Best Gaming Keypads in 2022: analog, optical, ergonomic

Looking for the best keypad for MMO games? Look no further.

Best gaming keypad
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Gaming keypads are an interesting sub-category of gaming keyboards. They are not widely used devices, but those who do use them absolutely swear by them and they are one of the more interesting developments in PC gaming peripherals for a while. Gaming keypads are aimed squarely at people who only play games, and would rather have a keyboard heavily optimized for gaming and nothing else. Given the specificity of their intended function, gaming keypads have evolved a very bespoke design, sometimes featuring analog sticks, adjustable sizing, and built-in keys for macros.

Those of you who are particularly into MMOS may remember the fabled Logitech G13, a keypad with a considerable reputation that continues to fetch high prices second-hand. A lot of the features in gamepads of today originated win the Logitech G13. It even had a built-in screen that displayed MMO stats like DPS, strength, and agility. Unfortunately, this gaming keypad legend has been discontinued for well over 10 years so we can’t feature it here, but if it was still going, it might just take the top spot. With that history lesson out of the way,  let’s have a look at the best of the best and learn a little more about these unique little gaming keyboards.

Our Top Picks

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WePC Awards Best In Class
The Best Gaming Keypad
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The Best Mechanical Gaming Keypad
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Gaming Keypad With Detachable Wrist Rest

How we choose

We’ve made the choices on this page through a mixture of research, reviews, and other sources of reliable information we can find. During the creation of this page we discovered a number of considerations that should be made and have arranged them for you below

What to consider when buying a gaming keypad

Gaming keypads, despite their diminutive size, when compared to a full-size gaming keyboard, are pretty expensive. This makes it all the more important that you should know what to look for when you are shopping around for one, we’ve written about the important stuff for you down below.

The games you play

This is a big one, as some gaming keypads are aimed at specific types of games. Additionally, some games benefit from a keypad more than others, with a couple of game genres particularly suited to a gaming keypad. MMOs are particularly well suited to gaming keypads because of the huge number of inputs you need. Usually, these are accomplished via programmable macro keys that allowed the keys of a normal keyboard to retain their original function, which is not needed on a keypad.

FPS, or first-person shooters, don’t directly benefit from a keypad, but as the number of keys used in FPS is especially low, a gaming keypad is an excellent choice for those of you with very limited desk space or for helping increase focus by removing extraneous keys. It’s down to personal preference of course, but it’s worth giving a keypad a go as it might just be a game-changer for your PC setup.

Analog joystick

Analog sticks are good movement since they allow users to forego WASD for a thumb-only movement option.

Additionally, for people coming from a console gaming background, using an analog stick for movement comes much more naturally. While it’s not perfect, it does have its benefits, especially with this form factor.

RGB and backlighting

We all love RGB, so we’ve made sure to feature some illuminated picks on this list, however not all RGB is born equal, here’s a quick breakdown of the different levels of lighting present on gaming keypads.

Basic LED backlighting essentially just illuminates your keys with one color only, typically white. This applies to the entire keypad.

Partial RGB backlighting functions similarly, but allows you to choose most of the colors in the spectrum to backlight your entire keypad.

Full RGB backlighting allows you to choose almost all of the colors in the spectrum to backlight your keypad. Not just in one color, either– in varying colors, sometimes even on a per-key or per-group basis.

“Full RGB backlighting” is usually what jumps to mind when people refer to RGB customization.

Profiles

Last but not least, the ability to set up your device with a custom profile is important so it doesn’t mess with your normal keyboard bindings. Being able to toggle between multiple profiles also allows you to adjust your needs according to the game you’re playing, instead of needing to constantly reconfigure your controls.

Key switch type

Membrane Key switches

Mechanical keyboards aren’t as detailed as mechanical keyboards. In fact, they’re very straightforward; they only have 3 parts:

  • Top membrane layer
  • “Holes” layer
  • Bottom membrane layer

What happens when a membrane key is pressed is that the top membrane layer then moves to the second layer or “holes” layer, which then connects to the conductive traces through the pressured bottom membrane layer.

These keys aren’t very popular because of their slower typing speed and lowered accuracy when typing.

Mechanical key switches

Mechanical keys use physical switches instead of membrane layers. When you press a key, a switch is triggered that tells your computer that a key has been pressed.

The switches can also vary greatly and boast different personalities to fit a gamer’s preference. While most of these are loud because of the tactile-designed switches, there are some that aren’t as loud.

Mecha-membrane

The mecha-membrane is a combination of both. You have a soft-cushioned membrane rubber dome paired with a crisp tactile mechanical switch for accurate and swift keystrokes.

The Best Gaming Keypads

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In-depth Review

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The Best Gaming Keypad
WePC Awards Best In Class

Razer Tartarus Pro gaming keypad

Editor's Rating
4.6/5
Pros

convenient analog joystick for navigation

Mechanical Keys

Full RGB Customization

Fully Programmable Keys

Multiple Profiles Through Razer's Synapse software

Cons

Expensive

Synapse Required for Profiles

Razer isn’t the first to introduce analog switches to keyboards, but they have had some considerable success in that department. analog keys have had an inconsistent reception in full on mechanical keyboards, but they are of particular use in a gaming keypad, especially for MMOs, which are the primary use case of a gaming keypad anyway.

Because you can choose more than one actuation point during the key travel via Razer’s Synapse software, you can functionally double the number of macros and other inputs that the keypad is capable of. This is ideal for MMO gamers as there are a huge number of actions that need doing in rapid succession. This might be the best application of analog key switches we’ve seen, although the golden days of MMOs might be over, in the west at least, this innovation has sadly come too late. But we are excited at the opportunity to be proven wrong.

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The Best Mechanical Gaming Keypad

Razar Tartarus Chroma Expert RGB

Razar Tartarus Chroma Expert RGB

Keys

25

Switch Type

Membrane

Extra Features

Analog Stick, Partial RGB Backlighting, Fully-Programmable Keys

Editor's Rating
4.6/5
Pros

Programmable 8-way directional thumb-pad

Fully Programmable Keys

Multiple Profiles Through Razer Synapse

RGB Customization

Cons

Only Partial RGB Customization

No Mechanical Keys

Synapse Required for Profiles

Expensive

The Razer Tartarus Chroma Expert RGB is a popular but expensive option.

If you aren’t that fond of mechanical keys, but still want a premium Razer Orbweaver, then this might be the gaming keypad for you. This has membrane keys that give you a less noisy tactile experience without compromising the premium benefits.

It has just about the same physical features but with a more solid wrist rest. You can only adjust the wrist back and forth, however.

Because this has fewer keys than the Orbweaver, gamers with smaller hands can easily navigate through and press all the keys. Even with the Orbweaver set to the smallest adjustment, the Tartarus is still more convenient for gamers with smaller hands.

Unlike the Orbweaver, this only had partial RGB customization. Instead of being able to customize individual keys, you can only choose one color for the entire board depending on the profile you have selected at the time. While you can set keys to toggle or rotate between colors, this doesn’t provide the RGB experience that most modern consumers expect, especially at this price point.

The Razer Synapse, the software you use to customize the colors and reprogram the keys, can be a little annoying to mess around with, especially if it’s your first time.

And like the Orbweaver, you also have an 8-way thumbpad that offers more option to do a keyboard mapping and customization.

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Gaming Keypad With Detachable Wrist Rest
1200px Razer snake logo.svg

Razer Tartarus V2

4. Razer Tartarus V2

Key Type

Mecha-Membrane

Number of Keys

32

Extra Features

Programmable 8-way directional thumb-pad, Fully-Programmable Keys, Detachable Palm Rest, Thumb pad and Scroll Wheel

Editor's Rating
4.6/5
Pros

Tactile Mecha-Membrane Keys

Programmable 8-way directional thumb-pad

Multiple Profiles Through Razer Synapse

Has a Scroll Wheel

Fully Programmable Keys

Cons

Not As Ergonomic As The Original Tartarus

Synapse Required for Profiles

As the name suggests, the Razer Tartarus V2 is the upgraded Tartarus.

You can see at a glance that this is very much similar with the original Tartarus but there are a few differences here and there.

Let’s start with the 2 most obvious differences you can’t unsee:

  • Number of keys
  • Scroll Wheel

Aside from having more keys, the Tartarus V2 utilizes a rather different set of keys. These aren’t the ordinary membrane or mechanical keys: these are Razer mecha-membrane keys. It’s essentially a combination of both mechanical and membrane keys. It gives off the tactile feel of a mechanical key but it does so silently, like a membrane key.

The full RGB lights can be adjusted respectively with the use of Razer Synapse – just like the original Tartarus.

This gaming keypad with joystick also has another unique feature: a scroll wheel.

We found this great at first, but after a while, the novelty wore off and we preferred the mouse scroll wheel for in-game functionality and only ended up using this for volume adjustments.

The wrist rest of the Tartarus V2 can also be detached. This is something the original Tartarus can’t do and it can be adjusted into two different positions to suit your preference and comfort.

If you have a smaller hand, remove the wrist rest (as seen in the image above) and place it closer to the keys. Alternatively, place it further away from the keys if you have a larger hand for best comfort.

To top that off, the material of the wrist rest is also covered with a leather cushion.

One flaw that we found in the ergonomics department is the fact that this has more keys than the original Tartarus. Some of you may find this a plus, but gamers with smaller hands may find this a negative since they will have to extend their fingers to reach the new set of keys.

Despite having more functionality, it’s surprising that this is actually cheaper than its predecessor by nearly $50.

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The Best Budget Gaming Keypad

Delux T9

Editor's Rating
4.2/5
Pros

Very affordable

Perfect for Lefties

Comes with Multimedia Keys

WASD Keys Highlighted in Red

Only Has Key Lighting

Cons

No LED backlight

No Analog Stick

It may be the cheapest on our list but this actually offers double the function… technically.

Here’s why:

You’ll notice there are two red keys at the bottom part of the keypad. These are space keys and if you’re wondering why there are two of them, it’s there to accommodate not just right-hand users, but also left-handed users. Lefties will finally be able to play games conveniently!

Although you have a whopping 46 keys to play with, it doesn’t really give you the functionality you’d expect since some of the keys aren’t easily accessible. For instance, it’s cool that it has the 4 WASD keys, but one analog stick can do the same thing while freeing up other fingers, which is invaluable.

The placement of the keys aren’t really accommodating since you have to move your hands to actually press the keys. Also, these aren’t programmable keys, which will completely defeat the purpose for many gamers.

In fact, this is more like a one-handed gaming keyboard than a gaming keypad– which is alluded to in the title of its Amazon listing– so saving for a budget keyboard might be a viable alternative.

This does have a comfortable wrist rest but unlike many of the other candidates on the list, these can’t be adjusted.

Even though this does not have an LED backlight, like the others above, you can still play games in a dark or dim room since the keypad is illuminated, which you can adjust from low to high.

The build is surprisingly solid for the price and it has large number keys to make sure you don’t miss any keystrokes when gaming.

Overall, this still is worth getting, especially if you really are on a tight budget.

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Editor's Rating
/5

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Pros
Cons

What does a gaming keypad do?

A gaming keypad is a little different from your standard, everyday keyboard because it has been specially designed for the purpose of gaming. For this reason, a gaming keypad is usually smaller in design than a general keypad and has a smaller amount of keys that have been rearranged in order to allow for more streamlined keypresses while gaming.

This is because, in gaming, the most commonly used keys are the ‘W’, ‘A’, ‘S’, and ‘D’ as well as the keys that surround them on a standard keyboard. This is known as a WASD layout, and on gaming keypads, this layout is optimized so that the keys can be more easily reached in order to allow for more efficient gaming. Additionally, gaming keypads also come with additional functionality features for extra gaming convenience such as a closer Esc. key and volume keys.

Is the Azeron keypad worth it?

If you’re already familiar with Azeron keypads, then we’re sure that you’re already aware of how much of a gamechanger they are (pardon the pun!). Despite being priced at the higher end of the gaming keypad price range, it’s for good reason, as every Azeron keypad takes around 7 hours to construct, consists of a complex design that requires hundreds of parts, and is tested by hand for quality assurance. Not to mention, Azeron keypads have the ability to not only transform your gaming experience for the better but elevate your gameplay and help you become more skilled.

This is because Azeron keypads consist of an innovative design that resembles a hand, complete with an analog stick that ensures natural and non-restrictive movement that won’t feel strenuous. This means that armed with the Azeron keypad, you’ll be able to enjoy the accuracy of a mouse paired with the ease of a controller. On top of that, the ‘fingertips’ area of the keypad is fitted with additional switches that are not only easy to reach but ergonomically designed for comfort. Thanks to that, many users report that they are able to play for long hours without discomfort, all while being able to use a mouse and controller.

Are one-handed keypads worth it?

If you’ve been exploring the different types of gaming keypads on the market, it’s likely that you’ll have come across a one-handed keypad, or at the very least seen some of your favorite gamers using one. Though a one-handed keypad is not by any means an adequate replacement for a normal keyboard, they’re a pretty cool concept that helps to streamline the gaming experience and are, in our opinion, worth the investment.

The main advantage of using a one-handed keypad is that they’re usually a lot cheaper than a keyboard, because they use fewer keys and are in turn, a lot smaller in size. Another advantage of opting for a one-handed keypad is that they are often made to be ergonomic, meaning that you’ll be able to play with a reduced chance of developing pain or wrist strain while gaming for prolonged periods of time. Plus, after you’ve spent time getting used to it and you train your muscles to remember where the keys are, you’ll find that you won’t have to look down to operate it, let alone move your hand.

How much does the Azeron keypad cost?

The price of an Azeron keypad will vary depending on where you are deciding to purchase it from, as well as what type of Azeron keypad you have chosen. However, the Azeron Classic keypad is sold for $178, although it can rack up to more than this, as Azeron offers the ability to customize the pad according to your preferences. For an additional cost, you can choose to change the color, adjust the palm rest and change the hand size, and you can even purchase a custom nameplate if you wanted your pad to be personalized. Of course, you can always choose to purchase an Azeron keypad from a third-party retailer such as Amazon, where prices vary again, and can sometimes be cheaper and more affordable.

Does the Azeron keypad work on PS4?

If you want to purchase an Azeron keypad to use on your PS4, then there are a few things that you’ll need to know before going ahead and making the purchase. An Azeron keypad cannot be directly plugged into your PS4, as the connecter is not compatible with the PS4 system. Therefore, if you have purchased an Azeron keypad with the intention of using it on your PS4, the good news is that it can technically be used for a PS4, so long as you purchase an additional adapter that will allow you to make the two compatible. To do so, you will need to purchase an additional component known as a XIM adapter, which will allow you to successfully connect your keypad to your PS4. Azeron developers have worked closely with XIM to ensure that their keypads work with their XIM adapters, and even features specialized firmware designed to be compatible with a XIM adapter.

What is the difference between a keyboard and a keypad?

The main difference between a keyboard and a keypad is that a standard keyboard is a lot larger in size than a keypad, and uses more keys. A standard keyboard is also rectangular in shape. In contrast, keypads can vary in shape and design, although they are commonly designed to resemble a hand shape for ergonomic purposes so that the user is able to locate keys and operate the pad more effectively. In addition to this, as we mentioned above, gaming keypads are designed to make the gaming experience more enjoyable, so they are designed to optimize the ‘WASD’ layout, all while ensuring that the pad offers additional functionality, such as more closely spaced F1 and F2 keys.

Final Word

There we have it folks, a selection of the best gaming keypads, and a brief dive into why or why not it might be a suitable purchase. We can fully recommend a keypad for MMO players, other gamers’ mileage may vary.

The Author Who Worked On This Article

Product Specialist
at
WePC
Ben’s interest in video games started as a result of his intense need to be better than his sister at something. It didn’t work but it started a lifelong passion in gaming, which then evolved when he built his first PC. He completely botched it but it was fun and he hasn’t stopped since. He’s currently fighting an embittered battle to get even slightly competitive at Apex Legends. He has a particular interest in peripherals and loves messing around with his setup.

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