Personal computers have been around since the 1970s and early models came with bulky, full-sized keyboards. As technology improved, manufacturers were able to produce smaller, slimmer models while still retaining full functionality. One of the most popular compact keyboard sizes today is the 65% keyboard. But how many keys does it have compared to a traditional full-size or 100% keyboard? Let’s take a look.

What is a 100% Keyboard?

A 100% keyboard refers to the traditional, full-sized keyboard that contains all the standard typing keys found on a desktop computer. The term “100%” simply means it has 100% of the keys of a normal keyboard with no omissions.

The standard 100% keyboard has 104 keys in total (if you don’t count extras like media keys). These include:

  • Alphanumeric keys – 26 letters A-Z, numbers 0-9, and symbols like @ and #
  • Function keys – 12 keys labeled F1 to F12
  • Navigation keys – arrows, home, end, pg up, pg dn
  • Editing keys – insert, delete, etc.
  • Num pad – 17 keys in a separate numeric keypad area
  • Special keys – caps lock, print screen, scroll lock, etc.

So in summary, a true full-size 100% keyboard has 104 standard keys. Models with extras like macro, media, or shortcut keys may have more.

What is a 65% Keyboard?

A 65% keyboard is a compact, space-saving keyboard that trims down the size by eliminating parts of a full-sized keyboard. The term “65%” indicates it retains about 65% of the keys of a 100% keyboard.

These keyboards were originally designed for office workers with limited desk space or gamers who wanted more room for mouse movement. They have grown in popularity due to the minimalist, sleek aesthetics as well.

On a 65% keyboard you typically get:

  • Alphanumeric keys
  • Modified function keys and arrows
  • Common editing keys like backspace and shift

Keys that are normally eliminated include:

  • The entire num pad
  • Navigation cluster like home, end, pg up/dn
  • Most function keys
  • Right shift, print screen, scroll lock, pause/break

However, all these keys are still accessible via a Function (Fn) key modifier which enables a dual-purpose functionality on the remaining keys when pressed. For example, holding Fn + W might give you the Home function.

By retaining only the most essential keys and utilizing modifiers, a typical 65% keyboard can have around 68 keys. This is over a 30% reduction from a standard 104-key keyboard.

Comparing 100% vs 65% Keyboards

To summarize the difference in keys between these two types of keyboards:

  • Full-size 100% keyboard: Approximately 104 standard keys
  • 65% keyboard: Approximately 68 keys

Therefore, a 65% keyboard eliminates about 35% of the keys of a full-size model. However, it retains the most commonly used letter, number, modifier, and function keys.

The main keys you lose on a 65% keyboard include the numb pad, navigation cluster, some function keys, and other lesser used keys like pause/break. But dual-purpose Fn modifiers allow you to still access all these functions when needed.

Pros and Cons of 65% Keyboards

The minimalist 65% keyboard layout isn’t for everyone. Here are some pros and cons compared to full-size models:


  • More portable and space saving for small desks
  • Open up room for mouse movement -Trendy, clean, minimalist aesthetics
  • Fn modifiers allow access to all needed functions


  • Learning curve to memorize dual-purpose keys
  • Not ideal for data entry jobs needing a num pad
  • Lose dedicated keys for some functions
  • Too compact for some users’ preferences

Many gamers and programmers in particular have adopted 65% (and even smaller 60% models) for the portability and extra mousing space. But those who rely on a numb pad for data entry or need every function key close at hand may want to stick with a 100% keyboard.


It comes down to personal preferences and usage needs when deciding between these two sizes. The choice between full-size and compact 65% keyboards is subjective, with no universally superior option. But for those wanting a sleeker, more minimalist and portable option, the 65% keyboard is an excellent choice while still retaining core functionality.


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