There’s a lot to be said about a one-handed keyboard or gaming keypad, however, it’s not something that you see firmly planted on a gamer’s desk very often. One-handed keyboards are severely cut-down versions of longer keyboards and many of them lack the full set of alphabet keys. 

Regarding gaming, they’re certainly ergonomically designed, at least most of them are, in that they come with comfortable palm support and position the keys nicely for your fingers. 

One-handed keyboards are also cheaper and their reduced size means you have much more room on your desk to try some sweeping low DPI mouse movements from the elbow. 

They also aren’t without their faults but do the benefits of one-handed keyboards make them worth it for gaming?

Are One-Handed Keyboards Good For Gaming?

A boy using a one-handed keyboard for gaming

One-handed keyboards are good for gaming. They provide the necessary keys for playing games in a compact form that allows you to perfectly position your hand for more support and comfort when you play. They also free up a lot of space on your desk so you can carry out larger, sweeping mouse movements from your elbow.

But probably the most important thing a one-handed keyboard does is free up loads of space on your desk for more sweeping mouse movements.

Low DPI flick and snap aiming from the elbow are some of the most precise in-game movements you can make and a one-handed keyboard allows you to free up enough desk space to easily carry these types of broad movements out.

It would take a little while to get used to this type of keyboard, assuming that—as a gamer—you have never used one before. But once the muscle memory starts to really kick in, and you know where all of the keys are without looking, there are some interesting ideas to explore here.

Especially when you start using key mapping (setting up your keys so that each one performs a quick, in-game action). Depending on the kind of game you are playing, it may be possible to remove your full-sized keyboard from your desk entirely, using the one-handed keyboard in one hand and the mouse in the other.

If you’re someone who got their start on consoles and still aren’t used to the WASD keys for movement, you might take to a one-handed keyboard a little easier. Some one-handed gaming keyboards, like the Razer Tartarus V2, even have a thumbstick for movement which will leave your fingers free to perform other in-game functions.

But if you’re the kind of player who likes to type in-game to chat or hit Alt+Tab and surf the web every time you have a spare couple of minutes, you might find yourself having to flip between a normal keyboard and a one-handed one.

Just because you know your way around a keyboard doesn’t mean that you’re going to take to a one-handed keyboard like a fish to water.

On the other hand, everybody is different so maybe some gamers will pick it up like it’s second nature.

What Is The Point Of A One-Handed Keyboard For Gaming?

The point of a one-handed keyboard for gaming is to speed up game reaction time, increase comfort and free up desk space for your mouse. It may not make much of a difference in slower RPGs or MMORPGs, but it may make a difference if you have a small number of customized keys that you can access quickly, without having to move your hand.

One-handed gaming keyboards are much more comfortable than larger keyboards. You can position them perfectly where your hand naturally sits on the desk and they have ergonomic palm rests that perfectly line up your fingers with the keys.

That is something that’s difficult to achieve when you’re trying to squash a full-sized keyboard on your desk while leaving enough space for mouse movements.

When it comes to competitive gaming, gamers are always seeking an edge over the competition and a one-handed keyboard may be just the tool necessary to give you that extra millisecond that the opponent lacks. 

It can grow to feel quite natural, even if the keys are alien at first. The reason for the natural feeling is that you can have two hands, individually dedicated to a single task, without moving either hand to reach for something else. 

For instance, if you are right-handed, you can have the mouse in your right hand and the one-handed keyboard in your left hand and never move either hand for more than what they have to do in their immediate area. The feel is natural, even if the keys are yet unknown.

A one-handed keyboard is also pretty handy if you game on a laptop as you can use the keyboard and mouse on either side and have the laptop screen up close and directly in front of you.

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of A One-Handed Keyboard For Gaming

> The compact size gives you more desk room and space
> Potential game performance improvement with key mapping
> They’re typically ergonomically sound
> Much more cost-effective than a standard keyboard
> Comes in all of the keyboard types (mechanical, membrane, etc) that standard keyboards do
> It may not be good for games that require heavy keyboard use
> In-game chat and searching on Google might be difficult
> Can have a steep learning curve
> Trial and error setting up your customizable keys

Honestly, however, the last one on the cons list is just a gripe but it makes sense in the context that if you have never used one before, it’s going to take some time and effort to map your keys to certain tasks and develop the necessary muscle memory to make it work. 

Another advantage of one-handed keyboards is that there are so many shapes and sizes to choose from.

When you are dealing with a standard keyboard, there is only so much that you can do with that. Sure, there are the large mechanical keyboards with the mini keyboards sitting on the opposite end, but they still retain their logical layout. 

There’s a little more wiggle room with a one-handed keyboard and it might surprise you to know that some of them are much bigger than you would think. The biggest differentiating factor between various one-handed keyboards is the ergonomic factor. 

Some of them support a simple wrist pad while others have giant wrist pads with a 45° slope feeding the wrist pad into the keys. Some have your standard one-handed keys while others have optional, gaming keys on the left and right sides of the keyboard. 

The point is, there is quite a bit of variety here so there’s no one-size-fits-all model.

What Games Are Best Suited For One-Handed Keyboards?

Most of your RPGs, whether they are fast-paced or slow and tactical, are really good for use with a one-handed keyboard. Diablo 3, the Torchlight series, Civilization 6, any tactical or simulation games, World of Warcraft (if you get your keys customized just right), and some FPS shooters, depending on the need for a full keyboard. 

When it comes to mobile games, both Apple and Google have added support for one-handed keyboards, which includes both browsing and using your smartphone for general purposes, along with many games that support the hardware. 

You can also use a one-handed keyboard for gaming consoles, such as the Playstation 5 and the Xbox Series X. However, they can be of limited use if the game you’re playing doesn’t support them. 

When it comes to PC gaming, a one-handed keyboard makes the most sense but that doesn’t mean that its usefulness ends there when it comes to games. Although some FPS games are probably off the table with a one-handed keyboard, not all of them are.

Even in games where there is extensive use of a keyboard involved, you can probably make it work given the opportunity to get your keys mapped just the way you like them.

Related Article: Is A Normal Keyboard Good For Gaming? (Explained)

Do One-Handed Keyboards Have All The Keys?

One-handed keyboards do not have all the keys. Even your most extensive one-handed keyboards will have 40 keys at most. They don’t even have the entirety of the alphabet on them though, of course, having A through Z on a keyboard is hardly meaningful when you’re using keys for nothing more than games. 

For most one-handed keyboards, all of the keys are programmable. Some one-handed keyboards only come with number keys, including the F-number keys. Some have a partial alphabet with the numbers 1-9 and most, if not all of your F-numbers. 

Some one-handed keyboards are more gaming-specific in their design, including analog sticks, gaming buttons, rollers, and more. No matter what one-handed keyboard you choose to go with, none of them will have all of the keys that you will normally get with a full keyboard. 

There is a single manufacturer that makes a one-handed keyboard with all of the keys (at least, all of the keys that matter for standard use). It’s not a one-handed keyboard for gaming, though you could probably make it useful for gaming if you put in the time.

The Maltron Single Hand Keyboard was specifically designed for professional use for those who can only use one hand to type, though it could be used for gaming as well, depending on the games you play. 

However, if you thought that getting used to a single-hand keyboard would be a difficult task in muscle memory training, the Maltron Single Hand Keyboard is a quirky, weird-looking thing with a whole lot of keys for just five fingers to cover. 

It’s supposed to be ergonomically designed for single-hand use and it certainly is. But be prepared to put some serious work into it.

Can You Still Type On A One-Handed Keyboard?

Most one-handed keyboards for gaming are not good for typing because they don’t contain all the letters of the alphabet. If you try to type normally with a one-handed keyboard, you are pretty soon going to need a letter of the alphabet that just won’t be there.

They usually contain all the letters from the left side of a keyboard and are missing the ones from the right side.

If you have a one-handed keyboard like the Maltron Single Hand Keyboard, you can type with it, with the whole of a standard keyboard at your disposal. The Maltron is the exception to the rule, unfortunately, and most single-hand keyboards simply lack the keys necessary to type like a journalist or a freelance writer. 

As we mentioned above, most of the one-handed keyboards available on the market are gaming keyboards and they lack the entire alphabet. Some don’t have a single-letter key available. Even if you could map letters to certain keys, it would be way more trouble than it’s worth. 

If you want or need to type one-handed, such as you would write an article or an essay, your best bet would be to get a 60% keyboard, or the above-mentioned Maltron Single Hand Keyboard. If you can ever get used to the wildly nightmarish, oddly curving, mash-up of keys, you can type nearly as fast as a professional writer.

Who Should Buy A One-Handed Keyboard For Gaming?

If you’re someone who wants to have a more ergonomic experience gaming with a keyboard and you want to free up space on your desk to try out some mouse movements from the elbow, a one-handed keyboard should be useful.

But other than for gaming, you won’t find much other use for it. Maybe you could use some of the programmable keys as shortcuts when you are doing some creative work but that would be all.

One-handed keyboards are very nearly a niche in the keyboard market. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t plenty of people out there who want them or have need of them, such as. 

  • Gamers who are looking for an edge in competitive play
  • Gamers who want an extra tool in their toolbox
  • For use with gaming laptops 
  • For gamers with a disability
  • Disabled veterans who love to play PC games

Disabled people or veterans who have lost a hand or an arm and still love gaming will find a lot of benefits in a one-handed keyboard. Many times, we get so busy thinking of a reason that a one-handed keyboard might make us better that we forget about those that have no alternative. 

For the rest of us, a one-handed keyboard can provide a competitive edge, once you get the hang of it, of course. Access is much faster. You don’t have to slide your hand clear across a keyboard, blindly seeking the right key as quickly as possible.

It’s also good for those who like to play on a gaming laptop. Laptops often lack the best keys and a one-handed keyboard peripheral will help to reestablish that premium link. Since a laptop can be a portable gaming platform, a one-handed keyboard is great for that purpose as well. 

For some, having a one-handed keyboard can simply be another tool in the tool chest. There’s nothing wrong with switching from a full keyboard to a one-handed keyboard when it is advantageous to do so.

How To Choose A One-Handed Keyboard For Gaming

Choosing a one-handed keyboard is simply a matter of what gap in your gameplay you need to fill. There are several aspects of a one-handed keyboard to consider, depending on the kind of games you are into. 

  • Mechanical or Membrane
  • Analog and gaming button options
  • Ergonomic capability
  • Compatibility

Of course, the mechanical and membrane comparison is simply a budgetary argument. Every salty gamer knows what the best types of keys are. We want tactile feedback and low latency. 

Analog and gaming buttons are generally placed in advantageous and ergonomically sound positions. They are excellent tools to work directly in conjunction with a good gaming mouse. Try to get a one-handed keyboard that has a thumbstick. It will make all the difference.

Ergonomics is also a good thing to aim for. Gamers spend a lot of time behind a monitor and no one wants to start cramping in the middle of a gaming session. try the keyboard out first if you can to be sure that the ergonomic palm rest fits your hand.

Compatibility is another thing to look into as well. Not every one-handed keyboard will work fine with every computer. The main operating systems that we’re talking about are Windows, macOS, and Linux-based systems.

You’d be surprised at how often a one-handed keyboard is only good for Windows and is essentially a paperweight with Linux and macOS or vice versa.

All Things Considered

A one-handed gaming keyboard has the potential to be an outstanding component for fulfilling your gaming needs. There are some distinct advantages to consider as well as ergonomic comfort and support. 

They’re also great for those who are dealing with a disability since a one-handed keyboard may be the only option that they have.