All your streaming actions and improvements are just a button away


Last year, I called the Elgato Stream Deck “a valuable tool in anyone’s streaming kit”. Long known for their affordable capture equipment, Elgato had entered another major hardware niche and created an inexpensive video switcher that was only the size of a deck of cards. With multiple customizable buttons, you can manage all facets of your streaming process without leaving your main screen.

But maybe even a deck of cards is too big, and maybe the Stream Deck’s 15 OLED buttons were overkill, as Elgato is now back with the Stream Deck Mini, a smaller, scaled-down version and more. cheaper (at $ 99.95 on Amazon) of the same design. So what is right for you? Let’s investigate.

Just right

Like I said, the original Stream Deck is about the size of a deck of cards: 4.5 x 3.5 x 0.8 inches, to be exact. It is quite small and fits easily behind a keyboard. And there’s plenty of utility in that compact space, with the aforementioned 15 OLED buttons arranged in a 3 × 5 grid.

These buttons are fully programmable by the end user and also include the ability to create folders, allowing to expand even more than 15 buttons, if you (for example) want to use the Elgato software to create a group of actions. specific to Twitter, another for OBS, another for Shadowplay, and so on, with maybe a handful of important actions (“Start Streaming”) recorded at the top level.

IDG / Hayden Dingman

However, it can be difficult to fill the 15 buttons of the Stream Deck, especially if you are an amateur or if you prefer to deal with some actions the old fashioned way. I ended up filling our demo unit with totally unnecessary functions, like a few relating to Spotify. I didn’t need much beyond “start / stop stream”, “start / stop recording” and maybe some scene switching behaviors.

The Stream Deck Mini seems tailor-made for people like me. Instead of 15 buttons, it has six, three per row. They are still OLED buttons, still fully programmable and with the ability to customize the icon on each. In other words, it has the original functionality of the Stream Deck, just… less.

It’s more than enough for me though. Like I said of the original Stream Deck last year, I’ve long envied how easily consoles make the streaming process easy – push a button and off you go. PC still isn’t that simple, and setting up OBS or Shadowplay effectively takes some skill, but we’re getting there. The Stream Deck Mini simplifies the process even further. Once you’ve set it up, it’s really as easy as pushing a button and going.

Elgato Stream Deck Mini IDG / Hayden Dingman

Ah, perfect. My own office mate Brad Chacos.

The establishment

That said, setting up the Stream Deck Mini is still a bit tricky. The basics are pretty straightforward: mapping a command to a button is a drag-and-drop process. Then you edit some basic info, give it a title, maybe change the typeface to Comic Sans, which is pretty straightforward.

For some reason, the icon builder is still a web portal, which looks clunky and sloppy. Since icon customization is such a big part of the Stream Deck Mini’s pitch, it’s weird that the Key Creator (as Elgato calls it) isn’t included in the same software package as the others.

The list of available commands has become very long. You’d think streaming would be a pretty defined market at this point and yet, over the past year, Elgato has added whole new categories for Mixer and Streamlabs OBS, as well as a soundboard section, not to mention. new commands added to existing categories like the original OBS. and Twitch. It can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re new to streaming. This same is the difference between OBS and Streamlabs OBS? Do you need to take care?

Elgato Stream Deck Mini - Software IDG / Hayden Dingman

That’s not really Elgato’s fault of course, but it speaks to the fragmented nature of the PC streaming universe. There are advantages, in that it is changing rapidly and companies are constantly asking for new and better features. But the learning curve for the user is a bit long, and the Stream Deck doesn’t do much to facilitate people. There is no “default” or “recommended” configuration that new users can fall back on.

This is a knowledge that even amateur streamers will need to acquire, because the truth is that we are not at this stage turnkey on PC. Just by getting closer.

And more advanced users will love the flexibility of the Stream Deck Mini. My favorite command right now is the ‘Multi-Action’ of the Stream Deck, which, for example, allows me to start broadcasting in OBS, tweet the start of my stream, and send messages to Mixer and Twitch, in same time. Or, maybe scroll a graphic on your feed thanking someone for tipping, then play a corresponding noise and send a message to the Twitch chat.

It should be noted that there are also hardware improvements. One of my big issues with the original Stream Deck was its hybrid flat / angular design. It arrived lying down, but an included stand might tilt it towards you. The problem: When you did, the cord came straight out the top.

Elgato Stream Deck Mini IDG / Hayden Dingman

The Stream Deck Mini ditches the hybrid design and is instead still geared towards you – probably, I guess, the way most people use the original Stream Deck anyway. The side benefit is that the cord now protrudes from the bottom as you would like, and the cable connection is now slightly recessed into the base to protect it from bending. The actual chassis is plastic, but appears dense and durable, and the entire device measures no more than 3.3 x 2.4 x 2.3 inches.

I’ve been out of town most of the summer so I can attest to the sustainability here. I threw the Stream Deck Mini in a backpack on the way out of San Francisco, and despite several thefts, it still looks brand new. And it’s also small enough to travel. If you’re a on-the-go streamer, the Stream Deck Mini might not be as important as a good mic or webcam or whatever, but it’s one of the smallest and most versatile video switches out there. have never seen it before, and a great piece of kit.

At the end of the line

Regardless of the original Stream Deck, the Stream Deck Mini is the product most people should get. Of course, the original is still great material, but the Mini improves on it. Plus, 15 Buttons is grossly overkill for most people, amateurs and professionals alike, especially when you can set up action-packed folders (and even subfolders).

Six buttons is perfect. Take a few important controls to the next level, add a few folders full of more rare ones, and you’ve got a video switcher that would make anyone jealous – and for just $ 99, which is a steal. It’s hard to see how anyone could compete with the Stream Deck Mini at this point, because as far as I’m concerned Elgato perfected it.


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