"SFF" Keyboards

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by iFreilicht, Jun 5, 2016.


What's the smallest you'd go with a keyboard?

  1. 100%

    10 vote(s)
  2. 80%

    12 vote(s)
  3. 75%

    20 vote(s)
  4. 60%

    64 vote(s)
  5. 40%

    10 vote(s)
  6. Electrodes implanted into brain, effectively 0%

    11 vote(s)
  7. Something else

    4 vote(s)
  1. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter

    I just found and pulled the trigger on two Sentraq S60-X 60% boards (Massdrop link, need account to view), mainly because you can fully reprogram them with TMK and because it allows using an ISO-style return-key. Found it just in time as well, the drop is ending in 10 hours or so.


    Initially I was thinking about a Poker 3, but the way the programming works feel too restrictive to me, and with TMK I can actually rewrite the whole firmware, so no hurdles no matter what functionality I desire. 60% ISO-style keyboards are really hard to come by, too, this was the perfect board for me.
    All the other DIY-options I was looking at were way too pricey, and as I wanted to get into small mechanical keyboards for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity.

    What do you think? Are small keyboards the logical extension of SFF PCs? Or are they too much of a compromise to be worth it? How far would you go? TKL? 75%? 60%? Or even something crazy like 40%?


    Personally, I think something like the CM Storm QuickFire TK should work for everyone pretty much everyone:


    And the lowest I can see myself working with effectively is 60%. Everything below would just take too much learning time to be worth it.
    Josh | NFC likes this.
  2. |||

    ||| King of Cable Management

    I like my 75% Noppoo Choc Mini-2M a lot:


    I also have a CMStorm Novatouch with Stealth keycaps, but I prefer the Cherry MX Red switches to the Topre switches. I also like the 75% layout better than the 80% TKL...I use the Home, Page Up, Page Down, and End keys a lot and they are perfectly placed on the Choc Mini. 60% would be too small for me as I regularly use F-keys and having the use the function to get that functionality would be a pain. The only thing on the Choc Mini I would change would be to flip the Win and Function keys.
  3. Phuncz

    Phuncz Lord of the Boards
    Moderator Gold Supporter SFF Purist

    I have a full ISO layout keyboard, it was hard enough to find a mechanical keyboard with Belgian AZERTY layout (French AZERTY is different), along with backlighting. I love a full ISO layout keyboard because of the F1-12 keys, Ins, Del, Home, End, PgUp, PgDn, along with the arrows. I'm not a developer or writer, but I just like the added functionality. The numeric keys are much less important for me though, I could miss those.

    I do like how much emphasis there is on keyboards these days, the options we have now are insane compared to 5 years ago and as one of the two main input devices humanity has on a PC, this was well overdue.

  4. EdZ

    EdZ Virtual Realist
    Gold Supporter

    I actually had a Quickfire TK, but couldn't stand the mutual exclusivity of the numpad and the arrows. I find I use both far too often to have to switch between them.
    The smallest layout I can bear using is the Cherry G80's 'squished' layout:
  5. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter

    Yeah I was looking at 75% keyboards for hours, but ultimately, none were a perfect fit. As many, I'm heavily relying on arrow keys and home/end/pgup/pgdown keys for navigation and often marking text for cutting/copying, and my laptop keyboard has bound the latter to Fn+the former, which is something I really want to emulate and no 75% or 80% board seemed to offer.

    What I did find was the very interesting WhiteFox keyboard, which keeps the dedicated arrow and navigation keys but removes the function row. And it's even available as an ISO layout!


    I see your point about the Function keys, especially when you're often using them in combination with Alt, Shift or Control. Fortunately, with the capabilities of TKM, I can set up Caps Lock as an Fn Lock key, so that's not as much of a problem for me.

    And I fully agree, Fn needs to be on the left hand. It just makes so much more sense, right? :D

    Pretty much the pain I had with finding an ISO keyboard, just one order of magnitude worse.
    And again, TKM will solve all your problems. Get keycaps for your layout, program layout into board, done. My problem with this large layout is that it takes too long to reach those keys, especially the navigation keys. Having multiple layers on less keys can be much faster.

    The amount of different products in the keyboard market is indeed quite stunning.

    I've read that you could just push "shift" to activate the arrow keys when in Num lock, which would've alleviated that issue for me.

    The problem with the G80s layout is that the navigation keys are so far away I'd never use them. I do like the air gap between the three groups of keys, though, that is a well thought-out detail.
  6. jtd871

    jtd871 SFF Guru

    I use a Perixx https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0053O9ZNQ compact membrane keyboard. Since I don't play twitch games, I don't mind too much that it sometimes fails to register keypresses (flexing the board a bit restores the functionality). I'll check out some of the other postings here for future reference.
  7. IntoxicatedPuma

    IntoxicatedPuma Customizer of Titles
    Site Staff Moderator Silver Supporter

    I use the Aorus K3 Thunder at work, I miss having the 10 key alot and wish I'd gotten the version with it, but the size is nice and the feedback is great for typing.

    I have the Logitech K380 at home so I can bounce between my home workstation and test bench. It's a great portable keyboard but I wish I could get something like the K3 to do the same thing. Maybe they make a USB switch somewhere?
  8. PlayfulPhoenix

    PlayfulPhoenix Just another human
    Site Staff Chimera Industries SFFLAB

    Surely I can't be the first to recall Apple's (stupidly named) Magic Keyboard?


    Can't get much smaller than that without really starting to ruin the typability...
    onlyabloke, iFreilicht and Phuncz like this.
  9. |||

    ||| King of Cable Management

    Here is another view of the Noppoo Choc Mini (this one is a non-LED backlit version) from a different angle:


    You can see it has the same placement for the arrow keys as the WhiteFox, but with the extra row of function keys on top, that makes space for the Home and End keys on the right. Also, it has a slightly shorter space bar, making space for the function button (unfortunately) between the space bar and arrows.
  10. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter

    The layout of that is quite decent for such a budget option.

    You can always get a separate TKP, but that defeats the point of the exercise a bit.

    This one seems quite nice, it even allows switching by pressing the "Scroll Lock" key twice on the keyboard. Unfortunately it only has a single downstream port, so you have to use a hub or a keyboard with an internal one. Lindy also has one for four PCs but that doesn't allow switching from the keyboard.

    Except that the function key is where the control key should be :( Other than that it's fine for most users, I guess, and the layout is pretty decent.

    One of the layouts of the WhiteFox actually alleviates that by splitting the backspace key, so you can have backspace and delete in that space and all four navigation keys to the right. (Not pictured that way here, but it's reprogrammable) I would agree that the 75% layout of the Choc Mini is very nice and usable without much of a learning curve, though, so if you only want to go very small without compromising a lot, that's certainly the way to go.

  11. lhl

    lhl SFF Lingo Aficionado

    I currently carry around a Pure Pro, which is one of the few mechanical 60%s w/ actual arrow keys, but I'm very intrigued by the new Ducky Air 65%s. The big deal w/ them is that they have swappable a Bluetooth module:



    I'm also still looking forward to my Keyboardio Model 01s. They're running a bit late, the their updates make up for it. They're consistently the best I've seen for any KS project and a must read for anyone interested in hardware/manufacturing.
    iFreilicht likes this.
  12. GuilleAcoustic

    GuilleAcoustic Chief Procrastination Officer
    Moderator LOSIAS

    Using an Apple M0110, which is 60%. The custom firmware and programmable layer makes it very comfy to use. This is a great combo with my CH Product Trackball PRO and saves a lot of desktop realestate.


    I'd love to try a 40% keyboard, something like the Plank me think or even a chording keyboard.
    Josh | NFC and j├śrd like this.
  13. Ceros_X

    Ceros_X King of Cable Management

    Broxin likes this.
  14. Phuncz

    Phuncz Lord of the Boards
    Moderator Gold Supporter SFF Purist

    Another reason why I prefer a full ISO layout is that I work daily with a few other keyboards at work (dozens of different models total), most of which are full ISO. If I become accustomed to the smaller ones, I'm fearing it will only make me have more difficulty with all of them. That's why I stopped using a trackball too (that and FPS games).
  15. GuilleAcoustic

    GuilleAcoustic Chief Procrastination Officer
    Moderator LOSIAS

    I have a full ANSI keyboard at work (US Intl), 60% ANSI keyboard at home (US Intl), tenkeyless ISO (french) and full ISO (french). Doesn't really change a thing. I make heavy use of keyboard shortcuts though and do not use the mouse much. For FPS, this is perfectly playable with a trackball but requires a lot of time.
  16. Soul_Est

    Soul_Est SFF Guru
    Silver Supporter

    I'm currently thinking of getting a KBParadise V60 once I can afford it.
    XeaLouS likes this.
  17. BirdofPrey

    BirdofPrey Standards Guru
    Silver Supporter

    I'm somewhat old hat, while my first real computer was a Windows 95 machine, I spent enough time in DOS with dubious mouse support, I use the keyboard extensively, both with keyboard shortcuts and with the cursor keys, and I find a Command line interface fast, easy and powerful compare to the GUI (and you CAN'T convince me to pronounce it goowey). It messes me up enough already when I get a keyboard where the Insert key has been moved to make the Delete key double sized, so I don't like the smaller keyboards at all that take all of those keys away.

    Maybe I could survive not having the numpad since I don't do numerical entry all that often, but I am also stubborn and like those keys when I do have to use Excell. About the smallest keyboard I would consider using would remove the nav cluster, but keep the numpad (and use those cursor keys with numlock off), though I would be OK with having the F keys be Fn+{number key}

    Once thing I would say though is that capslock is the dumbest key ever invented, and needs to die in a fire.
  18. iFreilicht

    iFreilicht FlexATX Authority
    Thread Starter

    I'm fortunate enough to work on the same machine at work all the time, that's why I bought two boards :D I think if you're staying at something like 75%, it won't really make a whole lot of difference. At 60%, a lot of stuff changes, so especially when you're using arrow keys a lot, that takes some learning.

    If you want to see how well you can do, just think about how you're using your laptop. Those things don't ever have a full layout and you can still work relatively decently with those, right?

    Constantly switching between ANSI and ISO is a totally different story, though ;)
  19. Phuncz

    Phuncz Lord of the Boards
    Moderator Gold Supporter SFF Purist

    If I needed to work on a laptop daily, I'd probably bring another keyboard along. I very much dislike the uncomfortable typing position on everything but the thinnest devices and even then I'd like a little bit of key travel. I also don't like the screen being at the bottom near me, it's just an ergonomic nightmare.
  20. PlayfulPhoenix

    PlayfulPhoenix Just another human
    Site Staff Chimera Industries SFFLAB

    I quite like the keyboard on my rMBP. And although the MacBook's keyboard is hard for me to use (I might get used to it, but it's very shallow), the Magic Keyboard is actually pretty good even though it has the same keyswitches.

    All I really need is just enough resistance, and I'm good to go. If anything I prefer thinner keyboards because I can type faster and with less effort when compared to thicker ones... just, you know, up to a point.