65% keyboards have recently become much more popular, and it’s not hard to see why. These keyboards retain the compact size of 60% keyboards but add the arrow and some nav cluster keys that some people can’t live without. This makes them a perfect middle ground between 60% keyboards and their larger counterparts.
With the market for 65% keyboards becoming more and more crowded, choosing the best 65 percent keyboard can be trickier than expected. But worry not, as we’ve done the legwork and picked out the six best 65% mechanical keyboards for all types of users. Our buying guide towards the end of the article also covers important considerations when buying a new 65% keyboard. But first, let’s get into our picks.
Our Picks for Best 65% Keyboard
|Switch Type(s)||• Cherry MX Black/Blue/Brown/Red/Silent Red/Speed Silver
• Gateron Blue/Brown/Silent Brown/Red/Yellow
• Kailh Box Jade
|Keycap Material||Double-shot PBT|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||12.2 x 4.1 x 1.5 inches|
The Durgod Hades 68 isn’t the flashiest or most exquisite mechanical keyboard on our list. But underneath the relatively dull exterior is a solid, all-around great product that ticks all the right boxes at a reasonable price.
The Hades 68 sports an aluminum frame in black or white (with matching shine-through PBT keycaps) for a solid, hefty feel. You also get pre-lubed stabilizers for a smooth feel on the larger keys, such as Enter and Backspace. The combination of the aluminum frame, PBT keycaps, and lubed stabilizers makes for an excellent out-of-the-box typing experience.
One tiny feature that impressed me about the Hades 68 is that the keycaps are Cherry profile instead of the taller, more angled OEM profile that most manufacturers use. OEM profile is perfectly acceptable, but I (and many enthusiasts) prefer the feel of Cherry profile keycaps overall. It’s a small but decisive point in the Hades 68’s favor.
The Hades 68 isn’t a hot-swap keyboard, but Durgod has made up for this by offering a significant number of switch options for the Hades 68. You have the standard Red, Blue, and Brown options from both Cherry and Gateron. But you also get less common switch options, such as Cherry’s Speed Silver and Silent Red, Gateron’s Silent Brown, and Kailh’s gloriously clicky Box Jades.
The Durgod Hades 68 is also fully programmable via the company’s Hera Compiler. Hera lets you change everything you’d want to, from the key layout to function layers and RGB lighting. Macro support is also present, as expected.
That said, it’s not perfect. Your choice of aftermarket keycaps will be limited by the size of the modifier keys to the spacebar’s right. If you look at the photo above, you’ll see that the Fn1, Fn2, and Control keys are all the same size as the alphanumeric keys. Not all aftermarket caps will have the right keys for those positions, so you’ll have to do a bit of research to ensure you get a compatible set.
This isn’t a problem unique to the Hades 68, though. Expect to face similar issues with some of the other keyboards on our list and most 65% mechanical keyboards in general. We discuss this further in our buying guide, so skip ahead if you’re curious.
Overall, the Durgod Hades 68 is one of the best all-around 65% keyboards you can easily buy. It’s a solidly built mechanical keyboard with better-than-average stock keycaps and a wide range of switch options. There are better boards if you’re specifically after typing, gaming, or hot-swap, but the Hades 68 is hard to beat as an overall package.
If you’re OK with giving up the aluminum case and programming features, Ducky’s One 2 SF is an excellent alternative that can be had for slightly cheaper depending on the switch.
|Switch Type(s)||• Cherry MX Blue/Brown
• Halo True/Clear
• Kaihua Box White/Speed Silver
• MX-style hot-swap
|Keycap Material||Double-shot PBT|
|Lighting||Per-key RGB and underlighting|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||12.7 x 1.6 x 4.4 inches|
In the market for a high-end, premium hot-swap 65% keyboard without going down the whole custom mechanical keyboard route? Drop’s ALT High Profile is very likely the keyboard for you. It’s a high-end board with a high-end price that has almost all the bells and whistles you could wish for from a mass-produced keyboard.
The Drop ALT High Profile’s premium feel has a lot to do with its tall, CNC milled all-aluminum case, which also contributes to the ALT’s hefty 2.7-pound weight. It’s a weighty, solid keyboard that’s a cut above the plastic offerings you usually get.
It’s worth noting that the aluminum case has a fixed six-degree angle, which may not be to everyone’s tastes. It’ll take some getting used to if you’re used to flatter boards with little or no case angle.
Drop has paired the aluminum case with per-key RGB lighting and RGB underglow. The former is quite common, but the latter isn’t as popular as you’d expect. You can run both types of lighting together or turn them off independently, which is a nice touch. Personally, I’m not a fan of per-key RGB lighting, but I do like some RGB underglow now and then.
The ALT is fully programmable using the QMK firmware, making it effortless to set up with Drop’s online configurator tool. From setting up your function layers, swapping keys around, to setting up the RGB lighting, the online tool makes it a breeze to set up your keyboard just right.
The Drop ALT High Profile is available with a few switch options. You have the standard Cherry MX Blue and MX Brown, but you also can choose from Halo True, Halo Clear, Kaihua Box White, or Kaihua Speed Silver switches. If you already have switches and keycaps, the Drop ALT High Profile is also available as a barebones (PCB and case) kit that will save you some money.
You also get a couple of color options: black and space gray. Overall, the Drop ALT High-Profile is a brilliant choice if you want a high-end, hot-swap keyboard that’s close to the feeling of a custom keyboard without the long lead times and expense. It’s not quite as special, but it’s closer than some might want to admit.
Want a lighter case? Check out Drop’s standard ALT instead. The floating key layout doesn’t exude the same custom keyboard feel, but it’s still a solid keyboard.
|Switch Type(s)||Razer Green/Yellow|
|Keycap Material||Double-shot ABS|
|Lighting||Per-key RGB (Razer Chroma)|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||12.5 x 5.1 x 1.6 inches|
Razer’s BlackWidow V3 Mini HyperSpeed (now that’s a mouthful) is one of the more interesting gaming-focused 65% keyboards on the market. The short-travel Razer Yellow switch and low-latency wireless connection, in particular, make it a standout choice if you want a gaming-focused keyboard.
The BlackWidow V3 Mini comes with either Green or Yellow switches. The former is Razer’s take on the clicky MX Blue archetype, albeit with a slightly higher actuation point and lower actuation force. But the Razer Yellow is what you’ll want if you’re a gamer.
The Yellows sport a 45-gram actuation force, 1.2 mm actuation point, and 3.5 mm of travel, making them perfect for rapid inputs. The included sound dampeners will also cut down on keyboard noise if you game with an open mic.
The BlackWidow V3 Mini connects wirelessly via Razer’s HyperSpeed dongle. It operates on the 2.4 GHz band, which results in latency on par with traditional wired connections. Testing shows that the BlackWidow V3 Mini offers even slightly better latency over 2.4 GHz (0.8 ms vs. 1.2 ms). Will you feel it in daily use? Probably not, but it’s interesting regardless.
The legends on the double-shot ABS keycaps aren’t particularly attractive, but they’re not the worst you’ll find. Replacing them is always an option, although the short right shift and single-unit modifier keys on the bottom row may limit your choices.
Razer also offers the BlackWidow V3 Mini with its “Phantom” keycaps, which have half-transparent sides. If you’re an RGB fanatic and want to really show off your RGB lighting scheme, these are the caps to go for.
The BlackWidow V3 Mini’s biggest negative is the price; at around $200, it’s not for everyone. But the aluminum build, long (“up to 200 hour”) battery life, and ultra-responsive switches will go some way to help take the sting out of spending that much on a gaming keyboard.
That said, if you’re not sold on RGB or the need for ultra-responsive switches and a low-latency wireless keyboard, then almost any board on our list will work for gaming.
|Switch Type(s)||45g Topre|
|Keycap Material||Dye-sublimated PBT|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||12.8 x 4.3 x 1.3 inches|
Leopold’s FC660C has been around for a while. For my money, though, it’s still one of the best typing experiences you can get in the 65 percent form factor. Unlike the other keyboards on our list (and pretty much every 65% mechanical keyboard on the market), the FC660C uses Topre capacitive switches instead of Cherry MX-style mechanical switches.
Topre switches use rubber domes, but these switches are crisp and precise, unlike the rubber domes you get in flimsy $10 keyboards. On top of that, they feature a solid tactile bump that offers satisfying feedback when typing. Think of them like a Cherry MX Brown, just significantly better.
Leopold spared little expense in designing the keyboard. Beyond the Topre switches, the FC660C comes standard with thick, dye-sublimated PBT keycaps that are some of the best stock keycaps you can get on a keyboard. The case is still plastic, admittedly, but metal cases weren’t really a thing when it came out in 2013.
The Leopold FC660C also shows its age by not being programmable. Again, not a problem in 2013, but a disadvantage now that most high-end (and mid-range) boards are programmable. You can swap some modifier keys around with the included DIP switches, but that’s still a far cry from full programmability.
Your customization options are also limited when it comes to keycaps. Since Topre switches don’t use MX-style mounts, you won’t be able to use any of the hundreds of custom MX keysets available on your FC660C. Instead, you’ll have to look for Topre-specific keycap sets, which are relatively rare.
On the upside, Topre keycap sets are almost always high-quality PBT, so you will at least get your money’s worth when you do find a replacement set.
The lack of programming and keycap issues arguably make the Leopold FC660C’s $200-plus price a bit hard to stomach. But Topre switches offer unrivaled tactility and typing feedback, going some way to justifying the price. The FC660C’s definitely not a keyboard for the curious hobbyist, but heavy-duty typists looking for a new daily driver 65% keyboard should definitely start here first.
The Leopold FC660C is available in black (linked above), white, and blue & grey. Leopold also makes a Cherry MX version, the FC660M. You get the same excellent build quality and high-quality keycaps, just with conventional Cherry MX mechanical switches and a significantly lower price.
5. Keychron K6
|Switch Type(s)||• Gateron Blue/Brown/Red
• LK Blue/Brown/Red
• MX Hot-swap
|Keycap Material||Double-shot ABS|
|Lighting||White or RGB|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||13.3 x 4.1 x 1.4 inches (plastic frame) / 12.5 x 4.2 x 1.4
|Weight||1.17 pounds (plastic frame) / 1.5 pounds
Keychron’s K6 was a Kickstarter success, raking in more than half a million USD in funding. And it’s not hard to see why: it’s a wireless 65% mechanical keyboard that manages to squeeze in a reasonable amount of features without breaking the bank. If you’re on a bit of a tight budget but don’t want to sacrifice too many features, the K6 is definitely worth a look.
Some of the K6’s standout features include its Bluetooth support (with up to three simultaneous connections), 4000 mAh battery, and native support for Mac and Windows. You also get 18 backlight patterns and a choice of Gateron mechanical or LK optical switches. MX-style hot-swap sockets are also available for ease of customization.
Keychron claims a 240-hour runtime without the backlight, courtesy of the 4000 mAh battery mentioned earlier. This is significantly longer than competing wireless 65% mechanical keyboards and is a big point in the K6’s favor.
The affordable price does come with one particular downside, though. Unlike some of its contemporaries, the K6 doesn’t feature any programmability whatsoever. The default layout is usable and shouldn’t pose any problems to most users. However, anyone who likes swapping their Control and Caps Lock keys around (for example) will be out of luck here.
The Keychron K6 is available with either a plastic or aluminum frame. The plastic frame version is available with either white or RGB backlighting, while the aluminum frame only has RGB lighting. The availability of the different versions can be a bit spotty, however. You will likely have to put in a bit of effort to find the exact combination of material, lighting, and switch that you want.
We think it’s worth it, though. Overall, we believe the Keychron K6 is one of the best 65% mechanical keyboards for under $100. It has a well-rounded feature set, decent build quality, and arguably punches above its weight. It’s not perfect, but it gets the essential aspects right.
|Switch Type(s)|| • Cherry MX Blue/Brown/Red
• Gateron Blue/Brown/Red
• Kailh Blue
• Outemu Blue/Brown
|Keycap Material||Double-shot ABS|
|Lighting||No (Outemu switches), white (Cherry MX and Gateron)|
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||13.3 x 4 x 1.6 inches|
Looking for a decent 65% mechanical keyboard but need to spend less than $50? In that case, the Qisan Magicforce with Outemu Brown or Blue switches is definitely worth a look.
Despite coming in at less than $50, the Qisan Magicforce still manages to sport an aluminum top plate and some welcome features. While programming is expectedly absent, you do at least get some DIP switches that let you swap Control and Caps Lock and disable the Windows key. The latter is arguably a must-have feature for games, and it’s a shame that not all keyboards come with the option as standard.
Don’t expect RGB lighting with the Magicforce, either. The Cherry MX, Kailh, and Gateron versions only have single-color white LEDs, while the budget Outemu version lacks backlighting entirely. Is it a negative? Sure. But is it a sacrifice worth making to get surprisingly solid build quality and a sleek brushed aluminum plate? Arguably, yes.
Another aspect where the Magicforce suffers is in the keycap department. The double-shot ABS keycaps are thin, and I think the font is hideous. It’s excusable on the $40 Outemu board but less acceptable on the $60-and-above Cherry, Kailh, and Gateron mechanical keyboards. Thankfully, the Magicforce uses standard keycap sizes, making it easy to find a replacement set.
All in all, the Qisan Magicforce with Outemu switches is a solid budget 65% keyboard that’ll do the trick. It’s far from the best mechanical keyboard out there, of course. But it’s usable, looks reasonably good (keycap font aside), and will still leave you with change from a $50 bill.
We don’t recommend the other versions, though. Once you go past the $50 barrier, better options are available. These include the Keychron K6 and Royal Kludge RK68.
Before You Buy
As always, there are a few factors you should consider before you commit to a new 65% keyboard. We’ve discussed programming and keycap material in our list of the best 60% keyboards, so check that out if you need more info on both of those.
Layout and Keycap Sizes
There’s generally less variation in 65% keyboard layouts than in 60% keyboards. All 65% mechanical keyboards will have arrow keys and between two to four nav cluster keys. We suspect most users will be getting a 65% for the arrow keys and not for any combination of Insert, Delete, Page Up, or Page Down.
However, if you do need any of those keys, make sure the keyboard you’ve got your eyes on is either programmable or has the keys you need. Functionally, these extra nav cluster keys are the only ones you have to be wary about.
However, there are a few more essential keys to pay attention to for aesthetics. These are the Right Shift and right modifier keys (Alt, Control, and Menu/Fn/Windows, depending on the keyboard). Let’s look at a couple of examples that cover both aspects of 65% keyboard layouts.
First up, let’s look at the Leopold FC660C. Its nav cluster (in red) only has the Insert and Delete keys. This is arguably quite limited, but they’re arguably the most helpful nav cluster keys for typists, the primary target market for the FC660C.
As far as the Right Shift (yellow) and right-side modifier keys (light blue) are concerned, the FC660C (and, by extension, the Cherry MX FC660M) use standard-sized keys here. A 2.25-unit Shift and 1.25-unit Alt, Control, and Menu keys will be available in almost any aftermarket keycap set. This makes finding a replacement set much easier.
Keycap Size Terminology
Not sure what we mean by “2.25-unit” or “1.25-unit”? Worry not; it’s actually quite simple.
The basic keycap size is the one used for the alphanumeric keys. These are single-unit (or 1-unit, often shortened to “1u”) keycaps. Every other measurement derives from this. So a 1.25u keycap is one and a quarter keycaps wide, 2.25u keycaps are two and a quarter, and so on.
In contrast, let’s look at a Durgod Hades 68-style 65% layout next. First up, you’ll notice the different nav cluster keys on the Hades 68’s default layout. Gone is the Insert key on the FC660C, with Home in its place. There’s also an extra couple of keys for Page Up and Page Down.
There’s no right or wrong here; we’re only pointing it out to highlight the differences and remind you to make sure the keys are the ones you need.
Instead, focus on the 1.75-unit Right Shift and 1-unit right-side modifier keys. These aren’t standard sizes, and you can have issues finding an aftermarket keycap set with the correct replacement keys. It’s not impossible, but you may have less choice than with more conventional keycap sizes.
For example, this user had to use their extra arrow keys for the right-side modifier keys on their Hades 68. You can make sets work if you have spare arrow keys, but it arguably doesn’t look as neat as it would with actual 1-unit Alt, Fn, and Control keys.
65% vs. 60%: Which Is Right for You?
There isn’t a massive difference between 60% and 65% keyboards in terms of size. 60% keyboards are slightly narrower by around one to two inches, so they’re preferable if you’re absolutely hurting for desk space.
However, if you can accommodate the extra inch or two of width, choosing between a 60% and 65% keyboard depends on how much you need the arrow keys. I personally don’t miss dedicated arrow keys when using a 60%, as I’m used to having arrow keys on a function layer. But that doesn’t apply to everyone, and I know many people who prefer having dedicated arrow keys for convenience.
Do note that while you have dedicated arrow keys on a 65% keyboard, you’re still going to need to use the function (Fn) key to access F1 to F12 and extra nav cluster keys. So if you don’t like the idea of having to do that, 65% keyboards still aren’t for you. Look for a 75% or TKL keyboard instead.
Unclear about mechanical keyboard sizes and what we mean by “75%” or “TKL”? Check out our guide to keyboard sizes for a quick introduction to some of the terminology.
65% keyboards are the hot new thing in mechanical keyboards, which makes choosing the best 65 percent keyboard harder than it used to be. But with extra choice comes the chance to get the right keyboard for you, whether you’re a dedicated typist or an FPS gamer looking for the most responsive switches you can get.
If you only have time to look at one keyboard, the Durgod Hades 68 is definitely the one you should check out. It gets almost everything right and has a wide range of switch options. It might be bested in some areas by mechanical keyboards like the Leopold FC660C and Drop ALT High Profile, but it’s a sensible middle-ground choice that should work for most users.
But every keyboard on our list has its place, and you’ll likely lean towards one or the other depending on your needs and budget. Happy hunting!