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The best lapboard

Couch gaming and the living room PC are on the rise, but you don’t have to settle for a controller.

Couch gaming on living room PCs is entering a golden age, and no longer just for games that use controllers. It’s easier than ever to play everything from shooters to digital card games to RTSes with full mouse and keyboard controls thanks to lapboards—keyboards with a built-in mousepad area, aka a desk away from your desk. We tested lapboards made by PC gaming peripheral makers Roccat, Corsair, and Razer to see how they stacked up against in each other in terms of comfort, control, and ease of use. And after going back for another look, the Roccat Sova MK still came out on top.

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The best lapboard

  • Comfortable for your lap and wrists
  • More than enough mouse space
  • Light enough to readjust and store easily
  • Poor keyboard layout

The $200 Roccat Sova, also available in a $150 membrane version, is the classic middle of the road option when it comes to gaming lapboards. It’s smaller and cheaper than the Corsair Lapdog and more capable than the Razer Turret. You can absolutely get better keyboards for less money, but the Sova’s cushions, mousepad, and wrist wrest make it the best possible way to get a desktop experience while sitting on your couch. 

The Sova has compromised exactly where it needs to in order to make a comfortable lapboard. Although it is big, the size and weight aren’t nearly as cumbersome as the Lapdog. It’s easy to pick up and put down, thanks in part to a cord clip that snaps onto the top of the board and makes sure your mouse doesn’t slide away. The pads for your legs aren’t the most comfortable things in the world, but are more than enough to make using the Sova for long periods of time manageable. 

The mousepad area on the Sova is a rough matte finish, and while it isn’t as big as a regular-sized gaming mousepad (the Sova mousepad measures roughly 11” by 9.5”) it was definitely large enough for any game I played. Similar to the Lapdog, you’ll probably only feel limited if you play FPSes at an incredibly low DPI and are used to swiping across a huge playmat. Unfortunately, the angle of the Sova made my mouse slide down the pad a little almost every time I took my hand off of it, making that cord clip a necessity rather than an option. Finding a spot that was comfortable and stable both while playing and resting was a bit of a balancing act.

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The best wireless lapboard

  • Wireless, light, and easy to use
  • Ideal for slower games and browsing
  • A small mouse and mousepad area
  • Flat keyboard not great for fast games

The $142 Razer Turret is in an interesting position on this list, as it’s the only one of the three lapboards that is wireless. It’s also the smallest by a significant margin. For some, the Turret will be the only logical choice thanks to these unique advantages, while others won’t even consider it due to the flat keyboard and smaller mouse area. But one thing that’s undeniable: in distinctly Razer fashion, the Turret is the classiest option out there.

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The Corsair Lapdog

  • Uses the fantastic Corsair K70 or K65 keyboard
  • Left wrist rests on a sharp edge
  • Very cumbersome and big
  • Expensive, and doesn't even include the keyboard

The $120 Corsair Lapdog is the only lapboard on this list that doesn’t actually come with a keyboard. And seeing as it costs the same amount of money for what is essentially an empty tray, it’s hard to recommend for anybody who doesn’t already have the Corsair keyboard to go with it. And even then, the Lapdog can be inconvenient and uncomfortable to use.

Only two types of keyboards will fit in the Lapdog: The $130 Corsair K70 or its slightly smaller version, the $70 Corsair K65. Those are both great keyboards, but it means that if you don’t already have one, the Lapdog is at minimum $220—or you can buy the RGB version of either keyboard bundled with the Lapdog for $250. And if you are currently using a K70 or K65 on your desktop computer, it’s not easy to swap in and out of the Lapdog frame. I was hoping the keyboard might quickly snap into place, easily moving from desk to couch, but installing it instead required I unscrew panels held down with six hex screws, put it in place, and then screw the panels back on. It’s not difficult, but it is a process that impedes trying to use a single keyboard for both setups.


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Further testing

Whether you’re more into FPSes or puzzle games may influence which lapboard is best suited to your gaming needs. But what I can say with full confidence is that any of the three options above are better than a keyboard on your lap and a mousepad on the sofa cushion next to you, and they’re almost definitely better than the cheap wireless keyboards with built-in touchpads you may have seen.

I’ve used the $27 Microsoft Wireless All-In-One Media Keyboard and the $31 Logitech Wireless Touch Keyboard K400, and while both are fine for general computer use, neither is meant for gaming. For starters, neither has a dedicated area for a mouse, and using a touchpad for most games is a form of self-flagellation no one deserves. The keys on both keyboards are flat and squishy, significantly less responsive than that of the Razer Turret. The only thing they have going for them is that that they are a lot cheaper, but know that you get what you pay for—or in this case, miss out on what you aren’t paying for.

As for other high end lapboards, no other PC gaming peripheral manufacturer has entered the race yet. It’s a brand new market for companies like Roccat, Corsair, and Razer, but I imagine others like Logitech or SteelSeries will follow suit if they see success. Also, unfortunately, those of us who use a mouse on the left side of the keyboard are completely out of luck, and we hope to see an ambidextrous option appear at some point. We’ll keep an eye out for any new lapboards that pop-up on the market and be sure to test them out as soon as we can.
 

How we test lapboards

Unlike testing a regular gaming keyboard, there are a lot of unique factors that go into judging a good lapboard. The quality of the keyboard and mousepad are important, along with the ever-present question of price, but I also looked at the comfort of the board on my legs and wrists—especially after longer periods of time. It’s also important to look at the ease of use, setup, and how much space the lapboard takes up in your living room when it’s not in use. There are factors beyond just gaming that are crucial to consider. 

Quality:

As with all high-end gaming components, it must feel good to use. The responsiveness of each key press and quality of the mousepad are just as important as any other factor when comparing your options. It doesn’t matter if a lapboard is perfectly sculpted to fit on your lap if the keyboard feels like garbage to game on. And lapboards have more to get right (or wrong) as they are offering a keyboard and mousepad in one product. 

Comfort:

Using a mouse and keyboard on a couch can be oddly uncomfortable. It puts your body in a very different position than it’s used at a desk, and a good lapboard has to either compensate for that, or be flexible enough to let you find the position best for you. If you’re going to be playing for a long time, the lapboard needs to be comfortable sitting on your legs and not hold your arms and wrists in a position that will strain you over time. Cushions, wrist rests, and being able to move around easily on your lap go a long way to letting you feel at ease while playing.

Ease of use:

In addition to being comfortable, a good lapboard has to be usable—both when you are and aren’t playing games. With the exception of the Razer Turret, these lapboards can be big and heavy, and where you put them when they aren’t in use isn’t something most people think about until they suddenly have a 2+ foot long keyboard tray taking over their coffee table. How easy cables are to manage and if you can get up to use the bathroom without throwing your setup into disarray make a real difference in how willing you’ll be to actually use your lapboard.

Price:

And, of course, cost is king. Luckily, all three options listed above are around the same price point which makes them easier to compare. As I said before, gaming-specific lapboards are a blossoming market, and currently there isn’t really a midrange option. You either go with a very cheap and poor keyboard with a touchpad, or need to hit the $150 mark to get something made with PC gamers in mind. So you might as well make sure your money is worth it and that the lapboard you choose comes with everything you need.

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