Razer DeathAdder Elite Review — New Buttons, Classic Design

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Elapid snakes, of which the death adder is one, first evolved and diversified in Australia roughly 12 million years ago. While the Razer DeathAdder mouse isn't quite that old, this conservative, reliable peripheral has been around, more or less unchanged, since 2006. Every now and then, Razer gives the old serpent a refresh, and for 2016, that update comes in the form of the DeathAdder Elite ($70).

This all-purpose gaming mouse retains the sleek, ergonomic design and RGB lighting of its forebears while adding two small buttons beneath an improved scroll wheel. This model is not significantly better than the mice that inspired it, but it's still a comfortable, easy-to-use option for stay-at-home adventurers and tournament jockeys alike.


To know what the DeathAdder Elite looks and feels like, you should consult the review of the DeathAdder Chroma; as far as I can tell, only one significant thing has changed. The peripheral is still 5.00 x 2.76 x 1.73 inches in size and ergonomically contoured on both sides, and still offers textured grips for both the thumb and the outermost two fingers.

The only difference this time around is that there are seven buttons instead of five: a left button, a right button, a clickable scroll wheel (more on this in a bit), two thumb buttons and two buttons just beneath the scroll wheel. The two buttons on the mouse's face are new; such buttons had previously been relegated to more expensive Razer mice such as the Mamba TE. I didn't use the new buttons too much on the DeathAdder Elite, but they're unobtrusive and comfortable, and particularly useful if you want to alter dots-per-inch (DPI) sensitivity on the fly.

The scroll wheel has also picked up a few coarse nubs, which gave me a better grip than I had on previous models. With a more tactile and responsive feel, the scroll-wheel revamp was a helpful addition, but not sorely needed.

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Like its predecessors, the DeathAdder Elite runs on the Razer Synapse 2.0 software. This clean, navigable interface lets you program buttons, create profiles and link them with games, alter the RGB lighting, calibrate the mouse for different surfaces, adjust the DPI (up to 16,000), and tinker with all sorts of other settings.

The DeathAdder mouse (Elite or otherwise) is one of the few "all-purpose" mice that really earns the distinction.

Synapse 2.0 is easy to use and intuitive, especially for users who have owned a Razer product before. In particular, I want to call out the RGB lighting, which handles pinks, yellows and purples with incredible fidelity. Some RGB mice have trouble displaying these colors, instead making them look like dim reds or blues, but each one came through clearly here.


As I've pointed out before, the DeathAdder mouse (Elite or otherwise) is one of the few "all-purpose" mice that really earns the distinction. The mouse was equally adept with Overwatch, StarCraft II: Nova Covert Ops, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Marvel Heroes.

The DeathAdder has always been one of my favorite mice for real-time strategy games, and the new version of the mouse did not disappoint for StarCraft II. I had no problem assigning my soldiers to control groups and accessing them at the touch of a thumb button, whether I wanted them to target specific enemies or obliterate everything in their paths. Marvel Heroes, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game that also requires a similar amount of furious clicking, also handled well. Playing as Captain America, I cleared Venom and a host of Symbiotes out of a police station, and the mouse helped me find each target without delay.

The RGB lighting handles pinks, yellows and purples with incredible fidelity.

Overwatch and The Witcher 3 were equally good experiences, whether I needed to plant myself in a defensive spot as Bastion in the former or guide Geralt through a dark dungeon on a perilous quest in the latter. The beauty of the DeathAdder Elite is that it's a versatile mouse. You can use a bunch of extra buttons or none at all; the mouse is perfectly comfortable either way, and exhibits the same strengths for competitive and single-player adventures.

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Bottom Line

The only real criticism I can level at the DeathAdder Elite is that adding two extra buttons is a very mild upgrade for a yearly refresh. On the other hand, nothing about the mouse really needed to be fixed. It's still easy to grasp and performs well across a wide variety of game genres.

While the Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum and Razer Mamba TE are superior mice in the $80-$90 range, the DeathAdder Elite is still a powerful contender for $70. It's worth checking out this mouse's more expensive competitors, as well as cheaper ones like the Roccat Kova ($50), but the DeathAdder Elite is another well-made iteration of a popular mouse. This one is a fan favorite for a good reason.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.