We live in a world of lavish and inexpensive gaming keyboards, but discrete gaming keyboards are a peculiar array of rarities and one-offs. Some, like Razer’s Tartarus line, differentiate themselves from standard keyboards with ergonomic shapes to support your hand and extra buttons. Others, like Cooler Master’s ControlPad, try to streamline things to be as compact and customizable as possible.
The Shrimp ($79.99), a new gaming keyboard from Danish gaming hardware distributor Nordic Game Supply, keeps it simple. It’s basically a half-keyboard, with all the keys you’d find on the left side of a 60 percent design, from the “5” key. Those 25 keys give you just enough to play most PC games in a fairly compact and very familiar package. With a few extras for convenience and style, The Shrimp feels like a solid option for players who, for whatever reason, want a separate set of keys just for games, but don’t want to buy, carry, or store a whole new one. keyboard.
A shrimp cocktail of keys
Unlike other keyboards, The Shrimp is just a mini keyboard. Simultaneously compact and bulky, it’s a 1.69 by 4.91 by 5.41 inch plastic rectangle with 25 keys on it. You get every key you’d find on the left side of a regular keyboard, plus half a space bar. That gives you all the keys you need to play competitive games such as first-person shooters or action games that require fast movements. With some creative in-game mapping, you can also get away with playing other types of games that spread across a standard keyboard, such as RPGs, but you’ll find yourself struggling with MMOs and other genres that require a row of full functions for hotkeys. (That said, you can always move your hotkeys to your right hand with an MMO mouse.)
While The Shrimp stays true to the classic keyboard shape, minor changes are visible in some elements. The keycaps feel slightly taller and wider than on larger keyboards, allowing your fingers to rest in the valleys of their concave surfaces. The caps also have oversized labels and transparent sides, which look nice and allow plenty of RGB light through.
Under the caps you will find The Shrimp with Gateron G Pro Yellow switches. They are linear, similar to “red” style switches from Cherry and others, offering very fast actuation, making them ideal for competitive gaming. Gateron Yellows require slightly more force than red class switches; Gateron Reds require 45 grams of power to activate, while Gateron Yellows require 50 grams. After testing dozens of keyboards with red switches and a few with yellow keys, I can tell the difference between the two and actually prefer the heavier pressure as it causes fewer misprints. However, I expect most users won’t notice the difference unless they alternate between the two.
In addition to the keys, The Shrimp has two clickable dials and a volume mute button in the top left corner. One dial is a classic volume control, while the other adjusts the style and brightness of your RGB lighting. These controls work fine, bar the occasional shaky implementation: clicking the volume rocker technically works as a play/pause button, but where most play/pause buttons on the keyboard work contextually on whatever app is currently open, it seems this button only work with Windows Media Player. A play/pause shortcut, Fn+S, works in several apps, but it’s more cumbersome to use.
For most gaming keyboards, the issue can be resolved simply by reassigning the Play/Pause command using a configuration app. However, the Shrimp is one of the few PC gaming peripherals that doesn’t offer software support. Of course, you can still map inputs into individual games, but you can’t make universal changes. You also can’t create custom macros or create custom RGB lighting settings, nor can you choose colors key by key. For most players, this doesn’t make The Shrimp any less effective than any other keyboard, but it’s certainly a bummer for tinkerers and power users who have more specific needs. Nordic Gaming Supply is looking into creating a companion app for The Shrimp, according to a company spokesperson, but I wouldn’t buy one if you’re counting on expanded functionality later on.
The Shrimp also comes with a large, blocky palm rest to match its large, blocky base. It’s very firm, but padded enough to feel comfortable if you put your arm on it for extended periods of time. That firmness ensures that your wrist is perfectly aligned with the keys, minimizing wrist movement. Given the size and number of keys, you rarely need to make more than very light lateral wrist movements while playing, making the pad/rest combination a strong ergonomic choice. With the rest, The Shrimp’s depth expands to a longer but still compact 8.84 inches, so you can still easily move it on your desk to any tilted position that feels right.
Verdict: A keyboard just for fun
For better or worse, The Shrimp stands an ocean apart from the gaming peripheral mainstream. On the one hand, a mini-keyboard with 25 keys that is only for games is a good idea. Its look and feel, while perfectly tame, are cool and unconventional. At the same time, the lack of configuration software, which allows standard functions such as remapping and adjusting lighting, makes the keyboard feel a bit half-baked. None of the issues are really disqualifying – most players will be happy to get by with macros and per-key lighting control – so we’d say the good outweighs the bad.
At $79.99, The Shrimp costs slightly less than the premium Razer Tartarus Pro and the Cooler Master ControlPad. It’s also a cheap option compared to the best gaming keyboards we’ve tested. Then again, you still need a keyboard for everything but games, so that’s not exactly a fair comparison.
Ultimately, this pad is for laptop owners who want a better keyboard solution just for gaming – players who travel a lot may find The Shrimp’s smaller footprint useful. We could also see it fitting in nicely for an employee who can’t or doesn’t want to use a mechanical keyboard during office hours, but wants something more comfortable when playing games at home. If you want to game on mechanical keys but don’t want a full keyboard, The Shrimp is worth a nibble.