If you’re a streamer, the Elgato Stream Deck needs no introduction. With its fifteen buttons, it allowed you to seamlessly change scenes, trigger events, and even control other aspects of your computer without leaving the game. But what if you don’t need fifteen different buttons? Today, we have the answer with the trimmed down Elgato Stream Deck Mini. Read on for our full review.
- MSRP: $99.95
- Buttons: 6 x customizable LCD Keys
- Folder Support: Yes
- Size: 3.3 x 2.4 x 2.3 in
- Weight: 160g
- Interface: USB 2.0 (non-detachable cable)
- Operating System: Windows 10 (64-bit), macOS 10.11 or newer
As a newer streamer, I’m only recently coming to tools like the Stream Deck Mini but the appeal is apparent. Already, I’ve found myself alt+tabbing in the middle of streams to change settings or launch programs or realizing mid-game that the hotkey I mapped conflicts with some other function. Elgato’s Stream Deck promises to change all of that and keep all of the “behind the scenes” work actually behind the scenes.
The problem is that the original Stream Deck is not only pricey, coming in at $139.90 on Amazon right now, but may even be a bit overkill for folks like myself. That’s where the Stream Deck Mini comes in, offering a smaller, cheaper version of the Stream Deck that still offers an incredible amount of functionality in its tiny package.
If you’ve never heard of the Stream Deck before, it’s essentially a customizable hotkey pad that integrates with different streaming services and software. Each of the six buttons on the Mini can be tied to a function, and underneath each key is a tiny LCD screen that displays a customizable icon. These can be preselected, edited, or created brand new inside the lightweight software suite and, frankly, make it look far better than the last macro pad we reviewed.
The functions themselves can also be pre-selected and then customized yourself or crafted from the ground up all on your own. The software is remarkably powerful, easily allowing you to map basic functions like adjusting your audio levels or scene switches right out of the box, but that’s really only the tip of the iceberg. It integrates with Twitch’s API, so you can send out messages, enter Sub Chat or go into Slow Chat mode, or even send out Tweets. If you own an Elgato capture card, all of its controls are also baked in, ready to be assigned to keys.
Where things really get interesting is with custom commands, hotkeys, and multi-action switches. Using custom commands, you can assign buttons to launch programs or websites, run commands, or open files. Hotkeys, on the other hand, are shortcuts for key combinations to control those programs or trigger other shortcuts built into the software. Hotkey switches allow you to change the icon being displayed on the Stream Deck Mini until the button is pressed again, for example, if recording gameplay mid-stream. Multi-actions, as the name implies, allow one key to perform multiple actions, but you’ll need to think carefully about how to make this work best and avoid conflicts.
All of this adds up to a piece of kit that’s designed for streamers but is useful for way more than streaming. When I boot my system, the Stream Deck Mini can display icons for launching Steam, Slack, Google Drive, and then folders for streaming controls, games, and Adobe apps. When I stream, I could swap into my streaming folder to see all of my OBS functions. When editing in Premiere, my first three buttons could easily resize a clip, unlink the audio, and paste attributes to speed up my workflow. I could even use it to map a few of my most needed editing keys when reviewing a 60% keyboard. If you’re creative, a program like AutoHotKey expands the possibilities further, opening the door to full-fledged macros and automation.
If all of that sounds like a bit much to you, Elgato has also designed the ability to import and export profiles. If you’d rather download someone else’s OBS layout and avoid programming entirely, you can do that and is a good place to start for beginners like myself.
With all of this potential, six buttons might seem like too few. Thankfully, each key supports folders, which will probably turn out to be necessary the further you go with it. On their own, six keys would fill up far too fast but by mapping each to a folder, you can organize commands into groups. Each folder can also nest additional folders, allowing you to go deeper and deeper for essentially limitless commands.
The problem is that six buttons feels like the bare minimum a device like this could support, and I could easily see myself growing out of them. That six is also more like four or five when you consider you’ll also need to map buttons to navigate back after you’ve entered into a folder or to shortcut to a home layout. You’ll be playing the navigation game far more than the original Stream Deck here, going into our out of sub-folders, which can feel cumbersome. Is it worth it? I think so, but it had the side effect of making me wish I had the larger Stream Deck after all.
I love the idea of the Stream Deck. It’s one of the rare items that actually delivers more than what you expect. The Mini takes that original design and trims it down, offering something that’s smaller and more affordable while losing none of the functions of its bigger brother. The trade-off comes in how quickly you feel those lost buttons. You can expect more navigation here and to be backing in and out of folders. If you don’t mind that or only have a handful of functions anyways, it’s a great little tool and offers solid savings over the original.
- Lots of preset commands
- Integration with Twitch, Twitter, OBS, and more
- Supports custom hotkeys, switches, and commands (like launching programs)
- Supports folders and sub-folders for lots of programmability
- Requires more navigation to make the most of
- No angle adjustment like the original Stream Deck
The product discussed in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes.