Key Differences

The above table provides a quick highlight of all the differences between the Stream Decks. A lot of the other features, such as the one-touch tactile operation, instant visual feedback feature as well as integrated tools, hotkeys, and the stream deck software, are all fully supported. There might be some slight differences that you will notice for Mac and Windows requirements that you might want to consider (unless you haven’t updated your computer in a while). Apart from that, everything else is largely the same. Now, let’s break down the key differences between them all.

Elgato Stream Deck Mini

This is the cheapest option of the range and offers six of the customizable keys for you to save time and improve audience engagement. What the Mini offers over the others is that it is a great introduction to the streaming world, especially if you are unsure about it and you don’t really see there is a need for a lot of options to customize your streaming or podcasting experience. Plus, it gives you access to the different applications that you might need instantly. You still have the creative control to personalize all the keys, and you can switch them up when you want and have them link up wherever you need—all in one touch of the button. What’s unique that those who are quite new to Stream Decks might not appreciate is the feature of folders, where you can create a folder that houses a whole new set of short-cut keys. The Mini is really great for those who want to travel because it’s light, compact, and can basically be accessed as soon as you want it. With that said, it’s usually a beginner pad, and you will progress on to either the Mark.2 or the XL.

Elgato Stream Deck Mk.2

This is by far the most popular model. There aren’t actually that many differences between the first-gen and second-gen models, other than that Elgato has improved the USB right-angle link and made the stand rigid instead of flexible, and the second-gen model can offer interchangeable faceplates and looks a little slimmer, too.

Elgato Stream Deck XL

This is for those who really can see the power behind these macro keypads and appreciate the level of time that can be saved. This is the model that I personally own, and I actually don’t do that much streaming or podcasting, either. I solely own it as a productivity tool, where I can quickly open different applications, launch a series of actions, and open specific website pages that I open frequently. It’s true that I do have a whole range of shortcuts on my keyboard to launch similar types of actions, but sometimes you just forget the different shortcuts that you have and the use of icons is much easier to recall what you’re launching. Plus, it looks visually great (especially when you dial down a theme of icons that you like the look), and I love the feedback as I press each of the buttons.

Which Is the Right Stream Deck for You?

The range of models offers different things to those who are different aspects. The Mini, for instance, is great for those who do a lot of traveling and want something light to go around with, and due to its price—it’s relatively cheap—it offers a great way for those who are edging into the streaming and podcast world, who see a limited use (but would be handy), to get started. The MK.2 is the option that I would recommend to anyone who is looking to get a macro keypad to help with their streaming and podcast productivity and to make their life just all-around much easier there. It offers 15 keys, giving you plenty of options to quickly select as you go, and it offers a reasonable price too. You can see it is the most popular option for a reason and gaining literally hundreds of 5 star reviews (and for good reason). Then finally there is the XL model, which happens to be my personal favorite, that offers you the 32 customizable LCD keys that offer that sweet resolution that can be set up with a range of icons. The extra keys allow for extra time savings, and you just feel like you have a lot more control to carry out a lot more actions and controls right at your fingertips. Then when you combine that with multiple actions, that can be hidden away in folders upon subfolders, you really get a sense of just how productive this keypad can get. What I will say about all the Elgato Stream Decks is that you have a set of clear ideas that you are going to use it for. And you do actually tend to implement them, but there is a whole range of other crazy use cases that you didn’t foresee but now can’t live without. Ultimately, you will likely end up loving your Stream Deck, and if you go for the MK.2 you might feel a bit of regret that you didn’t upgrade to the large XL model. Explore some of those different use cases that you might not have thought about below: Ultimately though, no matter which model you go for, whether that’s the Mini or the MK.2 and even the XL, you will likely be very impressed with the kit and find yourself relying on it a lot more than you would have thought (you can just look to the hundreds of positive reviews for further social proof of that). Not just for streaming purposes but everyday productivity aspects too. Now, hopefully, you’ve gotten an overview of the differences among the Elgato Stream Decks and all the different options that you have available. Then you can best suit it to whatever needs you have, and from there, you can judge whether the cost is right for you. You can also find out more details about the differences between the original Elgato Stream Deck and Stream Deck Mark 2. Have you got any of the Stream Decks and considering a different option on your next purchase? Let us know in the comments below what your experience is with it and what you recommend. As always, reach out to us if you have any questions, and we will be more than happy to assist you further. Plus, if there are any other brands that you recommend that make sophisticated keypads like Elgato does, then we would definitely be interested in hearing that as well. This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional. © 2021 Carlyn Hayes

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