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 extended use, the Roccat Sova MK still came out on top.
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 and the , 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.
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.
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.
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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