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Layouts - 50% & 40% Keyboards

40% and 50% keyboard layout banner


The mechanical keyboard community members will always think of something to differentiate themselves, and 50% and 40% layout keyboards are no exception. We have chosen to group these two layouts for their likeness towards each other, both being smaller than the popular 60%, while still being fairly usable by most. Nevertheless, the obscure nature of these layouts may cause that most 50/40% keyboard differs from one another in the layout, the number of keys, and other special elements.

50% keyboard layout

50% Keyboard Layout - KLE


The 50% layout might be a bit easier to explain and comprehend. The most essential element of these boards is that the number row (top row of Alphas) is removed from a regular 60% keyboard. Some designers choose to utilize smaller Modifier keys than standard to save space and retain one unit (1u) wide ESC key and usual stagger (keys are usually not in a grid, but shifted throughout the columns).


40% keyboard Layout

40% Keyboard Layout - KLE


Then there is the 40% layout, which takes the 50% and removes even more keys which it deems nonessential, such as certain punctuation marks or brackets. Some 40% boards are able to retain the arrow keys, and usually utilize split space keys or just one much smaller space key to fit other modifiers.

While these keyboards are not as common (more of a niche within a niche), they are gaining popularity because of their looks and compactness. Therefore, the keycap designers and manufacturers are picking up the pace to include the common necessary key sizes for these layouts in their group buys.

Some of the notable 40/50% keyboards are MiniVan, TKC Candybar, TMO50 (and v2), Vortex Core, and others.


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Thank you for showing interest in our keyboard layout guide and we look forward to finding you here again. Let us know if you think we should add something to our guides as we strive to always improve.