Mini mechanical keyboards are becoming very popular amongst typing enthusiasts, PC gamers, and people who travel a lot for work. I have found 4 of the smallest mechanical keyboards commercially available and given each one a short review. Although there may be smaller keyboards out there, I decided to only review keyboards that are easy to buy (not custom built etc).
Not only do they look cool, but small mechanical keyboards also come with a few benefits their full-sized companions don’t have. There are two main benefits to owning a mini mechanical keyboard; desk space and portability. The smaller the keyboard the more notable these benefits will be. Four of the keyboards on this page are less half the size of a regular keyboard, also known as 40% keyboards. If 40% is simply too small, then you could check out this page instead.
40% Mechanical Keyboards
The most popular type of small keyboard is the 40% build. As the name suggests, 40% keyboards are less than half the size of a regular keyboard. They achieve this size by removing a bunch of the standard keys and turning them into macros instead. The removed keys include the number keys, the function keys, the arrow keys, and the numpad. Mechanical keyboard companies love to innovate, you’ll notice that each tiny keyboard has its own unique methods of slimming down.
1. Vortexgear Core
The Vortexgear Core is a tiny mechanical keyboard also known as a 40% keyboard. It’s 40% the size of a regular keyboard which is achieved by removing a lot of the standard keys. Thankfully, you can still access all of those missing keys by using the Fn keys as modifiers. I think it goes without saying that this kind of keyboard will take some getting used to.
In terms of the price, the Vortex Core lies somewhere in the middle. Being just under $100 as of writing this, it costs more than the Qisan Magicforce 49, but a lot less than the Planck EZ.
The available switches will differ depending on where you buy it from, as for Amazon US, it’s currently available with either MX Clears or MX Reds. Vortexgear are known for their high-quality builds, the Core has doubleshot PBT keycaps and a lightweight aluminum casing.
It weighs just 408 grams making it less than 40% the weight of a regular keyboard, now who could have guessed that. The old school color scheme combined with the floating keys gives the keyboard a slick professional look to it. While it may take some getting used to, the Vortexgear Core is definitely a small mechanical keyboard, almost small enough to fit in your pocket!
- Small 40% layout
- Old school color scheme
- Split spacebar, two Fn keys, and a Pn key
- Doubleshot PBT keycaps
2. Qisan Magicforce 49
The first thing people notice about small mechanical keyboards is how expensive they are. Thankfully there are some exceptions, the Qisan Magicforce 49 being one of them. The 40% keyboard from Qisan is less than $60 on Amazon as of writing this, making it almost half the price of the Vortex Core.
What switches a mechanical keyboard uses plays a big role in the price. Qisan have used Gateron brand switches instead of the popular Cherry MX’s. This decision allows them to produce a 40% mechanical keyboard with a modest price tag.
Gateron names their switches the same way that Cherry does, which is by giving each type a color. When buying from Amazon US you have 5 colors to choose from which is great. You can find the keyboard with higher-end switches on other websites, drop.com for example, but the price and availability will vary.
The keyboard has no borders giving it a cool floating key effect, which looks even cooler with the backlighting switched on. Speaking of backlighting, you get the choice between “snow white” or “icy blue” LED’s. To sum it up, the Magicforce 49 is the perfect mini keyboard for people on a budget. If you want a similarly priced keyboard with a less intimidating layout, I would recommend checking out the Magicforce 68.
- Small 40% layout
- Relatively cheap
- Snow White or Icy Blue backlighting
3. Planck EZ
The Planck EZ is an ortholinear mechanical keyboard, but what does that even mean? An ortholinear keyboard has its keys laid out in a grid instead of the standard layout. Each key is perfectly in-line with the others next to it. While it may take some getting used to, a lot of people do end up preferring this symmetrical style.
The Planck EZ is tiny! Once again it’s a 40% keyboard that utilizes macros and functions to save a tonne of space. It also has an impressively thin base with no borders giving it a sweet floating key effect.
This mini keyboard has no shortage of customization options. First of all you have 13 switches to choose from, 8 from Cherry and 5 from Kailh. If you’re still not satisfied then don’t worry, changing the switches is not only easy, but it will also have no effect on the 2 year warranty. The RGB lighting is optional and will cut $15 off the price when removed. On top of this, you can also buy the keyboard with no keycaps if you plan on using your own, this will save you another $10. Last but not least, the keyboard is available in two colors; white or black.
When you only have 47 keys to work with it’s important that you’re able to alter their functions with ease. Thankfully, the Planck EZ has a user-friendly graphical configurator along with 32 layers to play with. On top of this, you can also enable dual-function keys: When tapped, they send a character. When held, they act as a modifier.
To wrap it up, there are two final features to mention; keyboard mouse control and a built-in chiptune buzzer. Are they commonly requested features? Maybe not, but they put them in any way, and why not. The Planck EZ is one of the smallest mechanical keyboards money can buy. And despite its size, it has more features up its sleeve than it’s bulky competitors, kind of like a clown car.
“The Planck EZ can fit in a coat pocket, and will have no trouble finding a cozy spot in your bag”
- Small 40% build
- Ortholinear layout (grid style)
- 13 switches to choose from
- Impressive customization options
4. Cooler Master SK621
At first I only wanted to include 40% keyboards on this page, but I decided to make one exception. Thanks to its low profile switches, the SK621 from Cooler Master is possibly the smallest 60% keyboard on the market. It’s one of the first keyboards to use Cherry’s new low profile switches, they are extra slim MX Reds with the actuation point lowered by 0.8mm.
It only weighs 430g making it the lightest 60% mechanical keyboard I have come across. It’s also sold in two other sizes, TKL and full-sized. If you want a compact low profile keyboard without losing too many extra keys, I would recommend checking out the SK630 instead.
To complement the portable design, the SK621 has Bluetooth 4.0 wireless. You can use the keyboard wirelessly for up to 5 months without having to charge it, this goes down to only 15 hours though if you keep the RGB lighting enabled.
While they may not be the first to experiment with low profile switches, Cooler Master may have done the best job yet. Overall, the SK621 is a compact, slick, and portable mechanical keyboard suitable for both gaming and typing enthusiasts.
- Compact 60% design
- Low profile Cherry MX switches
- Bluetooth 4.0 wireless
- Per-key RGB backlighting
Small Mechanical Keyboard Kits
Some people like to assemble their keyboards themselves, the simplest way to do this is to buy a mechanical keyboard kit. These kits include everything you need to build your own custom mechanical keyboard. Not only do you have more freedom of design, but you also learn some basic but useful skills while assembling the keyboard. Most keyboard kits are not much cheaper than buying a prebuilt keyboard, and sometimes they’re actually more expensive.
What do you get in a keyboard kit?
- PCB (Printed Circuit Board)
- Keyboard Plate
- Keyboard case
Both of these kits are sold on Drop.com, formerly known as Massdrop. You’ll notice that instead of having a “Buy” button, a lot of the products have a “Request” button instead. If you request a product you will be emailed as soon as it’s back in stock. This is a great system for niche products like mechanical keyboards. It allows the company to gauge the interest for an item before investing time and money into another batch.
Smallest Mechanical Keyboards!
Small mechanical keyboards have their fair share of upsides and downsides. They are portable, fun, and practical in their own way. At the same time, they are pricey, confusing, and limited in choice. I hope this page has helped you explore the options you have when buying a mini mechanical keyboard. If you have decided that 40% is too small, I recommend looking into 60% or TKL keyboards. If you want a more hands-on experience, you could look into mechanical keyboard kits.
Thanks for reading : – )