Overview of 65% keyboards
65% keyboards are like 60% keyboards that have arrow keys. For people who are used to using tenkeyless keyboards, then maybe making the switch to a 65% might be for you. These keyboards typically have between 66-68 keys in general.
Some reasons to switch to a smaller keyboard includes mobility, space, and aesthetics.
The form factor of a 65% is compact and aesthetic. If you need to use your keyboard between work and home, then this might be the keyboard for you. It fits easily in a small bag and weighs very little.
If your desk is small like mine, then using a smaller keyboard will create space for all the other clutter. Or if you’re super neat, then it’ll look clean.
It has all the important keys. It has an extra row on the right side with the Del, PgUp, PgDn keys as well as the arrow keys in the correct position.
One downside of using a 65% keyboard is that they might have non-standard keys, so swapping keycaps might be difficult. Definitely do some research beforehand if you plan on buying a 65% keyboard and switching out the keycaps.
Now let’s jump into some of the best 65% keyboards of 2020.
We’re going to be looking at 5 different 65% ready-made or build your own 65% mechanical keyboards.
- Ducky One 2 SF
- MagicForce 68
- Akko 3068
- Tada 68
- Massdrop ALT
Ducky One 2 SF
The SF part here stands for sixty-five percent. The Ducky One 2 SF is currently selling for $109 on Mechanicalkeyboards.com.
It comes in two colorways with RGB LED lighting: black and or white.
Both colorways come with double shot PBT plastic keycaps, which are sturdy and longer lasting.
The switch options are: Cherry MX black, brown, red, blue, silver, silent red.
It has an ABS plastic case. The black version looks black from a top view but has a white bezel and white bottom. It features USB-C connectivity on the left side with rubber feet on the bottom with two kickstands with 2 different angle adjustments.
Like many other 65% keyboards, this keyboard has a non-standard bottom row, so switching out keycaps will take more effort.
Ducky also sends you some extra colorful keycap sets to add some style. Both colors are pretty.
Overall, this keyboard performs very well. Ducky is a well-recognized brand within the keyboard community, and there are no complaints.
The MagicForce(Qisan) 68 keyboard is a wired 65%. This is an all-white keyboard with black legends.
It is currently $40 on Amazon with Oetemu brown switches (MX-style equivalent switches). This keyboard has 68 keys. It has a 4-star rating with 277 total ratings.
It has a floating style design which lets you see the switches as you type. Very aesthetic from the side. It also has 2 kickstands, one on each side, and rubber feet on the bottom.
It has a plastic case with an aluminum plate and finish. The connection is Mini USB (which is uncommon with mechanical keyboards nowadays). This cable is removable, so you can also use a custom USB cable.
This keyboard has standard keycaps, including a standard bottom row. You can replace all the keycaps with your own set without trouble like the other keyboards we’ve looked at. They have Cherry style stabilizers as well.
It has LED lights underneath that are exposed by its floating design. It has a blue and orange lighting effect. On the aluminum plate, the brand, Magicforce, is engraved into it on the right side above the arrow keys. Unlike other 65% mechanical keyboards, this one has a bit emptier space in its layout.
I am personally not a fan of the legend’s font. The keycaps are ABS plastic with double-shot injection. Over time, they’ll probably get grimy due to the white keycaps and plastic type. The legends of the 2nd layer is printed in dark grey, which will fade and wear over time. These keycaps are smooth and may not be for people are like textured keycaps such as myself.
For the $40 price tag, this is not a bad keyboard at all. It’s got a lot of features.
It has 3 DIP switches on the back. They’ll let you switch specific layouts on your keyboard and you need to reset your keyboard to get it to switch after you toggle them.
- 1: swaps CapsLk with Left Ctrl key
- 2: swap Windows key with FN key
- 3: lock Windows key
The Akko 3068 is also another popular 65% keyboard. This is a 65% keyboard that comes with blue switches on Amazon. It has different colors and keycap designs and range in price depending on what you get from $99 to $110. On other websites, it’s possible to find different versions of this keyboard.
This one on Amazon has Cherry MX blue switches, which are clicky. It has 68 keys and a USB-C connection. From other stores, it is possible to get other Cherry MX switches, such as reds or browns.
It has a plastic case with some natural angle. It has rubber feet on the bottom with no flip-up feet.
This keyboard can be used wirelessly or wired with Bluetooth technology that can connect with up to 3 devices. It has PBT plastic keycaps in a Cherry profile with dye-sublimated legends.
It has the exact layout as Tada68 and the legends are durable and classically simple.
In wireless mode, it is advertised as lasting 120 hours. They keyboard has no backlighting or RGB, so this might be why it lasts so long. Overall, beautiful and affordable keyboard. Very similar to the Tada68, except it has wireless capabilities. The Tada68 keycaps has deeper legends.
If you’re interested in doing a custom kit, the next keyboard might be better for you.
The Tada68 mechanical keyboard is a 65% layout keyboard that comes to you fully assembled or you can pick different parts to build it yourself. It is completely programmable using TMK firmware.
The fully assembled keyboard has keycaps are made of high-quality PBT plastic with dye-sublimated keycaps with black legends. It has a plastic case and an aluminum plate under that may be prone to scratching.
You can buy this keyboard from KBDfans for $99 to $119, depending on which switches you pick.
The switch options are: Gateron blacks, reds, browns and blues. Picking any of these switches will be $99. The Gateron switches are high-quality and are imitation MX-style switches. They perform well but are not as revered as the genuine Cherry MX switches.
The other switch options are Cherry MX blacks, blues, browns, reds or Gateron silent reds, Gateron silent blacks, and Gateron silent browns. Picking any of these $119.
These keyboards do not have RGB lighting or see-through keycaps, but they are clean and simple. Many users on Reddit show off their Tada68 keyboards with special keycaps.
If you choose to go to the keyboard kit route, you can pick between plastic case in black ($89) or aluminum cases of different colors (that would make the price up to $149.
To fully complete, the keyboard you’ll need to buy your own switches and LEDS if you want RGB lighting. Make sure to read our guide with essential equipment to build your own custom mechanical keyboard for a comprehensive checklist of you what you need before you start.
One downside to this keyboard among different users is that the firmware can be a hassle to configure. It also has a non-standardized bottom row, meaning it’ll be difficult to change all the keycaps if that’s what you want, but we figured that was the case already since it’s a 65% keyboard.
Drop (formerly Massdrop) ALT Mechanical Keyboard
This keyboard has 358 ratings on Drop and has 4.5 stars. Overall, it’s well known ad people love it.
It has 67 keys and is compact.
Out of all the keyboards here, it sits at the highest price point at $180. The switch options are: Halo Clears, Halo Trues, Kaihua box whites, Kaihua speed silvers, and Cherry MX Blues ($20 extra).
It also has optional custom keycap kits for additional cost as well:
- GMK Red Samurai $80 extra
- MT3/dev/tty $70 extra
- XDA Canvas $65 extra
I have a Drop CTRL, so I might be a little biased on this one. This keyboard is beautiful. It has an aluminum plate and body. It’s sturdy and has a hefty feel.
It has hot-swappable sockets. You can pull switches out and plop new ones in easily with just a switch puller. No soldering required.
With QMK firmware, it is fully programmable. It has a USB-C connector on either side at the top, letting you pick the direction for your desktop setup. At the bottom are two magnetized rubber feet that you can move or turn around however you like.
There are pre-programmed lighting effects that can be customized using the firmware. To switch between effects, just press Fn + D. It also has an RGB strip surrounding the bezel of the keyboard that you can optionally turn off/on.
The keycaps are PBT double-shot plastic. The keycaps have a textured feel to them.
You can pick from different versions: the floating key design or the high-profile design, which costs $230.
Although it is the most expensive, it does have nice features that you can benefit from.
We talked about 5 different 65% keyboards today: Akko 3068, Tada68, MagicForce 68, Ducky One 2 SF, and the Drop ALT. That’s a LOT of information.
If it were up to me, and I might have different preferences than you, I would go with the Tada68 keyboard kit with brown switches with an aluminum plate. I love the font of the legends. I don’t mind that there isn’t LED. It’s simple and classic. The aluminum plate costs a bit more but would increase its lifespan and for transportability as well.
My runner-up option would be the Drop ALT. It’s probably super biased because I have a Drop CTRL and always find myself wishing it wouldn’t have the entire right side. But I can’t use a 60% because I find myself always reaching over to use the arrow keys. The Drop ALT would be absolutely perfect. I currently have Halo Clears and would probably go for them again. Possibly add in some custom keycaps… it’s a trap! The wallet is already crying because I’m looking and thinking about 65% keyboards.
Anyways, hope this helps you in your decision-making in trying to find an awesome 65% keyboard if that’s what you’re looking for. There are a ton of benefits to having one!
Tada68 Mechanical Keyboard KBDFans
TADA68 Mechanical Keyboard Review Build & Review Youtube.com