Best 40% Mechanical Keyboards of 2024

November 10, 2023

Bigger isn't always better. Technology has advanced so much that many things can now be miniaturized, including keyboards. Seeking the perfect compact computer companion has led enthusiasts and professionals alike to explore the world of 40% mechanical keyboards.

These pint-sized input devices offer a delightful blend of minimalism and versatility, making them ideal for those who seek a clutter-free workspace or require a portable typing solution.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at the best 40% mechanical keyboards that have emerged in 2024. Whether you're a seasoned keyboard connoisseur or just dipping your toes into the world of compact typing, there's something here for everyone. 

Best 40% Mechanical Keyboard Overall: Keychron Q9

Although there are many keyboards you can buy in the market, the Keychron Q9 stands out as the best overall 40% mechanical keyboard in 2024. It sets new standards in design, functionality, and performance.

The Keychron Q9 has a sleek and visually appealing design. Its compact form takes up minimal desk space, allowing for a clutter-free workspace. But it's not just about aesthetics. The keyboard's high-quality aluminum frame ensures durability and long-lasting performance.

What truly distinguishes the Keychron Q9 are its advanced features. The hot-swappable key switches enable easy customization of the typing experience, allowing you to choose the feel and sound that suits you best. The backlit keys make it easy to use even in low-light environments.

The Keychron Q9 supports both Mac and Windows layouts, catering to a wide range of user preferences.

Width: 94.1 mm
Length: 326 mm
Front Height: 19.6 mm  (without keycaps)
Back Height: 30.7 mm (without keycaps)
Feet Height: 2.5 mm
Angle: 5.2 degrees
Weight: 1050 grams 
Body Material: Full CNC machined aluminum
Plate Material: Steel
Polling Rate: 1000 Hz
Keycaps: Double-shot PBT keycaps, not shine-through, OSA Profile (OEM height, SA shape)
MCU: Ultra-low-power Arm Cortex-M4 32-bit STM32L432 (128KB Flash)
Switches: Gateron G Pro (Q9 Fully Assembled Version) or Keychron K Pro (Q9 Plus Fully Assembled Version)
Backlight: South-facing RGB LED
Switch Support: Hot-swappable (5 pin and 3 pin)
Stabs: Screw-in PCB stabs
Connectivity: Type-C
Cable: Type-C cable + Type-A to Type-C adapter

Best Prebuilt Keyboard: Vortexgear 40% Keyboard

The Vortexgear 40% Keyboard is a compact and powerful prebuilt option that will surely impress. It's designed to enhance your typing experience by minimizing finger movement and maximizing efficiency.

Don't be deceived by its small size. The Vortexgear 40% Keyboard boasts innovative features that set it apart from the rest. Equipped with Cherry MX switches, known for their reliability, responsiveness, and satisfying tactile feedback, this keyboard delivers an exceptional typing experience. The keys, made of durable PBT plastic, are resistant to shine even with long-term use.

The Vortexgear 40% Keyboard is encased in a sleek and high-quality aluminum CNC anodized case, giving it a premium feel. It's extremely portable thanks to its detachable micro-USB cable, making it perfect for those constantly on the move.

The Vortexgear 40% Keyboard offers four switchable layers, three of which are programmable. This means you can customize it to match your typing style perfectly. 

Physical Layout: ANSI
Logical Layout: US QWERTY
Key Switches: Cherry MX switches
Connectivity: Bluetooth
Backlighting: customizable RGB backlighting 
Material: CNC Aluminum
Keycap Material: double-shot PBT plastic
Programmability: 3 programmable layers / split programmable 
Hot-Swappable Switches: hot-swappable switch sockets
USB Key Rollover: 6
Multimedia Keys: Yes
Interface: Micro USB
Firmware: vMPC
Dimensions: 3.15 x 9.84 x 1.12 inches
Weight: 1.10 lbs

Cheaper Alternative for Prebuilt Keyboards: Qisan Magicforce 40

Looking for a more affordable prebuilt keyboard? Look no further than the Qisan Magicforce 40%. It offers a great balance between price and functionality. Made with a sturdy plastic case and equipped with Gateron Brown switches, this keyboard provides a smooth and tactile typing experience without compromising performance.

The Qisan Magicforce 40% is compact yet accessible. Its ABS keycaps and blue backlight add a stylish touch to your desk setup. 

While it may not have as many programmable layers as some other keyboards, the Qisan Magicforce 40% still allows for key function customization. T

At just $54, the Qisan Magicforce 40% is an affordable option for those who don't want to spend a fortune on a keyboard. With this keyboard, you get a high-quality and innovative product without breaking the bank.

Logical Layout: US Qwerty
Switches: Gateron or Cherry MX
Ergonomics: Split space bars
Backlighting: Snow White or Icy Blue LEDs
Anti-slippage: Rubber feet
Interface: Mini USB cable connection
Dimensions: 10.8 x 3.4 x 1.3 inches
Weight: 349 grams

Best Kit Keyboard: Drop Planck Keyboard

The Drop Planck Keyboard Kit is an exceptional choice for those seeking customization options. This kit allows you to build your own keyboard, tailoring it to your specific needs by selecting from a wide range of options. It's not just a keyboard you're getting; it's an experience crafted by you.

The Planck Kit boasts a compact and minimalist design while still delivering excellent functionality. With its fully programmable layout, you have the freedom to assign any function to any key. The ortholinear layout, which arranges keys in straight columns and rows, enhances typing speed and accuracy.

The Planck Kit has an innovative hot-swappable switch design. You can experiment with different switches without the need for soldering, allowing for continuous innovation and exploration. 

Layout: Ortholinear
Dimensions:.2 x 3.2 x 1.3 inches
Weight: 510 grams
Switch Compatibility: Hotswap compatible with all Cherry-style clones including Cherry, Kaihua, Gateron, Halo, Holy Panda etc.
Frame: Anodized CNC machined aluminum 
Stabilizers: PCBA mounted
Programming: QMK 
Mounting: PCB Plate Mount
Backlighting: RGB bottom lighting
Connectivity: USB-C

Cheaper Alternative for Prebuilt Keyboards: YMDK V2

If you're looking for an affordable 40% keyboard that doesn't compromise on quality, the YMDK V2 is a fantastic option. It provides all the features you need without breaking the bank.

One of its standout features is the ability to customize key layouts with its four programmable layers. This allows you to create a personalized setup that suits your typing or gaming preferences.

The YMDK V2 is built to last, featuring a sturdy aluminum case that can withstand regular use. It's also available in various colors, so you can choose one that matches your setup's aesthetic. The keyboard utilizes Gateron switches, known for their responsiveness and durability, ensuring a satisfying typing experience.

Assembly of the YMDK V2 is straightforward, making it suitable for beginners as well. It can be an enjoyable and rewarding project, allowing you to add a personal touch to your keyboard.

Material: CNC anodized aluminum case with acrylic layer for RGB underglow
Ergonomic design: Stamdard Alice Wings
Backlighting: RGB and underglow
Hot-swappable design: Yes
Silencing: Foam for PCB and Bottom Case
Stabilizers: Black-Clear Screw-in Stabilizers
Switches: Gateron KS3 Milk Switches
Keycaps: OEM Laser-Carving PBT Keycaps
Connectivity: USB C-A Cable.

What is a 40% Keyboard

A 40 percent keyboard is a compact and minimalist version of a standard keyboard. Unlike traditional keyboards, it lacks a number pad, arrow keys, and the top row of keys. The name "40 percent" refers to the approximate key count compared to a full-sized keyboard.

However, this doesn't make it any less useful. The 40% keyboard is designed with efficiency and portability in mind, making it a game-changer in the world of technology.

Essentially, it's a keyboard that removes all the unnecessary elements, leaving you with just the essentials for an optimized typing experience. That's exactly what the 40% keyboard offers. It's a space-saving solution, perfect for smaller work desks or for digital nomads who are always on the move. Key characteristics of a 40% keyboard include:

  1. Compact Layout: 40% keyboards typically consist of around 40 keys, providing the basic alphanumeric keys, modifiers (Shift, Control, Alt), and a limited number of additional keys.
  2. No Function Row: They lack a dedicated function row (F1, F2, etc.), which is common on larger keyboards.
  3. No Number Pad: Unlike full-sized mechanical keyboards, there is no numeric keypad on a 40% keyboard, which contributes to their small form factor.
  4. Layer Functionality: To access less frequently used keys like numbers, symbols, and function keys, users often rely on a layering system. By pressing a designated key, you can activate a different layer that allows you to access these additional functions.
  5. Customization: 40% keyboards often support key remapping and customization, allowing users to tailor the keyboard layout to their specific needs.
  6. Portability: Due to their compact size, 40% keyboards are highly portable and are favored by users who need to carry their keyboard with them or have limited desk space.
  7. Aesthetic Appeal: Many enthusiasts appreciate the aesthetics of 40% keyboards and use them as a way to create a more minimalist and visually appealing desk setup.

Other Contenders for the Best 40% Mechanical Keyboards in 2024

There are several other competitors that could easily contend for the title of the best 40% keyboard of 2024. Let's check some of them:

  1. Varmilo VA40M:
    • A compact 40% keyboard known for its quality build and various key switch options.
    • Minimalist design with customizable keycap options.
    • High-quality key switches and keycaps.
  2. Planck EZ
    • An ortholinear 40% keyboard with a split design for ergonomic typing.
    • Highly customizable and programmable.
    • Offers different key switch options.
  3. Planck OLKB
    • A customizable ortholinear 40% keyboard designed for a minimalist typing experience.
    • Popular among keyboard enthusiasts who appreciate the ortholinear layout.
  4. MiniVan
    • A compact 40% keyboard with a unique, symmetrical layout.
    • Often appreciated for its aesthetic appeal and portability.
  5. Niu Mini
    • A compact keyboard with a 40% layout.
    • Known for its customizability and unique layout.
  6. Pearl 40%
    • A customizable 40% mechanical keyboard with a split spacebar design.
    • Highly programmable and well-suited for ergonomic typing.
  7. AMJ40:
    • A 40% mechanical keyboard with a compact layout and unique aesthetics.
    • Known for its customizability and community support.
  8. XD75:
    • A 40% ortholinear keyboard with a 15x5 key layout.
    • Offers extensive programmability and key switch options.
  9. Lunar SSSHHH:
    • A compact 40% keyboard with a minimalist design.
    • Offers a mix of customization and quality key switches.
  10. Daisy 40
    • A 40% keyboard with a compact layout.
    • Known for being budget-friendly and customizable.
  11. KBDfans KBD67 Lite (40%)
    • A 40% version of the KBD67 Lite with a compact layout.
    • Offers a range of key switch options and solid build quality.
  12. Ortho48
    • An ortholinear 40% keyboard with a straightforward layout.
    • Popular among enthusiasts who prefer ortholinear designs.

Choosing a 40% Keyboard

With so many options available, selecting the perfect 40% keyboard can seem overwhelming. But fret not, we're here to help you through the decision-making process.

Choosing a 40% keyboard can be a personal and sometimes challenging decision, as it depends on your specific needs, preferences, and use cases. Here are some steps to help you make an informed choice when selecting a 40% keyboard:

  1. Define Your Needs
    • Consider how and where you'll be using the keyboard. Is it for work, gaming, or general typing? Do you need a portable option?
  2. Layout Preferences
    • Understand the layout of 40% keyboards. They typically lack a number pad, function row, and some other keys. Decide if this layout suits your needs.
  3. Key Switches
    • Determine the type of key switches you prefer. Mechanical switches come in various options (Cherry MX, Gateron, Topre, etc.) with different actuation forces and tactile feedback.
  4. Customization
    • Decide how much you want to customize your keyboard. Some 40% keyboards allow for extensive key mapping and customization.
  5. Wireless vs. Wired
    • Consider whether you need a wireless (Bluetooth) or a wired keyboard. Wireless options provide more flexibility but might have lower latency when wired.
  6. Build Quality
    • Look at the build materials (plastic, aluminum, etc.) and construction quality. High-quality materials can lead to a more durable and robust keyboard.
  7. Backlighting
    • Decide if you want customizable RGB backlighting for aesthetics and visibility in low-light conditions. Not all 40% keyboards have backlighting.
  8. Hot-Swappable Switches
    • Some keyboards offer hot-swappable switch sockets, allowing you to change switches without soldering. This can be convenient for customization.
  9. Keycap Material
    • Pay attention to the keycap material. Double-shot PBT keycaps are known for durability and a premium feel.
  10. Compatibility
    • Ensure that the keyboard is compatible with your operating system (Windows, macOS, Linux, etc.).
  11. Warranty and Support
    • Research the manufacturer's warranty and customer support. A good warranty can provide peace of mind in case of issues.


Indeed, in many cases, smaller is better! Now you have the information you need to choose the best 40% mechanical keyboard of 2024. Whether you prefer the premium feel of the NuPhy Air 75, the affordability of the YMDK V2, or the ergonomic design of the Libra Mini, there's a perfect option for you.

And as computer technology advances, these keyboards will only become better!

The key is to find a keyboard that meets your needs, enhances your productivity, and feels comfortable to use.

Chris Greiner, a Mechanical Keyboard specialist, boasts a solid educational background with dual bachelor's degrees in Computer Science and Business Management from Lewis University. His additional certification in Mechanical Keyboard Design showcases his dedication to staying on the forefront of keyboard technology. Chris primarily writes for keyboard enthusiasts and has been featured on platforms like Jestik, solidifying his reputation as a thought leader in the mechanical keyboard community.
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