Best Gaming Keypads for the Serious Gamer

Gaming keypads give you the functionality of a keyboard, without taking up a lot of space on your computer desk. These keypads are designed to be used with one hand only and have specially designed buttons on the side for your thumb. Some of them even feature analog sticks, which means you can use them as a controller.

However, choosing the right gaming keypad can be extremely difficult, because there are so many brands and models out there. Which is why we decided to do some research and determine the best gaming keypad from a number of excellent contenders. Whether you are purchasing a keypad, controller, mouse, or keyboard, every gaming peripheral needs to have certain qualities- ergonomics, functionality, and performance. There are plenty of cheap knockoffs out there which advertise certain features, but when you actually get to use them in real life, you will find that most of these so-called “features” are either impractical, or absent altogether. We included the keypads that offer maximum functionality in the most compact package, while also being incredibly comfortable and easy to use. These are cheaper than a standard Cherry MX mechanical keyboard, yet they allow you to bind an endless number of macros and actions through the programmable keys.

You can use these keypads for playing all sorts of games such as MMOs, FPS, MOBAs, RTS, etc. If you have never used a keypad before, and are debating whether it is worth the money, think of it this way- it gives you the versatility and power of a keyboard, while retaining the simplicity and compact nature of a game controller. In addition, your hand sits in a much more natural position while using a keypad, as opposed to a keyboard. Any committed gamer needs to keep ergonomics in mind, as the repetitive motions involved can start to cause pain in your hands and wrists over time. Exercise and stretching can help, but the right accessories like a quality keypad or gaming chair can help you prevent the discomfort before it even starts.

 

 

Razer Orbweaver Chroma- The Undisputed King 

Best Gaming Keypad - our top choice

Overview:

When Razer designed the Orbweaver, they simply wanted to make the best gaming keypad ever. Uncompromising, both in terms of performance and ergonomics. While we are at it, might we also mention that it looks gorgeous? Every part of this device is fully adjustable, from the palm rests to the thumb pad.  Lighting can be controlled with Razer Synapse software and supports up to 16.8 million colors.

Features:

There are 20 fully programmable mechanical keys on the front of the pad, to the side you will find three additional controls- a thumb pad, a trigger, and a button. The thumb pad functions like an analog stick on a game controller, although this one is not analog at all. In fact, it is digital, which is why we recommend that you use it for things such as jumping and switching weapons instead of aiming. You can use also use the thumb pad in two or four direction modes if needed. Right beneath the thumb pad, is a large mechanical trigger positioned very ergonomically, allowing for quick access with your thumb at any point in time. The trigger has a very clicky feel to it, and makes a unique sound when pressed. Tactile feedback lets you know exactly when the trigger is activated.  Finally, you have the top button, which can be used for things such as your ultimate ability in Overwatch, or leveling up in a MOBA game. Combine the trigger, pad, and button to access no less than 10 unique functions with just your thumb. Compare this to a keyboard, where you can use your thumb for only one button (for most gamers that one button is the spacebar).

Apart from the amazing side controls, this keypad also has 20 keys for you to play with on the front. They are all RGB lit, and fully programmable. You can assign an unlimited number of macros to the Orbweaver keypad, since there is no limit on macro length. And since this is a gaming keypad, you can hold down up to six keys simultaneously without jumbling the input to your computer. The keycaps are slightly different from what you would find on a traditional gaming keyboard, they have a slanted body and a flat top, which makes it harder for you to keep your fingers steady on the keys. However, once you get used to the flatter keycaps, you will find out that this is an incredibly comfortable keypad. There are three adjustable sections on the Orbweaver- the palm rest, the hand rest, and the thumb plate. Both the palm and hand rests are coated with textured rubber to keep your hands comfortable and steady in the middle of intense gaming sessions. You can pull and slide each individual section to suit your grip style and hand size. The Orbweaver uses Razer Green mechanical switches, which have an actuation force of 50g and are quite clicky with plenty of tactile feedback when you press them. They are slightly noisy compared to Cherry reds or mecha-membrane switches, so keep that in mind.

Compared to the Logitech G13 or XFUNY keypad, this Razer keypad is much more advanced and gives you access to more functions in a much more ergonomic manner. Not to mention, the Orbweaver looks stunning with its Chroma RGB lighting and futuristic design. You can even buy additional lighting strips from Razer so that the rest of your gaming setup matches the keypad. If you have the money, we recommend this gaming keypad for hardcore gamers who want the absolute best. It uses true mechanical switches, something that you will not find on any other gaming keypad. Yes, there are cheap Chinese knockoffs that use “mechanical” switches, but those switches fall apart within months of usage and simply do not deliver the kind of feel that Razer Green switches have. Once you are accustomed to mechanical keyboards, you will simply never go back to a membrane-based model. Mechanical switches feel better and are more responsive, they are also very tactile. The only real downside to mechanical switches is the noise, which might not be suitable for people who live in a dorm room or game at night. Which is why, we decided to include a slightly quieter alternative to the Orbweaver- the Razer Tartarus V2. Read the Tartarus V2 review to learn more about the silent cousin of the Orbweaver.

Pros:

  • Extremely customizable
  • Razer Green clicky mechanical switches
  • Chroma RGB lighting with unlimited macro support
  • 8-direction thumb pad
  • Control up to 10 unique functions with just your thumb
  • Textured rubber coating on the palm and hand rests for added comfort
  • Customize key layouts, lighting sequences, macros, and much more through profiles that you can save in the Razer Synapse software

 

Cons:

  • There is a bit of wobble in the keys, compared to a traditional mechanical gaming keyboard
  • The base doesn’t feel very steady unless you put a mouse mat underneath it

 

 

Logitech G13 – Swiss Precision

best gaming keypad - with LCD screen

Overview:

It does not look as rebellious or outlandish as the Orbweaver, but beneath the subdued looks is a brilliant performer. The Logitech G13 is all about performance in a no-nonsense package. It is designed for casual and hardcore gamers alike, with a focus on competitive gaming. What really sets this apart from the rest is the GAMEPANEL LCD. That’s right, this keypad comes with a display of its own!

Features:

There are a total of 22 keys on the front of the pad, and 2 keys on the side, along with a mini-joystick. A backlit GAMEPANEL LCD adorns the top of the G13, giving it the appearance of a calculator on steroids. Unlike the Orbweaver, this keypad does not have adjustable hand or palm rests. Instead, there is a fixed pad on the bottom, meant for your palm and hands. It has a smooth rubber coating on the top for comfort, and there are anti-slip rubber pads on the bottom to make sure that the G13 stays put once you have your hands on the pad. While the lack of adjustable hand and palm sections might seem like a serious disadvantage compared to the Razer Orbweaver, this design comes with its own unique pros. For instance, the entire structure is lower to the ground and allows you to use the G13 as if you are using a standard keyboard. You do not have to modify your grip style or fiddle around with it for a week before you are finally comfortable. Which means, the settle-in period for the G13 is much shorter compared to the Orbweaver, and it feels more natural in the hand from the get-go.

In addition, the lack of adjustable rests means the entire structure is much more rigid and feels steadier, even without a mouse mat underneath the base. This is a major shortcoming of the Orbweaver- despite how adjustable and ergonomic it is the sliding sections make it feel unstable without some kind of support on the bottom, such as a mouse mat. Logitech even put 650 grams of stabilizing weight inside the base of the G13 to make sure that it stays rock steady, so there will be no sliding or shaking once you put it on the desk. This allows you to hammer down on the keys as fast as you can, without worrying about slipping because of a shaky platform. You can customize the lighting to suit your style, there are over 16 million colors to choose from (full RGB lighting), and you can select a different lighting profile for each individual game or mode. The 25 programmable keys (including the mini-joystick and 2 side buttons) allow you to access up to 75 different functions, and each key supports up to 3 macros. You can switch between profiles on the fly, and view a whole bunch of information on the built-in backlit LCD display. The GAMEPANEL will display real-time in-game stats, system information, VoIP communication data, and much more.

Pros:

  • Extremely stable and natural design
  • Silent and precise keystrokes, thanks to a custom designed membrane switch system
  • Customizable lighting
  • Access up to 75 different functions with 25 keys, 3 macros per key
  • Switch between profiles on the fly
  • See critical information such as in-game stats and VoIP data on the built-in LCD display

 

Cons:

  • The switches lack tactile feedback, feel bland compared to true mechanical switches such as the ones on the Orbweaver Chroma
  • Takes up more desk space compared to the Orbweaver Chroma

 

 

Razer Tartarus V2- Best of Both Worlds

best gaming keyboard - with most customizable keys

Overview:

Stylish, versatile, and highly functional- the Tartarus V2 is Razer’s attempt at perfecting the gaming keypad, and we are delighted to say that they have almost done it. Almost, because the position of the scroll wheel might feel awkward to some people, and the palm rest adjustment is rather limited compared to the Orbweaver. Nevertheless, this excellent gaming keypad provides a happy middle ground between the G13 and Orbweaver Chroma, with some extras that are unique to this model alone.

Features:

Unlike the Orbweaver or G13, this gaming keypad does not use mechanical or membrane keys. Instead, it uses a unique type of switch known as “mecha-membrane”. We will get into the technical details soon, but what it means is that the Tartarus delivers a lot of the tactile feel and crispness of a mechanical keypad, while retaining the silent and linear keypress of a membrane keypad. In addition to the thumb pad, the Tartarus has a scroll-wheel, similar to the one you would find on a gaming mouse. No other gaming keypad on the market comes with a scroll wheel, so if you would want one of those on your keypad, this is the one to get.

Another thing that is unique to the Tartarus V2 is the removable thumb pad, an upgrade over the original Tartarus. This allows you to get more of a gamepad/ PlayStation controller feel from the thumb pad, because once you remove the top of the thumbstick, it resembles the D-pad (directional pad) on a PlayStation controller. The length of the palm rest is adjustable, but since it is a single unit, unlike the Orbweaver palm rest system, you do not have as much room for customizing the way you grip this keypad. If you want, you can completely detach the palm rest. There is a soft foam cushion on the palm rest, which feels much more comfortable compared to the textured rubber coating on the Orbweaver. However, it also becomes more slippery if you are using the Tartarus with a sweaty hand (pretty normal after hours of intense gaming). The textured rubber coating of the Orbweaver is better for maintaining grip over long gaming sessions, despite being slightly less comfortable.

Just like the Orbweaver, this keypad supports Chroma RGB lighting controlled through Razer Synapse, and you can switch between various modes and game profiles on the fly. Each individual key supports macros of unlimited length, giving you access to a multitude of options in games that rely heavily on macros such as Real Time Strategy and MMOs. Full anti-ghosting lets you press down all keys simultaneously (not that you need to, but you can) without jamming the input. This is great for playing sports games such as FIFA or NBA.

Pros:

  • Feels more stable compared to the Orbweaver
  • Less noisy than the Orbweaver because of the unique mecha-membrane switches
  • Fully customizable Chroma RGB lighting
  • Switch between profiles on the fly, access up to 8 different functions with the thumb-pad
  • Detachable thumbstick
  • Illuminated scroll wheel with distinct scroll steps
  • 32 buttons, unlimited macros, full anti-ghosting

 

Cons:

  • The size and shape can only be adjusted in one direction (length), which is a disadvantage compared to the Orbweaver
  • The scroll wheel position might feel awkward to some gamers

 

 

XFUNY Gaming Keypad- Brilliant Performance on a Budget

best gaming keypad for cheap

Overview:

You may not have heard of this brand before (you definitely haven’t), but trust us when we say this- the XFUNY gaming keypad is a seriously amazing piece of hardware for the money. Yes, it has a funny name (pun intended) and the looks aren’t all that great, but when you are rolling on a tight budget, this is the best you can get.

Features:

A whopping 46 keys for just under 26 dollars? That is one amazing deal for the money, especially when you consider the fact that Logitech’s G13 and Razer’s Orbweaver contain “only” about 30 keys each and cost more than four times as much. Yeah, the keys on this gaming keypad feel cheaper and have a lot more wobble compared to the G13 or Tartarus, but those are shortcomings that the budget gamer can live with, considering the huge amount of functionality that this XFUNY keypad provides for such a small price. This is not meant for gamers who own several thousand dollars worth of PC gaming hardware, nor is it designed to be used by creative professionals on a workstation. One of the interesting things about this gamepad is the key layout- it does not follow the numbers system found on Razer and Logitech pads, instead it uses the good old WASD format we are all familiar with on keyboards.

There are a couple of large, red-colored side buttons that you can access with your index finger or pinky, and the design is fully ambidextrous so it is appropriate for both right as well as left-handed people. All the other gaming keypads have joysticks on the right side, which makes it impossible for a left-hander to use the mouse with his left hand and the keypad with his right hand, unless he likes to operate joysticks with the little finger (highly unlikely if you ask us). The palm rest is coated with textured rubber, and there are media keys on the side so you can control volume, playback, etc. on videos. You even have function keys and number keys from 1 to 6 on the top, along with escape, scroll lock, and print screen keys on the left side.

Pros:

  • Lots of buttons (46) for a relatively low price
  • Extremely ergonomic, large palm rest coated with textured rubber
  • Media control keys
  • WASD layout
  • Dual red-colored spacebar keys
  • Ambidextrous design
  • Silent operation (membrane keys)

 

Cons:

  • Keys feel mushy and are slightly slower compared to the Orbweaver or G13
  • There is no joystick, and you can’t use your thumb for more than one function, just like a regular keyboard
  • No lighting or customizable macros

 

Conclusion – Which challenger takes the title of “Best Gaming Keypad”?

The Orbweaver Chroma is what we recommend for most hardcore gamers. It offers the maximum amount of customization, features the best keys, and is the most compact of them all.

The G13 is an older model, and many online stores have it listed for way higher than the actual retail price back when it was released since Logitech does not release updates for it anymore. If you are a fan of Logitech products, then go for it since it is guaranteed to last the longest out of all four keypads on this list. The G13 is built like a tank and is the only gaming keypad with a backlit LCD display.

For gamers who want the most functions possible, there is the Tartarus V2. It has 32 keys, more than the Orbweaver or the G13. Its thumbstick can be detached, giving you a D-pad similar to the one found on a PlayStation controller. The scroll wheel is a nice little addition, and the soft foam cushions make it the most comfortable gaming keypad on this list. The mecha-membrane switches are silent but lack the tactile nature of a true mechanical switch.

Finally, you have the cheapest of them all- the XFUNY, which is a chopped up keyboard, shaped into an ergonomic form factor. It does not have macros, anti-ghosting, customizable lighting, or a joystick. However, it does have the most buttons, along with some useful media keys and function keys that you would find on a computer keyboard. If you have never used a gaming keypad before, the XFUNY will fit right in since it is just like using a regular keyboard, just much more compact than a full-sized board.