Players often argue that tenkeyless keyboards — peripherals that eschew the numpad — are better, more streamlined gaming tools, particularly for those who travel often.
Now, for those who feel that even a tenkeyless model is simply too large, there’s the HyperX Ducky One2 Mini ($110), a 61-key peripheral that also eschews arrow keys and the nine productivity buttons that include Print Screen, Delete, Home and so forth.
Enthusiasts have raved about mini keyboards for years, and the One2 Mini has everything gamers prize: mechanical keys, RGB lighting, streamlined customization options and a positively tiny profile. But since this particular model targets a gaming audience, the question is: Does it really make playing games tangibly better?
In my experience, the answer was no — but the keyboard did make everyday productivity tasks significantly more difficult. Some of the missing keys are quite important, and the overall feel of the device is pretty cramped.
For players who are thoroughly invested in the mini-keyboard lifestyle and want a pretty, straightforward model that favors gaming applications, the Ducky One2 is probably one of the better choices. But most others should stick with a tenkeyless model if they want something small.
HyperX Ducky One2 Mini design
To give the One2 Mini credit where it’s due, the device is gorgeous. This tiny keyboard contains only 61 keys and measures 11.9 x 4.3 inches. This is easily the smallest mechanical gaming keyboard I have ever reviewed, and as such, can fit on nearly any desktop or in any backpack. It’s even conceivable that you could buy a One2 Mini and have enough space left over for a regular old cheap productivity keyboard — which you might actually need, but we’ll get to that.
As the product’s name suggests, the One2 Mini is a collaboration between gaming peripheral manufacturer HyperX and boutique keyboard provider Ducky. If you're not familiar with Ducky, it’s a Taiwanese outlet that produces gorgeous minimalist keyboards with a variety of different mechanical switch types.
Like many of Ducky’s other products, the One2 Mini is elegant and understated, although it comes with a variety of swappable keycaps if you prefer something a little more over-the-top. The device’s red-and-black plastic chassis is striking without becoming obnoxious, and has multiple RGB lighting zones.
For those who have never used a mini keyboard before, it’s also worth pointing out just what you’re giving up. There’s no numpad, of course, which means there’s also no room for discrete media keys. But you’re also losing the nine adjacent buttons and the top row of function keys. This means no Print Screen, no Delete, no Page Up/Down and, most important, no arrow keys. (It also means no F1, F4 or F11. I happen to like those keys; your mileage may vary.)
The One2 Mini is not the only mini keyboard to ditch these keys, so their absence isn’t necessarily a knock against the device. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that not having arrow keys or a Delete key, in particular, started to drive me insane a few minutes into my review, and completed the job a few hours later. If you’re used to a full-sized keyboard, your experience may be similar.
HyperX Ducky One2 Mini keys
The One2 Mini utilizes HyperX’s proprietary HyperX Red switches. I gave these switches a thorough evaluation in my HyperX Alloy Origins review. These quiet, linear switches feel fine overall, although they’re not quite on a par with the Cherry MX Reds from which they took inspiration. At the very least, they’re good for gaming as well as everyday typing.
In fact, while I didn’t find the typing experience especially comfortable (the keys feel cramped, and it’s easy to hit an adjacent key by accident), I was able to type faster on the One2 Mini than on my everyday keyboard.
Using the One2 Mini on a Typing.com test, I scored 120 words per minute with a 97% accuracy rate. My regular Logitech G810 earned me only 117 wpm with the same rate of accuracy. It’s not a huge difference, but it’s impressive, considering I’d used the One2 Mini for comparatively so little time.
HyperX Ducky One2 Mini features
One of my favorite aspects of the One2 Mini is that there’s no software whatsoever. No software is generally preferable to complicated software, and this is particularly true when the keyboard in question doesn’t have any extra keys. (Just the opposite, in fact, as the One2 Mini goes out of its way to remove keys.)
However, the One2 Mini goes wrong by trying to compensate with built-in controls. By manipulating a complex series of buttons, you can record macros, change color patterns, switch profiles and even play light-based keyboard games.
That may sound good in theory, but in practice, doing any one of these things is quite complicated. There are 10 different backlighting modes, with options to vary each individual color level as you go. As such, fine-tuning the RGB lighting is a pain — and the whole thing resets as soon as you power down the keyboard anyway.
Recording macros is tedious and hard to optimize without a visual interface, and it’s not as though you have many extra buttons in which to store them. The keyboard games flat-out don’t work; I tried the Minesweeper application, and had to shut the keyboard down after it loaded up a map without any mines and refused to exit.
Earlier, I mentioned the important keys that the One2 Mini is missing. They’re not completely gone; they live on as keyboard shortcuts that you can access by using a cumbersome combination of the Fn and Alt keys simultaneously. (Using three keys to do a single key’s job seems obscenely inefficient.)
Some of these, like media controls, are useful. Others, like left- and right-mouse clicks, seem like you’re just showing off.
The One2 Mini has a lot of functionality if you’re willing to take a deep dive and learn it all. But it also goes through an awful lot of trouble to replace features that come standard on larger keyboards, and the handoff is not always smooth. For $110, that's a tough sell.
HyperX Ducky One2 Mini performance
If you want a One2 Mini specifically, it will probably be for the device’s gaming capabilities. On that front, the keyboard has very few issues. Since the movement and action keys are all present and accounted for, I had a great time running-and-gunning in Doom Eternal, commanding armies in Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, scaling ancient relics in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and completing quests in Final Fantasy XIV. The mechanical keys feel responsive and conveyed my commands immediately.
My only issue was that the function keys do serve a useful purpose in some games, whether it’s analyzing character commands in Overwatch or activating class skills in Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition.
You need two hands to access these commands with a keyboard shortcut, which is simply impossible in any game where timing is a factor. It’s not a deal-breaker in every game, but it’s something you should consider if your favorite games utilize the function keys often.
HyperX Ducky One2 Mini bottom line
From the perspective of a newcomer to the world of mini keyboards, I despised the One2 Mini. It hampered my typing, slowed down my productivity and made gaming just a little more difficult than it had to be.
But if you’re already sold on the idea of a keyboard that takes up only 60% of a full-sized model’s space, the One2 Mini might be what you’re looking for. The key switches are comfortable, the lighting is colorful, and the functionality is robust, if unintuitive.
Overall, I understand the appeal of the One2 Mini, but I think it's a tough sell for most users -- especially since the same $110 could get you a mechanical tenkeyless keyboard, or perhaps even a full-sized model on sale. If you're not already sold on the idea of a mini keyboard, I don't think the One2 Mini will be the model to change your mind.