Finding the Best 96% Keyboards [2024 Reviews]

  • Keycaps 101
  • Posted by: amy-golden
  • Oct 23, 2022

A compact keyboard is often hit-or-miss, but a compact 1800 keyboard (96%) takes that to an even new level. If you are familiar with some of the highs and lows of 1800-Compact mechanical keyboards, that would be definitely fantastic.

If you haven't already, it's vital that you carefully weigh the advantages and downsides of these best 96% keyboards, as they are NOT suitable for everyone.  And keep reading to the end, we will share with you some considerations before getting a 96 mechanical keyboard for your work corner.

What is an 1800-Compact Mechanical Keyboard?

1800-compact mechanical keyboard
1800-compact mechanical keyboard | youtube

A compact 1800 keyboard (also known as a compact full-sized keyboard) is an uncommon layout that squeezes as many keys as they can into a small space. They are almost identical to full-sized keyboards, with the exception that they cram the home cluster and the number pad together to save space.

The 1800-Compact keyboard is more efficient and more compact than the full-size keyboard, with a size decrease of roughly 4%. By switching to this design, you typically save about an inch of space without having to remove any keys, so it barely affects how you type.

Given the way the keys are organized, the 1800-Compact has one of the most effective keyboard layouts. Regrettably, not many people use keyboards of this size.

Remember that while some 1800-Compact keyboard layouts do away with some of the home cluster keys, others do not. Make sure all the keys you want are available when purchasing one of these as not all of the layouts are identical.

So, take a look at the difference between a full-size and a 96 mechanical keyboard in the table below!

Keyboard Size Numbers of Keys Number Pad Home Cluster F Keys Arrow Keys Number Keys (Top Row) Full Alphabet
Full-Sized (100%) 104
1800-Compact Full-sized 99-104 X(Some might)

8 Best 1800-Compact Size Mechanical Keyboards

Have you got everything you need to know about 96% keyboard? Then, it’s time to go through reviews of the best 96% keyboards below!

Drop Shift 1800 Layout (99 Key) - Best 96% Hot Swappable Wired Keyboards

Drop shift 1800 layout
drop shift 1800 layout | luxstore

Drop Shift 1800 Layout (99 keys) is one of the best 96% keyboards from Drop. This mechanical keyboard is also an 1800 hot swap keyboard with an aluminum build quality.

Drop Shift 1800 comes with 99 keys covered by sturdy, thick, and high-quality PBT double-shot keycaps. PBT keycaps from Drop are renowned for their exceptional durability.

You wonder what premium PBT keycaps look like? Look no further than these amazing PBT keycap sets.

However, Drop Shift 1800 is fairly pricey. This RGB 96 keyboard has an extremely bright RGB and can switch between various RGB display modes in order to justify its costly pricing.

Pros Cons
  • Hot-swappable switches
  • Excellent RGB
  • Quite expensive

If you are still wondering about the quality and layout of Drop Shift 1800, the video below will help you have a better view of this product:

Cherry G80-1800 - The most popular 96% Keyboard

Cherry g80-1800
cherry g80-1800 | reddit

The Cherry G80-1800 is a straightforward 1800-size compact keyboard that includes your choice of Cherry MX switches as standard equipment. This would make a great keyboard for use in the office or in any other setting where professionals congregate.

You can quickly locate the arrow keys while typing because they are slightly spaced apart from the number pad and the alphabet keys.

Overall, this is a great keyboard for the money and is suitable for someone who prioritizes keyboard feel above everything else.

If you prefer a fancier keyboard with RGB illumination, this one might not be the greatest option. That style, however, is not for everyone.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable
  • Simple design
  • No RGB included

Flesports FL980 - Best 96% Keyboard with a unique old-school look

Flesports fl980
flesports fl980 | luxstore

The Flesports FL980 can be considered one of the best 96% keyboards with a striking Old School aesthetic. The 98 keys on this keyboard have premium PBT double shot keycaps.

If you want to swap out the switch at any time without bothering to solder, the Flesports FL980 with hot-swappable switches is a fantastic choice. This keyboard features a Box Brown Switch Edition x1 that is quiet and provides decent feedback.

The Flesports FL980 keyboard has fantastic RGB lighting that is ideal for use in dimly lit areas. This keyboard is only compatible with USB type C cables for connectivity. Nevertheless, it does not have any supporting software.

Pros Cons
  • High-quality PBT keycaps
  • Hot swappable switches
  • No supporting software

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Keychron K4 - Best 96% Keyboards with Gateron Switches

Keychron k4
keychron k4 | keychron

The Keychron K4 is among the best 96% keyboards available now. Since the body of this keyboard is built entirely of aluminum, it is incredibly rigid and durable.

K4 comes with the Gateron Red, Brown, and Blue switch option. With the Keychron K4, you can type with ease and have easy access to all the keys.

In terms of connectivity, K4 has the widest range of connectivity choices, including Bluetooth and USB Type C, allowing you to connect to a wide range of devices running different operating systems.

Also, Keychron includes a stunning RGB that you can alter with function keys.

After all, K4 will be your best bet if you want an 1800-Compact mechanical keyboard with the widest range of connectivity possibilities.

Pros Cons
  • Fully functionality
  • Sturdy build
  • No supporting software

Do you want to check the sound of K4 keyboards? Let's watch this video together!

Leopold FC980c - Best 96% Keyboards with PBT Keycap Dye-Sublimated

Leopold FC980c

For those who prefer to type swiftly, smoothly, and accurately, the Leopold FC980C is among the best 96% keyboards that you should consider.

The Leopold FC980C and Leopold FC980m belong to the same generation; however, there are a few minor design variances in the switch and keycaps. Despite being entirely comprised of premium plastic, the Leopold FC980C keyboard features a solid design and a very great build quality.

Besides, Leopold FC980C has 98 keys with PBT keycaps, which are of exceptional quality and durability. An electrostatic capacitive switch, which is dependable for quick and accurate typing, is also included.

Pros Cons
  • Great build quality
  • Excellent typing experience
  • So pricey

iQunix F96 - Best 96% Wireless Keyboards

Iqunix f96
iqunix f96 | xiaomi

iQunix F96 features a highly strong and sturdy build quality thanks to the body's use of thick aluminum.

96 keys on the iQunix F96 are covered by premium double-shot keycaps. Plus, a variety of Cherry MX switches are available for this keyboard.

If you don't know how Cherry MX switches differ from each other, this post might be what exactly you want.

What’s more? iQunix F96 includes an extremely complex RGB backlight that you may program using the software that iQunix provides.

iQunix F96 is one of the best 96% keyboards with great aesthetic value. Despite selling for a very pricey $229.00, the iQunix F96 keyboard is absolutely excellent.

Pros Cons
  • Great RGB backlighting
  • Cherry MX switches
  • So expensive

EPOMAKER GK96S - Best 96% Keyboards with RGB Backlit

Epomaker gk96s
epomaker gk96s | minimaldesksetups

Epomaker GK96S seeks to increase productivity while leaving a small environmental footprint. Born to free up space, its compact 96% layout will do the best work.

About its build, GK96S is built with a plastic case that shows high sturdiness and little to no flex.

North-facing LEDs are featured on the GK96S PCB, which also has 5-pin mechanical switches for complete hot-swapping. For switches, GK96S goes with Gaterons;  but you can also easily swap them out for Cherry MXs or replicas without having to solder anything.

Cherry MX and Gateron are often compared with each other and each brand has its own pros and cons. If you find it hard to choose between them, this post might be what you need.

In terms of connectivity, GK96S offers both wireless and cableways.

All in all, GK96S is among the best compact keyboards at an affordable price.

Pros Cons
  • Great build quality
  • Hot-swappable switches
  • Poor LED brightness
  • Unintuitive software

Don’t care about the low cost, see how great it is in the following video:

Akko 98-Key 1800-Compact - Best 96% Keyboards with PBT Doubleshot Keycaps

Akko 98-key 1800-compact
akko 98-key 1800-compact | youtube

A mechanical keyboard with a classic design, the Akko 3098DS is offered in a variety of eye-catching color combinations. Despite being made completely of plastic, the casing feels rather hard and weighty in your hands.

Besides, the keyboard comes with two second-generation Gateron switch options: Pinks and Oranges.

We found the Akko 3098 to be excellent for its pricing in terms of typing performance. The keycaps feel slightly rough, the stabilizers ratchet slightly, and the keyboard doesn't sound hollow. The middle of these PBT keycaps with an ASA Profile is slightly bent.

Despite the lack of LEDs, it does have some empty spaces for forging ahead on your own.

Overall, the Akko 3098DS is perfect for anyone searching for a new spin on the best 96% keyboards.

Pros Cons
  • Attractive tri-tone keycaps
  • Quiet stabilizers
  • No Leds
  • No software

Should you choose the 1800-Compact keyboard?

1800 compact keyboard
1800-compact keyboard | knowtechie

If you are not a fan of 96% keyboards, don’t worry, we have other choices for you to explore right here:

What to look for when buying an 1800-compact mechanical keyboard?

You probably can't buy all 8 best 96% keyboards above. That’s why we’ve listed some factors to consider before getting one.


You should think about this since it will affect how long your new keyboard will last. We strongly recommend you choose a mechanical keyboard with an aluminum body because it is incredibly robust and long-lasting. Or if you want a plastic keyboard, don’t go further than Keychron or Leopold.

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Keycap Materials

Double Shot ABS keycaps or Double Shot PBT are highly recommended as the double shot method's keycaps are made with higher standards, being thicker, stronger, and lasting longer.

Switch Choice

We strongly recommend using a tactile switch that will deliver superior feedback while making less noise. You have the option of Cherry MX, Gateron, or Kailh which often offer quality switches with great commitment. However, Cherry MX Original continues to be the best in our opinion.

Hot Swappable or No

It's a treat to have a mechanical hot-swap 1800 keyboard. Switch replacement is possible without soldering the switch to your PCB. Well, everything will become simpler with this feature, right?

Connectivity Options

Another decision that comes down to personal preference is connectivity. If you play video games, you should stick with a connected keyboard because Bluetooth choices may cause some lag between the time you press a key and when the game responds. If you loathe cables and aren't a gamer, Bluetooth is the best way to go.

Are 1800-Compact keyboards good for gaming?

For gaming, the best 96% keyboards are undoubtedly highly reliable. Moreover, the 1800-Compact, which is slightly larger than the TKL keyboard, is also ideal for gaming.

Are 1800-Compact keyboards good for programming?

For programming purposes, 1800-Compact Mechanical keyboards come definitely worth a look. They are perfect and appropriate for coding and programming in addition to the Full Size and TKL sizes since nearly all necessary keys are still given with Numpad and numerous other types of function keys.


Undeniably, 96 mechanical keyboard is one of the best solutions for anyone who is looking for a compact keyboard with full functionality.

They might not be suitable for everyone, particularly those with long fingers or big hands, but they are still among the best trustworthy keyboards on the market right now.

Hopefully, our list made it easier for you to find out the best 96% keyboards that you dream of.


What is the best 1800-Compact (96%) Bluetooth keyboard?

Keychron K4, EPOMAKER GK96S, iQunix F96. All of these keyboards feature stable Bluetooth which allows you to use them for a long time without any connection errors.

What is the best 1800-compact keyboard for gaming?

Drop Shift 1800 Layout (99 Key), Leopold FC980c, Akko 98-Key 1800-Compact, Flesports FL980. All of them offer users a seamless gaming experience without worrying about functional lacking.


I work as a freelance blogger in Seattle, Washington. I've been freelancing full-time for 5 years. I'm interested in anime, resin art, and mechanical keyboards.