Best Stream Decks in 2022

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Updated June 27, 2022

What are the features that make the best stream decks? When it comes to finding the best alternatives to the Elgato Stream Deck, it starts with versatility, the ability to program customizable buttons, and keyboard shortcuts for integrating capture cards, audio recordings, and other key aspects of the streaming process.

Next, the top-rated stream deck alternatives feature easy-to-use software that allows for quick setup and direct integration with the best gaming monitor, webcam, and screen capture devices. And, if you’re a Twitch streamer, a stream deck that offers physical buttons, allowing less-distracting tactile operation is going to be right up your alley.

Keep reading our buying guide to learn more about stream decks that give the Elgato Stream Deck a run for its money.

Top Stream Decks

 #1   Elgato 10GAA9901 Live Content Creation Controller and Stream Deck

Award: TOP PICK

WHY WE LIKE IT: It is easy to use, and its software is pretty easy to customize. It is lightweight and can be connected to a computer through USB.

Pros
  • Easy to customize
  • Very lightweight
Cons
  • Does not support all programs

Described by enthusiasts as a must-have for streamers, the Elgato Stream Deck is a programmable keypad with shortcut buttons to the most frequent commands. It features 15 customizable keys that can be programmed to trigger a wide range of actions. Each button is more of a tiny LCD screen whose content can be customized according to the software being used. Weighing only 0.4 pounds, the deck is pretty lightweight and measures 0.8 by 4.6 by 3.3 inches. However, not all programs are supported.

The Elgato Stream Deck has a kickstand and rows of notches for the kickstand to slot into. This gives users a good variety of angle options to choose from when setting it up. To get it up and running, all users have to do is connect its USB cable to a computer and download the Stream Deck software from Elgato’s website. Through the software, users will have a layout similar to the deck, and Elgato’s software makes it easy to customize.

 #2   Loupedeck Live Stream Deck

Award: HONORABLE MENTION

WHY WE LIKE IT: It works with a wide range of software and is very easy to set up. It also has haptic feedback when pressed and excellent build quality.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Great build quality
  • Compatible with both Windows and Mac OS
Cons
  • Not compatible with live streaming apps on macOS

The Loupedeck Live is a highly customizable console that is ideal for people whose work involves a lot of photo and video editing or music production. The console has one big touch screen that is divided into twelve sections and two thinner sections on its side that work as labels for the dial controls. To the left and right of the touchscreen are three control dials, and at the bottom, eight round control buttons that can be customized according to a user’s requirements. Still, it is not compatible with live streaming apps on macOS.

The console comes with a removable USB C cable for connecting to a computer and will require owners to download Loupedeck software to set it up. Once done, owners will be able to create custom profiles for any software through shortcuts and macros or choose to use some that already exist.

 #3   Elgato 10GAT9901 XL Stream Deck

Award: BEST FOR PROFESSIONAL STREAMERS

WHY WE LIKE IT: It is an excellent tool for professional streamers and is very easy to set up. It comes with a magnetic stand that holds it up and a detachable USB-A to USB-C cable.

Pros
  • Great for professional streamers
  • Held upright by a magnetic stand
  • Works with both Windows and Mac OS
Cons
  • Has a larger footprint

The Elgato Stream Deck XL is the bigger brother to the original Elgato Stream Deck, and it offers 32 customizable LCD keys for owners to configure. Like its predecessor, the XL connects to a PC through a USB cable. One of its features is that users will be able to assign multiple actions to a single key, and with the many different Internet services supported, users will also be able to use it across different settings. However, some might not appreciate its larger footprint.

Because of its slightly larger size, this stream deck is held up by a magnetic stand. This is one of the most significant differences between it and the original Stream Deck. The software used here is also pretty much the same, with only a few more options for assigning functions.

 #4   Elgato Stream Deck Mini

Award: BEST FOR STREAMING ON THE GO

WHY WE LIKE IT: It has a small form factor, which might appeal to users who like to move around with their streaming equipment.

Pros
  • Small and lightweight design for portability
  • Six programmable keys
  • Works with Windows and MacOS
Cons
  • Does not have a stand that can be adjusted to multiple heights

The Elgato Stream Deck Mini is a smaller version of the Elgato Stream Deck that features six customizable LCD keys. The Stream Deck allows users to launch multiple actions simultaneously with one tap, and its setup process only requires a simple drag and drop action. The stream deck is compatible with macOS 10.11 and later and Windows 10 and later versions. However, it does not come with a stand that can be adjusted to multiple heights.

Its small form factor makes it very portable and might appeal to users who would enjoy streaming on the go. Users will be able to assign actions to ready-made icons or create their own if they wish to do so. They’ll also be able to turn keys into folders or, even more conveniently, assign as many actions as they would want to a single key.

Beginners Guide to Stream Decks

What Are Stream Decks?

Stream decks are devices that allow streamers and content creators to control various functions of a streaming session with a single button. Most Elgato Stream Deck alternatives allow you to assign multiple functions to each physical button. These devices can offer various levels of flexibility and a varying number of buttons. Some are physical devices with LCD screens, OLED buttons, or mechanical keypads, while others are applications designed to run on Android or iOS devices.

Stream Decks vs. Other Gaming Monitor Accessories

Among popular gaming monitor accessories and top monitors for streaming, stream controllers are similar to capture cards, audio recorders, and headset mics in that they help streamers create content while remaining focused on gaming.

Like external capture cards, mechanical stream decks use wired HDMI, USB, or USB-C connectors. They also have similar requirements for data throughput and minimal latency.

Stream decks have their own input interface. This interface consists of either a mechanical or a membrane keyboard.

Unlike the best capture card, a stream deck doesn’t record data on its own. Instead, they integrate with popular streaming software and help creative streamers work more quickly and create higher-quality content.

How Stream Decks Work

Stream decks are based on the concept of a video switcher used in broadcasts to switch among feeds from different cameras. They typically use a wired mini keyboard with physical buttons or a touch panel with custom icons. You connect them to your PC, gaming monitor, and webcam, usually via HDMI or USB-C port. When paired with your favorite popular streaming program, stream decks allow easy switching between game capture and webcam feeds, plus audio integration.

Stream decks also work with other peripherals like headsets, microphones, and capture cards. With programmable buttons or a stream deck app, these devices can provide a way for a professional streamer or Twitch enthusiast to enjoy a greater level of control over all kinds of streaming functions without taking their eyes off the game. Plus, having the right monitor helps, too, which is why you should compare 4K gaming monitors against 1080p monitors.

A video game stream deck can be an external device or an iOS or Android device app. Most Elgato stream deck alternatives offer easy integration with apps including TipeeeStream, Twitch, and more.

Why Should You Buy a New Stream Deck?

You might benefit from a new stream deck if you’re looking for a creative edge or an easier way to handle scene transitions and feed switching while editing broadcast or streaming content. A stream deck, like the Elgato Stream Deck Mini or other budget-friendly, flexible, or pro-grade alternatives, can save you time and make it easier to add a personal touch to each video, send and schedule posts, and organize your content.

If you’re an enthusiast or professional streamer looking to grow your following, you may reach a point where a basic video switcher or stream deck app isn’t cutting it anymore. In that case, you may want to upgrade to a new stream deck board offering features like customizable icons or customizable keypads for unlimited functions. You might want to invest in the top RGB strips for your PC, to deck out your rig while you stream.

Newer stream decks also offer increased throughput capability and less lag. Thus, you can integrate them with a compact HDMI capture device or capture card, giving you the ability to control your gameplay recording without taking your eyes off the screen.

Is a Stream Deck Worth Buying?

New or Upgraded Capture Card: A stream deck might be a great next step if you’ve just added a capture card or upgraded to a new external gameplay recorder. Unlike most capture software, actual stream decks allow one-touch control of various recording, editing, and streaming functions.

Using a Camera along with Screen Capture for Streaming: If you use an external camera for part of your content creation, you’ll need a fast and convenient way of integrating and sharing the footage. An Elgato Stream Deck or alternative stream deck helps manage and switch between action cam, game capture, and other video content sources.

Streamers Looking to Make Content Faster: Even if you start with a relatively simple setup, creating high-quality streaming content with signature intro segments or other aspects of personal branding can get tedious and very time-consuming. A well-designed switcher with plenty of key configurations and an intuitive Stream Deck UI can make a big difference here, helping you turn out streams faster and giving you more time to focus on the fun part.

Fewer Distractions while Gaming: Hardcore gamers and aspiring eSports pros may not want to play the additional memory game of video editing and streaming applications. A stream deck helps package game capture and webcam content with a few keys or even a single actions button. This means you don’t have to take your focus off the game or keep a myriad of windows open to arranging footage for streaming.

Why a Stream Deck May not Be for You

Also Making Non-Gaming Content: The Elgato Stream Deck Mini and related products are designed with the hardcore streaming crowd in mind. However, many stream decks and video switchers have wide applicability for content creators of all genres.

Concerned about Setup and Installation: For users wanting to keep it simple, installing a stream deck may seem like a daunting and complex process. However, in practice, many of these devices simplify streamers’ overall workflow. Once programed, a stream deck, stream deck alternative, or audio-visual switcher allows plenty of shortcuts. It saves time compared to working on separate applications and using the normal keyboard or mouse to toggle between programs.

Lacking Space for Additional Wired Peripherals: While it’s true that streaming and gaming setups can get complicated and the wiring can be a significant challenge, a stream deck takes up very little desk space and usually occupies only one HDMI, USB, or USB-C connector.

Choosing the best height adjustable monitor stand can also free up needed space for a device such as a stream controller. Plus, some alternative stream decks consist entirely of an application for your iOS or Android device.

How Long Do Stream Decks Last

Depending on the type of hardware, software, and connectivity components used, a stream deck can last anywhere from one year to over a decade. The oldest stream decks and streaming platforms themselves are not yet that old, so this figure is an estimate based on the longevity of similar products with components such as a USB cable, mechanical keypad, or configurable 10-15 button LCD screen.

Software-based stream deck UI apps will have a more variable lifespan, depending on factors such as the pace at which developers release patches and updates, the backward compatibility of updated versions, and the age of the Windows, Mac, iOS, or Android device running the application.

Most similar apps offering features like various icon packs, video and audio capture, and light editing capabilities will have a one-to-three-year product cycle between major version changes.

When it comes to a stream deck hardware device with a mechanical keyboard, factors such as temperature, humidity, and intensity of use will generally affect how long the device lasts. Most mechanical keyboards have a lifespan rating of around 20,000 to 50,000 key presses. You can often prolong a stream deck’s useful life by avoiding spills and drops and storing the device at room temperature in low-to-moderate humidity.

How to Choose the Best Stream Deck

Various aspects of product design and compatibility features will influence what constitutes the best stream deck alternative for your needs. For example, some hardcore gamers will insist on more tactile operation and want a mechanical interface that they can use without glancing away from the game. Other users may prioritize flexibility, choosing a device or application offering more custom configurations and features.

Depending on your needs, of course, we generally recommend looking for features like a programmable macro keypad, multi-action button, and low-latency input/ output channels.

Stream Deck Key Factors

1. Size of Your Work and Gaming Area

Whether you choose a separate mechanical device with a multi-button layout or a smaller, more portable stream deck mini alternative will, in some part, likely depend on the size of your gaming and workspace. If you have a larger workspace with plenty of cord organizer options, you may want a stream deck with a keyboard and plenty of separate physical buttons.

Users working with a smaller space or needing the flexibility to switch to mobile may prefer a smaller device or a software-based stream deck app.

2. Type of Games Involved

One great thing about stream decks is that they may cut down on distraction for gamers, which is especially important if you play fast-paced action games. Thus, features like single button integration and tactile keys may be most important for streamers making action game content.

3. Do You also Use Video Editing Software?

Another factor to consider is your editing workflow. If you typically use a video editor, you may want to make sure the stream deck possibilities you’re considering will pair with the editing software and with applications like StreamLabs OBS broadcasting suite.

4. What Other Gaming Accessories Do You Use?

Depending on how you configure your streaming setup, you may or may not need a stream deck that pairs with your mic, audio software, webcam, action cam, or capture cards. Streamers using multiple camera feeds may also want to check the product description of a potential stream deck purchase to make sure it can handle the data flow from all your monitors, consoles, and cameras.

With that said, you’ll also want to double-check your monitor settings for gaming, learn what the aspect ratio is for gaming, and invest in dual monitors for gaming, so you have the best streaming experience.

FAQs

What is Touch Portal?

Touch Portal is designed to work with existing tablets and mobile devices to control streaming functions over WiFi or via USB connection. It offers multiple pages of buttons and virtually unlimited configurations, making it highly versatile for streamers who may already have an unused iOS or Android device lying around.

Why Use a Stream Controller?

A stream controller like the Elgato Stream Deck or various alternatives is highly useful for managing streaming and broadcasting applications without having to alt-tab through multiple screens or taking your focus away from gaming. Stream controllers also save time by allowing easier integration of different camera feeds and audio sources.

What Is A Stream Deck?

A stream deck, sometimes called a stream controller, is similar to a video switcher used in broadcasting. It allows for starting and stopping, switching between different video feeds, and adding personal edits or introductions and signatures such as GIFs or on-screen antics. In short, it's a versatile device for adding shortcuts to your streaming workflow.

Do You Need a PC for a Stream Deck?

While most stream deck users have a PC as part of their setup, you can find stream deck options that don't require PC integration. Some work with iOS or Android devices and many are compatible with Mac software for use with MacBooks and Mac desktops.

Can You Use an iPad as Your Stream Deck?

Various streaming apps for iOS devices will offer similar functions to a stream deck, allowing integration of multiple feeds and one-touch editing and social media shortcuts. The only aspect of the stream deck these applications won't have is the tactile interface.
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