Which ortholinear board?

Okay, confession time. I own a lot of keyboards (understatement). However, I have never tried an ortho board. Which one should I look at purchasing as a first?

Opinions welcome.

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I would suggest a 40% ortho board like the Planck, NIU mini, or Let’s Split. Just for the plain fact that the smaller FF will keep costs to a minimum while you find out if you like ortholinear layouts or not.

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i would build a cheapo sandwich style board from 40percent.club

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The planck EOTW kit looks okay to me. It’s only $64 in all. Any opinions on that board?

If you don’t want the cheapest option and not in a hurry, you can pre-order the new Planck EZ:

If you want orhtolinear, but bigger than 40%:


As somebody that owns 2 Ergodox EZ boards, and has dealt with the company a good deal… I highly recommend the Planck EZ.

Also, the Levinson from Keebio is a good 40% ortho board, too.

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Get the Preonic. It’s closer to a standard 60% and while I own a Planck, the lack of a number row is actually enough of a change to make people reject ortho for a completely different reason. Like any good scientist, focus on reducing variables down to the one thing you want to test (ortho v staggered). I’m a little biased against the 40% boards since I see the end ergonomic utility suffering from the form factor more than the size gains justify. If you want to game, you’ll also want a numrow.

Check out the Ortho60 from CannonKeys as it is a super cheap way to get into a 5x12 for just $40.

I have a number of XD75RE PBCs as it is a great way to get into ortho. This is a 65% White Fox meets Atomic layout that has done really well in testing and converted more people to ortho using the XD75 with 2u POS caps.

I know people who daily-drive a 4x12 ortho, but I’d strongly recommend you try a Preonic or XD75.


I’m quite happy with my ergo60/boardwalk prototype, seated in my kbdfans 5 degree case. There’s a thread about it here on keebtalk.

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I can’t believe I forgot about the Boardwalk. I love the project. I’ve been sketching PCBs like it for a while and am super glad someone produced a version of it – the ergo mods is probably the best part of the design.

I’d recommend something like this kind of keymap but you can check out the other options


Issue is that you can’t buy the boardwalk atm.

In any case, I recommend the EOTW Planck. Give it a try and see if you can live without the number row.

I find it quite easy because you can program a numpad on another layer under your right or left hand.

It’s quite natural.

Yeah, I saw the layouts for the boardwalk and i though, “this is perfect!” I also have a ton of 60% cases, so kill 2 birds with 1 stone. Unfortunately it’s not available.

Guess I’m getting a plank-ez …

I wonder if they’ll be making a high-pro version, though?

It is kind of sad to get a qmk keyboard that has so many keys. At that point why even have raise and lower layers when you can pretty much access everything without them.

I’m planning to build a similar board, and can see several reasons:

  • Having to adapt to ortholinear and 40% (or even a preonic-size) layout at the same time can be very difficult. So by going for a more xd75-type layout you can focus on getting comfortable with ortholinear.
  • People that use languages that use more than 26 letters that have their own dedicated keys (like Norwegian, which has Æ, Ø and Å keys) avoid having previously easy to reach letters hidden in a layer, but can instead keep them on dedicated keys.
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All of my boards are either ortholinear or ergo. Although I’m having 4 Plancks, I would recommend, if go to ortho board, better to try Let’s Split or similar split ortholinear. The possibility to rotate halves gives A LOT in terms of ergonomic. Using Let’s Split is very similar to using ergo boards like Redox, Ergotravel, or HeliDox, while using Planck is completely different experience because of parallel wrists position close to each other.

You can do the XD75RE hotswap with the layout I posted above, but be aware that you’ll have to grind off a two or three of the standoffs in most 60% cases. I’ve used XD75AM pcbs with alps switches in stock 60% cases without modification, I think if you solder you only need to cut the peg off of one or two switches.

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