The Best Gaming Keypad

There was a time when gaming peripherals were exotic, hard to come by, excessively expensive and viewed by many to simply be a novelty or unnecessary accessory. Thankfully, that time is behind us. Today’s market is simply teeming with plenty of quality tech from several reputable names that are being served up with paramount competitiveness. From mice with their own little processors in them to selective spectrum filtering and eye fatigue eliminating glasses that can keep you comfortably gaming for hours, the choices are incredible and they show no signs of winding down.

Best Choice

Belkin Nostromo N50

The Best Keypad for Gaming

A device that will give you a small taste of the Orbweaver at a fraction of its price.

Premium

Top Keypad

Great ergonomics and an adjustable palm rest that lets you extend or retract your palm position

Best Value

Practicality and Comfort

Flashy looks for incredibly practicality and comfort, yet still somehow carries itself with class and beauty.

So when it comes to finding that perfect best gaming keypad, you might have to sort through quite a lot or try to make a hard choice between two similar options in the same budget area. But, fret not; we’ve sorted through the many to help guide your choices to the few that should have the honor of vying for your attention (and purse). Below, you’ll find the best gaming keypads, sorted on to neat little podiums based on their price range.

4

Belkin Nostromo n50 Speedpad - The Best Keypad for gaming


The famed legend that sits by on a dusty porch, watching the young’uns try their skill at out-doing each other in the warm rays of the afternoon sunlight, knowing that they’ll never be able to recapture the sense of awe and shock that was brought about when magic was worked for the very first time. The Belkin Nostromo n50 was the one that started it all, the one that got the ball rolling to a beautiful piece of art that is the Razer Orbweaver.


The n50 is our best pick at an entry level keypad because, even though it’s a dated piece of hardware, it is incredibly good at what it does. It does not pack on a lot of keys but makes up for it with a low price tag in today’s market and an incredibly premium and comfortable experience. The Belkin n50 is a device that will give you a small taste of the Orbweaver at a fraction of its price.


The good:


  • The Belkin Nostromo n50 Speedpad is pretty comfortable, to begin with, but if you need fine-tuning, the palm pad can be adjusted; this makes for some fine ergonomics and posture adaptation on the fly.
  • The scroll wheel and thumb-pad are a great addition and can be re-assigned using Belkin’s configuration software, giving you a lot of adaptability with the rather limited number of controls available.
  • Moderate size makes it easy to use with both large and small palm sizes.

The bad:


  • The Belkin n50 Speedpad went out of production a long time ago, and as a result, you can only pick up pre-owned versions of it.
  • The biggest gripe I’ve had with it is that none of its program drivers support any Windows OS that is newer than XP, out of the box. You can get basic functionality out of it, but you will not be able to reassign keys, use key specific macros and set up profiles without the drivers. Luckily, there is a workaround that has you download the drivers for the n52 (which supports Vista+) and then change the n50’s registry ID to that of the n52’s. A quick Google search will provide the details to the method, but always remember to have a handy backup of your registry, if you choose to edit it.
  • The limited number of keys available will have you switching profiles like crazy in some of the more hotkey heavy MMO’s out there, and although it is very practical, you can quickly lose track of your profiles if you’re switching between more than three at a time.
  • Coming from the more modern Nostromo inspired best gaming keypads, the lack of a thumb bumper is sourly noticeable. Given the startling similarity in feel between them, I’d often aim to press the thumb bumper and then feel like I’ve missed a step on a staircase.

3

 PinPle One Handed gamer keypad - Also, a great keypad for gamers


Of all the budget mechanical gaming keypads I’d come across, none had quite achieved the harmonic balance that PinPle has. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of options out there that sport comfortable palm pads and good ergonomics, but not many that offer a wide range of keys and mechanical keyboard mimicking, long stroke keys in one package, and vice versa. To top things off, this best gaming keypad is also rather travel-friendly with its size profile and build quality. This keypad for gaming is a good build in-fact, that the PinPle’s design has spawned a trail of knock-off products from other slightly (read: very) dodgy competitors. Their clone products also mimic the actual thing terribly well, so keep an eye out for the logo if you choose to pick up one of these. You know what they say; imitation is the best form of flattery.


The good:


  • The PinPle is decently comfortable when you’ve got a bit of elbow room. If you’ve ever been familiar with the Logitech G13, you will not need much readjusting to enjoy the PinPle mechanical gaming keypad. The key layout is also very friendly to ambidextrous users, unlike a lot of other best gaming keypads out there.
  • The build quality is on par with some of the more expensive mechanical gaming keypads out there. A strong plastic body that’s accented with grip-focused matte bumpers and a comfortably clingy palm rest gives it a bit of a premium touch as well. This keypad for gaming even comes with a braided USB chord.
  • PLENTY of keys. If you’re the kind to slap a macro on to everything or are one for hot keying, you’re easily going to find that you can never have enough of them. The keys feel very responsive and the way the pressure is loaded feels satisfyingly soft. There are plenty of similarities in keystroke feel between the PinPle mechanical gaming keypad and the Razer Nostromo.

The bad:


  • If you’ve got small to medium sized hands, you will notice quite a lot of discomfort when trying to reach for the buttons that sit on the outer edge of the mechanical gaming keypad. Trying to reach for the function keys at the very top of the keys and buttons to the left extreme will force you to lift your palm off the rest and take your weight off of it, which can be quite uncomfortable and immersion breaking. It’s either that or you’d simply have to learn to become MUCH more dexterous with your pinky.
  • If you’re short on desk space, you’d need to either make some or look for an alternative, as the PinPle mechanical gaming keypads take up a decent amount of space, given the size of its keypad for gaming. The PinPle tends to be most comfortable with an outstretched arm so that most of your weight is resting on the palm rest with the slack in your elbow, which can rest on your chair’s armrest. IF it sits too close to you and you end up not distributing your weight correctly, your shoulders and neck WILL pay for it.
  • The characters printed on to the faces of the keys tend to fade rather quicker than you’d expect, but that might be due to how much extra rubbing you’d be doing when trying to reach for the higher keys. It’s mostly the higher keys that I notice fading, whereas the WASD keys look rather well for the wear. This is after about 6 months of heavy use. For a little contrast: my Razer Nostromo keypad for gaming still looks like the day I bought it, even after several years of bashing.

2

Logitech G13 Keypad for Gamers Review


The Logitech had been the flagship for best gaming keypads for many years, and as many would attest: still is. The Logitech keypad for gaming sidelines flashy looks for incredibly practicality and comfort, yet still somehow carries itself with class and beauty. With its iconic LCD screen and ergonomically designed keys that resemble the calmest of waves, the G13 riddles you with sci-fi tales of the not-so-distant future.


The G13 keypad for gaming screams ergonomics from the get-go. The entire vertical profile value doesn’t exceed a couple of inches. Your palm just sinks into it and wants to stay there. The joystick lines up perfectly with your thumb and you would only need to exude minimal effort to trigger either of the thumb bumpers. Although the G13 Logitech gaming keypad does not feature an adjustable palm rest or keypad for gaming, it rates incredibly high on the comfort scale. It is also incredibly light. Most of the weight of this Logitech gaming keypad is on the keypad to the front, which sits squarely on top of a large grip pad underneath, allowing you to rest your arm on it without worry of it sliding around, but should you feel like moving it, you can do so as easily as you’d move your mouse.


The good:


  • Exceptional comfort and key selection. The palm rest is textured and lets you easily spread your palm over it to get a really good grip on the Logitech gaming keypad. A plus side to this is that this form factor is very ambidextrous friendly. With the symmetry, aside from the joystick, being rather whole.
  • The keys are plentiful, but with the way that they’re always within easy reach, they feel very adequate and manageable. The G13 Logitech gaming keypad comes with 22 main keys.
  • Although the G13 is longer than most Logitech gaming keypads, it is not very wide. This provides ample comfort, regardless of your palm size. At all times, your hand is relaxed, leaving most of the work to a well-supported forearm. Once settled, your palm feels very “rooted”.
  • An LCD screen that displays either automatically fetched, relevant game stats while you play or custom statistics that you choose.
  • A backlight. A glorious backlight. This keypad for gaming might not seem like much, but when you’re getting used to this thing for the first time, it is a lifesaver. Simply being able to register the key positions out of the corner of your eyes with the very defining lights increase your accuracy plenty until your muscle memory kicks in. You can also control the color of the backlight using RGB values, which gives you quite a wide range.
  • An analog joystick that comes up just under your thumb and has a very nice resistance to it. It allows you to rest your thumb on it without really triggering any controls. When you do decide to move it, the motions come naturally.
  • All your profiles and changes made to the G13 are stored on the G13 itself. If you were to plug the G13 Logitech gaming keypad into another machine, you’d still retain all of your settings, profiles, and macros.
  • Everything from the build quality to the software is premium and the functionality is perfect. The G13 Logitech keypad could arguably be one of the best gaming keypads there is.

The bad:


  • As much as I search, I can’t really find any major downsides to the G13 keypad for gaming. If there was something I’d have to pick out, it would be the fact that the only thing standing in the way of the G13 Logitech gaming keypad being completely ambidextrous friendly is the joystick module placement.  If the joystick was modular and was built to be switched around between the right side and the left; the G13 Logitech gaming keypads would dominate the market.

1

The top keypad for gamers is Razer Tartarus and Orbweaver


That’s right, the Tartarus v2 and the Orbweaver keypads are going to share a segment together. We’re putting these two together because they’re both the exact same mechanical gaming keypads. They just haven’t come to grips with that fact yet. The only major difference between the two is that the Orbweaver comes with mechanical keys and a slightly more adjustable palm rest; with the addition of $100 odd dollars to the price tag of course.


The Tartarus v2 and the Orbweaver are both direct descendants of the Nostromo (and I’m quite biased towards the Nostromo). But even I can see that Razer has barely made any meaningful upgrades to tech that’s been around since the early 2000s (that’d be the Belkin n52, which was bought out by Razer after they co-developed the n52te with Belkin).

 

I understand the mantra of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but the design is fifteen years old and still has little growth to show for it.


They’re both still good pieces of tech if you don’t mind shelling out for the bells, whistles, and LEDs (lots and lots of LEDs). After spending time with both best gaming keypads, I’d say the choice really comes down to personal taste.

 

Even though the beautifully smooth, shudder-inducing CherryMX Blue’s on the Orbweaver would make every mechanical keyboard enthusiast within a mile radius perk up their ears at the first click, it still comes down to whether or not you’d want it enough to justify the extra $100.

 

To put things in perspective, the Tartarus v2 keypad is around $100 total.

I’ll lay out some pros and cons between the two, and you could choose which of them is better suited to grace your desk.


Tartarus pros:


  • The Tartarus has great ergonomics and an adjustable palm rest that lets you extend or retract your palm position relevant to the mechanical gaming keypad. This is actually incredibly helpful in finding a comfortable posture. If your hands are a little smaller, you wouldn’t really be able to rest your arm’s weight on the palm rest without adjusting the rest to be closer to the keypad.
  • It’s also comfortable over long hours of gaming. The palm rest and buttons have a smooth matte finish that feels really nice and offers a decent amount of grip. If you’ve got sweaty hands, you needn’t worry as the ergonomic shape of the palm rest cups your palm to hold it in place.
  • It features 32 fully programmable keys including a joystick, a thumb bumper, and one button. All easy to reach and rather easy to acclimate to, even for a newbie.
  • The Razer Synapse software lets you configure your device and set up profiles and macros that can be changed on the fly. You can also control and assign a basket full of lighting effects from within Synapse, which can be assigned to specific computer states or profiles. There are LED indicators on the mechanical keypad that let you know which profile you’re currently coasting in.
  • Razer’s Chroma RGB programmable LED lighting. Basically, a high resolution LED lighting solution with some very, very nice modulation and color blending.

Tartarus cons:


  • A bit on the heavier side.
  • Razer Synapse likes its updates. Like, SERIOUSLY likes its updates. And you absolutely need Synapse to get anything more than bare-bones functionality out of your Razer devices.
  • Not ambidextrous friendly at all, in any way. The ergonomics are built specifically for the left hand. It wouldn’t even be possible to wing it without dealing with some serious wrist pain.

Orbweaver pros:


  • All the pros that come with the Tartarus. They’re THAT similar.
  • A mechanical keyboard which features Razer’s version of CherryMX Blues. It’s got a rather unique feel, but if you don’t care much for mechanical keys, you wouldn’t really care much for the new feel.
  • Opposed to a simple adjustable palm rest, you can now adjust both the bottom of the palm rest as well as the upper portion of it, along with the thumb module that houses the joystick.

Orbweaver cons:


  • All the cons that come with the Tartarus.
  • The palm rest has got this little rubber/dry gel padding on the upper half of it. It doesn’t make much of a difference as far as grip goes, but when your palms get sweaty, you’ll find that your skin against the surface gets a little uncomfortable. And in warm conditions, the glue that holds the pad to the plastic begins to wear out really quickly and then it slowly slides around. These keypads do not slide an awful lot, but just enough to get on your nerves.

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