Razer Deathstalker Chroma Edition

Review: Razer Deathstalker Chroma is no Blackwidow

Razer redesigns the rubber dome and delivers faster, quieter, and more colorful gaming with the Razer Deathstalker Chroma gaming keyboard. But even the Deathstalker Chroma’s (relatively) modest $99 price tag still stings a bit, and it can’t quite address the mechanical keyboard elephant in the room.

In other words, the Deathstalker Chroma occupies a difficult space—the premium non-mechanical gaming keyboard with a price that still puts it in mechanical keyboard territory.

Meet the Deathstalker

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Razer Deathstalker Chroma (Credit: Razer)

The original Razer Deathstalker Ultimate, which includes Razer’s Switchblade UI, is an expensive ($249), non-mechanical keyboard that’s as flashy as it is (ultimately) functionally deficit. Sure, it boasts cool technology, but at a price tag well above the vastly superior and more functional Razer Blackwidow mechanical keyboards, as well as numerous other competitor keyboards. (Aside from the Deathstalker Ultimate’s ability to assign LOLcat pictures to keys along with complex macros, I found little worthy of a strong recommendation.)

The Deathstalker Chroma ditches the Switchblade UI and adds new and improved rubber dome switches with Chroma lighting, the combination of which drops its price into more reasonable ($99) territory.

Side note: If Razer hadn’t moved away from difficult-to-pronounce scientific names like Lachesis, Carcharias, and Arctosa, the Deathstalker (a type of Scorpion) would have been called the Razer Quinquestriatus.

Feature highlights

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Razer Deathstalker Chroma (Credit: Razer)

Razer is particularly proud of their innovative, new and improved rubber dome technology, which is paired with low-profile, chiclet keycaps and yields a very short travel and actuation distance of 2mm—half that of standard rubber dome switches.

In addition, the Deathstalker Chroma is very lightweight, low profile, and it only requires a single USB port (vs. 2 for many high-end gaming keyboards). It would certainly be a reasonably suitable traveling companion (despite its fixed wrist rest, which adds to its size) if that’s your thing.

The Deathstalker Chroma’s lighting is handled in zones and layers (profiles). It does not have the ‘any key, any color’ capabilities of many higher-end gaming keyboards, such as the Razer Blackwidow Chroma, Logitech G910, or Corsair K95 RGB. On the Deathstalker, you can assign different colors to the main keyboard, the extended key cluster (PRT SCRN, etc.), and the Number Pad, and choose from 1 of 4 global effects: spectrum cycling, wave, breathing, or static.

Razer Deathstalker Chroma features and specifications

  • Chiclet keycaps
  • Chroma lighting with 16.8 million customizable color options
  • Razer Synapse enabled
  • 1000 Hz Ultrapolling
  • Fully programmable keys with on the fly macro recording
  • Dedicated Gaming Mode (i.e. disables the Windows key)
  • Anti-ghosting capability for up to 10 simultaneous key presses
  • Fixed wrist rest

Performance

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Razer Deathstalker Chroma (Credit: Razer)

The Deathstalker Chroma is quiet, and certainly feels fast and responsive. I’m skeptical that shorter travel distance makes that big a difference, but it feels good regardless. I also like its low profile.

The Deathstalker Chroma LEDs, however, are very dim when compared to other boards, even at their brightest settings. It’s fine if you prefer more subdued lighting. And as stated before, the LED lighting is less flexible (and perhaps a bit less functional) than keyboards with similar lighting capabilities, such as the previously mentioned Razer Blackwidow Chroma, Corsair K95 RGB, and Logitech G910.

For example, for my kids I like to assign the W-A-S-D keys different colors from the rest of the keyboard (sometimes in variants depending on the game they want to play). You can’t assign individual keys different colors with the Deathstalker Chroma.

I appreciate the Razer Deathstalker for what it is—a quiet, premium non-mechanical keyboard. It’s adequate for day-to-day use and typing. But it’s certainly no replacement for a good mechanical keyboard—especially for people who do a lot of typing. That said, my office mate probably loved the quiet (particularly since I usually use my noisy favorite, the Razer Blackwidow, at work).

The Deathstalker Chroma also lacks any dedicated macro keys and other extras. Although Razer’s Synapse software enables you to create a macro and assign it to any key, a column of dedicated macro keys on the left side of the keyboard (such as the Blackwidow and many other gaming keyboards have) would have been appreciated.

These limitations make it difficult to broadly recommend the Deathstalker Chroma. If you like or want the Razer Deathstalker’s key features—namely its quiet, chiclet style keys, low form factor, and subdued colors—then it’s a good keyboard for you.

But consider that there are many mechanical keyboards well within its price range—including some of Razer’s and their competitors, and especially if you shop for a model that is 1-2 years old and not the flavor-of-the-year.

Overall: Good

The Razer Deathstalker is at best a relatively niche recommendation for gamers looking for its very specific feature highlights: quiet operation, LED lighting, and low profile/form factor, with a dash of portability.

Otherwise, as a confessed mechanical keyboard snob, I’m more inclined to recommend some careful shopping for a mechanical keyboard in the same price range. At most, you might sacrifice the Deathstalker Chroma’s color capabilities for simple single-color LED lighting and get superior mechanical keys and/or some macro keys.

Consider the Coolermaster Quickfire TK series of keyboards, for example. Or, consider opening your wallet a little more (another $20 or so) and you’ve got even more options.

Feel free to hit me up at @bryanedge_S if you’d like some recommendations.

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