It looks like Keychron is determined to cover every single niche in the high-end mechanical keyboard market. In addition to the somewhat niche “1800” layout of the Q5 and the ergonomic “Alice” build of the Q8, the company just announced a new Q9 model. Don’t let the larger number fool you. This is an absolutely tiny “40%” keyboard with just four rows of keys. It also preserves all the premium features of Keychron’s other Q-model offerings. It’s up for sale today, starting at $139.
Keychron’s modified version of the 40% layout is just a little bigger for the sake of users who like less frequent use of the Fn layer key. It is, in a word, adorable — possibly even adowable. The design has a full arrow key cluster plus a home and delete key, with the latter replaced by the now-ubiquitous radial dial on the upgraded version. Beyond that, it’s the familiar Q feature set: a super thick and heavy milled aluminum case, hot-swap switches with full RGB lighting, gasket mounting, and lots of interior foam for a super-premium feel and easy programming via QMK or VIA.
40% is something of an extreme layout, the lack of a number row forcing the user to become familiar with their Function layers far more than on even a 60% board. That said, it’s proven popular with enthusiasts who demand the maximum amount of free space on their desk or in their travel bag. (The fully-assembled board weighs just over a kilogram, more than twice as heavy as a standard iPad thanks to that thicc case). Keychron has made some considerations for more general users with the arrow cluster and its usual hard-wired Mac/Windows switch. Note the semi-standard layout — a shortened right Shift key is the only oddball on the board, making it easy to customize with aftermarket keycaps.
Keychron’s attractive doubleshot PBT OSA keycaps are an available add-on as well as premium pre-lubed Gateron Pro switches. The “barebones” board (with no switches or caps) starts at $139, with the add-on knob version going for $149. Switches and keycaps will cost you an extra $30 for either configuration, which is actually a bit of a bargain. You can order the keyboard in black, silver, or a bright navy blue with matching caps, and it comes in ANSI or ISO layouts. For an in-depth look at Keychron’s Q series, be sure to check out our review of the Q5.