It’s hard to believe it, but Razer launched the original Deathadder just over 10 years ago. At that time if you built a new PC you might be sporting a newly launched Intel Core 2 Duo or an AMD Athlon 64 FX CPU with your new GTX 7900 GTX or Radeon X1900. It’s crazy how much things have changed while at the same time the Deathadder in its different variations is still one of the go-to mice on the market. The newest Deathadder is the Deathadder Elite. It has the same shape that everyone loves but has a new 5g optical sensor and for the first time, Razers own mechanical mouse switches. Razer sent over the Elite for me to check out and slipped in the Firefly RGB mousepad. I’ve been testing them out and today I’m going to see what they are all about and how they perform.
Product Name: Razer Deathadder Elite
Review Sample Provided by: Razer
Pictures by: Wes
Written by: Wes
Amazon Link: HERE
|Sensor||16,000 DPI optical sensor
Up to 450 IPS / 50 g acceleration
|Switches||Razer Mechanical Mouse switches|
|Shape||Ergonomic right-handed design with textured rubber side grips|
|Buttons||7 independently programmable Hyperesponse buttons|
|Lighting||Razer Chroma™ lighting with 16.8 million customizable color options|
|Cable||Seven-foot, lightweight, braided fiber cable|
|Size||127 mm / 5 in (Length) x 70 mm / 2.76” (Width) x 44 mm / 1.73 in (Height)|
|Weight||105 g / 0.23 lbs|
Even 10 years later, the packaging for the Deathadder Elite really isn’t very different from the boxes back in the day. The front of the box is black with green trim. The razer logo is up in the top right corner and there is a photo of the mouse along with the product name down in the bottom left corner. On the back things are very simple with drawings and short descriptions of three of the Deathadder Elites key features. The box has a ribbon loop up top for hanging it. I do wish the packaging had a front that would open and let you feel the shape of the mouse, though, that is always nice when checking them out in store.
Inside the box, the mouse sits in a green tray that slides out and it has a plastic cover around the mouse. This is interesting because this would normally mean the box has a front door to get your hands on the mouse but they didn’t go that direction. Beyond the mouse, there is just a small bundle of papers inside for documentation. You get a manual and then a printed letter from the Razer CEO.
Photos and Features
If you have never tried out a Deathadder in the past you are missing out. While the shape isn’t for everyone, it does touch on the shape of the old Microsoft mice. That shape is so popular that companies like Zowie have based their entire line on it, SteelSeries had the Sensei with a similar shape, and many other companies have had similar designs. It is a medium height, tilted slightly to the right, and ergonomic enough to fit your hand without adding flares between fingers and other features you see on ergonomically shaped mice. The Elite also has the same flat black finish that most Deathadders have had, in fact, most would have a hard time telling the Elite apart from the original Deathadder.
The side profile view of the Deathadder Elite really helps give you an idea of its shape. The arched back peaks at the ball of your hand (just below your fingers) and then gently angles to the back of the mouse. This helps it look like a big mouse while feeling smaller in hand. It is designed to fit a wide range of hand sizes. The triggers then flare out to help center your fingers.
The back profile shows us that its highest point is on the left side and there is a slight angle across the top of the mouse. This is because this is a right-handed mouse only, an ambidextrous mouse would have a more symmetrical shape here.
On the left side of the mouse, we have two fat buttons. The side buttons being a little larger helps with the different hand sizes. I love that Razer hasn’t tried to pack more buttons on the mouse at all, two is all I use and I like to keep things simple. Below the buttons, there is now a rubber grip in the same shape as the mouse. This helps a lot for picking the mouse up for people like me who don’t use a huge mouse area but prefer to flick and pickup. The rubber grip is simple and has just enough texture to help with grip without it being noticeable. I honestly wouldn’t know there was a grip there if I hadn’t taken this picture.
Then around to the front of the mouse, we can see the angle again. This is also a great view of the dips in both triggers they naturally guide your fingers to the centers of each trigger. The front of the mouse has a short rubber protector for the cable and there isn’t a detachable cord or anything though I would love to see if on the Deathadder.
Here we have a better view of all of the buttons. So we have the two side buttons and the two triggers that I have already mentioned. Then we also have the scroll wheel. It has a rubber grip up the middle with small raised bumps in groups of three all around the wheel along with transparent rings on each side of it for lighting. The wheel has a down click to it but no side click action. Then behind the scroll wheel, there are two more buttons tucked up under your palm when holding the mouse. These buttons can be programmed to anything but they default to DPI adjustment buttons. These are all the same as past Deathadders, but what is different is the move to new switches under all of those buttons. Razer is working with Omron for a specially optimized switch that they say should give faster response times and have a durability of up to 50 million clicks. I get a little worried when you hear things like custom switches, but at least Razer is working with a reputable company for these.
The top down view of the Deathadder Elite gives another great view to show off the traditional Deathadder shape. If you ignore the flare on the triggers you can even see that Intellimouse shape a little from the top. On the palm area of the mouse, the Elite has an RGB backlit Razer logo. My first Deathadders (I had a few) all had this same logo but with blue backlighting, that was back before Razer went with the green backlighting and later their Chroma RGB lighting.
On the bottom, the Elite has Teflon gliders all along the front under the triggers and at the back of the mouse. There is also a ring glider around the sensor as well. This is a big improvement over past Deathadders that just had small gliders on the front rather than the large one here. The rest of the bottom is covered in a sticker with the standard certification logos, branding, and the model information of the mouse. There is also a barcode for your serial number with the number under it should you need to do an RMA in the future. For the sensor, Razer likes to keep things really hidden so they only talk about the sensor being a 16,000 DPI optical sensor. Obviously, no one needs that much DPI but thanks to a few people who have dug into their Elite we know they used a PMW 3389 sensor. This is a modified version of the 3360 that is popular.
For the cord, the Deathadder Elite has a seven-foot long cord, so it is a little longer than the average mouse cord. It is sleeved in a tight weave and it has a gold plated USB connection at the end. Razer added a rubber cord wrap to the cord from the last time I took a look at one and given the extra length that is a good thing. Too much cord can be an issue, so being able to wrap it up and keep it to your length is a good thing, plus it helps for taking it to events.
While I have a selection of mice to test with, Razer did send their new Firefly mouse along with the Elite so I did want to check it out before getting into testing. It came in a bigger box than your standard mousepad. It still has the same black box with the product photo on the cover. They were careful to really feature the lighting on this one. The box also has a small cutout in the front to let you feel the mouse surface. The back of the box, like the Elite, has three photos with short descriptions that show the key features.
Inside the box, the Firefly comes in a plastic tray and it had the letter from the Razer CEO sitting right on top when you open it up. Under the pad in the tray there is also a product manual. The USB cable is also wrapped up and tucked up under the pad. Lastly, they include two razer triple-headed snake stickers. In person, the stickers looked black and white, but the flash from my camera really set off the colors in the outside edge.
The first thing you are going to notice with the Firefly is the USB cord running from the mousepad and the area up at the top of the pad that sticks up into your surface area. That raised area is what controls the RGB lighting under the pad and the USB cable, of course, is how it is all powered. The whole RGB mouse pad thing isn’t really new at all, in fact, there were variations on this idea years ago but what is different here is this runs more than just a few LEDs and Razer has full control over them. This means other effects can be run and with that, they need a little more room for a control to handle all of that. That said I think going flatter and sticking out the direction the cord runs out would have been better than going up.
The cord is the same sleeved USB cable that the Deathadder Elite has, it also has the same rubber strap on it as well.
For the surface, you have two options. You can get the Firefly with a cloth surface or a hard surface. I personally prefer a hard pad and it would fit better with the Firefly but our sample has a cloth surface. The cloth is very soft and the rubber pad under it is thinner than a typical cloth pad making it feel more like some of the hybrid pads that you see these days with a cloth top and a thin silicon bottom. The thin pudding, in this case, is just to leave room to get the lighting under the pad without it being too thick and it does a good job there.
Here is a shot that shows the thickness and also gives us a peek at the three-headed snake Razer logo on the top right of the Firefly. The logo looks like a black and silver 3d logo but it is actually backlit as well with the RGB lighting.
On the bottom, being a USB device the Firefly does have to have the standard sticker with all of the regulatory logos and whatnot. Beyond that though the rest of the bottom of the pad is covered in a rubber grip in a honeycomb shape. The grip is more than enough to keep the pad from moving around. If you look close you can also see the white strip that goes around the edge at an angle facing out. This is the diffuser for the Chroma lighting around the pad.
Okay, I know it’s a little weird for me to test out the Firefly on top of another mouse surface but I just finished up our testing of the Arena desk with its full top mousepad and had to test the Firefly and Deathadder Elite over on that PC. It does, however, give us a comparison shot of how the two mouse surfaces compare. They look very similar in the photos but in my testing, the Firefly feels a little quicker.
The RGB lighting didn’t come out as well with a black surface under it but it is still visible and it does look good. I’m not 100% sold on needing everything on my desk to glow, but if you are into that the Firefly does a great job of it. I was especially impressed that it didn’t feel thick and in your way like the older backlit mousepads used to. Razer avoided this by not having to fit a whole layer of acrylic, the lighting is only on the outside edge with the diffuser.
That backlit logo looked great as well with the lights turned on. Also, it is really cool when you combine all of your Chroma products and the lighting is all synced together.
With the Deathadder Elite, Razer actually dropped the internal memory in favor of sticking with the cloud save functionality of their Synapse software, so the software is even more important with this mouse than in the past. But before diving into the features I do want to cover a few of the main issues people have with Razers software. The one you hear the most is the fact that in order for the software to function they want you to create an account and sign in. This is a big sticking point for a lot of people, both because some people don’t want to create an account or have to remember logins. At this point with all of the testing I have done, I already have an account but I would still prefer to not have to sign in, I wish they would let you use the software without it and only require you to sign in for cloud features. But for me my biggest complaint is actually just with the popup that you get when you have a Razer product plugged in without the software installed at all, you get those huge popups that you can dismiss forever but they still end up coming back all of the time. It’s extremely frustrating for someone who maybe doesn’t need to change anything on their mouse or keyboard. I see it a lot if I use a Razer mouse on our test benches to the point where I avoid using Razer products at all on them because of the popups.
So anyone once installed and logged in the software noticed that I have a saved profile and asked if I wanted to import it to this PC.
The main page that you will land on when getting into Synapse has a photo of the Elite over on the right as well as a zoomed in photo of the scroll wheel area. Each of the programmable buttons has a number and you can click on it or on the list to the left. From there you can reprogram each to any standard function or to things like media controls or opening programs. There is also an option to link the button profile you have to a specific program, so you can have to switch to a different layout when in different games or with things like photoshop. Down along the bottom, there are photos of all of the installed Razer products, in this case, it is the Elite and the Firefly mouse pad. That’s right, the mouse pad has software!
Up top under the mouse tab, we have a second tab, the performance settings. Here we can adjust the sensitivity, polling rate, and turn on acceleration if you prefer that.
The next tab is the lighting tab, for some people, this is the only reason you will be using the software. In my case, I set my DPI then just revisit for lighting changes when needed. You can pick from a few lighting effect modes and each will then have different controls below it. For example, you can set the breathing rate, pick the color for reactive, and all have brightness controls as well. For a few you can set the colors and when you do that you get a basic color selection at first then you can get a full 16 million color picker if you need something more specific. All of the lighting pages have the option to sync that lighting control across all of your installed Chroma products, so with the Firefly I could sync them to run the same color all of the time or to breath or cycle between colors together.
The next tab is the calibration tab, here you can set your liftoff range manually and you can also turn on surface calibration. They have a drop down list of all of the razer pads or you can add your own and make a calibration for it.
Beyond the mouse tab, there are a few other main tabs up top. The second is the Macro tab where you can find all of your past saved macros and make your own new macros. You can enter them manually or just record them in real time with the record button. Then you can go back in and change the delays between each action.
The Elite has Chroma lighting even though it doesn’t have the Chroma name of last years Deathadder. So you can download and install the different Chroma apps on Razers app store. Some of the apps sync with specific games and programs, it’s a cool feature that leaves a lot of room for people to make their own customizations. When paired with a keyboard there are also a lot of lighting effects available to download as well.
Last but not least is the stats page. This, when set to run, will record all of your gaming actions for clicking and mouse movement and give you cool heatmaps specific to each game to show you where you are using your mouse the most. It is a better feature for keyboards because you can see keybindings that you don’t use much and rearrange them, but it is still cool for mouse use as well.
For performance testing, I have been using the Deathadder Elite for the past few weeks with the Firefly and without it in a few situations as well to get a feel for its overall performance. Given my history with the Deathadder, adjusting to the Elite wasn’t too big of a deal. I haven’t been using a Deathadder on my main PC for years now, but after just a few minutes I was already adjusted back to the shape and ready to game. Before getting into the game performance, let's run through its shape and comfort, though.
So like I touched on earlier, the overall shape of the Deathadder has always had a lot of similarities to the Microsoft Intellimouse only with a little extra Razer flare. This means the Elite isn’t a small ambidextrous mouse, it is a little larger and it is only for right handed use. It fits in your hand and the arch of the top of the mouse is shaped in a way that it does a good job of centering itself in your hand without you having to work to find a good grip. Its larger size and shape lend itself to a palm grip but you can claw grip it if that is your preferred grip type. It also depends on the size of your hand as well. Overall, for me I found the shape to be comfortable and fit my hand well. The mice shaped like the Sensei are still a little better fit for me, but the Deathadder shape is in a close second. The flat black finish feels good in hand and the grip on the side of the mouse helped a lot for when I pick up my mouse when playing shooters. The grip isn’t new to the Elite, but it is new compared to the older Deathadders that I typically use.
For my sensor testing, I focused on gaming and I also did some work in photoshop as well as paint to test things like angle snapping. The PMW 3389, like the 3360 that it is similar to has good tracking and is an improvement over a lot of the laser sensors that a lot of companies use on their “premium” mice. The 3389 isn’t considered a perfect sensor as there are some small issues at extremely high DPIs, but the average user or anyone really is going to need to be running the DPI that high so most should like the performance of the Elite. The new switches in the mouse have a nice defined click just like the last few Deathadders I have tested but what about their claims of faster response times? Well, the new switches actually seem to go the other direction altogether and add a few ms of latency to improve their debounce performance. In the end, this should help cause fewer issues, but it’s a little weird for Razer to promote faster response times when they really went the other direction there and improved misclick issues.
While it doesn’t really change mouse performance, I did want to touch on the lighting as well. The Elite has the same Chroma lighting that the Deathadder Chroma had last year. It is still a great option to have to be able to tune the lighting on your mouse to match the rest of your build, even if a lot of hardcore enthusiasts could care less about lighting. Having the option to turn the lighting off or tweak it to what you should cover everyone’s preference. The Elite only has lighting in the scroll wheel and under your palm in the logo, so really the lighting is only a concern when you aren’t using your PC.
Overall and Final Verdict
With the Deathadder Elite, Razer comes in at a bit of a disadvantage because most of the Deathadders in the past have been good, so the expectation is that it continues being a good mouse. Because I know things like the shape are good, I spent more time looking at other details for issues. This is where I had complaints like my issues with the software popups when you don’t have the software installed and the fact that you are forced to log in. But really beyond those issues the software is actually really good. It is easy to navigate and splits things up logically.
With the Elite Razer also set out to improve on the design with an updated sensor and new Razer collaboration switches. The sensor is actually really good and is based on the same sensor that people like in things like the G502 though there are a few small tracking issues that come up when you crank the DPI up into the 18,000 range. The new switches seem good in initial testing and most people wouldn’t run into any issues with them. In fact, the new change with them that adds a slight raise in the response time should actually improve user experiences with less debounce issues, but I wasn’t a fan of Razer marketing the new switches as an improvement in reaction time when they don’t seem to show that in testing. I also didn’t like them quietly dropping the onboard memory for storing your mouse settings without software, though with it basically forcing Synapse on you and the cloud sync I do get the reason for doing it.
Beyond that the Deathadder Elite still has the kick ass Deathadder shape that most people seem to like. They even improved the side of the front glider on the Elite so they will hold up even better than in the past. But even with the improvements, the Elite doesn’t really stand out compared to past Deathadders. So it's not like previous owners are going to want to run out and grab the latest model. It is a good enough mouse that I would still recommend people check it out, just like previous Deathadders. So what about its pricing? Well, that is another benefit. With an MSRP of $69.99 from Razer, it should end up being a well-priced mouse in the future as the price starts to settle a little. Even at its MSRP, it is a better mouse than a lot of the $100+ mice out on the market. It is priced in like with some of its direct competition like the G502 as well. So if you are on the market for a new mouse and haven’t tried a Deathadder yet, the Elite is a good pick up or if you poke around you might even find last years Chroma for an even better value.
Live Pricing: HERE