Not a lot has changed in the Razer universe of gaming mice over the last couple of years, and one thing has remained pretty much the same. The main software suite included the Razer DeathAdder Elite and its predecessor, the DeathAdder Chroma, is called Synapse, and it is responsible for handling lighting profiles and performance customization. The program is mostly cloud-based, which is great because your settings come with you no matter what machine you are on.
But it is also a rather robust application with a healthy array of performance options, DPI settings, custom button controls, macros, surface calibration, heatmaps, automatic profile switching, and data sheets about mouse power usage and overall performance. Plus, the software handles all devices from a single menu, including backlight color.
However, the mouse hardware itself is more than capable of outperforming the competition without the Synapse software, and you can choose not to install it, which is a very thoughtful option, indeed. In fact, the new Razer DeathAdder Elite is equipped with the new “16,000-DPI optical sensor,” which allows for surface tracking at a rate of 450-In/Second, which is pretty darn fast.
DeathAdder: It’s All in the Name
The Death Adder (Acanthophis) is a member of Elapid snakes, which first proliferated on the very old continent of Australia around 12 million years ago. Though they may resemble vipers, they are actually more closely related to coral snakes, cobras, and mambas, which are known for their ability to strike so fast, it is sometimes difficult to see with the naked eye.
The Death Adder’s venom is entirely neurotoxic, without the mycotoxins and haemotoxins found in most snake venom. And, before the advent of antivenom, it was estimated that 50 percent of all people bitten by the Death Adder had died, hence the nickname.
The DeathAdder line was established in 2006, and the Razor DeathAdder Elite, though not as deadly, was introduced in 2016. The DeathAdder Elite’s fatalities happen mainly via 3D simulation, but nevertheless, it is quick, responsive, and ergonomically designed, with improved buttons and a new scroll wheel. Plus, the 16,000-DPI optical sensor results in a proclaimed resolution accuracy of 99.4%
- High-Precision 16,000 DPI Optical Sensor: Offers on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment through dedicated DPI buttons (reprogrammable) for gaming and creative work
- Customizable Chroma RGB Color Profiles: Includes 16.8 million color combinations w/ included preset profiles
- Durable Mechanical Switches: Supports up to 50 million clicks, backed by a 2 year warranty
Featuring the Razer Mechanical Mouse Switches (responsible for button clicking), this new technology was designed in partnership with Omron, which optimized the switches for fast response time and extended durability. The 2018 version is available at Amazon for a little over $50 dollars and offers the following features at a glance:
Razer DeathAdder Anatomy
Despite all of the “new” technology, though, not much has changed physically since the DeathAdder Chroma, including the design, which is still a relatively small 5.00 x 2.76 x 1.73 inches, and the ergonomically contoured sides with textured grips.
The only real change that we can see is that the new Razer DeathAdder Elite sports seven buttons instead of five. On the mouse, you’ll find a standard left button, right button, and clickable scroll wheel, as well as dual thumb buttons and two buttons on the bottom of the scroll wheel.
The buttons at the bottom of the scroll wheel are usually reserved for Razer’s high-end gaming mice, like the Mamba TE, but they are a welcome addition to the DeathAdder, as you can alter the peripheral’s sensitivity on the fly.
Though not changed significantly, the scroll wheel offers a few coarse ribs for a better grip and a more responsive feel, and, according to one review, it is one of the few "all-purpose" mice that is really an efficient multi-tasker, and handles Overwatch and The Witcher 3 as well as Marvel Heroes.
Much of this versatility is due to the Synapse 2.0 software, which runs a clean, intuitive interface that allows you to tweak the DeathAdder buttons, lighting, and sensitivity, among other things. The RGB lighting, though having nothing to do with play performance, is particularly cool, and handles yellows pinks, and purples with a brightness and warmth that you wouldn’t expect. The backlight is revealed through the scroll wheel and the Razer emblem on the back.
Is the 2018 DeathAdder New and Improved?
While the addition of two extra buttons may not seem like much of a refresh, keep in mind that there was very little about the DeathAdder that demanded improvement. Competitors like the more expensive Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum or the Roccat Kova, don’t have the tools the DeathAdder does, and, what’s more, they aren’t multi-tasker like the Razer.
The world of gaming mice is vast and competitive, which lead to a lot of specialization. Part of the beauty of the Razer DeathAdder is in its ability to adapt to many different gaming environments. Sure stats DPI, lift off distance, sensor accuracy, and acceleration are great and all, but it is becoming more and more difficult to find a well-rounded generalist in a gaming mouse.
So, fans of the DeathAdder Chroma will be excited to hear that Razer has changed very little in their new DeathAdder Elite. Even the classy black matte finish is retained, to the joy and titillation of anti-spaceship-style mice haters everywhere.
Plus, the DeathAdder still comes with a seven-foot braided cable and gold-plated USB connector. The construction is not new, but it is classy, as many mice now go with a rubberized plastic cable, which is not as nice.
Finally, thanks to the improved mechanical switches, the mouse boasts an ultra-fast action time, with a low debounce (the time it takes for a button to become clickable again after being pressed). The adjustable DPI sensitivity is nice and can be varied depending on what game you are playing - from 100 to 16,000 DPI.
The Razer DeathAdder Philosophy
The Razer DeathAdder has focused on incremental upgrades for more than a decade without augmenting what makes the mouse so popular in the first place. In fact, for its tenth anniversary, the introduction of the DeathAdder Elite maintained that classic ergonomic and comfortable design and the same black matte finish.
Though it is billed as a gaming mouse, it can be used for a variety of office or home computer tasks, and the scooped body, oversized thumb buttons, and textured rubber pads lend themselves nicely to either a palm grip or a claw grip. Plus, as part of the ergonomics, the right and left click buttons offer subtle grooves for your fingers to rest in, which is not only comfort but helps to facilitate fast lateral movements.
Also, the Razer DeathAdder hope to remedy issues surrounding longevity by partnering with Omron in the making of their new Mechanical Mouse Switches (responsible for button clicking) for the Razer DeathAdder Elite. The former iteration of the DeathAdder, the Chroma, according to one reviewer, reportedly had issues with failing hardware.
And while the scroll wheel didn’t get as much attention as the switches (aside from some raised ridged that help with control), the two buttons below the wheel are a direct result of Razer listening to its gamer fan base and allowing users the tools to adjust DPI settings on the fly. Moreover, the bottom of mouse sports two oversized Teflon feet, making the peripheral effective on practically any surface.
With seven buttons in all, you can program each to execute an additional command via the Synapse software interface in addition to its regular duties. However, Razer also made its accompanying cloud control software entirely optional, and the DeathAdder will perform just fine without it, leaving the power of choice firmly in the hands of the user.
Should the user decided to install Synapse, the UI is clean and intuitive, with a tab for macros and another one for clickable actions mapping, profiles management, mouse sensitivity, acceleration rate and polling rate. Plus, the user can configure the Chroma LED RGB lighting and actually calibrate the DeathAdder for use on a wide range of surfaces.
Another neat thing about the mouse is that, in a very Google-like move, Razer Synapse actually stores all of your settings in the cloud, so all you need to do is travel with your mouse and borrow a computer with an internet connection to access all of you gaming information.
A not-so-neat thing is that the DeathAdder forces the user to sign up for a Razer account regardless of whether he/she plans on using Synapse or not, and you can’t turn off software updates to your mouse, or you will risk losing functionality. That said, these annoyances don’t detract too much from everything the Razer DeathAdder does right, and, if we are completely honest, the sign in and updates probably go part and parcel with the online, internet age.
However, it is not the versatility of a cloud-connection that makes the Razor DeathAdder great in so many different uses. In fact, its contoured ergonomic design feels nice in the hand and offers gamers, home, and business users solid hardware and functionality under the hood.
While the DeathAdder Elite has chosen to build upon the past instead of revising and replacing for the sake of a massive upgrade, it’s quietly added modest and thoughtful changes. Users will find upgraded sensors, new switches, two new buttons, and, in total, these additions actually make the mouse better than it was, and there are few tech companies, in our opinion, that chose incremental updates over the glitz and glamor of a full-on revision.
Razer DeathAdder Wrap-Up
Up to 450 IPS / 50 g
Razer Mechanical Mouse
Ergonomic right-handed design with textured rubber side grips
7 independently programmable Hyperesponse buttons
Razer Chroma™ lighting with 16.8 million customizable color options
Gold-plated USB connector
Seven-foot, lightweight, braided fiber cable
5" x 2.76” x 1.73"
105 g / 0.23 lbs
Much like Woody on Cheers, the Razor DeathAdder Elite is that same easy to grasp, heavy-set multitasker that has been around since the line was first introduced in 2006. However, unlike Woody, the DeathAdder has incrementally changed over the year, and, with each iteration, it got a little bit better.
Synapse, too, gets a little more refined with each update, making an already powerful mouse even more robust with increased functionality. The upshot is that the Razer DeathAdder Elite is an affordable mid-range gaming mouse that is more than capable of filling in for high-end mice or carrying out day-to-day tasks like surfing the web or graphics editing.
With competitors like the Mionix Castor (similar ergonomics and price) and the Logitech G502 (featuring adjustable weights), the Razer DeathAdder faces a market packed tight with competitors. And, at 105 grams, you will also find it compared to the beefier (around 120 grams) and more expensive Corsair Scimitar, a gaming mouse that features more programmable buttons (12) but the same DPI as the DeathAdder.
The Castor, too, claims it has won over 400 awards for its ergonomic design and weighs less than the DeathAdder at only 99 grams, although it offers only a one year warranty, while the rest offer the standard two-year coverage.
But, when it comes down to it, the Razer DeathAdder is extremely well-built with special-made switches, an ergonomic design, and solid mechanics that will last for many years. It is weighted but not overly so, and it comes with a robust and powerful software which can transform it into a supreme multi-tasker.
All of this makes it one of the most dependable, high-performing, and versatile mid-range gaming mice on the planet. The bottom line is that Razer has been making this quality device since 2006, and this year it has managed to make some modest but important improvements without raising the price point.