TechJunkie Expert Recommendations
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Twitch remains to be the best streaming platform for all sorts of content creators to this day. If you want to be a big hit like the Twitch stars out there, you won’t just need the skills, dedication, and personality. You’ll also need a good stream deck to make the experience better for you and your viewers as well.
A good stream deck will give you access to a whole host of features right at the end of your fingertips. From swapping between platforms to doing specific actions on Twitch, a good stream deck can make streaming feel smoother. This, of course, allows you to focus more on your craft instead of the technicalities that come along the way. There are lots of stream decks out there, but these are the best so far.
When it comes to stream decks, Elgato is clearly one of the names that you should trust. They continue to create some of the best stream decks out there, and in our opinion, the best they have is the Elgato Stream Deck XL.
Elgato currently has a lot of options in its range, but the Stream Deck XL stands out as the best feature as it has the most buttons, 32 keys in an 8 x 4 configuration. Each key is made of clear plastic with an LCD screen behind it. Users can map buttons to specific functions such as displaying messages, switching cameras, launching apps, etc. You can also assign static or dynamic symbols to the LCD behind the keys, depending on their function.
One of the great things about the Stream Deck XL is its compatibility with applications. It works with most streaming software like OBS, Streamlabs, Youtube, Twitch, and Twitter. Stream Deck also comes with Elgato’s easy-to-use software that makes mapping buttons and creating shortcuts a breeze. Stream Deck XL offers more features than its competitors, but it may be overkill for some streamers. Many users don’t need that many buttons and just use Elgato’s regular streaming deck. If you’re not planning on doing that many different things, it might be better to use Elgato’s regular streaming deck only offers 15 buttons, and it costs less.
The only real problem with the Elgato Stream Deck XL is that it’s not as intuitive to use as other streaming decks out there. That may be because it has a wide selection of buttons to choose from.
The Elgato Stream Deck XL is one of the best streaming decks not just for Twitch, but also for other platforms out there. Its features really cater to those that want to make streaming into a lifestyle.
Elgato really is the king of streaming decks, so don’t be surprised that you’re going to see more of them on this list. Next up, we have the MK.2, which is another great offering from the brand.
An update to the popular Stream Deck, the MK.2 features 15 customizable buttons, each of which doubles as a small, colored LED screen to indicate its function. You can configure each button to do just about anything, but built-in features supported by the software include sending automated Twitch chat messages, playing audio from the soundboard, creating clips, changing your voice, and posting tweets. The Stream Deck MK.2 app natively supports OBS, Twitch, and Twitter.
Released in July 2021 for $149, the MK.2 has some beneficial improvements over the original model, but probably not enough to convince existing owners to upgrade. The new model brings a replaceable faceplate, a USB-C port with a detachable cable, and a more stable 45-degree fixed-angle stand. Otherwise, it’s the same device as the 6-button Stream Deck Mini ($69) or 32-button Stream Deck XL ($245), with the same features and software.
The Stream Deck has a total of three rows, each with five buttons. The keys are raised, pressable, and separated by black bars, so each one has a custom feel to it. Being able to use hotkeys while streaming PC games to switch between the game and other apps such as Opera GX, Chrome, OBS, etc. is very convenient. I know most people would like to have more keys on their macro keyboard, but others have found that even 15 is too many. For most, 6 keys on the Stream Deck Mini is enough. Create folders at any time to store different functions.
The MK.2 is a great alternative to the XL. It provides a great level of functionality despite being a smaller device. It’s great for upcoming streamers that want to try something new for a change.
Loupedeck Live is a great alternative to Elgato streaming decks. It’s compatible with both Apple computers and PCs. Once connected with the USB-C cable, the desktop app will be able to identify it. Just like that, you are on your way.
Loupedeck CT is Live’s next level, an expanded physical interface with some extra controls underneath and even a giant adjustment knob. The haptics of the Loupedeck are a great tactile experience for those that enjoy such sensations. The keyboard-clacking enthusiasts out there will definitely enjoy using the Loupedeck Live as they do with keyboards. Precision control is also surprisingly easy and intuitive. This is especially helpful in tricky and notoriously finicky creative apps like DaVinci Resolve.
Apart from being a good streaming deck, the Loupedeck Live works perfectly as a means to further expand the functionality of your drawing tablet. That said, this streaming deck is the perfect partner for any graphic designer or visual artist out there. As a final word, this interface is very accessible and practical. You will literally see a virtual Loupedeck on the screen in front of you. It’s very easy to create all taps and add your own twist.
In addition to each app-centric profile, there are also several general workspaces to choose from. These seem to come from many custom actions available on the right. You can use these commands to create your own custom Loupedeck profile with the creative app of your choice.
This streaming deck is the best non-Elgato choice out there. It’s not as perfect as the products from Elgato, but it’s still an excellent choice that’s worth getting.
Now, we’re going to talk about one of the best affordable options out there. The Elgato Stream Deck Mini is easily one of the best streaming platforms for beginners out there. It’s affordable and compact, but it does the job pretty well too. However, filling all 15 buttons on the Stream Deck can be difficult. Especially if you’re a tinkerer or prefer to perform certain actions the traditional way.
The Stream Deck Mini seems made for people that want an easier and more streamlined time with streaming. Instead of 15 buttons, the Mini has 3 of its 6 buttons in one row. They’re still OLED buttons, fully programmable, and have the ability to customize their respective icons.
But it’s more than enough for most people – even for professional streamers. The Stream Deck Mini works well with consoles and PC. Of course, setting up OBS and Shadowplay effectively takes some know-how, but you’ll eventually get there. Stream Deck Mini makes the process even more streamlined. Once set up, it’s as easy as pushing a button to get started.
Setting up the Stream Deck Mini is still a bit of a hassle. The basics are pretty simple. Assigning commands to buttons is done using drag and drop. Next, edit some basic information, give it a title, and change the font to Comic Sans. It’s very simple. But for some reason, the icon creator is still a clumsy, sloppy-looking web portal. Given that icon customization is a big part of the Stream Deck Mini’s marketing pitch, it’s odd that the key creator isn’t included in the same software this package as the rest.
The Stream Deck Mini is a product that most people should have. Sure, the original is still a great choice. However, Mini improves on it. Plus, for most people, hobbyists, and pros, 15 buttons is overkill.
The Elgato Stream Deck Mini might be affordable and small, but it’s far from being a poor performer. It’s a great option to have, especially if you want to try out streaming for a change.
If you don’t see an app that should be here, let us know what it is