It’s not just a mouse I’m gently resting my fingertips on, oh no, it’s a bloody Death Adder.
Having painfully contorted my hand for a year using a miniscule ASUS laptop mouse, I eventually succumbed to temptation and bought myself a £20 Red Dragon gaming mouse. I thought I’d hit the jackpot as I crooned over the fierce red lighting and glossy hard plastic. But little did I know that what I swooshed to and fro wasn’t a gaming mouse at all. It was a glorified, bog standard bundle of components hiding behind elaborate make-up. And I learned this when I booted up my new Razer Deathadder Chroma for the first time at Christmas.
I expected the Razer Deathadder Chroma to be overzealous in its promises of optimised-this and calibrated-that. Having decidedly averted my eyes from the aggressive “what gamers would surely want” marketing spiel, what I finally prized out of the box and used religiously for two years wasn’t an over-hyped, garish piece of kit. Far from it. Surprisingly sleek and devastatingly accurate, it gave me such an edge in battle that it almost felt unfair. I did away with the Red Dragon immediately; this new piece of kit was on a completely different level.
I don’t like throwing the word “unique” around with abandon, but I can confidently lob it with fervour at the Razer Deathadder Chroma’s streamlined contours. There’s an elegance to its ergonomic design, and resting your hand on its smooth, velvety plastic, you immediately feel at ease. Your thumb naturally comes to rest on the rubber side grips, your palm feels alarmingly raised on the (portlier than usual) hump until your fingers come to rest comfortably in grooved channels that sit at just the right height. It’s as if you’re placing your hand on a mouse that’s been molded especially for you beforehand, giving it a nice personal touch, where really, there isn’t one.
You can impart a personal touch of your own by taking command of the RGB lighting effects that radiate from the mouse wheel in tandem with the Razer logo adorning the back of the Razer Deathadder Chroma. It’s automatically set to cycle through the colour spectrum, but through downloadable Razer Synapse software you can customise the lighting to match your rig and suit your style. I personally thought the default setting looked slick, but you can set the lighting to one static colour or make it breathe – like a pulsing rainbow. Of course, there’s plenty more options for you to toy with, and if you own any of the other Razer Chroma products, you can link them up through the Synapse software so you can have some semblance of control over your riotous festival of colour.
Luminescence aside, the optical sensor and its customisable DPI settings are the unflinching core of this mouse. You can re-map the Razer Deathadder Chroma’s buttons, allowing you to set the scroll wheel to change through three custom DPI settings if you so wish. Or you can set the two side buttons to do this, and make the scroll wheel perform a completely different action. It’s up to you. For League of Legends and CS:GO, I could handily switch between DPI settings on the fly, bumping my DPI up to 1000 for a twitchier MOBA and lowering it to 500 for a shooter that commanded greater accuracy. You’ll find no inconsistencies in tracking and every missed headshot was down to human error, I couldn’t blame it on my mouse any longer.
With zero mouse acceleration, coupled with a silky mouse pad, the Deathadder doesn’t waver in the slightest when you go for repeated flick shots and suddenly go swinging the mouse from point A to point B as quickly as possible. Even in the most demanding of CS:GO aim training exercises, your cursor never fails to end up in exactly the spot you intended it to be. I could flick the cursor from the centre of my screen to a number of points, shoot, and reset back to my original position – rinse repeat. Again, never a moment where the cursor seemed off the mark. And going into games with this level of confidence in your hardware raises your game tenfold, meaning I could carry out even the most basic tasks such as browsing the web with a delightful flourish.
When it comes to build quality, everything seems fairly robust. It’s a mouse, so don’t expect carbon fiber side panels, or premium, brushed aluminium buttons. The Razer Deathadder Chroma is all plastic, but plastic that’s got a subtle texture to it. This means that it’s difficult to mark and proves to be a little grippier than shine-heavy plastic on some other mice. It’s also weighted nicely. It’s not too light where it feels vulnerable to a clumsy drop, and the extra weight gives the Deathadder an important solidity in keeping you aware of what you’re wielding and what you’re working with.
A couple of side buttons unobtrusively positioned on the left-hand side, mean you won’t go accidentally clicking them during your 720 quickscope. Taking a decisive thumb press before they grant you with a satisfying click, this feeling of quality continues with the scroll wheel that gives you even, bumpy feedback and never feels slippery. Speaking of feedback, the Razer Deathadder Chroma is kitted out with high quality Omron switches that need little actuation force and give great tactile feedback on every glorious click.
There is one inevitable plot twist in this whirlwind fairy-tale, and it has to do with a confusing and frustrating issue; the dreaded double click. After two years of constant use, my Deathadder developed a habit of double, or even quadruple clicking on only one press. It rendered me helpless. Clicking back in my browser transported me into a frustrating dead end, and ultimately, made hitting shots or lining up a big play impossible. Looking up the problem online, there are many who have experienced the same issue, and some put it down to the software, whilst others point fingers at the hardware. In the end, whether it’s the software or hardware doesn’t matter. There’s an issue here and it rattled me, putting an unwelcome dampener on a near faultless mouse. So be warned, purchasing this mouse could mean the same happening to you; sad really, as it shatters the usability of a sensational mouse.
For MMO heads, the Razer Deathadder Chroma simply doesn’t have enough buttons to accommodate hundreds of individual spells. But for everything else (FPS or MOBA in particular) it delivers on all fronts. Despite the issue I had, I can see why it’s a best seller and one can hope that they’ve fixed the problem with the latest batch, as it performs as beautifully as it looks.