So you want a budget ortholinear keyboard. You're in the right place!
If you've been wanting to start building a custom ortholinear mechanical keyboard like the Planck or Preonic, the budget keyboards from KPrepublic might be your start! The market for ortholinear keyboards has really been expanding in the past year and there are many different options to choose from. KPrepbulic offers two keyboards similar to the OLKB Planck and Preonic: the CSTC40 and the DNA59.
The CSTC40 is closest to the OLKB Planck but only has the option for a 2u spacebar instead of the full set of 48 keys. This is still a great option and many ortho builders use the 2u option for the space bar too. THE DNA59is similar to the OLKB Preonic layout but comes with a unique acrylic case and only a 2u spacebar option. Here are some obligatory stats on each:
The KPrepublic CSTC40 a 40% ortholinear layout similar to the Planck keyboard. It has a hot-swap pcb, rgb lighting, and more. A great budget Planck alternative. Configurable through VIA software. Price: $48.89
The DNA59 is designed with a 2u spacebar and 58 1u keys referencing the Preonic layout. It has an acrylic case, hot-swap pcb, rgb lighting and more. A great budget Preonic alternative. It does not support VIA or QMK and uses their own software. Price: $64.80
If you compare the keyboards to the OLKB Planck & Preonic, there are a lot of similarities and the feature sets are very close. The Planck & Preonic keyboards are clearly more streamlined and a great choice if you definitely want to use this board in the long run. However, if you are just wanting to try out an ortho and don't want to commit to double the price, then these keyboards are perfect for that at a budget price.
We recommend getting the CSTC40 out of the two, since the the feature set is much more robust compared to the DNA59. The DNA50 doesn't support VIA/QMK and instead you have to use their built-in software which is honestly not very good and hard to use. The CSTC40 luckily has VIA/QMK support making it easy for you to edit your key layout on the fly.
KPrepublic is located overseas which means that their shipping will take longer than normal if you were to order these keyboards. However, in the world of mechanical keyboards, it isn't too bad considering the Planck has been sold out for a while and waiting time for group buys are getting longer and longer. If you're looking for something to get your hands on, order it now, and have something cheap and usable to mod and play it that works pretty well!