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Best Gaming Keypad [2019]

Best Overall: Aula Excalibur
It’s not the cheapest option, but there’s also a reason for that: The Aula Excalibur is designed to offer you an infinite number of commands with eight programmable keys, and the design of the keypad is intended to help reduce fatigue more so than other keypads as well.

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Aula Excalibur

  • 60 Keys In Total (30 Programmable Keys)
  • Double Molded Keys For Added Durability
  • Left-Mounted Palm Rest

Best Budget Gaming Keypad: Giixer One-Handed Clear
You’re not going to spend a fortune on the Giixer gaming keypad, to say the least. It’s by far one of the cheapest gaming keypads currently available, so if best value for the lowest possible price is what you’re aiming for, the Giixer is a good way to go.

Giixer One-Handed Clear

  • Great Palm Rest
  • 35 Keys

Best For Beginners: Razer Tartarus V2
Honestly, any of these gaming keypads could be used by a beginner. But the Razer Tartarus V2 may be a good way to go for beginners just because it is very comfortable with ergonomic controls, and therefore could be one of the easiest to get used to.

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Razer Tartarus V2

  • 32 Programmable Keys
  • Cloud-Based Macro Storage
  • Unlimited Macro Length
  • Mid-Point Key Actuation

How We Picked

Have you been trying to play World of Warcraft, Rift, Guild Wars 2 or another MMORPG and/or MOBA-style game with a standard keyboard and mouse combination?

If so, you’re truly missing out!

Here’s the deal, a standard keyboard has tons of keys, all built for typing, not for gaming. The layout is not optimized for gaming and the fact that you have to switch between your mouse and your keyboard is not productive. Plus, you can’t program a standard keyboard to do certain macros and/or sequences whereas with a gaming keypad you can.

A gaming keypad is a minimalistic approach to the standard keyboard, cutting down on all of the unnecessary extras helping you to control your gaming experience. If you’ve ever lost a match because you hit the wrong key sequence, you know the importance of being able to program multi-key sequences to work from ONE button press.

Today, we’re going to discuss the best gaming keypads for 2019. As there are hundreds to choose from, determining the best one for you could take forever … except, we’ve already done it for you.

So, if you are ready to find out what the best gaming keypads are, keep reading …
The 10 Best Gaming Keypads For 2019

#1 Razer Orbweaver Chroma Elite

Razer Orbweaver Chroma Elite

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 28
  • Software Included: Yes
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Extreme Gamer

If you’re looking for a simple gaming keypad, then you’re not in the right place. The Orbweaver Chroma Elite is absolutely a BEAST!

Razer Orbweaver Elite Mechanical Gaming Keypad on stand

Switches And Keys

So, let’s start out by talking about the switches as Razer has built their own. Instead of using the Cherry MX keys that other manufacturers use, Razer built their own keys from the ground up. The keys are designed specifically for gaming, and all the keys function the same and have the same resistance level of 50g of actuation force which is barely more than the Cherry MX Red (45g of actuation force) and less than all the other Cherry MX.

Razer Orbweaver Chroma Elite keys

The Orbweaver Chroma Elite has 30 total keys, 28 of which are programmable (20 keys + 8-way thumb control). Almost all of the keys can be programmed using the supplied Synapse software and there is no restriction to the length of each macro.

Ergonomics

Next, the Orbweaver Chroma Elite is built for everyone. The hand rest, the thumb rest, and the palm rest are all adjustable so that you can find the perfect setup for your hand. These adjustments are great for reducing fatigue and making it easier to access your keypad without thinking – especially in those intense moments when you “can’t think or you’ll die”. Plus, the hand rest and the palm rest are padded to add a little more comfort for those endless gaming sessions.

Razer Orbweaver Chroma Elite controls on the right side

On a side note, if you’re right handed, you might find this a little difficult to use as the directional control is on the right side of the keypad. Some separate the directional controls completely, but Razer included it. It would have been nice if the directional control pad was modular (left or right side). Plus, the keys themselves are tilted slightly to the left which can lead to a little “chink” in your wrist over time.

Razer Orbweaver Chroma Elite side

RGB Colors

If you needed options, you have it with the Orbweaver Chroma Elite. Each key can be programmed independently from all the others with up to 16.8 million different colors; in order to do this, you’ll need to use the Synapse software. The Synapse software does come preloaded with some color effects too, but you can customize it to your liking as well.

Razer Orbweaver Chroma Elite software

What We Like

Starting out, we love the fact that almost every key can be programmed (28 out of 30). What’s even better though is the fact that we can upload all our customizations to the cloud. Of course, we love the fact that you can adjust almost every part of the keypad too – the palm rest, the thumb rest, the hand rest, the lighting, it’s a gamer’s dream.

The fact that the keys all use a 50g actuation force may not seem that important, but we love it as the keys all respond identically – when you’re in a hurry, you may not apply enough force on some of the other Cherry MX keys (not on this).

Overall

If you’re looking for a gaming keypad, the Orbweaver Chroma Elite is built to last. If you’ve destroyed your last keypad, or you want the best possible gaming keypad, then you want this one. It comes with a 2-year warranty from Razer so you’ll be able to pound away knowing you’re covered.

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Razer Orbweaver Chroma Elite

  • 28 Programmable Keys
  • Fully Adjustable Rests
  • Cloud-Based Macro Storage
  • Unlimited Macro Length

#2 Razer Tartarus V2

Razer Tartarus V2

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 32
  • Software Included: Yes
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Extreme Gamer

So, you need more keys than the Orbweaver? Well, you’re in luck as the Tartarus V2 has 32 keys (all programmable). And while you are gaining some keys from the Tartarus V2, you are giving up a few extras too.

Razer Tartarus V2 on desktop

Switches And Keys

Again, the fact that Razer felt the need to create their own switches shows their dedication to the gaming community and making the experience as seamless and as immersive as possible. All of their keys are built to work with 50g of actuation force, which is some of the softest in the industry.

The Tartarus V2 has 32 total keys, all of which are fully programmable. Using the supplied Synapse software, you can assign all the commands and key sequences you want, without a limit to the size of the macro.

Razer Tartarus V2 keys

Even better, the Tartarus V2 has each key actuated at mid-height so the moment you press down, you get an instant response (i.e. click) and you can perform even faster as the reset is shorter too.

Ergonomics

The Tartarus V2 has a padded palm rest that can be adjusted back/forth for small/large hands. You do not have the adjustable thumb rest or the adjustable hand rest like the Orbweaver, but this is a small point if your hands aren’t abnormally large/small.

Again, if you are a righty, you might find the layout a little difficult to use, primarily with the directional pad. As the keypad itself is left-centric, you may find yourself with a little bit of wrist fatigue from kinking your hand to the left so much.

Razer Tartarus V2 hand rest

RGB Colors

Honestly, Razer has the coloring aspect down to a science. Both the Orbweaver and the Tartarus V2 have the ability to adjust the color of each key with up to 16.8 million different color options. To do this, you’ll need to use the Synapse software which is included. Even better, you’ll have access to several preloaded coloring effects to use right out of the box.

Razer Tartarus V2 and setup

What We Like

We really like the fact that ALL of the keys can be programmed unlike some of the other variants. And we still like the fact that all of the customizations can be uploaded to the Razer cloud and recalled as needed. And honestly, the Tartarus V2 looks more sturdy when compared to the Orbweaver (probably due to adjustability).

Overall

From a gaming standpoint, the Tartarus V2 is a great option. It’s a little more sturdy than the Orbweaver, but it does lose a little in the adjustability department… it makes up for this with the 32 programmable keys. And it’s still covered by Razer’s 2-year warranty. What else do you really need?

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Razer Tartarus V2

  • 32 Programmable Keys
  • Cloud-Based Macro Storage
  • Unlimited Macro Length
  • Mid-Point Key Actuation

#3 Koolertron Cherry MX Black

Koolertron Cherry MX Black

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 43
  • Software Included: No – Download
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Extreme Gamer

Still need more keys? How about 43 … The Koolertron Cherry MX Black is loaded with keys, but it’ll cost you – not in money, but in extras.

Switches And Keys

So, we all know that Cherry MX switches are some of the best, and this keypad is loaded with Cherry MX Black keys all with an actuation force of 60g. Of course, all Cherry MX Black switches are linear so they’re one of the quietest of the switches (Cherry MX Red being the other).

Koolertron Cherry MX Black PUBG version
PUBG Version

The Koolertron Cherry MX Black has 43 total keys, all of which are fully programmable. While the configuration software is not included, it can be downloaded from the link included in the manual. Once downloaded, customizing the keys and/or macros is fairly straightforward. One really nice feature is that all the customization and macros are stored onboard so it can be used on multiple computers without having to connect to a server or reload everything each time.

Koolertron Cherry MX Black inputs

Ergonomics

If you’ve used a standard PC keyboard, you’ll be used to this keypad. It’s just a trimmed down version of a standard keyboard. There are no adjustment points; it’s a keypad. There is no wrist rest; it’s a keypad. There is no palm rest; it’s a keypad. There’s no built-in directional controller either; it’s a keypad.

And, it’s not pretty either. Most gaming keypads are built with glitz and flash, using tons of angles and adjustments to stand out – not this one. There are no adjustments, no flashy lights (there is a small amount of backlight control), but your friends aren’t going to start gushing about how “awesome” this looks.

Koolertron Cherry MX Black measurements

RGB Colors

The Koolertron Cherry MX Black sticks to being a minimalistic gaming keypad as it doesn’t offer multiple color options. In fact, it pretty much has a slight golden color that can be turned on/off and that’s it.

Koolertron Cherry MX Black accessories

What We Like

So, we already hit on the fact that this is a BASIC keypad, but it’s really not that basic. All of the switches are Cherry MX Black and are super quiet. The fact that all of the customizations are stored internally is perfect for the gamer that uses multiple devices. And we really like the fact that it performs like a standard PC keyboard.

Overall

With 43 fully customizable/programmable keys, it’s one of the most versatile keypads we’ve seen. While it doesn’t have all the “extras” like adjustments, wrist supports, and/or RGB lighting customizations, it works as good as some of the more expensive keypads.

Koolertron Cherry MX Black

  • 43 Programmable Keys
  • Onboard Customization Storage
  • All Switches Are Cherry MX Black

#4 Aula Excalibur

Aula Excalibur with hand rest

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 60
  • Software Included: Yes
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Extreme Gamer

And somehow, we find another keyboard with even more keys … 60! The Aula Excalibur is bursting with keys, 30 of which are programmable.

Switches And Keys

Aula does not state that the keyboard is built from Cherry MX switches, but the actuation force rate is 60g so there’s a good chance that they are using Cherry MX Blue switches as it is a clicky keyboard (not quiet). The keys are double-molded and much heavier than other keys so they’ll take abuse more readily.

Again, the Excalibur has 60 keys in total, 30 of which are programmable and it has 8 macro keys for storing complex keystroke sequences. Aula includes the software necessary to access all of the configuration settings for the keys and the macros.

Ergonomics

The Excalibur does come with a padded palm rest that sits to the left of the keypad which is great as it is a left-centric device. Due to the design, along with the palm rest, there’s a good chance you won’t get wrist fatigue using this keyboard. All of the major keys are located in the middle of the keypad, with function keys, number keys, and macro keys off to the extremities of the keyboard.

Aula Excalibur for gaming

As far as looks go, this is a sweet looking keypad. Design-wise, it’s pretty rectangular minus the rounding at the top. Non-critical keys are located on the outer perimeter of the keypad but are not out of reach in the heat of the moment. The included RGB lighting really helps to set this rather simple keypad apart from the crowd.

RGB Colors

The Excalibur comes with the ability to customize the colors of each key individually, just like the Razer’s mentioned above. The included software does come with five preloaded RGB settings. If the keypad hasn’t been used for ten minutes, it will go into sleep mode to conserve energy.

Aula Excalibur without hand rest

What We Like

The Excalibur is a very balanced keypad, putting the critical buttons dead center. Being that this is a left-centric device, the palm rest on the left side of the keypad is nice and helps to reduce gaming/wrist fatigue. The RGB controller has some nice features that aren’t like others such as the ability to have each key respond to being pressed and then slowly fading off after a couple of seconds.

Overall

You can never have too much and with the Excalibur, you won’t. It has 60 keys, with 30 of them being programmable. It does come with a left-of-center palm rest which is great and the keys are VERY responsive.

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Aula Excalibur

  • 60 Keys In Total (30 Programmable Keys)
  • Double Molded Keys For Added Durability
  • Left-Mounted Palm Rest

#5 Redragon K585

Redragon K585 with hand rest

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 42
  • Software Included: No – Downloadable
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Extreme Gamer

While Razer pretty much has a lock on the #1 gaming keypad, Redragon has done a good job of making the choice harder.

Switches And Keys

The switches in the Redragon are not custom built, and they aren’t Cherry MX either; instead, the switches are OUTEMU Blue Switches which are almost as accurate and fast as Cherry MX keys with the same amount of actuation force required (less expensive). The switches in the K585 require 60g of force to fully activate which is the same as the Cherry MX Blue switches.

Redragon K585 keys

The K585 has a total of 42 keys, of which 7 are programmable (macro). You can store 4 macros per programmable key for a total of 28 customized macros. Assigning the macros is easy using the downloadable software from the Redragon website.

Ergonomics

The Redragon K585 actually looks like a blocky left hand with the thumb attached. It is built left-centric so that everything moves inward, making it easier to work with than some of the others that are centered only or right-centric.

Redragon K585 next to keyboard

The palm/wrist rest is not padded, but it is detachable (magnetic connection). And, there is not a directional control pad like with the Razer’s mentioned above.

RGB Colors

The K585 has 5 different RGB lighting options that are preconfigured. However, the keys are not individually controlled like with the Razer’s mentioned above.

Redragon K585 close up of keys

What We Like

As we weren’t digging the directional control of the Razer’s, this is a close second. Sure, it doesn’t have those built-in keys and it does require a little more force (10g more), but the tactile click and the setup is easier for us to use. Being left-centric, it is easier for us to move around on this keypad than with some others. We do like the palm rest, especially the detachable portion, but we would like it more if it were padded.

Overall

While it’s not loaded with tons of programmable keys, and while you can’t adjust the RGB lighting for each key, it’s a left-centric keypad that is truly shaped like the left hand. It is so much easier to use than some of the more expensive counterparts. If you don’t need a directional control on your gaming keypad, then you’ll love the Redragon K585.

Redragon K585

  • 7 Programmable Macro Keys with 4 Macro Support Each
  • Detachable Magnetic Palm/Wrist Rest
  • Left-Centric Design Is Easier To Use

#6 Koolertron Red Switch

Koolertron Red Switch backlit keys

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 23
  • Software Included: No – Download
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Extreme Gamer

Ready to get away from all the black and/or dark keyboards? Well, Koolertron is ready to change everything with a clear, blue backlit gaming keypad that’s sure to COOL down your competition.

Switches And Keys

All of the switches in the Koolertron Red Switch are … RED (OUTEMU switches). Of course, these are linear switches with no click noise and no resistance, meaning they are fast. If you need the fastest, RED switches are the best, literally requiring only 50g of force before actuation occurs.

Koolertron Red Switch switches

The Koolertron Red Switch has 23 keys, all of which are fully programmable using the software which can be downloaded from the website. Even more, all of the keys can be programmed to perform macro sequences too. And taking it even further, there are four levels of key customizations so you’ll always have access to your preferred key plan for ANY game.

All of the customizations can be stored in the onboard computer and can be transferred to any computer and available at any time.

Koolertron Red Switch measurements

Ergonomics

The Koolertron Red Switch is ultra-small at only 5” wide by 3.5” tall, so it’s a rectangle. Everything can be reached in a moment and switching between layouts is super simple. There is no wrist rest and/or directional control and the WASD keys are dead center.

Koolertron Red Switch keys

As far as looks are concerned, it’s different. Most gaming keypads are dark and/or black with heavy contrasting lights, but the Koolertron Red Switch is clear/white with blue backlights. It’s almost like playing with ICE instead of FIRE.

RGB Colors

The Koolertron Red Switch does not offer RGB programming as it focuses on a cleaner, minimalistic design. The color options are blue backlighting and blue backlighting with a breathing effect.

Koolertron Red Switch

What We Like

When looking at the Koolertron Red Switch, we can’t help but be drawn in by the ice blue glow. It’s bright and clean, and it’s super small. Everything is within reach and the customizations can be stored onboard for added portability.

Overall

The blue is BRIGHT! Even so, it looks amazing and it still manages to compress a ton of features into a very small, portable package. If you’re a gamer on the go, the Koolertron Red Switch is worth your time.

Koolertron Red Switch

  • 23 Fully Programmable Red Switch Keys
  • Onboard Customization Storage
  • Ice Blue Backlighting

#7 Giixer One-Handed Clear

Giixer One-Handed Clear with wrist rest

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 35
  • Software Included: Yes
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Beginning Gamer

Here’s another that takes a different approach to looks. While the Giixer does keep some black/red color, it’s primarily clear with a lot of RGB colors. It’s different and it’ll draw eyes, and it’s not that expensive either. Also: it’s by far one of the cheapest gaming keypads currently available.

Switches And Keys

This is a mechanical keyboard, but the manufacturer doesn’t identify the switch type and/or weight. In most cases, this would be a turnoff, but the switches have an approximate push value of 65g to 70g, with an audible click. This is not built for speed, but rather feedback to the user.

This keypad has 35 keys, all of which are NOT programmable. In most cases, we would run from this, but it’s still a good keypad with everything you need to be competitive without spending a fortune.

Ergonomics

The Giixer One-Handed is about 40% of the size of a regular keyboard, but it has a HUGE palm/wrist rest to work with. The palm/wrist wrest is not padded, but the angle is comfortable for long, grueling game sessions.

Giixer One-Handed Clear with league of legends background

RGB Colors

The keypad is backlit, but it does not allow for custom RGB programming, instead using their own blue/pink color combination. It does look good with the clear/white keyboard, but the black/red palm rest does look a little out of place here.

What We Like

Honestly, this looks different, which is why we even looked at it. Not everyone wants to be the same, and this checks that box.

Overall

If you want to be different, but still keep it simple, this is a great gaming keypad. If you’ll need more customization options, look elsewhere.

Giixer One-Handed Clear

  • Great Palm Rest
  • 35 Keys

#8 HORI TAC Pro Type M2

HORI TAC Pro Type M2

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 20 + Directional Control
  • Software Included: No – Downloadable
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Extreme Gamer

Here’s one that’ll knock your socks off, and it’s ready for anything you can throw at it!

HORI TAC Pro Type M2 in action

Switches And Keys

Again, here’s another gaming keypad that doesn’t talk about the switch types so we can’t specifically say that they are a certain force level, though it should feel about 65g to 70g of actuation force.

HORI TAC Pro Type M2 software

The keys can be programmed using a downloaded app that can be controlled from your mobile device (which is kind of cool). You can save up to eight different profiles per platforms (PS4 and PC).

Ergonomics

Honestly, the shape looks like a glove for a closed fist. The design is left-centric which we love and it does have an included directional control on the right side of the palm rest (which is adjustable). It also includes an additional mouse as part of the package which can be plugged into the keypad itself.

HORI TAC Pro Type M2 on desktop

RGB Colors

The downloadable app can control the colors of the keypad, but the color options are nearly as diverse as some of the other options.

HORI TAC Pro Type M2 Keys

What We Like

This is one of the best looking, left-centric designs with a directional control that we’ve seen. Plus, they include a mouse with the package. And, it works with the PC and with the PS4. It’s actually licensed by SONY. The directional control is directly next to the palm rest which makes movement so much easier.

Overall

This is a great keypad, but there are other options that aren’t as expensive. If you’ll only need it for a PC, look elsewhere. If you want multi-platform capability, this one might be perfect for you.

HORI TAC Pro Type M2

  • Mouse Included
  • Downloaded App Control From Mobile Device
  • Multi-Platform Capability

#9 Delux T9X

Delux T9X

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 33
  • Software Included: Yes
  • Switch Type: Mechanical
  • Purpose: Mid-Level Gamer

If you want a solid gaming keypad, but don’t want to shell out $100+, the Delux T9X is worth a look. It works on a minimalistic frame but does just as much as some more expensive units.

Delux T9X keys

Switches And Keys

The switches in the Delux T9X are Kailh White Box switches which only require 50g of actuation force (identical to the Razer’s custom switches and the Cherry MX Red switches). Unlike the Razer’s and the MX Red’s, these produce a nice, audible click to confirm actuation.

Delux T9X switches

The Delux T9X has 33 keys and all of them are programmable using the included software. And the WASD keys are textured, not indented, making them easier to find without having to look down from all of the action.

Delux T9X keys

Ergonomics

The Delux T9X is left-centric with most of the design moving to the right, except for side programmable keys. The spacebar is a slight pull to the right and since it is relatively small, you really don’t have to move your hand around too much. And, there is an attached palm rest that is padded to help take the pressure off when your gaming for long periods of time.

Delux T9X switches textured WASD keys

RGB Colors

The T9X is ready for color customization with six preconfigured lighting effects. And, if that isn’t enough, you can create your own custom lighting effect with up to 16.8 million different colors. While it isn’t on the same level as a Razer, it doesn’t cost as much either and you still get the look without the key-level customization.

Delux T9X measurements

What We Like

We really like left-centric gaming keypads and this is one of the best, especially for average sized hands. In most cases, you’ll never need to actually move your hand, just your fingers. And when you do, it won’t be for long distances so you won’t have to deal with many hand position resets. The attached padded palm/wrist rest is great and because it’s not detachable, it doesn’t accidentally come off during heavy gameplay.

Delux T9X on desktop

Overall

If you want a Razer, but don’t want the price tag, then the Delux T9X should be on your list. It’s actually more left-centric which we prefer and it has most of the same features, using a 50g actuated keys with an audible click.

Delux T9X

  • 33 Keys In Total, Fully Programmable
  • 50g Actuated Keys
  • Left-Centric Design

#10 Delux T9

Delux T9

Specs:

  • Number of Keys: 46
  • Software Included: Yes
  • Switch Type: Membrane
  • Purpose: Beginning Gamer

For someone looking to jump in, but doesn’t know if they’ll like a gaming keypad, here’s your chance to get your feet wet without getting into any of the “extras” that you might be worried about.

Switches And Keys

The Delux T9 uses a membrane and therefore does not include any switches. A membrane keypad is not nearly as responsive as a mechanical keyboard but it does help to keep the cost down.

Delux T9 side

It does have 46 keys in total, all of which are NOT programmable. Instead, you would have the standard WASD layout to work with, along with the F1-F6 keys on the top of the keypad. You can also switch the mode from WASD to directional control in just one button press. Other than that, it’s a basic keyboard with a palm rest.

Ergonomics

Even though the Delux T9 is fairly basic, it looks cool. Looking at it from above, it resembles a plane and/or bomb and it uses red keys to highlight the WASD keys and just a little more for some side inserts. Otherwise, it’s black and white with no RGB lighting controls

Delux T9 wrist rest

The wrist pad is directly under the keypad and is padded for longer gameplay. As the keypad is not very wide, there’s a good chance that you won’t get any kinks in your wrist from moving left/right.

RGB Colors

The Delux T9 does not come with any RGB lighting, colored and/or backlighting.

Delux T9 mesasurements

What We Like

For someone looking to get into gaming keypads, this is a good start. While it doesn’t have all the features we would want such as programming and RGB lighting, it does its job of keeping everything in hands reach and making it easier to focus on the game.

Overall

If you want an inexpensive, functional gaming keypad, this will get you started. If you want some of the more advanced features, you should go with one of the above.

Delux T9

  • 46 Keys In Total
  • Cost Efficient

Buyer’s Guide To Find The Best Gaming Keypad

With so many different gaming keypads to choose from, how do you decide which one is the best for you?

Well, we’ve broken it down as much as we can to help you figure out what will work best for you. Of course, we believe that we’ve done most of the legwork for you in our list above, but if not, here’s exactly what you need to look at and/or consider when trying to figure out which gaming keypad is best for you.

Input/Key Type

There are two types of key types:

  1. Membrane
  2. Mechanical

A membrane keyboard uses a rubber sheet that tracks WHERE you pushed down and then sends the information to your device. Membranes are generally used in cheaper, less functional keyboards. Most membrane keyboards require a firmer, longer keypress in order to “register” the key click, and they do not have the normal “clicking” sound most users are accustomed to.

A mechanical keyboard does not use a rubber sheet but rather each key is individually controlled by a push-button mechanism and/or relay. The mechanism is generally comprised of a rubber cap that sits on a stem, that sits on a spring, that flips a switch when pressed. When pressed down, a mechanical key will generally respond back with a “clicking” sound to let the user know they’ve pressed down far enough.

In most cases, a mechanical keyboard will be the preferred option for a gaming keypad.

Switch Type

There are three types of keyboard switch types:

  1. Tactile Bump
  2. Tactile Click
  3. Smooth (Linear)

Tactile Bump switch types are generally identified by the Cherry MX Brown color. These are the switches that have a slight resistance, “the bump”, that lets the user know that they’ve registered a keystroke. These do not report back with the common “click” that most users expect when using keyboards. Gamers tend to prefer the bump-style switches over the click-style switches.

Tactile Click switch types are generally identified by the Cherry MX Blue color and/or the Cherry MX Green color. These are the switches that provide the “click” that most users are comfortable with. In the gaming market, this is not always desirable which is why the Tactile Bump and the Smooth (Linear) switch types are the most commonly chosen and/or used.

Smooth (Linear) switch types are generally identified by the Cherry MX Red color and/or the Cherry MX Black color. A smooth (linear) switch does not have a “click” point as there is no “bump” for the key to register. These types of switches are the quietest and smoothest of all the switch types. On a side note, the MX Black provides a little more resistance than the MX Red.

Button Configuration

A standard PC keyboard has 84 or more keys and the keys are not programmable, plus the layout is not optimized for gameplay.

Gaming keypads are designed with a less-is-more approach in most cases, with between 15 and 40 keys to work with. And these keys can be “specialized” using programming and/or macros to make them function a certain way.

How the keys are laid out can matter too. Some designs are built for ambidextrous use whereas others are definitely righty/lefty focused. And the shape can matter too as you might have long fingers and/or hands or vice-versa.

Software / Macros / Programmable Keys

Gaming keypads are built to enhance and/or optimize your experience and gameplay, but a keypad that can’t be mapped out to your liking and/or programmed to do what you want isn’t much of an improvement over a standard PC keyboard.

A keypad that has software included for mapping your keys and/or layout will help to simplify your life and make gaming much more enjoyable. Plus, being able to program your keys to perform certain functions in a sequential order can help reduce downtime and increase player efficiency.

Most gamers prefer keypads that can be configured and/or programmed.

Ergonomics / Comfort

Next, you need to consider how the gaming keypad is designed and/or shaped as you’ll be using this a LOT. For those who play a lot of First-Person-Shooter (FPS) games, you’ll want a keypad that gives you a soft, natural resting spot as you’ll be using this primarily.

Not all keypads are built for comfort either, as they focus more on keys, configurations, and colors. If you know you’ll need to rest your hand a lot, find one that has a soft landing spot for your palm and a “natural” shape for your hand – you’ll thank us later.

Size

Unfortunately, size does matter. If you have small hands, a larger keypad may not be the best option for you and vice-versa. While most don’t even think about the size of their gaming keypad, it’s an important factor to consider.

In order to fully immerse yourself in the gaming environment, you have to be able to focus solely on the game – not the keypad. If you’re constantly having to readjust your hand position and/or move up/down or left/right to use the keypad, you might have the wrong size. And, one that is too small is worse as you’ll have to tighten your hands and/or readjust constantly.

Size really does matter – when it comes to gaming keypads.

RGB Lighting

While this isn’t a make a break factor, it’s a COOL factor that a LOT of gamers like. Being able to customize your backlighting (sometimes even at the individual key level) really allows you to match your system in its entirety. In some instances, night play, you may want to adjust the coloring and/or brightness. If this is the case, make sure that keypad you want has these features.

There are some that only come in one color and one brightness and some that don’t even offer backlighting at all.

Gaming Keypad Keys Close up

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why would I want to use a gaming keypad?
A: Conventional keyboards aren’t optimized for the speed and requirements of gaming. They are optimized for typing efficiency. Gaming keypads have specialized keys known as Cherry MX keys. These specialized keys are faster, more efficient, and in most cases, quieter than a normal keypad.

Another reason why a gamer would prefer a gaming keypad is the fact that they can configure their keys to work in a specific layout. Plus, they can program their keys to perform certain sequential multi-key combos to speed up their gameplay significantly.

Q: How do I program my gaming keys and/or configure the keypad layout?
A: Most gaming keypads can be programmed using software that was provided by the manufacturer. In most cases, you’ll open up the keypad software, go to the keypad editor and/or program settings, make the adjustments you want and hit save.

And, it’s pretty much the same process for your keypad layout. If you need to make changes, open up the software, look for the keypad editor and/or layout configuration, make the changes you want and hit save.

Q: Is a mechanical keypad better than a membrane keypad?
A: Most every gamer will tell you that a mechanical keypad is better than a membrane keypad simply because of the switches.

But, membrane keypads are not nearly as accurate, they take longer to register between keystrokes, and they don’t provide the same “feedback” that most gamers prefer. While the rubber membrane may last longer, the extended life is not worth the reduction in gameplay satisfaction.

Q: What is the best switch for gaming?
A: With all the different types of switches (i.e. linear, click, bump), which one is the best for you? In MOST cases, gamers will prefer linear switches as they are the smoothest and quietest of all the switch types. The next favorite would be bump-style switches followed by click-style switches that are the loudest.

Q: What is the quietest switch for gaming?
A: We pretty much already addressed this, but again, the quietest of the switches is the linear-styled switches which are generally identified by the Cherry MX Red and/or Cherry MX Black colors.

Q: Can you change out the switches to something you like better?
A: In most cases, no. If you did decide to do it, you’ll find that it’s a cumbersome, detailed process that is not worth it.

Q: How long do gaming keypads last?
A: This is a case of … “you get what you pay for”. If you purchase a cheap, poorly made keypad, you can expect about a year (or less) before it will need to be replaced. A more expensive, higher quality keypad can last up to three years before it will need to be replaced.

Q: Can a gaming keypad be used like a standard keyboard?
A: No. A gaming keypad is a stripped-down version of a keyboard with a specific function to work for games. You cannot type the full alphabet using a gaming keypad, plus why would want to do this?

Conclusion

For a gamer, anything that can give them a competitive edge is worth it!

The right gaming keypad can definitely help to improve your gameplay by giving you full control over your keyboard layout, allowing you to program sequential multi-key combos, and breaking away from the non-customizable standard keyboard that seriously slows EVERYONE down.

If you’ve been on the fence about a gaming keypad, it’s time to jump off. The right gaming keypad will change the way you experience your games and, WHO KNOWS, catapult you to the next level.

Using our list of the best gaming keypads, we’re confident you’ll be more than satisfied. If you didn’t find one that fits you “just right”, maybe you’ll be able to find the right one using our buyer’s guide for gaming keypads.

So, did you find the perfect gaming keypad?

Product Boxes: Last updated on 2019-08-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API