Razer gave everyone a pleasant surprise during PAX West 2018 with the announcement that it was refreshing some of its flagship peripherals. The Kraken Tournament Edition headset, BlackWidow Elite keyboard, and Mamba Wireless mouse were all available for hands-on at PAX West, and I got a chance to check them out.
I’m not a fanboy of any particular peripheral manufacturer. Right now I’m rocking a ROCCAT Vulcan keyboard, a Mad Catz (RIP) RAT 6 mouse, and three mismatched ASUS monitors. I went into the testing experience with a neutral attitude and walked away impressed with all three products.
Razer BlackWidow Elite Keyboard
The first new Razer product I got to check out was the BlackWidow Elite keyboard. I raved about the ROCCAT Vulcan when I reviewed it, and I have to say the BlackWidow Elite reminded me a lot of it, though not in a derivative way. It’s a far cry from the chunky gaming keyboards of a few years ago.
The Blackwidow Elite is a refresh of the popular 2014 keyboard and featured a pretty slim chassis with all the bells and whistles one can expect from a flagship keyboard. It has Razer Chroma and is available with three different switch types. The model I got to use was equipped with Razer Green switches which are closest to Cherry MX Blues with their clickiness and actuation. It seems like they have a shorter throw, though, so you likely shave a millisecond or two off their trigger time.
There are no dedicated macro keys, which will be a turnoff for some, but the Razer software allows you to basically set an infinite number of key combinations to use as a macro, so you end up getting more utility than just having four physical buttons. There’s also a nice little wheel in the upper right that you can use to control your volume. This might seem minor, but it’s super convenient if you’re playing audio straight from your PC.
I also have to give kudos to the wrist rest. Most I’ve seen come with keyboards are plastic, and don’t do much for me. I’m not a big wrist rest guy, but the one that comes with the Blackwidow Elite is plush and really gives some cushion. You can get the BlackWidow Elite keyboard right now for $169.99
Razer Mamba Wireless Mouse
Paired with the Blackwidow Elite was the Razer Mamba Wireless mouse. I love a wireless mouse, but it’s hard to find one that has a long battery life; strong, low latency signal; and high accuracy. The Mamba Wireless impressed me by having all three attributes down pat.
The IR transmitter comes with a little cord that lets you extend it from your computer’s USB to the right in sight of the mouse on your desk. You can do this with other wireless mice, but I like that the cord is included. When you’re charging, you can unplug the transmitter and use the same cable to turn the Mamba Wireless into a corded mouse, which is super convenient.
On the technical side, the Mamba Wireless features a 16,000 DPI optical sensor and has a resolution accuracy of 99.4% which basically means it’s terrific. I’m not a pro-eSports player, so that’s not something I noticed too much, but when playing Overwatch, I found that the cursor did go where I wanted it to, and that’s all I can ask for in a mouse.
The Mamba Wireless will arrive in September and will retail for $99.99.
Razer Kraken Tournament Edition Headset
The third and final Razer product I demoed was the most impressive in my eyes. The Kraken Tournament Edition headset is THX certified and has a built-in DAC that controls base, chat balance, and volume.
The first thing I noticed about the Kraken Tournament Edition when I put it on is just how comfortable it is. I use a Razer Thresher headset on my Xbox One which is heavenly on the ears, but the cooling-gel ear cushions for it came as a separate purchase. On the Kraken they’re standard, so you get a fantastic, cooling feeling when you put them on. As I wear eyeglasses, I also appreciate the little channels in the foam that keep the earpieces from pressing against my skull too hard.
The biggest thing about these headphones though is the THX sound. One issue I’ve always found with headphones, no matter if they were dollar store cheapos or $300 gaming monstrosities is that they just don’t bump. I’ve run into maybe a handful of headphones that impressed me with their bass, and I was able to add the Kraken Tournament Edition to that list. The video demo I was able to try while wearing them was really impressive and the 50mm drivers combined with the THX spatial audio was able to convey a movie theater-like sound stage in a way that few headphones I’ve tried can.
The most impressive thing about the Kraken Tournament Edition, though, is the price. I was expecting them to be around $200 or so, but they’re half that. At $99 these headphones stand poised to corner the market when it comes to sub-$100 gaming headsets when it comes to quality and value when it releases in September.