Stand-alone mechanical numpads are unassuming yet indispensable peripherals that redefine our interactions with numbers. Their design and efficiency have captivated the interest of professionals and gamers alike.
Whether you're a seasoned accountant meticulously maneuvering through intricate spreadsheets or a passionate gamer seeking an extra edge in virtual realms, mechanical numpads have something remarkable to offer.
As we peek into 2023, let's explore the best numpads that'll take your performance to new heights. You'll find out what makes each one stand out and why you can't afford to ignore them in your tech arsenal.
What are Mechanical Numpads?
A numpad, short for numeric keypad, is a section of a keyboard that consists of a grid of keys arranged in the layout of a calculator or adding machine. It typically contains the numbers 0-9 along with mathematical operators (+, -, *, /), decimal point, and sometimes additional function keys.
Numpads are commonly found on full-size keyboards. They're usually located on the side of the keyboard. They are absent in most compact keyboards, being integrated into the main keyboard. However, they can also be standalone devices that connect to computers or other devices.
Numpads serve the purpose of quickly inputting numerical data, performing calculations, and entering numeric values into various software applications. They are particularly useful for tasks that involve heavy numeric entry as they provide a more efficient way to input numbers compared to using the top row of number keys on a standard keyboard.
Some numpads also come with additional features such as programmable keys, backlighting, and customizable shortcuts. All of these can enhance their functionality and make them more versatile for different types of users.
NNumpads are commonly sold as standalone computer accessories or peripherals. These standalone numpads can be connected to a computer or other devices via USB, Bluetooth, or other connectivity options. They offer the convenience of adding a dedicated numeric input section to your setup without having to purchase a full-sized keyboard.
Standalone numpads come in various designs and styles. They can cater to different preferences and use cases. Some are compact and minimalist, while others might include additional features like programmable keys, backlighting, and compatibility with specific software applications.
This article will cover standalone numpads that are equipped with mechanical switches.
Who Uses Mechanical Number Pads?
Many individuals and professionals who require frequent numerical input and calculations as part of their work or activities love working with numpads. Below are just some of the people who often use standalone mechanical numpads:
Accountants and financial professionals: Accountants, financial analysts, bookkeepers, and professionals working in the finance industry deal with numerical data, calculations, and spreadsheets every day. A standalone numpad can significantly improve their efficiency and accuracy when inputting data and performing calculations.
Data analysts and statisticians: As with financial professionals, people working in data analysis, statistics, and research fields often work with large datasets; these require extensive numeric entry. A dedicated numpad can speed up data entry and make working with numbers more convenient.
Programmers and engineers: Coders, programmers, and engineers may use standalone numpads to input numeric values while writing code, working with software development tools, or handling mathematical algorithms.
CAD designers and engineers: Computer-aided design (CAD) professionals and engineers often deal with numerical measurements and calculations when designing products or structures. A numpad can enhance precision in these tasks.
Administrative and clerical professionals: Administrative assistants, secretaries, and clerical workers who regularly input numbers or use accounting software can benefit from a standalone numpad to streamline their tasks.
Gamers: Some gamers prefer using a standalone numpad for certain in-game actions or as a way to input numerical values quickly. Numpads with programmable keys can be customized for gaming macros.
Retail and Point of Sale (POS) Personnel: In retail and hospitality settings, employees at cash registers or point of sale systems often use numpads to input prices, quantities, and transaction totals.
Digital Artists and Graphic Designers: Some digital artists and graphic designers find standalone numpads useful for entering numerical values when adjusting image parameters or working with design software.
Essentially, anyone who frequently deals with numbers and calculations in their work or activities can find value in having a dedicated numeric input device.
How do Mechanical Numpads Work?
Mechanical numpads function through individual switches under each key that respond when they're pressed. This is different from the membrane keyboards that most people are familiar with. You'll notice a tactile bump and audible click with each keystroke, providing sensory and often feedback.
The magic lies beneath the surface in mechanical switches under each key. Mechanical switches are keyboard switch mechanisms used in mechanical keyboards and other input devices such as numpads. Unlike traditional membrane switches found in many standard keyboards, mechanical switches offer distinct tactile feedback and audible feedback with each key press. They are designed to enhance typing or input experience by providing more precise and responsive key registration.
Mechanical switches consist of several key components:
Housing: This is the outer shell of the switch that holds all the internal components in place.
Actuator: The actuator is the part of the switch that moves when a key is pressed. It activates the mechanism to register a key press.
Spring: Mechanical switches include a spring that provides resistance when pressing a key and helps the key return to its original position after being released.
Contacts: These are electrical contacts within the switch that close when the key is pressed, sending an electrical signal to the computer to register the key press.
Advantages of Using Mechanical Numpads
While a standard membrane numpad works in many cases, using a mechanical numpad offers several advantages that can enhance your numerical input efficiency and overall computing experience.
Tactile feedback: Mechanical numpads are equipped with mechanical switches that provide tactile feedback. This tactile bump helps you know exactly when a key press has been registered, improving typing accuracy and reducing the likelihood of accidental keystrokes.
Improved typing speed: The tactile and audible feedback from mechanical switches can contribute to faster typing speeds, as you can confidently move from one key to another without second-guessing whether a key press was registered.
Durability: Mechanical switches are known for their durability. They are designed to withstand millions of key presses. Your mechanical numpads is more robust and longer-lasting compared to membrane-based numpads.
Customizability: Many mechanical numpads come with customizable features such as programmable keys, which allow you to assign specific functions or shortcuts to keys that suit your workflow. This can greatly streamline your tasks and increase productivity.
Enhanced ergonomics: Using a separate numpad allows you to position it at a comfortable distance from your main keyboard. Thus, you can type with your arm and elbow parallel to the ground, promoting a more ergonomic typing posture. The proper posture can reduce strain on your wrists and improve overall comfort during extended typing sessions.
Specialized numeric input: Mechanical numpads are designed with numeric input as their primary function. This focused design makes them ideal for professionals who frequently work with numbers, calculations, spreadsheets, and accounting software.
Compatibility: Mechanical numpads are typically plug-and-play devices that work across various operating systems. They are compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux systems as well as other computers, laptops, and tablets.
Elevated aesthetics: Many mechanical numpads feature high-quality materials, stylish designs, and customizable backlighting options. This aesthetic appeal can complement your workspace and contribute to an overall pleasing setup.
Reduced Keyboard Clutter: If you don't regularly require a full-size keyboard but need a numeric keypad, using a standalone mechanical numpad can help reduce clutter on your desk and provide a more streamlined workspace.
Gaming and macros: Some mechanical numpads are designed with gamers in mind, offering programmable keys that can be customized for gaming macros, shortcuts, or complex in-game actions.
Responsive Gaming: Gamers who require quick and precise numeric input in certain games, such as flight simulators or strategy games, can benefit from a mechanical numpad's responsive switches.
Types of Mechanical Switches Used in Numpads
Mechanical switches are the heart of mechanical numpads. A numpad can use various types of mechanical switches, each offering different tactile feedback, actuation force, and auditory cues. The types of mechanical switches which are used in numpads are similar to those used in mechanical keyboards. Here are some of them
Cherry MX Brown: These switches have a tactile bump without an audible click. They provide feedback to the user when a key press is registered.
Razer Orange: Similar to Cherry MX Brown, Razer Orange switches offer a tactile bump without the loud click, providing a quieter typing experience.
Cherry MX Blue: These switches have a tactile bump and produce a distinct click sound when the key is pressed. The audible feedback can be satisfying for typists.
Razer Green: Similar to Cherry MX Blue, Razer Green switches offer tactile feedback and a distinctive click sound.
Cherry MX Red: Linear switches lack a tactile bump and audible click. They offer smooth keystrokes and are favored by gamers for rapid key presses.
Razer Yellow: Similar to Cherry MX Red, Razer Yellow switches are linear switches designed for fast and responsive typing.
Cherry MX Clear: These switches provide a subtle tactile bump without the loud click of MX Blue. They are often considered a compromise between tactile and linear switches.
Romer-G Tactile: Logitech's Romer-G switches offer tactile feedback and a shorter actuation distance, suitable for both typing and gaming.
Other Specialty Switches
Topre: Topre switches are electrostatic capacitive switches that offer a unique feel, combining characteristics of mechanical and rubber dome switches. They are known for their smooth keystrokes and tactile bump.
Kailh Box: Kailh Box switches are known for their water- and dust-resistant design. They offer tactile and clicky options, as well as linear variants.
Custom and Specialty Switches
Some numpads might come with proprietary or specialized switches developed by the manufacturer. These switches can offer unique characteristics tailored to specific preferences.
What to Consider When Buying a Mechanical Numpad?
When you're in the market for a new mechanical numpad, there's more to consider than just price. You'll need to choose the right mechanical switch for your needs, decide between wired or wireless options, and explore different key layouts and keycap options.
Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Mechanical Numpad
Before leaping into the world of mechanical numpads, it's crucial to consider a few key factors. Taking these key factors into consideration will help you make an informed decision when selecting a mechanical numpad that aligns with your preferences and requirements.
Decide on the type of mechanical switch you prefer: tactile, clicky, or linear.
Consider your typing or numeric input style and whether you value tactile feedback, audible clicks, or smooth keystrokes.
Build Quality and Durability
Look for a numpad with a sturdy and well-built design.
Consider the quality of materials used as well as the overall construction to ensure longevity.
Determine whether you want a wired USB numpad or a wireless option (Bluetooth).
Ensure that the numpad is compatible with the devices you intend to use it with (e.g., PC, laptop, tablet).
Layout and Size
Choose a numpad size that fits your workspace and preferences. Some numpads are compact, while others match the layout of a full-sized keyboard.
Consider whether you need additional function keys or shortcuts.
Keycap Material and Design
Look for high-quality keycaps made of durable materials.
Some numpads offer customizable keycap options for improved aesthetics.
Backlighting and Aesthetics
If backlighting is important to you, consider numpads with customizable RGB lighting or single-color backlighting.
Choose a numpad that complements your workspace and personal style.
Check if the numpad has programmable keys for assigning macros or shortcuts.
Look for multimedia controls, volume adjustments, or other extra functions that might be useful.
Ensure that the numpad is compatible with your operating system (Windows, macOS, Linux) and any software you plan to use it with.
Ergonomics and Comfort
Consider the ergonomic design of the numpad, including its height and angle, to ensure comfortable use during extended periods.
Price and Budget
Set a budget range and explore numpads within that range. Prices can vary based on brand, features, and build quality.
Brand Reputation and Reviews
Research the reputation of the brand and read user reviews to get insights into the numpad's performance, quality, and customer satisfaction.
Warranty and Customer Support
Check the warranty duration and terms offered by the manufacturer.
Ensure that customer support is available in case you encounter any issues.
Specialized Use Cases:
Consider any specific requirements you might have based on your profession (e.g., accounting, programming, gaming) that might influence your choice.
Wired or Wireless: Which is Better?
The choice between a wired and a wireless mechanical numpad depends on your specific needs, preferences, and how you plan to use the device. Let's explore the pros and cons of each:
Wired Mechanical Numpad
Reliability: Wired connections tend to be more stable and reliable, as they eliminate potential issues related to wireless interference or signal loss.
Lower Latency: Wired numpads generally have lower latency compared to wireless options, making them more responsive for quick and precise numeric input.
No Battery Concerns: Wired numpads don't require batteries or recharging, ensuring uninterrupted use.
Cable Clutter: The presence of a cable can lead to cable clutter on your desk if not managed properly.
Limited Mobility: You are constrained by the length of the cable, which may limit your placement options.
Wireless Mechanical Numpad
Flexibility: Wireless numpads offer more flexibility in terms of positioning on your desk or workspace.
Mobility: You can use a wireless numpad from a distance, making it ideal for presentations or situations where you need to move around.
Reduced Cable Clutter: Without a cable, your workspace can appear cleaner and less cluttered.
Battery Life: Wireless numpads rely on batteries, which need to be charged or replaced. Battery life can be a concern for heavy users.
Signal Interference: Wireless devices can be susceptible to signal interference, potentially affecting the device's performance.
Latency: While wireless technology has improved, there might still be slightly higher latency compared to wired devices.
Initial Setup: Wireless numpads might require initial setup and pairing with your device, which could be an extra step.
Which Option Is Better?
If stability, low latency, and reliability are important to you, a wired numpad might be the better choice. It's well-suited for professionals who need consistent and precise numeric input.
If flexibility and mobility are more important, a wireless numpad could be more suitable. This option is convenient for those who need to move around during presentations or prefer a tidier desk setup without cables.
In recent years, wireless technology has improved, and many wireless numpads offer reliable performance and longer battery life.
Top Mechanical Numpads of 2023
When it comes to mechanical numpads, you'll find a variety of models and designs in the market. Let's check out some of the best number pads this year.
Experience the perfect blend of style and functionality with the lightweight and compact Redragon Blue Switch keyboard, boasting 42 keys, 7 onboard macros, and a comfortable wrist-rest – your ultimate gaming companion.
Features: Analog input for variable control, customizable layout
Why are Mechanical Numpads Popular Among Gamers?
Mechanical numpads provide a level of precision, customization, and durability that align with the demands of gaming, making them a popular choice among gamers looking to optimize their gaming setups and improve their performance.
Precise and rapid input: Gamers appreciate mechanical numpads for their ability to provide accurate and fast key presses. This responsiveness is crucial for competitive gaming scenarios where split-second decisions matter.
Customizable keys: Mechanical numpads often feature programmable keys, enabling gamers to assign specific actions, macros, or shortcuts. This personalization streamlines gameplay and aids in executing complex maneuvers efficiently.
Long-lasting performance: Mechanical numpads are known for their durability, capable of enduring millions of key presses. This durability assures gamers of consistent performance over prolonged gaming sessions.
Switch variety: Offering tactile, clicky, and linear switch options, mechanical numpads let gamers select the switch type that complements their gaming style. Whether it's quick keystrokes or precise inputs, there's a suitable switch.
Tactile feedback: Tactile and clicky switches provide tangible feedback, alerting gamers when a key press registers without needing to fully depress the key. This feedback minimizes fatigue during extended gaming periods.
Minimal ghosting and key blocking: Mechanical switches are designed to reduce the occurrence of ghosting and key blocking. This design ensures accurate registration of multiple simultaneous key presses, crucial for complex gaming sequences.
Swift actuation: Mechanical switches boast faster actuation times compared to membrane switches, enabling gamers to respond more swiftly to in-game events and challenges.
Gaming-centric features: Certain mechanical numpads offer features tailored specifically for gaming. These may encompass customizable RGB lighting effects, gaming mode to disable certain keys, and support for advanced gaming software.
Aesthetic appeal: Gamers often value visual aesthetics. Many mechanical numpads incorporate customizable RGB backlighting that can harmonize with the color scheme of a gaming setup.
Versatile compatibility: Mechanical numpads seamlessly integrate with diverse gaming setups, from desktops to laptops, ensuring a consistent gaming experience across various devices.
Gaming macros: Mechanical numpads facilitate the creation of macros, enabling gamers to execute intricate sequences of actions with a single key press. Such capability proves especially advantageous in games featuring repetitive tasks.
Mechanical numpads have become incredibly popular for both gamers and professionals. These numpads offer a bunch of benefits, like better precision and customization for gamers and easier number handling for professionals. They use special mechanical switches that make typing and pressing keys more satisfying and accurate.
If you're a gamer, these numpads can help you play games better by responding quickly to your actions and letting you program shortcuts. For professionals who work with numbers a lot, like accountants or programmers, these numpads can make tasks smoother and faster.
Using a numpad is an efficient way to type numbers and make your computer tasks easier. Consider getting one of these top mechanical numpads of 2023. They'll be your trusty sidekick for whatever you're up to on your computer!
A designer and outdoor enthusiast, Erickson has a deep passion for human-based solutions tailored to the needs of the modern workplace. He believes that everyone should use ergonomic products to make daily life (and not just work-life) healthier and more comfortable. Erickson regularly writes helpful reviews for ergonomic solutions and brands for a broad range of applications: working, gaming, traveling, sleeping, and more! When not writing, Erickson finds time to trek, hike, or spend the day at the beach.
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