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Layouts - 96% & 1800 Keyboards

96% 1800 Compact Keyboard layout banner


It could be said that we are getting into more obscure territory, the 96 % layout is both old and quite a new development at the same time. The layout is usually associated with the Cherry G80-1800 series of keyboards. First released in the 1990s, various versions and brand names were used to promote this keyboard. The 1800/96% keyboards try to provide the full-size functionality while getting rid of the empty spaces and therefore making the board a little smaller. It achieves this by squeezing the numpad closer to the Alphas and Modifiers and moving the Navigation cluster to the top of the numpad, arrows are attached to the Modifiers in the same fashion as on a 65% or 75% keyboard.

96% keyboard Layout

96% Keyboard Layout


The 1800 layout seems to fit users who just can't let go of a numpad (either because of work or emotional attachment - seriously, get help people), however, would still like to go as small as possible. While you might think that a separate numpad would solve this issue as well, the fear of visible cables on your desk is a serious condition (probably isn't). In the end, the 96% can save around 3-4 columns of a regular 100% keyboard. At the same time, certain models come with Bluetooth functionality for a perfectly clutterless desktop or the full-size on-the-go setup.

The main downside of the 96% layout, apart from its larger dimensions, might be that in order to compress most of the keys to a more compact layout the empty spaces are reduced to a minimum. Therefore, designers have less headroom for the aesthetical elements. While 96% keyboards are very functional, their designs are often quite utilitarian. Nevertheless, there have been some group buys implementing design elements of the 96% layout, which propose a novel and eye-catching design solutions. Examples of this might be keyboard kits such as ELONGATE, Clarabelle, Sar, TKC Candybar, and others. Some of these kits choose to remove the Function row or offset the arrow keys, as well as, the navigation cluster.


Compact 1800 keyboard layout

1800 or Compact 1800 Keyboard Layout, the original version of the 96% layout - KLE

One of the most interesting design trends related to the 96%/1800 layout is moving the numpad to the left side of the keyboard. This design element is more commonly called the Southpaw (Southpaw - meaning left-handed). And while Sowthpaw numpad was first thought of as a solution for a keyboard for left-handed users, right-handed users might benefit from it as well. In case the user needs a numpad and can learn how to use it with the left hand, the whole position of the keyboard on the table shifts to the left and leaves much more space for use of the mouse on the right side.

Some of the notable 96%/1800 keyboards are Aegis by aeboards, aforementioned Sar by Zambumon, IQUNIX F96, TKC 1800, Leopold FC980M, and others.


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