We’ve reviewed the Elgato stream deck before on this site – and it’s great. Although, while it’s a strongly recommended product from us, it can be expensive if you’ve just started your streaming career.
That’s why we’ve put together the top stream deck alternatives for those who want a more cost-effective alternative to easily control your stream.
We have noticed that while the free alternatives are a great starting point, you’ll want to soon get a physical product for a more complete setup.
DIY Stream Decks
Since a stream deck is nothing more than empty buttons that you can map – you can easily create a stream deck with other controllers such as MIDI controller or number pad.
These won’t look as fancy or nice although it can have the same functionality (and it comes with Blue switches!).
Due to this you will first need to purchase a controller – we set one up using a mechanical number pad.
If you want to take it a step further you are then able to create and print out your own labels for each of the keys – from here just glue them on and you’re good to go.
Now you’ll need to set up all of the keybindings with a program called HID Macros – you can see exactly how to set that up here:
This setup won’t cost a lot – all you need is the cost of a controller which can be found for fairly cheap.
You’ll have the same functionality as an Elgato Stream Deck such as changing scenes, starting and stopping your stream, open web pages with a single button, mute and unmute your mic ect.
It does take some time to configure everything properly – HID Macros isn’t very intuitive so you’ll need a tutorial on how to get everything set up.
The aesthetics of the number pad isn’t great – even after some glued on labels it really isn’t a great look compared to customizable HD LED screens.
The best stream deck alternative will be to mobile apps. These will allow you to have a virtual stream deck on your phone that you will be able to connect to your PC.
The best one that we have tested is the Elgato Stream Deck Mobile.
This is great because it is going to replicate the physical version of the product and is even a good ‘try before you buy’ version of the paid deck.
Setup is super simple for this one – you just need to download the app on your phone and PC then scan a QR code to connect them up together.
From here you’ll be able to configure it the same way that you set up the actual product. Set up scenes, shortcuts and macros.
Once you have the app set up the way that you like it, you’ll be able to transfer everything over to the physical device almost instantly.
You’ll also have the benefit of it being wireless as it is set up on your phone.
I first purchased the Elgato App and then brought the physical deck – now I run with both of them and have 2 stream decks set up side-by-side.
While this does offer the same functionality as the physical product it doesn’t work as well without a stand.
Some streamers user their phone to read chat. This means that you won’t be able to both control your stream easily while you interact with chat.
You also won’t have the tack-tile touch of physical buttons which is nice to have when you’re trying to operate all of the things that come with streaming on Twitch.
It does cost $2.99/month or $24.99/year – which means it would cost about six years worth of the Elgato mobile app until you’ve paid the same amount as a 12-button deck. While it is still cheap relative the actual deck, it is expensive for a stream deck app.
Other Mobile App Stream Deck Alternatives
Elgato Stream Deck Mini
The best alternative to the full sized stream deck is the mini.
This offers all of the same functionality as the full sized deck although it is cut from 15 to 6 programmable LED screen buttons.
With this you will be able to create unlimited folders and macros to make controlling your stream super easy and efficient.
The design is a little different and the stand isn’t as great but it still sits just fine on the desk.
You are able to map everything from streaming commands to buttons for gaming.
When I set this up I typically have folders that separate all of the main controls that I’ll use for streaming.
For example, the home menu will contain the essentials such as pause and enable the stream along with muting and unmuting the mic. From here there will be different folders – one for GIFs, scene switching and animations.
To see all of the benefits and a full review for the stream deck check out our other post which is thorough – see here.
You’ll get the same functionality as the full sized device along with the Elgato software (which is a huge selling point with it’s simple yet comprehensive interface).
It costs a fraction of what you would pay for the full sized device.
If you do get a full sized device in the future you’ll be able to pair the two together so that they work together. With this you’ll have 21 buttons to map. This will be overkill for most people but it’s nice to have and looks really cool if you set up some RGB patterns.
I find that 6 buttons isn’t always enough. While you can create buttons with theoretically infinite macros, it doesn’t work well in reality. If you’re starting your stream, switching scenes constantly and throwing up animations on the screen then you’ll be flicking back and forth.
The stand is kind of awkward with the way it sits on the desk. The full sized deck has a stand that lets you adjust the angle for your setup but with this you aren’t able to adjust it. (This isn’t a deal breaker, just a minor thing that I’ve noticed).