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What is a keypad?
Before I could give you a good answer to the question “are keypads good for gaming”, I need to explain what a keypad even is. A keypad is a block of keys on a pad (duh). This traditionally means a separate keypad from your keyboard entirely, if you are using a traditional keyboard for your computer right now, you might have a pretty good example of a keypad right in front of you.
On the right-hand side of most keyboards, you should see an arrangement of numbers and simple math functions. Typically it is arranged in a four by five, or four by six, separate block of keys. They are separated slightly from the rest of the keyboard because they serve a different function. Often for math equations.
A gaming keypad is arranged much the same, except the buttons are often spread out to be as comfortable as possible not just as linear.
Side Note: If your keyboard doesn’t have a keypad to the right, you probably have a compact keyboard. Check out my article on 65% keyboards where I go into more detail on this.
Alternatively, you can check out my recommendations for the best 65 percent keyboards as well.
Why is a keypad different than a standard keyboard?
A keypad is not attached to your keyboard at all, it is plugged into your computer or laptop with a USB drive. The keypad may not be arranged linearly like a traditional number keypad or an ortholinear keyboard. You may even find that there are several extra buttons, they could be on the sides or along the top. These extra buttons can be bound to whatever function you like. If you are someone who wants to keep all of their command keys in the same place this might be good for you.
Why might someone use a keypad?
There are lots of reasons someone might use a keypad. One of the major ones is, of course, gaming. There are some everyday uses for these keypads that you might not have considered.
For example, if someone is left-handed their laptop/keyboard will have the number pad on the right-hand side of the keyboard. This isn’t very convenient, so they may plug a keypad into their device and keep it on the left of their keyboard.
If you are someone who has poor mobility in one or more of your hands you may find that binding certain functions and keys to a number pad is a lot easier for you to handle.
Someone may even choose to have TWO keypads instead of a traditional keyboard. This could be because they think it looks cool, more likely though it is good for someone with carpal tunnel syndrome. This is a pretty serious problem people who work at a keyboard all day can end up getting. It can make typing very painful and very hard. By using two keypads, they can move each hand to a comfortable position when they are typing. With the carpal tunnel, what is painful for one hand might not be for the other. By having two keypads you can ensure they are both as comfortable as possible.
What are the benefits of using a keypad?
There are a few benefits as listed above, comfort for example, primarily though a keypad allows you to have access to so many more functions. A keypad is essentially an extension of your keyboard. It can give you anywhere between 9-20 more buttons depending on the size/shape of the keypad you choose to purchase.
Even if you don’t have the best knowledge of keyboard macros and shortcuts you can benefit from using a keypad by relocating specific keys presses to the keypads. For example, if you are gaming and you have jump bound to space, you may prefer to have jump bound to one of the side keys on your keypad.
If you are good at setting up macros there is a lot to be gained from creating them and binding them to keypad presses. These macros could be anything from auto sending emails at a set time, to “helping” you with games.
In regards to emails, you may want to draft an email to send to someone early on in the day but don’t want to send it until later on. You could bind a key on the keypad to send an email with just one press, rather than going through the whole process manually. For gaming, however, it gets a little more complicated.
Are keypads good for gaming?
Yes, keypads can be pretty great for gaming. If you are someone who plays League of Legends you will be very familiar with the Q, W, E, R, D, F, B common keybindings for abilities. Then you have all of your items bound to numbers. This means you have at least 10 maybe more keys needed to play the game.
If you look at your standard keyboard now you might see why that is a problem. One hand on the mouse, one hand for the keys (exclude your thumb), this leaves one hand with a LOT to do. This means you have to try and cover a strangely offset block of keys single-handedly to play effectively. If you were to move all of those keys over to a keypad you could bind each key on the pad to a specific ability much more comfortably.
It doesn’t have to just be a very key intensive game like League of Legends though. If you take a game like Counter-Strike which is primarily about the mouse, you can still see the benefit. If you were to bind your movement keys and jump key so they were more comfortably together, rather than having to move your thumb over each time, you may give yourself an edge. Or, you may not.
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Some people find keypad very uncomfortable. Having to re-learn key presses can be tedious. Most of us press keys instinctively when we game, we don’t have to think about where the key is, it is all muscle memory. You may eventually see some improvement, in the short term though you will see a huge drop off in ability.
Are keypads considered cheating?
Keypads are not considered cheating for the most part. Realistically, they are just alternative keyboards. The problems arise when people use their customizability to create an unfair advantage with macros.
If you are playing a combo-based game, again like League of Legends, you could set the combination to “press” itself with just one keypress. This would be cheating, you might not even be caught for it (depending on the game). I can assure you that you will have a lot more fun playing properly, without cheating, than by using complex macros.
So are keypads good for gaming? Yes, they most definitely are, for some people. They may take some time getting used to if you’ve never used one before, but after that initial learning process, you should see a big bump in your overall skill level.
The biggest benefit will come from games that require many different keystrokes. These types of games are usually RPGs but any genre could really fall into this category.
If you’re looking to gain that extra competitive edge, I highly recommend looking into getting a decent gaming keypad. Anything you do, that the other players aren’t doing, ultimately brings you one step closer to being the best. If you’ve seen the Pro gamers tilting their keyboards then you would realize every gamer has their own strategies to win the game.
Are keypads going to be your winning strategy?