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Whether it is the lack of functions or the lack of ergonomic comfort, gaming keypads are always an alternative to keyboards. One-handed keyboards or gamepads as they are interchangeably called, these peripherals aim at making MMO and MOBA life better. The reason is that unlike our conventional standalone keypads, their use isn’t limited.
Gamepads are made specifically for gaming use, hence come with features like mechanical switches, dedicated gaming buttons, and key mapping, RGB lighting, and ergonomic design. As a result, you get a dedicated peripheral for games that have a large range of controls, allowing greater button programming according to your frequency of use. In turn, the idea is to make in-game functions more natural and comfortable than using standard keyboards.
The Best Gaming Keypads and How Worthy They Are
Not everyone likes to use gaming pads. In fact, there are a number of people who’d stick to a gaming keyboard due to familiarity and the extra cost of a dedicated gaming keypad. Other than that, there are a number of games that require unfrequented keyboard buttons to be used more often. For instance, older Deus Ex titles that fancied the Function buttons more.
Not many of the MMORPG and MOBA games of today have that problem though. And you don’t really get to know the benefit of something until you have spent enough time getting used to it. Given that you know what you are spending on, we’ll get a bit more techie with the choices offered by companies like Razer, Logitech, HORI and some other quality brands that haven’t shot to fame yet.
Razer Orbweaver Chroma
With one of the most ergonomic designs, sufficient programmable keys, high-end software support and above all, mechanical switches, the Razer Orbweaver is definitely one of the must-haves. We aren’t saying that because we didn’t like the infamous Logitech G13 as much, the problem is G13 got discontinued and the future looks bleak.
Since Razer is one of the most invested gaming peripheral company out there, they also have superiority over bridging functions like companion software. In order to let you map all the 28 keys on the board, Orbweaver Chroma uses Razer Synapse Command Center software. The cloud based setting network is one of its kind and lets you configure the buttons and the RGB once and take the setting preferences with you wherever you go.
This isn’t the only quality product from Razer in the category. In fact, the Razer Tartarus V2 is another, comparatively less expensive, gaming pad with a hybrid key type. However, since the Razer Orbweaver has just the right balance for everything. You get sufficient programmable keys (20 mechanical ones) as well as an 8-way D-pad which is also completely modifiable. Thirty programmable keys in total with 50g actuation force for the mechanical ones.
One thing a number of other gaming keypad makers don’t get right is the switches. As a result, you get sub-par video game precision – or internal satiation. The Razer Orbweaver has the company’s own green mechanical switches with one of the most natural placements among the competition, and one of the more tactile experience.
Razer builds on the aesthetics of their peripherals as well. Therefore, the Orbweaver keypad is nothing less. You are talking about the company’s trademark inclusion of Chroma for individually customizable back lights. With so much customization in usage and looks, you’d need extensive profile retention. The Orbweaver does that well too! You get to store and on-the-go switch between up to eight key maps.
Nonetheless, aesthetics are second to performance all the time. Which is why it is more important that the gaming keypad is highly ergonomic as it is. Not only that it goes on to add slight modularity by letting you adjust or place thumb, but hand and palm also rest individually.
It was a tough call choosing the best among the top products. Not only the Hori TAC Pro but also the now discontinued Logitech G13 was a worth reckoning. For starters, this is the officially licensed PlayStation partner gaming keypad. It is actually a game changer given that you get a mouse attached with the peripheral to use on PS4! Some of the highlights include on the go sensitivity and palm rest settings, FPS gaming focused with specialized TAC Pro button programming. The HORI Tactical Assault Commander Pro (TAC Pro) KeyPad and Mouse Controller for PS4 and PS3, as it is officially called, is comparatively cheaper than the Razer Orbweaver Chroma, too!
The GameSir Z1 is an affordable but quality gaming keypad which is a great addition for any gamer. The design is great, the size is right and the quality is amazing, we found this gaming one-handed keypad to have authentic Cherry MX red switches, which are ideal for gaming. These switches are built to last long, so you can expect the keypad to have a long life.
You do not get a lot of RGB profiles, but with 7 profiles to choose from, I think it is suffice to say that you get your RGB experience just fine with the GameSir Z1. The GameSir software allows you to map the macros and keys to your need, while also helps adjust the RGB profile you need for your games.
The wrist has an ergonomic design, the WASD keys, which are movement essentials for shooter games have an anti-slip design, which not only prevents slipping, but the different texture helps identify keys without needing to look.
The GameSir Z1 one-handed keypad has a battery life of 2000mAh, so you can connect it via Bluetooth with your phones as well while you can also attach a mouse for connectivity. Meaning this can win your PUBG or COD matches on phone with ease through this keypad.
It also has a cheaper blue switch variant, which is just as good but does not carry the authentic Cherry MX quality. But if you are short on money it is not a bad option at all.
When we boasted of the 30+ programmable keys of Razer Tartarus V2 or Orbweaver, it didn’t mean there aren’t gamepads offering something greater. Coming in cheaper than the Tartarus, the Koolertron Cherry MX Keypad has as many as 43 programmable buttons with a choice between Cherry MX Black, Blue, Red, and Brown, and a built-in MCU for information storage. The only exclamation mark was put upon the high price given the lesser-known company.
If you look at this device, you can see that it has G keys along with having M keys for setting up macros. There is also a dedicated key for bringing up a map during gaming, which is quite unique if you ask us.
The blue switches, although a little bit louder, still give a quality feel to them when pressed. The design is great, the wrist rest has a cool unique feature, it is magnetically attached to the keypad, meaning you can attach and detach easily without problems. It looks really cool the way the wrist rest is attached and detached magnetically.
The RGB light in the Redragon K585 DITI has plenty of RGB madness with 5 beautiful effects. You can change between streaming, switching, fading, rippling and blooming effects for the RGB backlit keys. You can adjust these, along with the macros through the software which is available on their site. The software is easy to use and is not confusing at all.
The build quality, the amazing features and affordable price makes the Redragon K585 DITI our best affordable one-handed gaming keypad.
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RedThunder K50 is our runner-up for two reasons, one is that the build quality is not bad, but it still is not as great as the Redragon K585 DITI, secondly, it is way cheaper than most keypads we have seen, making it the best runner-up for the category. The RedThunder has RGB backlit keys with blue tactile mechanical switches, which are not authentic blues from Cherry MX, but then we will not find authentic Cherry MX switches for this price tag in any brand. The RGB is great, you can use shortcut keys to switch the colors and profiles. The WASD keys which are the default for games have an anti-slip texture which is a great addition if you are moving your hands everywhere during a competitive match. If the build quality was a little better, this keypad would top the affordable category, but runner-up will have to do.
The Bottom Line
We have toiled with dozens of gaming keyboards including the typical one-handed keyboards. And we have also ventured out to gaming keypads and gamepads. Getting one with programmable keys is truly the key – pun intended – to buying the best. However, for that, you should keep a mind of $100, give or take some bucks. Not only will this get you a good quality mechanical switch-based gaming keypad, but also perch it up with RGB lighting, high quality of build and so on.
If you are just an enthusiast wishing to try out single-handed gaming, you shouldn’t buy anything too expensive. One-handed keyboards, gamepads, and keypads aren’t for everyone. It takes some time getting used to them and not everyone gets over the change in controlling they are used to. Therefore, it would be wise to just get entry to mid-ranged gaming keypad, test the waters and then decide which way to go.