and arrow keys. They are usually smaller than the Tenkeyless keyboard, measuring about 11.5 inches by 4.25 inches. 

The 60% keyboard has about 61 keys which occupy 5 rows. The first and second rows have 14 buttons each. The third row has 13 buttons, the fourth row has 12 buttons and the fifth row has 8 buttons.

Most 60% keyboards like this one have an FN key that makes up for the loss of the arrow and function keys. This means that the user can perform the corresponding function of the arrow and function keys by hitting the FN keys. It’s important to note that manufacturers of the 60% keyboards will often provide a means by which users can access the full functionalities of the keys that may appear to be missing on a 60% keyboard.

The advantage of the 60% keyboard is that it gives greater freedom to gamers. Since they are small and compact, they occupy less space, and it’s also very easy to use this keyboard on a small work desk like this. They’re also very easy to pack and set up making them ideal for use by people who live a digital nomadic life. Another advantage of the 60% keyboard has to do with the relief that comes with using this keyboard. The small size of this keyboard reduces the chances of having shoulder or wrist aches which may occur when one continually presses the keyboard for too long.

Although there are less keys on a 60% keyboard it is possible to access all of the usual functions of a regular keyboard.
The 60% keyboard has a very simple and minimalist look, occupying less space. Image Source: Amazon.

Summary of Keyboard Types and Number of Keys  

Type of Keyboard Typical Number of Keys Example from Amazon 
Full-Size Keyboard 104 Black Shark RGB gaming keyboard
Tenkeyless Keyboard 87-88 Razer huntsman Tkl keyboard.
65% Keyboard 66-68 Rk royal kludge Rk68 wireless keyboard
60% Keyboard 61 E-Yooso mechanical gaming keyboard

You may also be interested in learning the differences between wireless and wired keyboards to see which one might work best for you. Check out our related article to find out more.

What Are the Types of Keys on a Keyboard?

The keyboard as an input device can have a strong influence on both the gaming and non-gaming performance of a user. 

The keys on a keyboard can be categorized into 5 distinct groups: the alphanumeric keys, the control keys, the function keys, the navigation keys, and the numeric keypad.

While it is beneficial to have a good understanding of the  design factors of a keyboard, it’s also very important to understand the different keys found on a keyboard, together with their various functions. This knowledge is important as it not only increases the efficiency of the user but also has a positive impact on everyday gaming performance and work operation.

It is important to understand the different keys found on a gaming keyboard, and their functions.
The keys on a keyboard can be categorized into 5 distinct groups: Image Source: Sonvirtech.

The various types of keys on a gaming key keyboard have very specific functions:

Type 1. Alphanumeric Keys

The alphanumeric keys are the most commonly used set of keys on the keyboard. They comprise all the letters and number keys that are used in everyday typing operations, including the symbol keys and the keys used for spacing, capitalization, and punctuation. The alphanumeric keys are arranged in a manner similar to those of the typewriter. 

Prior to modern technological development, the typewriter was the most commonly used device for typing. When computers were just starting to be designed, computer engineers and scientists felt it was necessary to still maintain the same layout and arrangement of keys ‌of the typewriter. This article from Science.net explains how the traditional typewriter was designed for 10-finger use and how that affected the design choices for modern-day computer keyboards. 

Type 2. Function Keys

The function keys are the keys that occupy the first row of the keyboard. They usually range from F1, F2, and F3 all the way to F12, each of which performs specific tasks. Although most traditional keyboards today have just 12 function keys, there are still some rare specialized keyboards like the Stream Deck XL keyboard that has function keys ranging from F1 through F24, and also the Apple desktop keyboard that has 19 function keys. Function keys are known to provide shortcuts for certain tasks. For example, the F3 button can be used to open search windows to find files and folders.

Type 3. Navigation Keys

The navigation keys are the set of keys that are stacked on the right-hand side of the keyboard. As the name implies, the navigation keys are mostly concerned with navigation. The navigation keys are primarily used to move around in documents or web pages and also for editing and writing texts, and controlling the characters in a video game. The navigation keys comprise the following keys: home, insert, page up, page down, delete, and arrow keys.

Type 4. Control Keys

The control keys are keys that are used together with other keys in order to carry out certain actions. The control keys comprise the Control (Ctrl) key, the Alternate (Alt) key, the Windows key, and the Escape (Esc) key. While the control keys are a useful set of keys on the keyboard, it is important to note that they are mostly used in combination with other keys. For example, pressing the Control key together with the letter C (Ctrl + C) is a keyboard action that is used to copy documents or files in the computer. Our article about E-gaming keyboard shortcut tips explains some of these keystroke combinations. 

Type 5. Numeric Keys

The numeric keypad is the collection of keys that are found at the extreme right of the keyboard. The main function of the numeric keypad is to make mathematical computing and operations faster and easier. With the numeric keypad, simple mathematical operations like division, multiplication, addition, and subtraction can be done faster. Before making use of the numeric keys for any mathematical operation, it’s important for you to note that you’ll often need to switch on the numeric keypad by pressing the Num lock key to switch the numeric keypad on or off when necessary.

A separate keypad can substitute the numereric keys that are missing from a 60% gaming keypad.
Numeric keypads can be purchased as additional computer periphery for keyboards that don’t have these keys.  Image Source: Amazon.

What is a Keyboard Layout?

Having extensively discussed the different keyboard design factors and the different keys on a keyboard, there is yet another important keyboard-related concept we need to talk about. This is the keyboard layout. As simple as this concept is, most non-tech savvy people and novices often confuse the keyboard layout with the keyboard form factors. 

The keyboard layout refers to the arrangement of keys on the keyboard, together with how these keys are shaped and sized. Choose from the 3 main types of keyboard layouts which are The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) layout, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) layout, and the Japanese Institute of Standards (JIS) layout.

ANSI, ISO, and JIS are just acronyms for three different world standard organizations that set the standards for products, services, and systems, including the layouts for keyboards as explained in this video tutorial by DonBros. The  layout of an ANSI keyboard like this is commonly used in the United States, the ISO keyboard layout is commonly used in Europe on keyboards like this, that also feature an ANSI layout, and the JIS keyboard layout on a keyboard like this is common in Japan. While it may be easy to pay less attention to the different keyboard layouts available, having a good understanding of the keyboard layouts will help you know what to expect in the different keyboards, which can also have a positive impact on your work performance as we discuss in our e-gaming keyboard layout tips & tricks to choose.

Gaming keyboards have the following layouts: 

Layout 1. The ANSI Keyboard Layout

The ANSI keyboard layout is the most commonly used keyboard layout today, especially in the US. The main advantage of the ANSI keyboard is that it provides the best ergonomic features and the best gaming experience. A full-size ANSI keyboard like this has about 104 keys, differing slightly from the ISO keyboard. The differences between the ANSI and ISO keyboard, which are explained in this post by the Wired Shpper, lie in the placement and shape of the enter key, left key, backslash key, right Alt key, and Alt Graph (AltGr) key. 

Here are the distinguishing features of ANSI keyboards:

Feature 1. Enter Key 

The enter key of the ANSI keyboard is wide and rectangular.

Feature 2. Left Shift Key 

The left and right shift keys of the ANSI keyboard are long and rectangular, and are equal in size.

Feature 3. Backslash Key

The backslash key is directly positioned above the enter key and has the same size as the right Ctrl key.

Feature 4. Right Alt Key

The right and left alt keys on the ANSI keyboard are identical, and are placed on either side of the spacebar.

ANSI and ISO keyboard layouts are different and are used in different geographical regions.
The differences between the ANSI and ISO keyboards are evident from the size and placement of certain keys. Image Source: Vanguard Technology.

Layout 2. The ISO Keyboard Layout

The ISO keyboard is very common in Europe. ISO keyboards are similar to the ANSI keyboards, except that they have an extra key, which is the Alt Graph (AltGr) key. The Alt Graph key allows users to type in special characters like symbols, foreign currencies, and typographic marks that aren’t really common. A full-size ISO keyboard has 105 keys, while the compact, Tenkeyless ones have about 88 keys. 

Here are the distinguishing features of ISO keyboards:

Feature 1. Enter Key 

The enter key of an ISO keyboard is larger and taller than those of the ANSI keyboard, and they look like an upside-down L-shape.

Feature 2. Left Shift Key 

Unlike the shift keys of an ANSI keyboard that are equal in shape, the left shift key of an ISO keyboard is about half the size of the right shift key.

Feature 3. Backslash Key 

The backslash key is placed directly to the left of the enter key.

Feature 4. Right Alt Key 

ISO keyboards do not have a right Alt key. The Alt Graph (Alt Gr) has replaced the right Alt key‌.

Layout 3. The JIS Keyboard Layout

The JIS keyboard layout is a layout that originates from Japan, where it’s most commonly used. A full-size JIS keyboard like this has about 109 keys, which is 5 more keys than the ANSI keyboards and 4 more keys than the ISO keyboard. These extra keys are actually required for Japanese characters. Apart from having more keys than the other keyboard layouts, the JIS keyboards are known to have a smaller space bar. The space bar is small in order to make room for the extra keys.

The JIS layout of a gaming keyboard originates in Japan and is still used mostly by users in Japan.
The JIS keyboard has 109 keys, which necessitate a smaller spacebar. Image Source: Instructables.com.

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