Best 40% Keyboards – 2023 Comparison and Reviews

  • Brand Updates
  • Posted by: amy-golden
  • Oct 21, 2022

If you wonder if there is a keyboard even smaller than 60% keyboard, welcome to the best 40% keyboard list – where you can find the ultra-compact keyboard for everyday use.

Let’s discover the definition of a 40 percent keyboard and see if it’s for you. Moreover, here is a list of the best 40% keyboards if you fall in love with this travel-friendly item.

What is a 40% Mechanical Keyboard?

40 Percent Keyboard Standard Layout - Best 40% Keyboards
40 Percent Keyboard Standard Layout

A full-sized keyboard has about 104 keys while a mini-sized 40 percent keyboard usually has around 47 – 49 keys and no number row, arrow cluster, or punctuation keys. This means an ultra-compact layout takes up over 40% of a normal keyboard, resulting in its name – 40% keyboard. They are designed to be more compact and portable, but also require more layers and shortcuts to access all the functions.

How do 40% keyboards work?

Pearl 40% R2 Keyboard - Best 40% Keyboards
Pearl 40% R2 Keyboard

What do we do when we need to type a number on this keyboard? If that is your worry, don’t be so. In order to help you freely use numbers or arrows, a 40% keyboard uses layer design to aid that problem.

The layout of characters you see on the keycaps is the first layer. Numbers, arrows, and special marks are in the second layer. To activate the keys on the second layer, you will need to hold two keys at the same time. It’s similar to how you produce a capital A by holding shift and A.

To fully get how a 40% keyboard works, watch this video below.

Benefits of a 40% Mechanical Keyboard

There are a couple of reasons why people like this small buddy. If most of them sound right to you, you definitely need to check out the best 40 percent keyboard list.

Small footprint

A small keyboard has the advantage of saving space in your working area. That is why those having a tight desk prefer to have a 40% keyboard. Moreover, moving a mouse is certainly closer to the PC.


40% keyboards are mostly very small. Hence, there will be less material for the case and frame, and also fewer switches required. This means some money has been saved.


It’s small and light so you can put it neatly in your pocket. Moreover, the size is right to be on your lap for hours of typing while on a train or an airplane.

Better typing efficiency

40 Percent Keyboard Layout For Writing - Best 40% Keyboards
40 Percent Keyboard Layout For Writing

Since there are merely 47 or 49 keys on a keyboard, each key can be made slightly bigger than that of regular keyboards, allowing you to have more space to comfortably type on.

In addition, you don’t have to spread your fingers widely to reach off-center keys like the 104-key keyboards. This results in faster typing after you get used to the new typing style.


As we have mentioned above, your fingers do not need to move around widely with a 40% keyboard. Thanks to that, your hand may not feel fatigued after using it for a whole day. 

Connectivity Technology

Since this small guy is mostly aimed at people on the run or in need of portable devices, it’s usually equipped with wireless ability to enhance mobility. To learn how wireless keyboards bring you the convenience of portability, how about reading our article here to find out?


Not many brands out there produce this ultra-compact keyboard. Maybe that is why most keyboards belonging to this category are made of high-quality materials or durable switches such as Cherry MX, Kailh, or Gateron. Therefore, you can rest assured when thinking of the durability of a 40% keyboard.

How to choose the best 40% Mechanical Keyboard?

Qisan 40% Gaming Keyboard - Best 40% Keyboards
Qisan 40% Gaming Keyboard

There are certain factors you need to consider before buying a 40 percent keyboard. Let’s dive right into them.


Since this type of keyboard is small and compact, it does not ask for a lot of key switches. Thus, you should not spend more than $100 to get a good keyboard. But, of course, some keyboards may be over $100 due to brand name or extra functions. You are free to pay more if you prefer those factors.

Switch options

A right switch will give you a comfortable typing feel and long longevity. That is why picking out good switches is essential. Currently, Cherry MX is the top dog of the switch market, meaning the price is higher than most brands out there, but it’s worth the money.

Keycap quality

You interact directly with the keycaps, so it’s best to have keycaps from good materials. Put this on your mind. PBT keycaps are better than ABS since they will last longer and feel better. We have here a compile of the 21 best keycap sets for you to rock your keyboard’s outlook, so don’t miss out. 

Moreover, if you are into beautiful artisan keycaps of high quality, visit our Hirosart collections to find the one that will certainly light up your keyboard, just like the interstellar spacebar below.

Interstella Artisan Spacebar Keycap - Best 40% Keyboards
Hirosart Interstella Artisan Spacebar Keycap


A lot of people love to have lighting coming from under the keycaps. We call this backlighting. Honestly, this is not a necessary function, but it surely brings more fun to your typing time.

Keyboard Layout

There are different keyboard layouts, and you should choose the one that is familiar to you. The three main layouts are QWERTY, QWERTZ, and AZERTY. Or, some countries have specific keyboard layouts.

  • The most common layout for 40% keyboards is the ortholinear layout, which has keys aligned in a grid pattern instead of the staggered pattern found in traditional keyboards. This may take some time to get used to, but some users find it more ergonomic and efficient.
  • Another popular layout for 40% keyboards is the split layout, which divides the keyboard into two halves that can be positioned independently. This allows for more flexibility and customization of the typing angle and distance, which can reduce wrist strain and improve posture.
  • Some 40% keyboards also have a thumb cluster, which is a group of keys placed near the spacebar that can be accessed by the thumb. This can increase the functionality and convenience of the keyboard, as the thumb can perform more actions than just pressing the spacebar.

The choice of keyboard layout depends on personal preference and typing habits. Some users may prefer a more familiar and standard layout, while others may enjoy a more unique and minimalist layout. The best way to find out which layout suits you best is to try them out yourself or watch some reviews online.

Best 40% Mechanical Keyboards – Our favorites in 2022

Here is a quick overview of the best 40 percent keyboard that covers the prices and the switch brands.

Switches Price
Vortexgear Core 40% Cherry MX $89
Qisan 40% Gateron Brown $37.79
CHARAN SK61 Gateron Optical Red or Panda Green $78
DIERYA DK61E Gateron Optical Red $46
Planck Ez Cherry MX, Kailh $230
Glorious GMMK Modular $110
Redragon K585 Outemu Blue $43

Most 40% keyboards use Cherry-style switches such as Cherry MX, Gateron, or Kailh. Those are well-known in the switch community so we believe you will have good experiences with them. In addition, the prices are mostly under $100 or even under %40, except for the expensive Planck Ez.

Vortexgear Core 40% Keyboard

Vortex Core 40% Keyboard - Best 40% Keyboards
Vortex Core 40% Keyboard

  • 6-key rollover
  • Rubber feet
  • Detachable micro USB cable

  • Aluminum Frame
  • PBT keycaps
  • 4 Programmable layers
  • Different Cherry MX options

  • No backlighting
  • Space bar is not programmable

We love the Vortexgear Core 40% keyboard since it‘s under $100 with an aluminum frame and decent-quality PBT keycaps. Moreover, this best 40% mechanical keyboard provides us with a convenient removable USB cord and rubber stands.

You are allowed to choose the most suitable Cherry MX switches for this keyboard. And, if you want to customize the layout, the key-programming function will aid you with that. However, that does not include the space bar key, which is a miss.

How about listening to the typing sound of the Votexgear Core 40% keyboard with the video below?

Qisan 40% Mechanical Gaming Keyboard

Qisan 40% Keyboard - Best 40% Keyboards
Qisan 40% Keyboard

  • RGB backlighting
  • 11 lighting modes
  • Double spacebar

  • Cheap price
  • Many different functions
  • Nice and sufficient design

  • Doesn’t work with Bluetooth
  • No programming function
  • ABS keycaps

Qisan 40% mechanical keyboard deserves a place in this list of the best 40 percent mechanical keyboards. You won’t pay over $40 for it which is the main point. The blue backlit can be changed up to 11 modes. And, there is a double spacebar, which is useful for gaming.

This keyboard lacks programming ability, so the maker made up for it by adding extra keys. Hence, the layout is quite nice and easier to use at first than other 40% keyboards. The ABS keycaps are expected for a keyboard at this price, but the frame is from strong aluminum. 

Planck EZ 40% Mechanical Keyboard

Placnk EZ 40% Keyboard - Best 40% Keyboards
Placnk EZ 40% Keyboard


  • RGB lighting
  • Ortholinear layout
  • QMK firmware

  • Hot swappable
  • Different switch choices
  • Programmable

  • Short cable

The price of Plank EZ 40% may shock you at over $200, but we cannot opt it out of the 2022 best 40 percent mechanical keyboards. You are able to remap the key layout thanks to QMK firmware, so have fun customizing it to your needs. Besides, it’s a hot-swappable keyboard, making it easy to change the switches if you prefer something different from Kailh or Cherry MX.

The minor problem, the short wired cord, can be forgiven if you consider the great quality of this keyboard. Sturdy and stable keycaps that produce a great feel on your fingers. Robust and smooth switches that respond as how you want them to be.

Redragon K585 DITI Wireless One-Handed Mechanical Keyboard

Redragon K585 Keyboard - Best 40% Keyboards
Redragon K585 Keyboard

  • Wireless or wired
  • 7 Onboard Macro Keys
  • RGB effects
  • Detachable wrist rest

  • 3000 maH battery
  • Programmable key

  • Uncomfortable Spacebar key’s position

The Redragon K585 keyboard can be used in two ways, wired and wireless connections. Moreover, you won’t have to worry about hitting 0% in wireless mode thanks to the powerful battery. But, turning on the RGB effect will consume the energy much faster so be careful.

For a 40% keyboard, the ability to program is quite important since there is a lack of keys. That is why the 7 onboard macro keys of the Redragon K585 are of great help to users. However, we agree the spacebar is placed in a kinda weird place. That is when key programming comes into action.

Curious about how this 40% one-handed keyboard works? Let’s watch this video to find out.

If you are not a fan of 40% keyboards, don’t worry, we have other choices for you to explore. Check out our collection of “best keyboards” here and find your perfect match. You might be surprised by how much fun typing can be!


Are 40% keyboards good for gaming?

Since most games won’t ask you to use all the keys on the standard keyboard, a 40% keyboard is a good choice. You can access all the necessary keys much faster and easier with a limited layout.

Are 40% keyboards good for typing?

It depends. Typing on a 40% keyboard is faster and less fatigued for sure. However, the minimal layout will need time to get used to and it’s quite annoying for those who need to use function keys most of the time.

Are 40% keyboards good for programming?

We won’t recommend a 40% keyboard for those who prioritize programming comfort. As you need to use symbol keys like an exclamation mark or a number sign a lot, 2 or 3 layers to get them is irritating in some way.

Are 40% keyboards cheap?

Most of the best 40% mechanical keyboards will fall from $40 to $100. However, some exceptions go over $150. In short, they can be cheap, as well as very expensive.

What is the best 40% keyboard for gaming?

For the best gaming experience, we recommend fast-responding keyboards like Redragon K585 DITI.

What is the best 40% keyboard for typing?

The best 40% keyboards for typing would be Vortexgear Core 40% and Planck EZ 40%, since they are both stable and reliably strong to type on.


40 Percent Mechanical Keyboard

It will take some time to get familiar with typing on an ultra-compact keyboard that is less than 50 keys. However, when you master it, you may find it decently convenient and useful.

In this article, we have some best 40% mechanical keyboards for you to have a reference. Pick one carefully as it will stay with you for quite a long time.


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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.

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