Razer Deathadder Essential, tempting at $30? Review
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With a price drop from 50 down to about 30 bucks, instead of the ludicrous benjamin for a gaming mouse ask, we’re getting an entry level Razer product which is now a lot more affordable. Still, there’s a lot of competition for gaming mice at this lower price point, so you’ll be asking, “What’s the big deal about Razer” or “Why should I choose a Deathadder Essential over any other mouse?” “Why did I finish that last slice of Hawaiian?”
Hawaiian? Are you crazy? So many questions.
And we’ll compare it against a few other mice also.
Entry level Razer?
Really wanted to give a nice positive first product review for Razer. So TLDR, get a Deathadder V2 instead, and our links will be for that mouse, and you’ll see why. But onto the Deathadder Essential, it’s an older entry-level gaming mouse, providing decent palm, finger and claw grips. Main buttons are good with a slight bit of pre-travel. Center scroll sits high, and the rubber-y track gives a bit of a mushy feel, though the click is on point.
Without any DPI button, the left side buttons are really well done, which leaves the feet which are a little rough and this mouse is 96 grams, so it’s a bit more tank-y than we’re used to. Green LED only, one effect, no DPI adjustment without Synapse 3 software which you must setup a Razer account. So if you’re a fan of Razer with larger hands, only 30 bucks, and are doing mostly surfing and casual gaming, this might be for you, otherwise we’d save our money for the Razer Deathadder V2 instead.
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Deathadder Essential: The Good
Now don’t get me wrong, the DeathAdder Essential is a perfectly functional mouse, capable of good control and its large ergonomic shape, at 127mm long by 62mm wide and 43mm high, with the hump more dead center. It actually fits my larger hands better than anything I’ve tried, save maybe a Rival 300.
I’m more of a palm grip myself, and works nicely for that, though trying finger and claw the size and shape seems good IF your hands are large, small hands will likely favor just palm grips. The pinkie area angles out, and flares out farther than I’d like, and for me makes the mouse rotate to the left just a bit.
For 2021 we’ve adjusted our weight scale a bit, lightweight now goes to 80 grams down from 90, and heavyweight starts at 100 down from 110. The DeathAdder Essential comes in at 96 grams, in middleweight territory, and has a noticeable control difference than my daily driver which is 87 grams. At least the build is very sturdy in our creak test.
Both the black and a white DeathAdder Essential versions sport the PixArt PAW3328 is a mid-level 6400 DPI optical sensor, which is generally a decent performer. With this mid-level sensor it’s good enough for casual gaming, though likely not for more serious or pro gamers as its lift off distance is about 5mm, and we noticed a tiny bit of lift-off or landing jitters rarely.
Main left and right buttons are rated to 10 million clicks but have a millimeter more pre-travel than we’re used to, for a feeling of almost-precise control, not an issue for casual gaming though. The scroll wheel sits 35mm up, a bit high for me personally, and the rubber edge and wobble between the notches means you may get slightly inaccurate scrolling. However the scroll wheel button is nice and precise, no problems clicking. The side buttons are well machined and have a good tactile response, and the thumb rests nicely just below them.
Deathadder Essential: The Bad
You’ll notice there’s no DPI button, and that’s kind of a problem, which we’ll address in the software section. On the bottom, the feet have three pads, and they do glide much better than a cheap mouse. The braided cable is 176cm long and the covering is good, but the cable is stiff and holds its shape. So, it’s not heavy, but using this with a mouse bungee may cause issues. This mouse is new, but the cable certainly doesn’t want to flatten itself out.
I mentioned that the pinkie rest area flares out and is a little wider which causes rotation for me, and of course, this may not apply to your grip at all. The mouse rotates slightly farther left, causing the back side button to be a bit harder to hit, but perhaps you won’t experience this at all.
All this adds up though, with the slight audible resistance and 96 gram weight, and slightly stiffer cable, and for me anyways, slight angle difference, all makes using this more like driving a Ford than a Mitsubishi. But I hear you say “Hey, lots of people like Fords!” If you’re a serious gamer and try this mouse out, maybe you’ll know what I’m getting at- let’s see the glide test.
And Green LED only accents are lighting the logo and scroll wheel. One takeaway is that due to the weight, weight distribution and foot design, the slide left is accurate nearly every time, which is a big point in the DeathAdder Essential’s favor. This combination will be great for RPGs and action adventure titles.
Deathadder Essential: The Ugly
Hold up, there’s no onboard memory. Remember we talked about no DPI button on the mouse? In order to get that, you’ll need to search “Synapse download” to get Razer’s Synapse 3 software, a 360MB install. Synapse 2 won’t work, that was the first one we found with searching “Synapse software” just be aware. After installing it, you still need to sign-up and login with a Razer account. And there was an added notification to restart to finish setting up the mouse. Really?
First you can assign mouse buttons, and the Hypershift option to extend functionality only works with Razer keyboards, as far as we can see. Performance has 5 DPI settings from 200 to 6400 in 100 increments. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any way to trigger this with any non-Razer keyboard command. Polling rate is a 500/1000 toggle. And lighting reveals a wealth of options, you have brightness, and breathing mode, not even speed control. Wow. Last, there’s an idle setting.
There’s also multiple mouse profiles you can set up for your different games. What this means for you is with no onboard memory, if you ever take your DeathAdder Essential on the go, in order to get the right DPI you want, you’d have to download, install and set everything on the guest PC. So this is NOT the mouse for you if you’re on the go.
Now we weren’t able to test any Hypershift functionality because you can’t assign it to a key. The website has this as a selling point, although there’s no mention it’s only with Razer keyboards. And if we’re wrong here or get it working, please do tell us and we’ll update our techspinreview.com companion post.
Deathadder Essential or the V2?
We’ve been a bit harsh on the DeathAdder Essential, but at 50 bucks at launch, you’re paying for name a lot more than features. In fairness, this mouse is a few years old, but at 30 bucks, this still… isn’t gonna clinch it for the Deathadder Essential, and keep in mind, I really like the design aesthetic that Razer has got going here. Consider this a older tech clearance sale item.
Listen… if you want a real Razer experience, you need to look at the 60 dollar Deathadder V2 instead. It’s lighter at 82g, with a 20K sensor, and it addresses -all- the points lacking in the DeathAdder Essential. There’s DPI buttons, 5 onboard memory profiles versus the DeathAdder Elite’s zero, and ultra-glide PTFE feet. There’s a better braided cable too, gaining accolades as the best wired mouse from rtings.com.
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The tricky part is, there’s a lot of quality offerings even at 30 bucks. Our daily driver, the HyperX Pulsefire Core, link up here for that review, offers a similar sensor but lift off is 2mm, with dual DPI buttons, it has full RGB, and is slightly smaller with a little better grip feeling
The Logitech G203 Lightsync, also called the G102 Lightsync in other countries, has a better sensor and lift off, a DPI button and stunning RGB with wave effects, and software is very customizable. We’ll throw the link up here for that review, and there’s also the MSI Clutch GM11 we covered in the GK30 keyboard combo.
At the original 50 dollar MSRP, the MSI Clutch GM30 has a better grip and RGB, and the 60 dollar Sharkoon Light2 200 is ultralight at 62 grams, with 16000 DPI sensor, better IPS and G, ventilated swappable front, PTFE feet for ultra-glide, and great RGB, these are in our keyboard and mouse playlist.
So Razer fan or not, it’s important that you have the facts before you buy. This will work well as our media PC mouse, you can get the “Oooh, Razer”, and it’s still a decent mouse, as long as lift-off distance doesn’t factor into your gaming. Using our affiliate links below as you shop will help us a little at no extra cost to you, note the links are for the Deathadder V2, which honestly will perform way better.
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If you want a piece of Razer tech, 30 bucks for the DeathAdder Essential is a good deal although newer offerings do have better features, and let us know if you want to see the V2 in action. We have a review of the Logitech G304 lightspeed wireless gaming mouse coming up, and the second part to the NAS build. And if there’s a mouse you love, or are looking at buying, join the discussion in the comments.
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