Elgato Key Light review: A brilliant space saving solution for streamers...at a price

Key Light
Key Light (Image credit: Windows Central)

Whether you're new to streaming or a seasoned pro, if you're broadcasting with a camera pointed at your beautiful face, you need to be well lit. It's one of the bigger problems to solve since traditionally the sort of lights you'd be looking at are large and hot.

That's where the Key Light comes in. It's neither of those things, making it a space savers dream. As a product, it's pretty darn good. So long as you can stomach the one big elephant in the room.

What you'll like about the Elgato Key Light

Key Light

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Everything about how the Key Light has been designed and constructed will make you fall in love with it immediately. It's a simple idea, but how it has been executed sets it apart from similar products.

For one, the Key Light takes up virtually no space at all-around your PC setup. The light panel is exceptionally slim, especially compared to a softbox, and most importantly for streaming, it's got a much lower heat output compared to some of these larger lights. I've had one pointing at me for at least 6 hours at a time, and it's remarkable how cool the panel remains.

The Key Light mounts to your desk via an arm, with a tripod-style head at the top. You've got plenty of room to adjust the height and the angle the light points down at you, all while needing no floor space and being slim enough to sit behind a PC or a monitor.

Power-wise the Key Light goes all the way up to 2500 lumens, which is bright and is fully dimmable. You're limited to white light, but the color temperature is adjustable between 2900K and 7000K, so you can get just the right warmth to suit your tastes.

So, as a light, it's terrific. It's bright and has lots of adjustabilities to get it how you want it in your setup. But it's how you control it where the Key Light really takes a step forward.

You have multiple options. There's an app for Windows and Mac, there's an app for iOS and Android, and there's integration with Elgato's own Stream Deck. You can set it up from PC, Mac, or mobile and only requires the device you're using to be on the same wireless network as you want the Key Light to operate on.

Controls are simple, and whether you're using the desktop or mobile app, you have a handy quick-access control to turn the Key Light on and off, and sliders to adjust temperature and brightness. If you're using a Stream Deck, there are several controls built-in you can assign to buttons to change the same features, even add a specific percentage brightness you can enable with a single tap.

What you'll dislike about the Elgato Key Light

Pricing for Key Light

Source: AmazonOuch. (Image credit: Source: Amazon)

There's nothing to dislike about the product itself. It's easy to see why they're an object of desire among the streaming community, but there's one massive cloud that hangs over the Key Light.

The price is astronomical.

Sure, this isn't a regular light. If you're buying a cheap, generic softbox off Amazon, you're not getting wireless control from your phone or your computer, nor are you likely getting temperature and brightness adjustments. There's a lot of really great hardware here, but it's still expensive.

At close to $200 each — and you need a pair of these for best effect — it's a significant investment. And I know several people who won't even consider the Key Light because of its price tag. It's a big ask.

Should you buy the Elgato Key Light?

If the price doesn't put you off and you're looking for great lights for your streaming setup, the Key Light is a great buy. The space-saving element alone is enough for most — it's what attracts me most about the product — but the ease of use, the flexibility, and the fact it doesn't sit there toasting your face is a real bonus.

It's a shame it'll run you almost $400 for the best setup though with a pair of these, and it's impossible to ignore just how much of an investment the Key Light is. Nevertheless, it's a remarkably good product, and Elgato has once again come up with something for streamers that seems simple but is a genuine game-changer.

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine