(*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you choose to purchase through the links I provide (at no extra cost to you). Thank you for supporting the work I put into this site!)
When it comes to compact mechanical keyboards then the most popular options are Tenkeyless (TKL) and 60% mechanical keyboards. Tenkeyless mechanical keyboards come with 87 keys and 60% mechanical keyboards have 60 – 69 keys on average. Tenkeyless keyboards are very popular among typists and gamers because they do not lose out on many keys other than just the numeric pad keys. On the other hand, 60% keyboards are mostly preferred by coders and programmers because of their uncluttered and simple layout, and most of them come with programmable layers with keys mapping and switchable layouts.
A 60% keyboard is super compact, easier to carry around and is quite comfortable to work with. However, if you want a mechanical keyboard that is even smaller than a 60% mechanical keyboard then there are few 40% mechanical keyboards available in the market that you buy. These are ultra-compact mechanical keyboards and they come with 47 to 49 keys. They are sometimes referred to as mini-mechanical keyboards and just like the 60% mechanical keyboards, they use layers and FN key combinations to make up for the functionality for the keys that are not present on the keyboard. These keyboards cater to a certain niche market and are not mainstream.
40% mechanical keyboards are suited only for work and are not meant for gaming. They are mainly used by coders, programmers and typists because all the keys on these keyboards can be reached without lifting your hand, and this makes it easier and more comfortable to work on them. These ultra-portable keyboards can easily fit in smaller laptop bags, satchel or even a handbag, which makes them a perfect on-the-go travel keyboard for work. Also, they require very less space on the desk and some people find them cute too. There are only a few 40% mechanical keyboards that are available in the market right now and here I am going to list some of the best ones for you.
Best 40% Mechanical Keyboards for Work
Here are some of the 40% mechanical keyboards that you can get for work.
[Solid Build Quality, Programmable Layers, Cherry MX Switches]
Vortexgear Core is probably the best 40% mechanical keyboard in the market right now. It comes with Cherry MX switches and you can choose from blue, brown, red, clear and silent switches based on your requirements or work. This is indeed a small keyboard but it is big on quality and performance. The keyboard has great build quality and has an anodized CNC Aluminum case. It features 47 DSA profile keycaps that are low profile in design and has a spherical top, unlike the flat one. The keycaps are made of PBT plastic, which means they do not develop shine in the long run, are highly durable and gives a satisfying & solid typing feel.
This keyboard can be seen as a smaller version of the Vortexgear POK3R, which is a very popular 60% mechanical keyboard and is a top favorite among coders or programmers. Like POK3R, Vortexgear Core also offers 4 switchable layers and out of them, 3 layers are programmable. It has got split space-bar and there is a multi-color under it that notifies you the layer you are on. For the default layer, the LED remains off and it changes to red color for layer 2, green for layer 3 and blue for layer 4. The programming of the keys can be done onboard only and there is no software support for this.
The keyboard looks cute and offers a great typing experience. However, you will take some time to get used to it and it has a little bit of learning curve, even if you have used 60% mechanical keyboards before. The keyboard is cheaper than the planck and minivan keyboards that are customizable 40% mechanical keyboards. The micro-USB cable of this keyboard is detachable, which further enhances this keyboard portability factor. It is a bit on the heavy side and weighs 1 kg (2.2 lbs). So, if you are in search of an ultra-minimalist keyboard for traveling or for professional work then you will love this tiny keyboard.
Note: If you are facing any bugs then you can update or rollback keyboard firmware to fix them. You can download the latest firmware and the keyboard manual from the Vortexgear official website.
Download Firmware & Manual: http://www.vortexgear.tw/vortex3.asp
|Vortexgear Core Mechanical Keyboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||40 percent (47 keys)|
|Switch Type||Cherry MX Switches (Blue/Brown/Clear/Red/Silent)|
|Features||Anodized CNC Aluminum Case, Built-in 4 Programming Layers, PBT DSA profile keycaps, Detachable Micro-USB Cable, Split Spacebar, Onboard Programming Function (no software needed)|
[Budget 40% Keyboard, LED Backlighting, Lightweight]
A budget 40% mechanical keyboard from Qisan, which is a Chinese brand. The keyboard has 49 keys and comes with Gateron mechanical switches in different variants that include Clear, Brown and Blue. Brown are tactile switches; Blue are tactile switches with an audible click sound and Clear are the stiffer version of the brown switches and are tactile. The keyboard has got ABS keycaps and features Ice Blue backlighting that looks very nice and classy. This more of a basic 40% mechanical keyboard with no support for programmable layers. The left-out keys can be invoked using the FN Key combination with other keys and shift key. The nice thing about this keyboard is that it has got dedicated arrow keys, despite having such a small form factor. The layout of some of the keys can be a little bothersome for some users, especially the positioning of the spacebar and right shift key, as it hinders typing ergonomics.
The build quality of the keyboard is quite nice for the price and it has got a brushed metal plate and plastic case. The lighting brightness can also be controlled on this keyboard. The USB cable is detachable which makes this keyboard even more easy to carry around. The keyboard is on the lighter side and weighs only 390g, which is less than half of the above Vortex Core mechanical keyboard. Overall, a nice little affordable keyboard for cramped workspaces and for users who travel a lot in their work.
|Qisan Magicforce 40% Mechanical Keyboard Specifications|
|Form Factor||40 percent (49 keys)|
|Switch Type||Gateron Switches (Clear/Brown/Blue)|
|Backlight||Ice Blue Backlighting|
|Features||Adjustable Lighting, Lightweight, Floating Key Design, FN keys combinations, ABS Keycaps, Detachable USB Cable|
Assembled 40% Mechanical Keyboards
[DIY 40% Mechanical Keyboards]
If you are a DIY guy and want to have some fun by building your own 40% mechanical keyboard, then there are assembled mechanical keyboards available that allow you to build and customize your own 40 percent mechanical keyboard. You can buy different parts of the keyboard like a top plate, case, PCB, bottom plate, switches, LEDs and then assemble them by yourself, starting from soldering mechanical switches and LEDs onto the PCB. There are various kits available for them, based on the layout, color, keycaps, switches, top plate and LEDs for your specific requirements. Below are some of the popular custom 40% mechanical keyboards. Please do keep in mind that these custom keyboards cost more than the standard ones out there in the market.
So, if you are looking for an ultra-portable mechanical keyboard then there are not many options available in the market. However, the above mentioned 40% mechanical keyboards offer great quality along with performance, and will never let you down. These keyboards find their place among coders or programmers and they also make a great companion for working individuals who travel a lot and need a tiny keyboard that can fit in any bag. There is also a fun factor associated with these tiny keyboards and most of the people find them damn cute. At last, if you have any queries then feel to ask in the comment section below.