Trying to figure out if a gaming keypad is best for you? If so, which one? Check out our comprehensive review of the best keypads on the market today.
Let me start with a question, how many of you are PC gamers out there? With the release of massively multiplayer online role-playing games or MMORPGs such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft, as well as increased popularity in First-Person Shooters, more people are gaming online now more than ever.
If you have sat at your PC and played a game on Steam, you know after about an hour, your hand, wrist, and forearm will be screaming. The issue is that most gamers utilize the QWERTY keyboard input system, also known as the layout of the PC alphabet and numerical keyboard.
The QWERTY input system is excellent for the purpose it serves but can be a liability for online gamers, who must apply both the mouse and keyboard at the same time, all while controlling their character with keys that function by the game's options. There is an alternative to this though that can be extremely beneficial for gamers, the gaming keypad.
Benefits of Using a Gaming Keypad
The difference between a QWERTY keyboard and a gaming keypad is simple. Like I said in the last paragraph, PC keyboards utilize the same key layout as a typewriter, gaming keypads are different.
Keyboards are large and filled with useless “Dead Keys” while playing video games. Keyboards are great for word processing, but there are some differences with gaming keypads. Keypads are physically smaller with a much more limited number of keys which are specialized for video games.
The keys on a gaming keypad are centered around what is called the “W, A, S, D” layout, which is the most commonly used keys in PC gaming, as well as the keys that are close to these characters that may need to be used. Why does this matter?
Not only are keypads optimized for the WASD layout, they often feature essential supplementary controls such as the escape key, volume and brightness controls, and the F series of hotkeys.
Optimized WASD and accessory keys essentially offer gamers the freedom to use a series of macro controls, often with added USB and programmable buttons incorporated in the keypad, all of which are accessible with one-handed use.
Now, let’s review five excellent gaming keypads you can find on the market today as well as their features and the pros and cons of the specific models. Let’s jump in.
|16||9.2” x 8.6” x 4.1”|
|-||11.2” x 9.4” x 3.4”|
|25||11.2” x 9.1” x 3.5”|
|29||11.2” x 7.9” x 2”|
|15||4.1” x 8.5” x 9.1”|
What To Look For In A Gaming Keypad
This is one of the most important factors you will face when choosing a gaming keypad. This ensures that you can use your keypad with ease and comfort, even when you are playing for hours upon hours on end.
A keypad that is ergonomically designed will have a handy layout for all its keys so that there will not be any that are difficult to reach during gameplay.
Rows of keys should not be too close together or too far apart so that you can hit them accurately when you are in a pinch.
They keypad should also feel comfortable to use and flow with the way your fingers and hands work naturally.
You don’t want to use a keypad that involves you holding your hands at an awkward and uncomfortable position just to make use of all the buttons and the directional pad.
In addition, a keypad should have comfort-enhancing features like cushioned palm or wrist rests so that you don’t experience fatigue during long gameplay sessions.
You want to be able to go for hours without needing a break or feeling any pain and discomfort, so it is important that your keypad allows for maximum comfort.
Programmability And Customization
Any good keypad should come with a large number of keys that can all be individually programmed in order to suit the game you are playing. The directional pad and joystick may also be programmable.
Ideally, you should be able to have full control over every single part of the keypad. You should expect to be able to implement complex macros and make use of interchangeable keymaps without any problem.
It is also helpful when a gaming pad has onboard memory, which allows you to store these settings for future use.
Some even come with multiple user profiles so that you can have different settings for all your favorite games, or so that someone can borrow the keypad without messing up your preferences.
Features That Enhance Gameplay
Anything that makes you play better and faster is always a plus. The right equipment can really change the way you game and affect your overall performance.
As such, you can keep your eye out for keypads that offer functions that can make you a better gamer. What sort of features might you be able to find?
Anti-ghosting keys that are able to pick up all your lightest pushes and respond accurately and quickly are excellent for gaming.
Backlighting on the keys will help you to game even in the dark, and some backlights are even customizable.
Meanwhile, a rubberized base will prevent the keypad from sliding around when you are moving quickly.
The Best Gaming Keypad Reviews 2018
1. Razer Nostromo PC Gaming Keypad
The first Gaming keypad on our list is the Razer Nostromo Gaming Keypad, which leaves your controls within reach in this sleek little package.
The keypad itself measures 2.3 inches x 7.2 inches x 6.3 inches (Height, Width, Depth) with a molded ergonomic rest for supporting your wrist by keeping it in a natural position, reducing strain and fatigue that you would feel with a QWERTY keyboard while you game.
It has a 16-button layout, 14 of which are finger buttons, two additional buttons for your thumb, an index finger scroll wheel and an eight-way directional raised mousepad which has a slightly larger head than most keypads of this class.
The exterior body of the Nostromo keypad is fine gloss plastic with a rubberized surface in specific friction points where the skin will be contacting the pad during use. There is an integral blue LED backlight that emits behind the surface of the keys and scroll wheel so you can see the keys while in the darkest environments.
Regarding system and hardware requirements, it’s not wireless, all that’s required is a USB port.
You will need an internet connection for initial activation and set up of the Synapse 2.0 system. You’ll need an email address for registration and license acceptance, downloading your software and activating the rest of the keypads features. Once activated, it can be used in offline mode if you so choose.
One of the best features of the Razer is the fully programmable keys. Custom programming keys are optional depending on the game you’re playing, but the software packet gives you several pre-programmed factory settings you can elect to use as well. There is an even quicker way to switch between preset keymaps by assigning them to a hotkey on the keypads dashboard.
It should be noted that this isn’t a plug and play keypad. Before you start, you must install the Razers Nostromo Configuration program to access the program dashboard. Once in the dashboard, you can assign custom key sets to four different keymaps that you can alternate through during play.
2. Delux T9 46-Key Wired Gaming Keyboard
The Delux T9 Gaming Keyboard offers almost double the number of keys as another keypad, excellent ergonomics and comfort, and affordability all in one package.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice the keyboards unique diamond shape, the raised backing, and fully ambidextrous controls.
The standard WASD keys are painted red for easy identification, they’re place somewhat left of center, it may be more comfortable for right-handed users, but the double space key design accommodates left and right-handed gamers well.
The dimensions of the keypad are 11.2 inches x 9.4 inches x 3.4 inches (Length, Width, Height), it has a nice heft and feels stable and balanced on flat surfaces. Generously spaced palm and wrist rest’s leave you with plenty of room for positioning your hand comfortably on the board.
As I mentioned before, the red cap WASD keys are left of center but positioned where your fingers naturally fall. The keys themselves are recessed with anti-ghosting registration, so every command is picked up by your computer. You have your typical keys such as Alt, Shift, Tab, Arrow Keys, one through five numerals and F1 through F6 as well as volume controls.
There are no programmable macros with the software so, but it does have standard gaming controls. If you want to assign specific keys to specific functions, you’ll have to change the controls in the games options menu. Not a big deal but it could be an inconvenience to some.
The LED backlight lights the keys well in the dark, but it only glows blue, which doesn’t exactly go well with the red and black color scheme, but this isn’t anything more than an aesthetic issue, the light does shut off by itself after extended usage.
You do have to do some minor software installations before you can use the keypad, but you can begin using immediately after the initial set up process.
3. Logitech G13 Programmable Gameboard
In a constantly evolving technological world, sometimes a tested, durable warhorse is the ticket to achieving gaming glory. The Logitech G13 Gameboard that utilizes the WASD layout we spoke of earlier.
This bestselling hybrid keypad began its claim to fame by winning the CES Best of Innovations Award in 2009; it is still one of the most widely sold keypads on the market today.
The success of the G13 comes as no surprise given the fact it features many customizable macro key combinations and a standard WASD default layout all built into a small, manageable package that uses a very user-friendly design.
The keys are where they should be; the joystick is large enough, to where you’re not overextending your thumb. It also has a comfortable wrist, and palm rest reduce exhaustion and a small LCD screen that shows all relevant information.
The overall dimensions of the keypad are as follows: 1.3 inches x 7 inches x 10 inches (Height, Width, Depth). It weighs in at 1.3 pounds, so it’s light, but the rubberized feet accommodate this with firmer grips to the surface. All in all, it’s a very stable keypad that can withstand the beatings it’ll inevitably take.
Now for the keypad layout and design. The G13 has 22 programmable keys that are situated where fingers naturally fall into position with your hand on the palm rest. The keys aren’t chunky but contoured to the relaxed fingertip with the dimpled WASD keys centralized in the layout of the board.
The keypad itself is contoured, not flat, additionally reducing the long-term effects of carpal tunnel from typing on a QWERTY keyboard. There are two additional action buttons near where your thumb rests, where the rubberized analog joystick you can use instead of the WASD keys.
The entire pad is backlit with a rainbow mosaic of colorful LCD bulbs you can choose to use. The small LCD display is backlit and displays information such as CPU and RAM data, a stopwatch and countdown timer. Just below the screen, there are a few more buttons that turn the LCD on or off, as well as buttons for recording macros and toggling keymaps.
4. 1byone Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
One look at this keypad and I was mystified yet intrigued by it. It looks stylish and unique without sacrificing comfort and simplicity. There is a total of 29 programmable keys that are oddly familiar yet different than anything you’ve ever used before. They are primary mechanical keys but with shorter internal switches to reduce the clacking sound.
The large grey triangular key is the keypads default space bar but can be changed to whichever function you need it to serve as but it remains distinct from the rest of the keys on the pad.
It has several regular keys such as Tab, Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Escape and F 1-6 keys but it doesn’t offer the option to change keymaps nor does it have a scroll bar, joystick, or mouse pad. It is just as the name implies, a simple mechanical keypad.
You can change the macros of the keypad and add hotkeys, but you must change them via their software you can access on their website, not with the press of a button. You’re also able to edit the millisecond response of the keystrokes in the macro editing program as well.
The LED backlight offers around a dozen preset configurations as well as cascading color patterns and lights that respond to each of your keystrokes. You can also edit the settings of the backlight using RBG or separately change the color of each key to tailor a unique look.
The cord length isn’t very long at five and a half feet, but it’s long enough to reach your tower, you may not have much slack, but the braided USB cord is pretty durable and won't tangle with other wires on contact.
5.Belkin n52te Tournament Edition SpeedPad
The Belkin n52te Tournament Edition SpeedPad is perfect for First Person Shooters, RPGs and any other genre of video game that requires rapid control and situational awareness. As the name implies, it’s a tournament style pad built for speed and precision.
Regarding functionality, the speed pad is an all in one unit with a cushioned wrist pad, an integrated palm pad that contours to the hand, and a 15-key backlit keypad with customizable macro controls. You’re not limited to preset functions.
The speed pad features a built-in scroll wheel in the lower corner of the pad, so you’re not overextending your finger to scroll. The removable joystick offers another gameplay option in place of a mouse; it has an eight-directional thumbpad you can use in place of the keys if you so choose to.
Speaking of keys, all 15 are fully customizable, so you can select which ones do what without an overcomplicated setup process. There are three keymap options you can intuitively cycle through with the press of a button.
It’s not a large gaming keypad with dimensions of 4.1 inches x 8.5 inches x 9.1 inches but the keys, scroll bar, and joystick are positioned together in a way that won’t feel unnatural, and the rubberized feet secure to your surface no matter how rowdy the gameplay gets.
The backlight is a pleasing soft blue LED light that emits from the keys and scrollbar and stays on throughout gameplay unless you manually change the lighting settings.
The n52te has internal memory with gameplay personalization software provided by Razer; you can store your keymaps for various games online, making it a real plug and play board.
I hope our Gaming keypad review removed some of the mystery from your search. There are many different styles to choose from, most offering unique features other gaming pads don’t.
It entirely depends on the type of game you’re playing, how customizable you want the keys to be, and even the size of your hand could be determining factors for a keypad.
At this point, it really comes down to preference so put some thought into exactly what you need and go from there.
Sources and References:
- Gaming Keypad – Wikipedia