Very serious gamers cannot do without a gaming keypad. The reason behind this is simple. Gaming keypads are one-handed abbreviations of the larger gaming keyboards that have been developed specifically for more optimal gaming.
Standard PC keyboards are significantly different from gaming keyboards in a number of ways. Unlike the latter, they are often characterized by challenges that are not suited to gaming. These problems include durability, comfort, low accuracy, high latency, low polling rate, key rollover, and ghosting, among others.
Therefore, if you want your gameplay to always end in victories, an efficient, functional gaming keypad is one accessory you simply cannot do without. It will help you overcome most of the problems associated with conventional keypads.
In a hurry? Here are our top 3 favorite picks when it comes to the best gaming keypads in 2023!
What Is The Point Of Gaming Keypads?
As noted above, gaming keypads are specially designed for the ultimate gaming experience. Though they are quite similar to gaming keyboards, there are notable differences between both. For one, gaming keypads (usually referred to as half keyboards) are much smaller one-handed accessories that focus entirely on gaming.
This is unlike gaming keyboards that can be used for conventional typing, much like the standard keyboards you’ll find on every computer. In a nutshell, gaming keypads are much more specialized for gaming, as evident in their design layout, ergonomics, and overall features, which we will discuss later in greater detail.
Are Gaming Keypads Good For FPS?
Even with their reduced size, gaming keypads are not less functional than gaming keyboards. Hence, as long as the game does not have a lot of hotkeys, gaming keypads will get the job done very efficiently, whether it is FPS games, strategy games, or any other games.
So here is our pick of the top 7 gaming keypads for 2022
1. Razer Tartarus v2 – Best Overall
The Razer Tartarus v2 Chroma made its debut in December 2017 and has continued to evolve since then. The current installment comes with 32 fully programmable keys with hotkeys and macros as well as a versatile 8-way directional thumbpad.
It features an updated version of Razer’s signature Synapse software (Synapse 3.0) and mecha membrane technology (a combination of mechanical switches and membrane rubber domes) and is one gaming keypad for any gamer that craves the classic tactile experience offered by a mechanical switch.
The Synapse feature enables gamers to link their devices to other Razar products. Once such Razer device is connected to a gamer’s PC, the gamer can do a number of things, e.g., creating macros and personalizing certain features like profiles, lighting, and others.
Speaking of lighting, this Razer keypad is equipped with a Chroma backlighting that includes 16.8 million customizable RGB color options. The backlighting settings can be saved in cloud storage for easy access at any time and in any part of the world. With this, gamers migrating from an old to a new computer save the time they could have spent on recording new macros or creating new lighting options.
The advanced ergonomics utilized in designing the v2 includes a detachable palm rest and a couple of adjustable positions for more comfort while playing. This user-friendly design means that this keypad can be used for several hours of gaming without discomfort.
Why is the Razer Tartarus v2 the best gaming keypad in 2023?
Razer’s popular Tartarus v2 ranks as the supreme mechanical membrane keypad from among those we scrutinized. Not only that, but we also feel it has an edge when it comes to the speed of customization since it takes little or no time to sync all its 32 keys (whether solely or combined) to function as distinct commands. Moreover, with assistance from Razer’s HyperShift technology, programming the commands to suit your preferences is just a breeze.
Redragon has been producing quality long-lasting budget keyboards for quite some time. The K585 is not an exception. This slim and portable one-handed RGB mechanical gaming keypad with 7 programmable macro keys may seem small but packs several features that make for exciting gameplay.
The Redragon K585 Diti uses OUTEMU blue switches that produce a sharp and pleasant clicking sound. These OUTEMU blue switches are not only very responsive but can easily be activated without much pressure. They are also hot-swappable, meaning that they can be removed and replaced with other switches. Note, however, that the replacing switches must also be OUTEMU switches because K585 switch sockets are compatible with only OUTEMU.
The ergonomically designed Redragon K585 is equipped with a detachable plastic wrist-rest that connects to the keyboard magnetically. Though the wrist-rest is not foamy, it still helps in positioning the wrist and palm for a more comfortable gaming experience. In all, this Redragon unit deserves its runner position albeit coming to terms with its exciting features may be time-consuming.
3. Razer Tartarus Pro- Classic Black – Premium Pick
The relatively pricey Razer Tartarus Pro is an upgraded version of the Tartarus v2 keypad. However, unlike the hybrid mecha-membrane switches of the latter, the Tartarus Pro is designed with new analog optical key switches that feature adjustable actuation.
In terms of overall features, the Tartarus Pro is very similar to its predecessor, the Tartarus v2. As noted above, the most significant distinction between both keypads is the make-up of their switches. Rather than use any of its mechanical switches on the Tartarus Pro, Razer has opted for analog optical switches that are sensitive to pressure and tend to act more like controller buttons than conventional mechanical keys.
Hence, a gamer will get varying levels of outcomes based on how hard he or she presses the keys. For instance, a half-press will make a character walk while a full press will make the character run. The same scenario plays out for all other pressure-dependent actions.
Finally, though the Tartarus Pro lacks in-built memory that makes it impossible to save any of the eight available profiles on the gamepad, we still consider it a premium keypad because of its several outstanding features that make for optimal gaming.
4. RedThunder G 92 Mini Gaming Keypad – Budget Pick
Compared to other similar half-keyboards, the RedThunder G92 is a very cost-effective one-handed membrane gaming keypad built for the average gamer. In terms of ergonomics, this keypad is made with built with a tough ABS housing that guarantees durability. Like other similar products, its portable size (has dimensions of 9.06 x 6.69 x 1.18 inches and weighs 0.77 only pounds) makes it easy for mobile gamers to move about with. There’s also a sizable wrist-rest that seeks to make gameplay most comfortable.
This impressive keypad is ideal for nearly all PC games and each of its 35 keys exhibits anti-ghosting, a vital feature that ensures hassle-free gaming. The RGB backlighting mechanism provides 7 colors and comes in two modes – the breadth mode and the static mode. Notably, the RedThunder 92 is comparatively very affordable which is why it is our budget pick. It is compatible with Win10/8/7/Vista/ME/Mac/Linux/IBM
GameSir is a Chinese gaming peripherals manufacturer that commenced operations in 2010. This second-generation vx2 AimSwitch gaming keypad combo is one of its many products. It is designed with mechanical red switches and has a lifespan of 50 million keystrokes. Ergonomically, this multi-system controller peripheral is an aesthetic delight. That aside, it is also a pretty efficient piece of equipment designed to accomplish two primary objectives:
- Provide a pleasant gaming experience via its mouse/keypad combination
- Ensure competitive advantage with its enhanced precision
The keys to achieving these twin objectives are improved functionality and speedy responsiveness. In both instances, the vx2 has not been found wanting, thanks partly to GameSir’s Agility X 2.4GHz wireless connection technology that brings about low latency, quick response, and stability. Though the vx2 is versatile in usage terms and fun for gamers that cherish the feel of a keypad and mouse, it is most optimal for first-person shooters (FPS), MOBA’s, and other competitive games.
GameSir vx2 features a 7-Key Roll-over with anti-ghosting that ensures absolute precision and control, even in the most heated FPS games. It is compatible with a host of consoles such as the Xbox and PS4 variants, Nintendo Switch, Switch Lite, and Windows PC.
Logitech is a popular brand when it comes to pc gaming peripherals. Over the years, the company has come up with a vast range of quality products like gaming keyboards, mice, joypads, joysticks, and steering wheels. The award-winning hybrid G13 advanced keypad came on board in December 2008. Its sculpted form, overall ergonomics, and pushing-the-envelope functionality are inspired by Logitech’s renowned ComfortWave design.
The iconic contoured design enables the hand and fingers to operate naturally with comfort and ease while the smooth, concave home-row keys ensure that buttons are easy to identify. All these help provide extra comfort during long gaming sessions.
The G13 is equipped with an onboard memory feature that enables gamers to program as many as 5 ready-to-play profiles for each of their favorite game. With the 25 programmable keys, users can assign keypad functions as well as create macros without having to pause a game.
This unique keypad comes with three game modes, 25 programmable keys, and a programmable analog stick and provides as many as 87 ways through which games can be controlled. It is compatible with Windows and Mac OS.
How to Choose the Best Gaming Keypad?
The market for gaming keypads is quite a saturated one with hundreds of competing brands and products. The import of this is that correctly choosing one gaming keypad from among many may sometimes seem like looking for a needle in a haystack, especially if you know next to nothing about gaming keypads. No need to worry, however, because this guide is tailored to help you make the appropriate selection decision.
Below are some salient considerations when trying to fish out that gaming keypad that will make you a gaming champion.
Macros and Customization
Put simply, the term macro in this context means a stored command aimed at simplifying information input. Unlike keystrokes that can be pressed over and over again to repeat the same command, macro keys enable gamers to prosecute routine tasks more easily without any need to press a particular key repeatedly. They can also be useful in offline gaming just as in online games.
In many gaming keypads, you’ll find a set of macros keys as well as macros software with diverse programming modus, depending on the product manufacturer. Usually, macro keys come with pre-determined commands. With the provided software or driver apps, programming macro keys are less stressful.
Key Rollover and Anti-Ghosting
As noted earlier, key rollover and ghosting are serious impediments to effective gaming. To guard against them, most high-quality gaming keypads are designed to have at least a 6-key rollover (6KRO). Such a measure enables constant simultaneous keystrokes, whether gaming or typing at high speeds. Things get even better with N-Key Rollover (NKRO) keypads. With them, gamers are absolutely safe because of their tendency to register every keystroke.
Key rollover and ghosting are often seen as the same by some folks and hence used interchangeably. But strictly speaking, both terms are conceptually different, albeit NKRO is effective in curbing ghosting. A rollover means the number of keys that can be pressed at any one time while ghosting implies the false detection of key presses.
In other words, ghosting is a situation where an additional output (e.g., an alphabet, number, or punctuation) is registered when two or more keys are pressed simultaneously. Older membrane keyboards were particularly susceptible while competitive games were often the most affected.
These days, manufacturers have come up with anti-ghosting features that work like NKRO. They enable gamers to press more assuredly without the fear of ghosting. But the maximum number of keys you can ride such luck with are fewer than in NKRO (a maximum of 3 Keys in most keypads).
Playing games can be fairly demanding on keyboards. This is why durability is key for most manufacturers of gaming keypads. Most premium models come with metal backplates that prevent flex and other kinds of keyboard damage.
To ensure that these keypads withstand the exertions of gamers, weather, and other conditions, most of them are designed with either metal or extremely durable and oil resistant plastic housings like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). So you’ll want to settle for metal or ABS gaming keypads because of their superior characteristics.
This may not be the most important consideration for many gamers but there are a number of reasons why you should keep an eye on where your keypad is coming from.
For one, our world is dominated by a capitalist economic system that elevates profitability to high heavens. Hence, some firms, particularly those struggling financially or those who prefer quantity to quality may just want to push whatever products they like into the market.
In contrast, there are other brands that have set very high standards in terms of quality and will never compromise on such standards. Products from such firms are always superior to those of other competing brands.
Though these higher quality products usually come at higher costs to gamers, in the end, they offer very good value for the money spent on them. All the companies mentioned in this list offer great products albeit firms like Logitech and Razer have established themselves more in the gaming peripherals industry.
Be sure to also consider factors like companies’ customer care/after-sales maintenance/warranty/money-back guarantee and even shipping/returns policies.
Every key comes with a physical switch that registers a keystroke. Mechanical and membrane switches are the most popular switch types. Products like the Tartarus v2 by Razer have hybrid switches with both mechanical and membrane characteristics. Mechanical switches are more popular, durable, and expensive but some of them are noisier than membrane switches.
For an optimal gaming experience, you’ll want to ensure that your chosen gaming keypad is programmable. Programming the keys and other components gives you absolute control. Throw a high-quality gaming mouse into the mix and your gaming utility will be second to none.
Whether single color or full RGB of 16.8 million colors, backlighting is an integral feature of most gaming keypads. In single-color models, users are often restricted to minimal adjustments, mostly the brightness settings. But full, per key keypads, allow gamers enough room for key color customization and also come with effects like color shift, wave, and others.
A full setup looks way more impressive, especially if accompanied by synced illumination across an entire system. For instance, If all your light-emitting components (such as your computer screen’s wallpaper, casing and mouse emit purple lights, then a keypad with purple lighting will be a good idea. In a nutshell, illumination not only enhances aesthetics but can equally increase gameplay pleasure.
With many other competing expenditures, especially if you have a limited budget, you need to be shrewd enough to locate the highest possible quality at the lowest possible price. Luckily, there are several quality gaming keypads out there (such as our budget pick) that will not cost you a fortune.
By our estimation, these 7 gaming keypads are the best for 2023. They were selected based on a number of factors that we consider essential for an optimal gaming experience. Those factors are critical for anyone trying to choose a gaming keypad from the several products in the market.