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the Norbaforce Mark IV

Endgame for your Realforce keyboard

Low stock
Sunset Blvd (e-coat)

The Realforce has always been my favorite Topre keyboard, and the Norbaforce is my custom aftermarket housing for that timeless typing instrument.

Design history

The Norbaforce, created in 2017, was my first foray into the sleek tapered and rounded retro-futurist shapes that would come to define the Norbauer design language. Though expensive to machine, the look is unlike anything else. It was also the first enthusiast keyboard housing (to my knowledge) to use a rear cover plate to avoid any visible seam on the housing's side profile.

Norbaforce shape profile at side Norbaforce shape profile at top

The Mark II emerged from a ground-up internal redesign of the Mark I, while retaining the original's iconic external look. Along with all subsequent iterations, it maintains backwards compatibility with the esteemed old 87U family of Realforces while also adding support for the diverse R2 "mid-size" line (here in white and black), which also includes a Cherry MX-compatible Realforce

Custom accessories

The Norbaforce has been so popular as to have spawned some other products, including a custom carry brief a precious-metal keyring, the Norbaforce Data Pad, and the Midcentury Riser.

Norbaforce Keyring Norbaforce Zipper Pull on Keybrief The Norbaforce data pad The Norbaforce data pad

Technical features

Breakout PCB

The included breakout PCB adds detachable cable functionality to the Realforces, which normally have hard-wired, non-detachable cables.

Heavy steel rear cover plate

Thanks to the very positive reception to my Heavy-6 project, I added a similar heavy steel backplate to the Norbaforce from Mark II onward, which both increases its physical heft and also provides a more acoustically dense backing material for the housing. Fully assembled with an 87U, a powder coated Norbaforce Mark II weighs in at over 5½ pounds (2.5kg). It is powder coated either textured white or textured black, according to the best aesthetic match for the housing.

Norbaforce rear cover plate

USB Mini interface

Offers a more secure connection compared to USB-C and supports a broader range of enthusiast cables.


Each Norbaforce comes with attachable riser feet, allowing both an ergonomic flat profile and an inclined angle (3 degrees, the same as the Realforce 87U native angle) for those who prefer it. Risers match the finish of the housing.

Norbaforce without riser installed Norbaforce with riser installed

Acoustic dampening

The Norbaforce was my first keyboard to include acoustic dampening to absorb internal sound reflections. A natural merino wool dampener (the most effective material I have found) is now included with every Norbaforce.

Norbaforce merino wool acoustic dampener


385mm wide x 181mm deep x 22.5mm tall


The Norbaforce Mark IV is compatible with all TKL form-factor Realforce keyboards I have encountered (86U, 87U, 88U, 89U, 91U, R2 RGB, R2, R2 PFU Edition, etc.) other than the very recent R3 Bluetooth models.

Version history

Mark I The original. This was the only version that offered a Winkeyless option.

Mark II Ground-up internal redesign added support for R2 keyboards. Switched to USB Mini. Upgraded rear cover plate to steel. Added acoustic dampener.

Mark III Risers can be freely added or removed without having to reconfigure bumpons.

Mark IV Employs my latest generation of bumpons with 3M non-marring anti-skid technology

Finish and material options

Space Station White A remarkably uniform and clean e-coat finish, with a satin medium-gloss surface

Sunset Blvd One of our most popular powder coat offerings, reborn in e-coat, with a chalky matte surface

Retro Refrigerator Another totem of 1960s optimism, this matte blue-green powder coat resonates with vintage vibes

K2 White textured powder coat

Aperture Metallic gray textured powder coat similar to the type used on limited-edition Leica cameras

VHS White/gray textured powder coat, reminiscent of the backgrounds often seen in Memphis and Vaporwave aesthetics

Palm Desert A rare finish designed to pair well with earth-toned keysets, this textured powder coat is reminiscent of desert sand

Aerospace This finely bead-blasted clear anodized finish gives a futuristic matte silver appearance

Tactical This bead-blasted (matte) black finish is created with Type III anodizing. This process is known as "hard anodizing" because it creates a much thicker oxider layer, offering superior durability compared to the standard Type II anodizing seen on most enthusiast keyboards

Veracity Steel This shiny hand-polished stainless steel version weighs in at over 9 pounds when assembled with a Realforce. The same material and finish used on many luxury watches, this finish can be re-polished and is thus user-maintainable over time

Assembly details

Assembly is straightforward and documented in this instructional video.

Nota bene

This is a DIY kit for keyboard tinkerers and hobbyists. It is an aftermarket upgrade housing and does not include the keyboard itself or keycaps (even though product images may show it with those for illustrative purposes). While the build isn't difficult, it does require taking apart your OEM keyboard. This may invalidate your keyboard warranty, and by purchasing you agree to take on that project and its results at your own risk. (But, of course, that's also part of the fun.) Of course, I'm always here to answer any questions by email if any arise during your install.