Razer's esports suite comprises three products -- the $119.95 DeathAdder Elite mouse, the $50.95 Gigantus mousemat, and the $169.95 Kraken 7.1 V2 headset. That $340.85 investment -- count those pennies -- promises to make you git gud at esports. It didn't do that for me, but that doesn't change the fact that Razer has made some really nice peripherals.
First, a confession. I've never played esports. I don't really know what esports is. And to be honest I don't really want to find out. I'm not the person to talk to about esports. I like single-player games for the most part, and my competitive gaming days died off when I got a proper job while Counter-Strike: Source was still in its prime.
But I still like twitch shooters and the occasional multiplayer bout, so I put the Razer's new suite of three esports-friendly products to the test with a bunch of Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2. And maybe a little bit of Planet Coaster. And a whole bunch of web browsing and music listening, at the same time. And lots of clicking. I'm good at clicking.
So What Is It?
Razer Deathadder Elite Mouse
I've been meaning to get a new gaming mouse for a while, my stately Logitech MX518, the king of all mice, is on its last legs. Razer's recently updated DeathAdder Elite -- the esports gaming mouse -- has a bunch of tech specs that intrigued me as a bit of a purist, chiefly the fact that its optical tracking has the highest resolution accuracy of any mouse, Razer says -- so the movement you make translates with no software hackery bullshit into movement on screen.
The DeathAdder Elite also has mechanical mouse switches -- I didn't really know mechanical mouse switches were a thing, but it makes sense -- that last up to 50 million clicks, two and a half times longer than regular scrub mouse switches. They feel nice, and tactile, and accurate when you're clicking away, and the switches apparently eliminate phantom clicks and misclicks as a bonus.
Razer Gigantus Mousemat
Now, the Gigantus mousemat is huge. It's frickin' enormous, at 455x455mm. It's thick, too, like a neoprene wetsuit. For someone that has never used a mousemat before in the first place, this was like learning to fly by jumping behind the joystick of an Airbus A380 with autopilot switched off. Razer's mouse and mousemat combos work together -- genuinely, the mouse's optical sensor will recognise the Gigantus surface and tune its pickup and sensitivity accordingly. That's very cool. And having such a large surface area has meant that I'm playing with significantly lower sensitivity than I used to and having as much success or more than before.
If you play at literally the lowest sensitivity possible, you might be annoyed by the fact that one corner of the Gigantus has a raised, plastic-embossed Razer logo on it. It's kinda weird and superfluous and annoying in how obviously branded it is. My mousemat lives in my home office and nobody else will ever see it, so I don't care. But Razer did tell me that esports people travel to events, which explains both the thickness -- to compensate for different tables -- and the logo.
Razer Kraken 7.1 V2 Surround Sound Headset
The Kraken 7.1 V2 is the second iteration of Razer's Kraken PC gaming headset, and it's being billed by the peripherals maker as "the ultimate in surround sound gaming". Now, I'm a massive sceptic about surround sound headphones, because software has done such a poor job of it in the past, but I do love positional audio in games -- which is something that any headset, even a stereo one, can do well.
Big (actually big, 50mm) audio drivers mean the Kraken has plenty of audio oomph up its metaphorical sleeve, but it's the software tuning component that Razer says gives its an edge: you can adjust the positioning of each of its 7.1 virtual channels to alter the position of the sounds you're hearing. The Kraken is a big, over-the-ear open headset finished with dark metal grilles and with leatherette headband and soft earcups, and also has a retractable, bendable boom microphone that also has active noise cancellation to cut out ambient and background noise. All of these are good things in my book.
Why Buy All Three?
I'm a big fan of sticking to a single brand when it comes to peripherals, because I like only having one piece of silly gaming configuration software installed on my PC. Razer's Synapse software handles configuration for both the Kraken headset and DeathAdder mouse -- you can change the mapping of all of the mouse's many buttons and independently adjust the sensitivity of each axis, the position of the surround sound audio channels for the headphones, and so on. It's decent software without too much bloat, it runs quietly in the background and doesn't update itself every time it starts.
One thing that Razer also does well across its esports gaming suite -- and pretty much the entire range of gadgets that it sells -- is Chroma, the red-green-blue customisable LED lighting in its gear that can be set to any colour under the sun or set to pre-determined colour sweeps or breathing or funky effects. There's a button to then sync your settings across everything Razer you have plugged in. I'm testing out a new Roccat Suora FX frameless LED-blasting keyboard at the moment too, and I just wish I could get it to sync up seamlessly with my headphones and mouse.
Are They Actually Worth Buying?
I'm pretty picky with the peripherals that I use. But I'd absolutely keep using the DeathAdder Elite, and for exactly the same reason I'd keep using the Gigantus mousemat that it goes so well with. The DeathAdder's low and sleek shape lends itself really well to palming and swiping across a large surface at low sensitivity, which is completely opposite to how I usually use a mouse -- painfully high sensitivity, a finger grip and tiny movements on no mousemat. But it works really well. It feels utterly accurate at low DPI, the right and left clicks feel precise
And on the positional audio front, the Kraken 7.1 V2 delivers in spades. Despite its middling $170 price tag, it's genuinely one of the best gaming headsets I've heard in years for the expansiveness of its soundstage and the pinpoint accuracy of its positional audio. Sound quality is OK -- it has perfectly reasonable detail across the frequency range, but a bit of an emphasis on deep booming bass that means you lose some of the detail that might otherwise be in the highs. It's also really, really comfortable over extended periods of wear.
No one of these three peripherals, nor all three together, made me interested or any good at esports. But for other games, and for all the other things you do with your computer that aren't esports, they excel. I don't have any real criticisms as a casual gamer, apart from the fact the mousepad is goddamn enormous. They're not even particularly expensive by Razer standards, which is surprising. I'd happily use each and every one of the DeathAdder Elite, the Kraken and even the Gigantus on my home gaming rig into the future.