On this page I thought it might be a good idea to present the best currently available gaming keypads, as these are pretty popular devices among serious gamers and are well worth having for giving you extra power in your game play.
Keypads can also be a very useful addition to any keyboard, as the programmable keys have many uses away from gaming.
For once there are not hundreds of products in this sector of the market, you have a serious choice of just five models, there are a couple of cheaper imports around but they are no match for models here and are generally poor quality, thus they are not included on this page.
Considering the popularity of gaming hardware it seems strange other established makers have not dived into the keypad market yet.
Choosing A Keypad For Gaming On
Logitech G13 GamePad
Still at the top of the tree is the Logitech G13 gameboard keypad, it’s only competition used to be the early Belkin which it outsold considerably.
It seemed likely that Razer would enter the game at some point and they did, first with the Nostromo,(in collaboration with Belkin), then the Tartarus, later launching the first gaming keypad with mechanical keys the Razer Orbweaver mechanical keypad.
The Belkin n52te Tournament Speedpad was one of the early keypads that appeared and then became unavailable for quite a while, before becoming the Nostromo, it seems after some collaborating with Razer.
On checking the Razer website, it seems they no longer offer their Nostromo keypad,but the Belkin n52te Tournament Speedpad is available again but carries a very hefty and unjustified price tag which will definitely affect sales and likely kill it off.
If you want a gaming keypad with mechanical keys then you have no choice at all, it’s the fairly recently introduced Razer Orbweaver, the remaining 4 use standard rubber dome-type keys.
- This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and work like new. The refurbishing process includes functionality testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging. The product ships with all relevant accessories, and may arrive in a generic box
The Cheapest Gaming Keypad
Excluding poor quality imports, at present the cheapest keypad for gaming is the Logitech G13, which can be found online for under $60. The G13 has only one version and includes Logitech’s unique screen display for stats etc.
For around another $10 you can pick up Razer’s Tartarus, which is no better than the G13, but has the slightly more advanced Razer Synapsis 2.0 software for key mapping and unlimited profiles storage.
- High-Performance Mecha-Membrane Switches: Provides the tactile feedback of mechanical key press on a comfortable, soft-cushioned, membrane, rubber dome switch suitable for gaming
- 32 Mecha-Membrane Keys for More Hotkeys and Actions: Perfect for gaming or integrating into creative workflows with fully programmable keys …
Gaming Keypad With Mechanical Keys
As mentioned above there is only one we could find at the time this article was written, that is the Razer Orbweaver, there are two variants of this same model.
The Razer Orbweaver Stealth, which is exactly the same as the standard edition except that the mechanical keys on the Stealth are quieter and require less pressure for them to register.
Both the Orbweaver and the Orbweaver Stealth are the same price, Razer quote $130 on their website, but the major online retailers will have them for less than the MSRP, remember if you prefer less noise and lighter keys go for the Stealth edition.
That’s it, if you want need a keypad to add to your gaming rig you won’t go far wrong with any of the above.
If you are thinking of buying either the Razer or the Logitech but are not sure which one would suit you best here is a quick comparison of their features and functions.
- Mechanical key infrastructure
- 20 fully programmable keys and 8-way thumb-pad
- Adjustable hand, thumb, and palm-rest modules
- Instantaneous switching between 8 key maps
- Backlit keypad for total control even in dark conditions
Logitech G15 V Razer Tartarus Comparison
The G13 has a ‘GamePanel‘ LCD screen which needs the free Logitech software download to run, the screen lets you view real-time game stats, system information, VoIP data and game timers., plus you can applets to work with GamePanel or develop your own. the display backlighting matches the custom-color backlit keys.
The Tartarus does not have a screen at this time.
Both keypads have 25 programmable keys including an 8-way thumb-pad on the Razer and a micro-joystick on the G13.
The G13 can store only 5 profiles onboard, but this means you can use it easily with a laptop, Profile storage is unlimited on the Tartarus.
They both have nice wide buttons.
The G13’s backlit keys can be set to a custom color, on the Tartarus the color is fixed to green.
You can have up to 87 macros programmed on the G13, and macros can be created as you game without stopping. The Tartarus offers unlimited macro keystroke recordings, but they do not say how many macros can be created
The G13’s software requires only 70MB of free space on your hard drive whereas the Tartarus’s software requires 200MB, but this should be no problem for modern HDD’s. with GB’s of free space.
Both units require a USB port to operate, chances are you will also need a CD ROM drive for the G13.
The Logitech will run on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 and 8 operating systems, it seems MAC OSX is no longer supported on later models of the G13, according to the latest spec from their website.
If you have a MAC the Tartarus runs on Mac OSX v10.6-10.8, and will of course run on Windows OS the same as the Logitech.
Both models offer full n-Key rollover (all pressed keys will register)
Both units are nicely contoured to fit most hands, the Tartarus also has an adjustable wrist pad.
A couple of other features on the Tartarus, not on the G13 are the inclusion of a braided connection cable, the ability for instant switching between 8 different key maps, and being able to use Razer’s exclusive Synapse 2.0 software.
The G13 has a weight added to base for stability making it weigh a hefty 650 grams, (1.4 lbs) the Razer weighs just over half that at 370g (0.67 lbs)
Whichever model you decide to go for it’s unlikely you will be disappointed with the performance of either.