I've always liked to examine and to describe the gadgets which are made for gamers. And today this is going to be just the case. Let’s talk about gaming keypads: Logitech G13, Razer Tartarus Chroma Expert, Razer Orbweaver Chroma - Elite, 1byone Mechanical Gaming Keyboard,
Let's start with an answer to this question: What is a keypad? It's not a piece of keyboard, as it might seem at first glance, but a fully independent device which makes a gamer's life easier and provides for additional comfort when playing.
It is here that you need to observe the word "gaming," because when it comes to a regular keyboard, you know that you can use it for actual playing, which would be painful and inconvenient yet still possible. As for the keypads, a non-gaming version of a keypad is simply a numeric keypad on your keyboard, which is likely to be to your right at the moment. The only thing you can play using this are probably some math games.
For us gamers, a keypad is truly a majestic tool. Its ease of taps, hand comfort and full relaxation is a true fairy tale. Today, we'll learn how to choose a comfortable and useful device, identify who needs this gadget, give an overview of the model range, and pick the best products. If you are an experienced gamer, just omit the technical part and go straight to TOP-5 Gaming Keypads.
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE A GAMING KEYPAD?
I wouldn't have been bothered by such issues but after surfing the web, I found out that no one had touched upon such questions, despite the obvious need for doing so.
The following criteria will guide you:
- Set of keys. This is the number of buttons that would be optimal for gaming
Nowadays, the range of this parameter is quite wide. You can rarely come across a set of 8-9 keys. Some sets reach 60-70 keys. Of course, the notion of a keypad itself is very relative, but personally, I think that the latter sets fit more into a category of keyboards. I would recommend purchasing a 20-25 button keypad. Fewer buttons are unlikely to suffice unless you're using it as intended (we'll talk about that later), and more buttons will only distract you and resemble a traditional keyboard.
- Ergonomics is a straight-out and solid aspect
Your hand should be placed on the keypad perfectly and not get tired, even after a night raid which lasts until the following evening. That's why you're buying a keypad! The model should initially fit your anatomical features which would then make it unique, or it should be adjusted (which is more appropriate). The more axes of settings are available, the better it is for you.
- Profiling is a desirable option
Let's say you want to play multiple characters during a game. With profiling, you won't have to change your layout and create new binds each time you re-log. Having set everything up once, you would be able to easily switch between your profiles with a strike of a key. The same goes for other games. When your gameplay in DotA ends successfully (which is natural since there are only crabs around you!), then subsequently logging into WoW - where a party if complete and you're the only one missing - becomes just a matter of pressing a button rather than setting everything up from scratch.
- Extra functions will always come in handy
Modular buttons, analog control sticks, removable panels, and other features will contribute to your better comfort and to gaining maximum pleasure.
It is not worth buying models which are over-tuned. A keypad should be a keypad - not a printer, a scanner, a mixer, a beer can opener etc. But this is something you should think about in the future: today's market is doing just fine. But we still have to figure out who would need such a device. In fact, it will suit everyone, but then the question of necessity arises. I'll explain…
The qualities of the keypads and how to unlock their potential will be revealed in the best way in MMORPG and MOBA games, in RPGs, and some arcades among single-player games. These are the games where there's magic, i.e. a huge range of various spells, hits, stands etc, which have to be used in a row with the right binding and with a countdown. Here, everything will be at your fingertips and you don't need to set up any combinations of keys, since everything will have been bound beforehand, and the only thing you need to do is click.
If you're playing WoW or Dota, or maybe even LoL, then I strongly recommend that you buy such a device. With it, the game is transformed and your perception changes. But bear in mind that you will still need to use your standard keyboard for chatting, there's nothing to be done about that.
Other genres of games don't dictate such a strong need for this device. Say, in racing, it simply wouldn't unlock its potential... Buying a separate keypad for a mere 6-7 buttons? It would be more beneficial to save and buy a PC racing wheel. Nevertheless, this judgment is as subjective as the rest of this web-portal, so if you really want to buy it, then go ahead.
Let's move on the model range and apply our newly-acquired skills in choosing a perfect keypad. I'll say in advance that there won't be any surprises today. The keypad market is dominated by the same companies which dominate other gaming gadget markets - which are Razer and Logitech.
Logitech G13 Programmable Gameboard with LCD Display
We might as well begin with a Swiss manufacturer. Logitech is a company associated with quality and excellent execution. This time is no different. Customer care has always been a competitive edge of this brand. First of all, this is obvious from the efforts of engineers and designers who worked on the ergonomics.
It hasn't got any extra features, such as individual adjustment of hand placement, but you'll do great without it. And no, I won't contradict myself and lie to you – it will indeed be better if the settings are precise. But this device would suit most, if not everyone. The memory allows having five profiles. This is just what I was explaining above: You bind your profiles once and then you just switch between them. By the way, the memory contains a number of pre-settings for the most popular games - if they suit you, consider that the Swiss manufacturer has done all the work for you. 25 programmable keys for complete freedom of action will be at your disposal.
Forget about having to record the macros along with programming-level issues. Everything is much simpler here - macros can be easily recorded, even without having to pause the game. What a cool thing that is! Suppose you had a bind for quick healing, for example, but you ran out of bandages. In this situation, instead of letting a useful button stay idle, you would simply assign new rules to it.
The lighting does not destroy your eyes and can be adjusted to your liking. Different colors may be chosen for different profiles for easier navigation. There's also a small LCD screen. This is a simple setting yielding serious results. Game statistics or messages can be output there. An analog stick which can be assigned any function should not be overlooked either.
The average price for the Logitech G13 keypad is ~$62.94. This isn't the cheapest keypad, but I believe it's worth it. Over 90% of those who bought it agree with me. What did the rest not like? The reviews are chaotic, and I was unable to identify any common issues. However, I noticed that very often the reviewers compare this keypad with a certain Belkin n52te. Is this promotion or a mere coincidence? Time will tell. But now you can read over 1,000 customer reviews on Amazon.com to decide whether it’s worth purchasing the Logitech G13.
Our Personal Experience
We’ve tested it for about a week, and the screen seemed interesting only for the first couple of days. You get used to it afterwards and your eyes will ignore the useful information output there. This is undoubtedly a helpful feature, but it hasn’t been entirely thought through as it is not easy to play and glance at your wrist simultaneously.
We also didn’t like the rest much. It’s straight, isn’t bent and the coolness of the metallic “G13” plaque is not too pleasant for the wrist.
Price: ~$62.94 Check the current price
Razer Tartarus Chroma Expert RGB Gaming Keypad
The Razer Tartarus Chroma keypad for ~$79.99 is a device with 25 programmable keys and 16.8 million customizable backlighting effects. It is an ideological successor of the Razer Nostromo.
Package and Supply. The keypad is supplied in a brand-name stylish box which is labeled with a brief synopsis of the device’s possibilities and Synapse 2.0 software. The kit supplied includes several Razer stickers, a user’s guide and the keypad itself. As no driver CD is included, you’ll have to download the latest version from the official website.
Exterior and ergonomics. The total number of programmable keys of this keypad amounts to 25. The main 15 are multi-touch membrane keys. The thumb is placed on a programmable D-Pad with 8 positions. Over and under it, there are two more buttons that can be hit with the same finger. The entire keypad is made of a regular matte plastic. The device has 8 different profiles which can either be changed with the help of the software or one of the buttons can be assigned to change a profile.
Let’s give credit to the Razer engineers who have been able to design quite an ergonomic device. Its shape resembles a human palm in terms of anatomy so that no sense of fatigue or discomfort appears even after long use. The lower part of the keypad is equipped with retractable legs that stick well to the surface of the table. The wrist rests are adjustable. You can really end up with a perfect keypad, if you spend some time setting it up. It’ll be pure pleasure to play shooters or MOBA games – read over 400 customer reviews on Amazon.com to ensure this.
The Tartarus Chroma is also equipped with customizable RGB backlighting. You can set your personal color preferences or use one of the pre-set modes. In any case, it looks very cool.
Software. The device is based on brand Synapse 2.0 software which programs the keypad and manages the backlighting. It saves the settings of all Razer devices available and uploads them to a cloud storage accessible from anywhere in the world, so that you don’t have to re-record macros each time you use a new PC, or so the marketers claim. In reality, the service doesn’t operate very well, it lags frequently and has so many bugs that online profile saving seems to be only a formal option. Let’s hope that one day Razer will fix these issues.
Apart from failing functions, Razer Synapse provides ample opportunities for setting the keypad. You can create your own profile which is convenient when, say, a family member would like to use the devices and the 8 pre-set modes would be insufficient for the two of you. Razer Tartarus Chroma Expert can be used for performing a wide variety of tasking ranging from videogames to using pro software (Photoshop, Sony Vegas, and others). As a rule, Razer assembly quality and ergonomics are superior so don’t hesitate to buy this keypad as it will become a great asset for those who don’t find a regular keyboard’s functionality to be sufficient, and who don’t care about saving their profiles online.
Our Personal Experience
This is a perfect substitute for those who are looking for a quality keypad at an affordable price. Should our Nostromo fail, it will be replaced by the Tartarus. This device is not equipped with an expensive mechanic keypad. It is instead rid of the annoying tapping sound. With that said, its ergonomics and usability are not inferior to those of a more expensive keypad.
Price: ~$79.99 Check the current price
Razer Orbweaver Chroma - Elite RGB Mechanical Switches Gaming Keypad
Razer is the first brand to install mechanical switches on a keypad. The Razer Orbweaver Chroma-Elite is equipped with 20 real programmable buttons with autonomous backlighting and a D-Pad with 8 positions as well as a space bar and a functional button, of which the main and most logical purpose is switching between the profiles.
10 buttons are available for multi-touch at once which makes this ~$129.99 keypad a real hand extension. Touch-sensitive and responsive keys are designed for 50-gram pressure. When pressed, they make a pleasant sound to the ear, give consistent feedback, while their different size ensures different course, so you can quickly get used to the assigned buttons. However, it is still a matter of personal preferences. Some believe that switching to a keypad is a very long and uncomfortable process, although it is known to be specifically designed for protracted night raids, especially in WoW, LoL and, of course, Dota, as well as in the most popular and not so popular MMORPGs.
There are 8 programmable keypad modes so you don’t have to spend time customizing the settings for each particular game. These modes let you set all the parameters at once and switch between them later on. Razer Synapse 2.0 allows customizing each profile after a quick registration. However, the users state that there are frequent serious issues with access to the system.
Compatibility. Razer Orbweaver Chroma-Elite is quickly and easily compatible with most operational systems, including MAC OSx. PC gaming keyboards users might not instantly appreciate a keypad, but laptop owners will find it to be a must for pumping their skills. Read all the customer reviews on Amazon.com to learn more.
Ergonomics. Naturally, a perfect weapon should be convenient. This keypad proves this statement. All the tension your hand might have experienced has been transferred to customizable rests so that you can work efficiently without fatigue for many hours.
First, the distance from the key unit to your palm can be adjusted with a frame and fixed in the required position. You will feel comfortable both if you have long fingers, and if your hand is of a regular size, and in any case you’d be able to reach any row.
Second, the incline of a palm rest is adjusted. Align the height to lay fingers on the keypad and fit them perfectly. The actual stand is made of rubberized plastic which reduces slipping and makes sure your hand does not sweat under the stand. The height of the wrist rest is also regulated separately to prevent your wrist from hanging in the air during game play.
Third, it is piece of cake to install the D-pad block wherever you need it to be. Input the settings depending on the length of your thumb. In general, all the parameters can be flexibly configured with maximum comfort being an embodiment of customization.
Visual effects. Razer Orbweaver Chroma-Elite users will also appreciate divine backlighting. You will be able to use 16,000,000 shades and 100 power levels. Plenty of effects are available, for instance, the increase in the lighting intensity as you type characters on the keyboard. The higher the typing speed is, the brighter the buttons are lit. An incredibly beautiful wave of light diverges from a pressed key, flashes and lights up to the edge.
Our Personal Experience
To sum up, Razer Orbweaver Chroma-Elite might seem overpriced at a first glance only. Above, we’ve listed enough arguments as to why this keypad is worth your attention.
We have seriously considered switching to this device from our dear Nostromo, but haven’t dared. Surely, the tactile perception and the response of the keys lead to fruitful results, but we really disliked the annoying tapping sound of the keys and overpricing of the keypad.
We can’t but mention the horrible software for this keypad. Razer Synapse is the worst product of this American corporation. This cloud software is completely useless as it is impossible to properly save and download gaming profiles from the server. Only those profiles and macros that were pre-installed will work properly.
Price: ~$129.99 Check the current price
1byone Mechanical Gaming Keyboard
1byone mechanical gaming keyboard is a lovely ~$58.99 RGB-backlit device with Kailh Bluе switches. Let’s figure out what it is.
Package and Supply. Apart from the actual keypad, you will be supplied with a driver CD and the software for it. it seems funny to me, as personally I haven’t used a DVD drive for about 5 years or so. Luckily, you can download everything you need off the official 1byone website.
Settings. Generally, the device works out of the box, but it is necessary to install the software for backlight settings and macros. I did not have any issues with it as the software is nimble and simple without any annoying advertising (which some manufacturers overuse).
The keypad backlighting is used flexibly. 1byone have provided a choice of a pile of interesting and bright effects but I went for a regular monochrome option. I’m not one of those who like these bright lights but I know gamers who love this feature. Refer to their feedback on Amazon.com.
Keys. There are 29 mechanical keys available and each can be assigned to any action. The manufacturers picked Kailh Bluе switches which are similar to Cherry MX Blue. Of course, we’d all would like to see original German switches but over the years, Kail has reduced the quality gap between them and Cherry, and in general, the keys leave a good impression. The feedback is nice, I also liked the pressing time. The only thing that is unclear to me is why Kailh Red or Kailh Brown switches, which are better-suited for gaming, could not have been installed? However, it is my personal preference as some gamers have no problem using blue switches.
Exterior and ergonomics. The keypad looks stylish. The large triangular button (a space key by default) is distinguished. Up until being set, the keys are actually a cut version of a standard keyboard. Regular keys including Ctrl, Alt, Tab, Shift, Esc, as well as F1-F6 have been installed. Obviously, any of them could be re-assigned with the help of special software.
The case is firm, and once you turn the keypad over, you will see a robust metal base. The plastic used is matte; the hand rest is convenient so it is pleasant to use the device which feels premium. As for the drawbacks, there are no retractable legs and the stand cannot be adjusted.
The length of the cable that cannot be disconnected is 1.7 meters which is more than enough. It is pleasant that it is wrapped in fabric braiding so that nothing gets in the way and or becomes trapped.
The gaming test.
I used Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2 to test this keypad. Naturally, it defeats any membrane keyboard. Although the Kailh Blue switches click loudly, (I’m afraid you won’t be able to play at night if you don’t want to wake up your entire family), they have a pleasant feedback as it’s nice to simply press these keys. The hand feels comfortable and you can reach any key without re-positioning your wrist. In general, there is nothing to complain about as everything is satisfactory.
1byone have designed a decent pro-gaming keypad. If you like its appearance, go ahead and order it but don’t have any high expectations of it.
Price: ~$58.99 Check the current price
Best gaming keypads: Comparative table
|Logitech G13||Razer Tartarus Chroma Expert||Razer Orbweaver Chroma - Elite||1byone Mechanical Gaming Keyboard|
|The number of regular keys||22||25||30||29|
|The number of extra keys||8||3||3||0|
|The number of profiles available||5||Unlimited (cloud storage is used)||Unlimited (cloud storage is used)||1|
|Keypad type||Membrane||Membrane||Razer Mechanical Switches||Kailh Blue mechanical switches|
|Backlighting available||Yes (16 million colors)||Yes (16 million colors)||Yes (16 million colors)||Yes (16 million colors)|
Scrolling wheel available
|Additional options||A customizable LCD screen||A customizable LCD screen||A customizable LCD screen||A customizable LCD screen|
I recommend choosing a keypad out of the suggested models. First, these products are tested by the market, and second, they are manufactured by popular and worthy companies.
You may also pay attention to the Delux T9 46-Key Wired Gaming Keyboard for ~$33.98, but I wouldn't recommend doing so. This model is difficult or impossible to program. And this function should not be overlooked, as it is a primary one. We buy keypads just for modeling a perfect set of keys which is always at our fingertips.
You'll make a right choice if you base it on my advice!