If you’re in search of an 1800 layout mechanical keyboard then you’ve come to the right place.
Re-designed to be as space-efficient as possible, the 1800 layout is a compact solution for those seeking a full-size keyboard with a Numpad.
Generally, most contain around 100 keys and condense the home key cluster above the number pad for a similar form factor to that of a TKL.
In this post, we will cover the best 1800 (and 96%) keyboards on the market right now.
What is the best 1800 layout/ 96% keyboard?
8. Cherry G80-1800
The Cherry G80-1800 is a classic mechanical keyboard that is still in production today. Originally designed for industrial and commercial applications, it has a space-efficient, full-size layout. This sees the arrows squeeze in along the bottom row and the home key cluster above the Numpad.
To achieve this unique layout, the G80 has a 1u zero key on the Numpad. Apart from this, the keys follow standard sizes that you would find on a traditional ANSI keyboard. Noticeably, the function keys are also tightly packed together to accommodate the LED indicators between F12 and Insert.
In terms of the build, the G80 is not cheaply made but it isn’t the greatest in terms of quality. For starters, the plastic case simply clips together without any screws. Moreover, unlike modern boards that use a metal top plate, the G80 foregoes a plate and instead uses PCB-mounted switches.
For switches, the G80-1800 comes equipped with Cherry MX Blacks. Recognized as one of the first “mainstream” switches on pre-made boards, these have a smooth, linear feel with a moderately stiff 60-gram actuation force. Unfortunately, the switches aren’t pre-lubed out of the box.
Overall, the G80-1800 would make a decent choice for general use at home or for anyone who fancies a retro project.
7. AJAZZ B16 Gentiana
The AJAZZ B16 is an attractive and functional mechanical gaming keyboard. Based on the size of a TKL board, it has a unique 96% layout that combines the arrow keys and number keys of a full-size board together. This results in a compact design that’s as space efficient as possible.
To make this keyboard layout possible, AJAZZ has excluded some of the home keys. Moreover, unlike the G80 that moves them above the Numpad, this strip is reserved for the media keys. Instead, you will find the page up/ down, home/ end keys as secondary functions on the Numpad.
Besides the interesting keyboard layout, the case design is also quite clever. Unlike other high-profile boards, the AJAZZ B16 has a removable, magnetic top piece that changes the design into a low-profile chassis. This allows you to see the floating keycaps from the side and removes the front logo.
For switches, the AJAZZ B16 comes equipped with Cherry MXs. Here you can choose from three popular colors including Red, Blues, and Browns. On top are a quality set of PBT keycaps with nice clean white legends. These come in a variety of dual-tone color combinations.
Unfortunately, the B16 does have some cons. For starters, only white LED backlighting is available, which is a shame because this board would look awesome with RGB. Additionally, the keycaps are non-shine-through. As a result, the backlighting glows quite dimly between the keycaps.
On the plus side, the lighting effects are decent and it does come with software. Impressively it features 21 different variations of white LED lighting modes! All in all, the AJAZZ B16 is a solid 96% keyboard for gaming and general use.
6. AKKO 3098DS
The Akko 3098DS is a retro-inspired mechanical keyboard that comes in some interesting color schemes. It has a 98-key, 1800 layout with three LED indicators above the Numpad. For colors, you can choose between three tones: Matcha Red Bean, LA Lakers (yellow), and Black-Pink.
Although the case is entirely plastic, the build feels quite heavy and rigid in your hand. Underneath are four rubber feet (on a slight molded incline) and a pair of two-step adjustable feet. Apart from this, there’s a centered USB Type-C port and a three-way cable routing channel.
For switches, the board is available in two second-generation Gateron choices: Pinks and Oranges. Pink is a quiet, linear switch that is very similar to Cherry Reds, while Oranges closely resemble tactile Browns. Both have a 55gf ±15gf actuation force as well as a 2.0 ± 0.6mm pre-travel.
In terms of the typing experience, we found the Akko 3098 to be impressive for its price. The board doesn’t sound hollow, the stabilizers have little rattle, and the keycaps feel slightly coarse. These are PBT keycaps with an ASA Profile so they’re slightly curved in the middle.
Surprisingly, the PCB is hot-swappable and supports other 3-pin mechanical switches. Unfortunately, though, it does not feature any LEDs, however, there are some vacant holes for soldiering on your own. Software is also missing but it is possible to re-map and program any keys or macros on board.
Those looking for a fresh take on the 1800 keyboard layout will love the Akko 3098DS.
5. ROYAL KLUDGE RK100
The Royal Kludge RK100 is a wireless mechanical keyboard with a clean aesthetic. It has a compact 96% layout that condenses the size of a standard board and removes any unnecessary white space. Top features include tri-mode connectivity, hot-swappable switches, and LED backlighting
Built from tough ABS plastic, the RK100 feels nice and rigid and has virtually no flex. On the back of the case is a Type-C USB port and two Type-A pass-through ports. Moreover, on the front of the case are five LED indicators for your power charge, num/ cap locks, and Mac/ Windows layouts.
For switches, the RK100 is available in three Gateron colors. We particularly like that the board has a hot-swappable PCB that supports three and 5-pin mechanical switches. As a result, you can easily swap out the stock Gateron switches for any other color or MX-style switch down the line.
Tri-mode connectivity (2.4 GHz, Bluetooth 5.1, and wired) is another big plus of the RK100. That gives you three different wireless modes. We found that the Bluetooth mode works well with no pairing issues. However, for gaming, the 2.4GHz is noticeably smoother and more responsive.
This particular RK100 model also comes with a white LED backlight. The backlighting has multiple preset modes and offers lighting recording via the software. Unfortunately, one downside is that the PBT keycaps are quite opaque, which does prevent the bright illumination from shining through.
Lastly, powering the board is a large 3750 mAh battery. This gives you a relatively long seven to nine-day change even with the backlight on all the time. To sum up, the RK100 is a fully functional 96% keyboard that packs in everything you need at a fantastic price.
Click here for the RGB version!
4. Epomaker GK96S
The Epomaker GK96S mechanical keyboard aims to boost productivity while minimizing its footprint. Born to free up space on the desk, it has a compact 96% layout with 100 keys and a full Numpad on the end. It also features hot-swap usability, dual connectivity, and RGB backlighting.
In terms of the build, the GK96S has a plastic case that offers impressive sturdiness with little to no flex. Underneath are five rubber pads, plus two back rubberized flip-out feet with two levels of adjustment. Additionally, on the back left side of the case is a USB Type-C port.
Similar to the RK100, the GK96Ss PCB features north-facing LEDs and is fully hot-swappable with 5-pin mechanical switches. For stock switches, the board comes with Gaterons; however, you’ll be able to swap them out for Cherry MXs or clones without any soldering required.
On top are a colorful set of tri-tone dye-sublimated PBT Keycaps. These stand out for their sculpted GK1 profile that have a shape similar profile to KAT but with different heights. Unfortunately, the keycaps are non-shine-though. As a result, the RGB backlighting does look quite dimly lit.
All RGB and key programming is configurable through the highly customizable GK96 software. Although the software does allow you to create custom lighting schemes, reprogram every key, and create in-depth macros, we did find it to be quite unintuitive. This is due to it partly being in Chinese.
For connectivity, the GK96S features wireless (with Bluetooth 5.1) and wired modes. Bluetooth can connect up to four devices simultaneously while switching between them seamlessly. Providing the power is a long-lasting, 4000 mAh battery for that can last up to a week without losing power.
Overall, it’s an excellent bit of kit for the price.
3. Keychron K4
The Keychron K4 is a wireless 96% mechanical keyboard. Designed for high productivity in a compact size, it has 100 necessary keys to offer full-size functionality. Mac users will also find this board particularly appealing as it’s compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems.
In terms of the build, the K4 goes for a plastic inner body with removable aluminum sides. As a result, it feels sturdy in your hand and is quite heavy at 2.44 pounds. The case itself can sit either completely flat on the desk or at an angle by flipping out the back two rubberized feet.
Upon receiving the board, the K4 has a Mac multimedia layout. Even so, if you’re a Windows user, it’s relatively simple to change this. Adjusting the layout simply involves toggling the notch switch on the left side of the case and swapping over the extra keycaps that are included in the box.
Connecting the K4 to multiple devices via Bluetooth is just as easy. Next to the keyboard layout switch is a second notch for toggling between wired and wireless modes. Once set to wireless, the K4 can pair up to three devices by pressing the FN key and the numbers one to three.
For switches, the K4 comes with Gateron Brown mechanical switches. These have a 55gf ±15gf actuation force for 2.0 ± 0.6mm of pre-travel. On top are a cheap set of ABS keycaps. Although they do allow the RGB backlighting to shine through, they do easily pick up grease.
Another minor downside is that the RGB on the K4 is a little dim; however, this might be to preserve the 4000 mAh battery. Slightly larger than the RK100’s 3750 mAh battery, we found that it could last approximately ten days (8 hours/ day) on a full charge!
Click here for the hot-swappable version!
2. Leopold FC980M
The Leopold FC980M is a high-quality, no-frills mechanical keyboard. Inspired by the Cherry G80-1800, it adapts a 96% layout that features a condensed set of arrows and a strip of home keys above the Numpad. It also stands out for its sleek set of dual-tone PBT keycaps.
Similar to the G80, the FC980M has a 1u zero key on the Numpad to accommodate the 96% layout. In contrast, though, it does opt for a slightly different non-standard bottom row. This includes a one-unit Windows key, right Alt key, and a right CTRL key. It also removes the right Windows key.
Built from a two-part ABS case with a steel mounting plate in-between, the FC980M offers excellent quality. The case has a low front that curves ergonomically up at the back. Once flipped over, you will find four rubber feet, two plastic flip-up feet, and a dipswitch for changing the keyboard layout.
Considering this is a pre-made board, the FC980M provides a great typing experience and sounds premium out of the box. This is partly thanks to the pre-lubed, Cherry-style stabilizers. In addition to the sound dampening mat in the bottom of the case that reduces any echo generated by resonance.
Lastly, the keyboard connects via an included 6.5-foot long mini-USB cable. Unfortunately, a wired connection is the only power source as it does not feature a battery. It’s also worth noting that the FC980M is also missing out on backlighting and onboard programmable macros.
In short, the FC980M is an attractive, solid, and reliable 1800 keyboard with all of the essential keys.
1. Drop Shift Mechanical Keyboard
The Drop Shift is a modern and inventive, modular mechanical keyboard. Significantly shorter than a traditional full-size keyboard, it goes for a space-efficient 1800 layout with 99 keys. This results in the home-key cluster moving above the Numpad for a similar form factor to that of a TKL.
Constructed with an anodized CNC aluminum frame, the build of the Shift is solid and there isn’t any flex. Besides providing plenty of rigidity, the frame also acts as a built-in switch plate for the PCB. The PCB itself is completely hot-swappable and can house a selection of 3-pin mechanical switches.
For switches, the Shift is available in Cherry MXs, Gaterons, or Halos. On top are a grey, dual-tone set of double shot PBT keycaps. These aren’t the best quality but they do have a nice textured feel with shine-through legends. Supporting the caps are a basic set of Cherry-style plate-mounted stabilizers.
RGB backlighting is another stand-out feature of the Drop Shift. A diffused light bar wraps around the entire case and north-facing LEDs are soldered into the PCB. Together, they produce a beautiful lightbox effect that shines evenly in and around the case and throughout the floating keycaps.
Using the QMK firmware, all of the backlighting effects and keys are fully programmable. QMK allows you to program macros, customize key re-mappings, and set the RGB lighting just as you like. Although we found the software to be a little primitive, it does perform plenty of functionalities.
Overall, the Shift is a stunning 1800 keyboard for anyone looking to add a little flair to their desktop.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a 96% keyboard?
A 96% has 4% fewer keys than a standard, full-size keyboard. Visually, it appears very similar to a full-size board but differs by having a shorter, more compact layout. While it does retain a full Numpad, it may condense some of the Home keys above it to maximize available space.
How many keys does a 96 keyboard have?
A 96% keyboard has 100 keys. This is 4% less than a full-size keyboard that has 104 keys.
What is an 1800 layout keyboard?
An 1800 is a compact, full-size keyboard layout inspired by the Cherry-G80-1800. In contrast to a traditional full-size layout, the 1800 layout relocates the Home key cluster above the Numpad and squeezes the arrows keys at the bottom of the board to maximize space.
How many keys are in a 1800 keyboard?
A full-size 1800 keyboard (such as the Cherry-G80-1800) has 104 keys. Conversely, a 96% keyboard inspired by an 1800 layout has 98-100 keys.
We hope you found a 1800 or 96% keyboard on this list.
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