New Keychron Q9 mechanical keyboard is miniscule | Cult of Mac

New Keychron Q9 mechanical keyboard is miniscule

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With just four rows of keys, the new Keychron Q9 mechanical keyboard features an unusually small 40% layout.
With just four rows of keys, the new Keychron Q9 mechanical keyboard features an unusually small 40% layout.
Photo: Keychron

The ninth entrant in Keychron’s custom mechanical keyboard line came out Wednesday, making it abundantly clear the company wants to cover every corner of the market. The new Q9 is for folks who want a tiny keyboard they can customize — maybe one that’s smaller than anything they’ve ever used.

As a 40% layout mini keyboard with just four rows of keys, the all-aluminum Q9 makes even a compact 60% keyboard look big.

Keychron launches tiny Q9 custom mechanical keyboard

Just weeks after rolling out the ergonomic split Q8 mechanical keyboard, Keychron is back with the Q9 to server another market segment.

The Keychron Q9 QMK Custom Mechanical Keyboard features an all-aluminum interior build and “the niche mini 40% layout,” as the company put it. The keyboard has less than 50 keys overall.

“At Keychron, we’re committed to making products for keyboards enthusiasts, which often means creating keyboards that not many companies are willing to make,” said Paul Tan, Keychron COO. “Q9 is perfect for people who want the most mini size keyboard. The 40% layout is extremely compact, removing the number row, function keys, navigation keys and sometimes even the punctuation keys.”

Choose fully assembled or barebones

You can get a fully assembled Q9, with your choice of Gateron switches, or a barebones version with no switches or key caps so you can select your own elsewhere. The switches are “hot swappable,” meaning you can easily change them yourself.

The keyboard features an all-metal CNC machined body, double-gasket mount design, hot swappable switches, QMK/VIA support, Windows/Mac compatibility and south-facing RGB backlighting.

“In addition to the gaskets on the plates, we added silicone pads between the top and bottom cases to significantly reduce the sound resonance between the metals and reduce the noise of the impacted metals,” Keychron said. “This Double-Gasket Structure allows the keyboard to maintain the flexibility of the gasket structure and improves the overall typing sound.”

May take some getting used to

With so few non-letter keys in the mix, the Q9 requires you to do some keyboard mapping so you can enter numbers and symbols. Keychron acknowledges that sort of thing may take some getting used to.

“40% keyboards are the most barebone that you can still type on. Because there are no numbers on the top row, non-letter keys like backspace or ESC, it takes a bit of time to get used to frequently changing layers to enter numbers and symbols. However, with the VIA configuration tool, users can create their own combination keys and access all keys” said Tan.

But he said the extra effort is well worth it.

“Despite the longer learning curve, with some practice, the pay-off is massive,” Tan added. “Most typists using the 40% layout report that removing all of that clutter and putting in the time to configure their own input layout really boosts their typing speed and the shortcuts become second nature.”

Naturally, a keyboard that small is more portable than many other keyboards. If you don’t normally toss your keyboard in your computer bag or luggage, you might with this one. And of course the Q9 also takes up less desk space than many keyboards.

The Q9 is compatible with Mac and Windows. It offers a Mac layout that retains the same multimedia and function keys as the Apple keyboard, while still being compatible with Windows devices via USB-C cable.

The keyboard comes in carbon-black, silver-gray and navy-blue colors.

Price: $139 (barebones), $159 (fully assembled)

Where to buy: Keychron