When it comes to competitive gaming, mechanical keyboards are the way to go thanks to their low response time and satisfying sound. The rise in popularity of using a small gaming keyboard among pro gamers is forcing manufacturers to shrink their boards by clearing out the seldom-used buttons, especially for gamers. But are there really any advantages of using a smaller version of the gaming keyboard?
Why Choose a Small Gaming Keyboard
The first and most obvious advantage is the size. With a smaller footprint and less clutter, a small gaming keyboard allows users to have more space for their other tools such as a low-DPI mouse and other gaming accessories on the desk. Plus, it also helps with the portability as a pro gamer wouldn’t want to go around competitions with oversized baggage.
Things to Consider
Below are some important factors to be considered while choosing a small gaming keyboard for yourself.
- Switches – While every keyboard comes with a variety of switch options, it’s vital to choose one that is ideal for gaming and not for typing.
- Durability – Another important aspect is the build quality. Avoid plastic-made keyboards as they won’t be able to handle the pressure and force put on during intense gaming sessions, resulting in shorter lifespans.
- Software – With a dedicated app or software, you can assign functions to shortcut keys, create game-specific profiles, and customize on-keyboard lighting. So it’s important that the keyboard is backed by solid easy-to-use software.
Now that you know what to look for in a small gaming keyboard, here are the best options that are available in the market right now.
1. Drop ALT Mechanical Keyboard: Best Splurge
First on this list is the ALT Mechanical Keyboard from Drop. It boasts a premium aluminum build with a light strip that runs around the edge of the keyboard. Plus, the RGB lighting gets incredibly bright with a choice from millions of different colors for every single key. The removable magnetic feet can be attached to attain either a forward or backward tilt. The keyboard is wired with two USB ports on either side of the keyboard’s front, which is always convenient.
While all of the keys are macro-programmable, Drop doesn’t have dedicated software to do the same. So, you’d have to make do with the company’s website. The hot-swappable switch sockets mean that you can easily swap switches in seconds without any kind of soldering required. So if you have your own set of keys, you can opt for the barebone version which costs only $160.
2. HyperX Alloy Origins 60: Best Budget
If you’re looking for a budget option while fulfilling your small gaming keyboard needs, then you wouldn’t find a better option than the HyperX Alloy Origins 60. While it strips away the function, arrows, and command keys to achieve its 60% form factor, the side of each key clearly displays alternate functions, which can be accessed using the function key. But despite the small form factor, weighing around 34 ounces, the keyboard is not necessarily light by any means.
Aside from the above, HyperX Alloy Origins 60 comes with all the usual bells and whistles including a keycap puller, an additional Esc key, and the special alternate space bar design. Unlike its counterpart above, the keyboard comes with three different tilt angles (3°, 7°, and 11°). With HyperX’s Ngenuity configuration app, it’s easy to remap keys, change RGB lighting, and adjust other settings.
All things considered, HyperX AlloyOrigins 60 makes a great buy for someone looking for small gaming keyboard with its low latency keys, RGB lighting, and an affordable price tag.
3. Razer Blackwidow TE Chroma v2: Best Software
Another affordable small gaming keyboard is the Razer Blackwidow TE. This tournament-ready portable keyboard offers three sets of switches to choose from – Green (tactile and clicky), Orange (tactile and silent), and Yellow (linear and silent) key switches. The concave keycaps are definitely clicky and loud. And as expected, all keys and keypress combinations are remappable to execute complex commands via Razer Synapse software. Plus, the RGB lighting is also highly customizable with Synapse software.
The integrated magnets on the front edge allow the keyboard to connect to the magnetic wrist rest for extra comfort while gaming. Unlike its counterparts above, the keyboard is made of sturdy textured plastic but the keycaps are made of ABS plastic which is a bit of a letdown. Apart from that, the Blackwidow TE is an out-and-out game-ready small keyboard backed by solid software and portable design.
4. Cooler Master MK730: Best Design
If you liked all the features of the Drop ALT but found it expensive, then Cooler Master MK730 is definitely worth checking out. It features a brushed aluminum build and a slim profile with floating Cherry MX switches. Additionally, there are also light bars on the sides and the front of the small keyboard which will really help take your gaming setup to the next level. Talking about switches, the MK730 gives an option of choosing between Cherry MX Blue, Brown, or Red. You can customize the buttons and lighting on either side via its on-the-fly system or its Portal software.
The 1.8m detachable USB Type-C cable certainly adds to the portability factor. Just like its counterpart above, this one too sports a magnetic wrist rest made of PU leather with rubber feet at the bottom to keep it from sliding off. The only downside that users reported is that the USB-C cable detaches far too easily upon any movement.
5. Logitech G PRO X: Best Overall
Available with Logitech’s own brand of GX Blue, Brown, or Red switches, the G Pro X is certainly a real deal when it comes to small gaming keyboards. The Logitech G Pro X allows swapping switches, meaning you can customize the feel of each one of the device’s 87 keys. The keys are extremely responsive thanks to their low latency and the switches’ short pre-travel distance. Plus, the removable micro USB power cord and a tenkeyless design make it a highly portable keyboard.
The RGB keys can be customized through the Logitech G Hub software, which is the same software used for the Logitech mouse or webcam. While the LEDs are bright and can be changed to any color, they don’t illuminate the entire key, just the text.
Overall, Logitech G Pro X is a solid gaming keyboard with all the necessary key features and excellent software support.
Wrap Up: 5 Best Small Gaming Keyboards
So these were some of the best small gaming keyboards available in the market right now. And choosing one may not be difficult as you can’t really go wrong with any of these options. However, if you decide to go with any other option, make sure to consider the factors listed above.