The Elgato Stream Deck makes it easy to launch and control streaming software quickly and efficiently. As a result, you will be able to create better quality content in less time that your audience will enjoy.
Elgato places 15 full-programmable LCD keys at your fingertips to remove the need to map and memorize complex keyboard shortcuts.
And this is more than a set of macros – it will also be able to automatically detect scenes, media, and audio sources. This makes the entire process of streaming that much faster and simpler.
In this Elgato Stream Deck review, we will take an in-depth look at the product,
Who is it For? Features and Uses
The Elgato Stream Deck is predominantly aimed at gamers who stream their gameplay to YouTube, Twitch, and other sites.
For some this is a fun hobby, for others it is a lucrative career.
Either way, being able to quickly access controls and launch apps can save valuable time.
While the Stream Deck is fully customizable, the manufacturers envision users launching Elgato Game Capture, OBS, Twitch, Twitter, XSplit, YouTube, Mixer, TipeeStream and more.
All these services provide in-built support, meaning that you’ll be able to access features with the touch of a button. From there, they can then focus on playing great games and creating great content.
Because the keys are LCDs, that means there is no need to memorize a host of different shortcuts (as some streamers will be used to doing).
Customization is made incredibly easy with the included software. Actions can be dragged and dropped onto keys, and from there you can choose custom icons.
One of the most intuitive features is the ability to turn a key into a ‘folder’.
Tap one of these icons and it will ‘open’, thereby changing the displays on all the other keys and providing quick and easy access to a host of additional features.
This way you can jump in and out of various configurations for different games, or for different streaming sites.
Importantly, the tool works both from the desktop and in-game. That means that you can control streaming services and tools with no need to exit back to the desktop.
The list of potential uses is limited only by your imagination. One user even used it to switch between multiple different cameras, like a live news caster!
Of course, Stream Deck could also prove extremely useful for professionals in other fields, or those simply looking to make their home set-ups a little more streamlined and intuitive.
While streaming apps and tools come with native support for the deck, others can still be accessed.
Use Elgato to launch your favorite movies, music players, apps, or tools.
Video editors could use it to control editing software like Adobe Premiere and Elements.
Those who work with images might find they can map specific shortcuts in Gimp or Photoshop to those buttons.
Gamers can also enjoy skipping music tracks and controlling other features with no need to minimize their games.
In fact, it is even possible to use Elgato to open up your favorite website links or files.
If we had a complaint, it would be that there is no support for multi-key macros.
That is to say that you can’t access even more shortcuts through a combination of precisely timed key presses.
This might be particularly limiting for gamers who were hoping to up their game (literally) with the tool. But of course, that is not the primary audience, so it’s easy to understand why this was omitted.
Design, Specifications, and Quality
The Elgato itself is a raised platform that holds itself at an angle and has 15 illuminated LCD keys. It is powered by USB and measures in at 118mm x 84mm x 21mm, with a weight of 190g.
Those LCD buttons have a resolution of 72×72 full-color pixels, which together add up to a fairly impressive 1080x180p!
This is actually relevant, as some users use the customizable keys in order to create collages from their images, thereby creating “one large” image, instead of lots of smaller ones.
In fact, those ‘individual LCDs’ are actually just one LCD split across the multiple keys. Not that you would know, or that it matters!
Of course, it would also have been possible to achieve something similar with a single matte screen, and this is the method employed by some of the competition.
While that does potentially allow for a little more customization and aesthetic variety, the use of physical keys conversely allows for more precise and reliable performance when you’re in a pinch.
The deck angle can be adjusted to a range of different angles to your liking.
Furthermore, the top panel is made from aluminium and the rest of the body feels like ABS plastic. The buttons are made from membrane, but are pleasantly ‘clicky’ rather than mushy.
The overall build quality of this device is superb, and there is a definite tech appeal to having this thing on your desk.
It’s great to be able to launch apps and control media using a more tactile method. It feels weighty and well made, and it performs reliably.
During our time testing it, we never once found that it responded slowly or misfired in any meaningful way.
If you are a gamer who takes any pleasure in creating an elaborate, RGB-lit ‘battle station’ set-up. Then you will no doubt find that the Elgato fits perfectly into your set-up – feeling like a high-tech control pad in some kind of battle cruiser.
As mentioned, the Elgato comes with an extremely intuitive piece of software that makes it very simple to customize your device.
You can drag and drop the apps you want to launch straight onto the keys. And if you hover over an already-populated key, then you’ll be able to create a sub-folder.
Any JPG can similarly be used as an icon for your keys.
One downside to this software is that it crashes occasionally.
While Elgato is constantly improving stability through updates and patches, this is a problem that persists and will be frustrating at times.
Fortunately, these crashes are confined to the customization software itself, meaning that the actual device will remain working just fine.
This is an irritation at worst then, but it is a shame that there is such a noticeable blight on an otherwise fantastic piece of software.
Closing Thoughts and Value
While there are one or two shortcomings here, this is nevertheless a very powerful tool that will be extremely useful for any serious streamer.
Not only that, but it can compete with the best macro-pads out there, making it a versatile tool that you can work into any workflow and any profession.
The Elgato Stream Deck will set you back approximately $148 USD and for all the functionality and build quality you are getting, that represents great value.
A device like this is practically a ‘must have’ for serious streamers and will help to make your experience more streamlined and enjoyable, while improving the overall quality of the content you produce.
- Highly customizable
- Folder keys and customizable icons are particularly useful
- Versatile – works with a variety of software
- Superb build quality – looks great as part of a battlestation
- Easy and powerful software
- Lacks multi-key macros
- Software occasionally crashes when customizing
- Relatively short USB cable
This is a great value tool for serious streamers that is also versatile and well-made enough to be appealing to professionals from other walks of life. Fun to use, looks great in your set-up, and can make a huge number of different actions that much quicker, more reliable, and more satisfying.