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Razer’s Stormtrooper gaming gear is a mix of awesome and awful

Razer’s Stormtrooper gaming gear is a mix of awesome and awful

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Sometimes cynical brand cash-ins turn into pretty nice products

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Photo by Vlad Savov

I’m no Star Wars fan, but when Razer issued a press release a week ago announcing its Stormtrooper edition keyboard, mouse, and mouse mat, I couldn’t resist them. That timeless black-and-white aesthetic just speaks to me, so I had to see and try the trifecta for myself. It’s made up of the $99.99 BlackWidow Lite Silent mechanical keyboard, the $59.99 Atheris wireless mouse, and $34.99 Goliathus extended gaming mouse mat. The keyboard and mouse are $10 more expensive than their generic Razer counterparts, whereas the Goliathus pad is the same price as the company’s other extended mats.

Let’s talk cosmetic appearance first since that’s the reason you’d care to pay the extra cost of these Stormtrooper editions. I think the entire set looks fantastic. The graduating stripes on the mat and the keyboard complement each other beautifully when they’re together, and they still look great when the two are apart. Razer even has a black-and-white braided cable for the keyboard. If you get a set of Focal Clear headphones and a snow-white PC case (mine is a Lian-Li PC-011), you can make a whole lot of visual synergy happen. Come to think of it, my LG 4K monitor is also white, so maybe I already have a thing for the (absence of) color.

The Atheris mouse is probably going to be polarizing. I love that it’s got a stormtrooper’s mug dominating its tiny dimensions, and I imagine a majority of Star Wars fans will feel the same. For anyone in your vicinity, though, it might be a little too much fandom. I’m also no fan of the unnecessary copyright and trademark credits to Lucasfilm: you can find those in prominent places on the mouse, mat, and keyboard. They’re definitely a spoiler.

As far as functionality goes, it’s really a tale of two peripherals: the keyboard is awesome; the mouse is awful.

Getting the bad stuff out of the way first: the pocket-sized Atheris is too tiny to use comfortably on a desktop and is really only fit for mobile use, but its bigger problem is that its wireless performance is bad. Using the included 2.4GHz Wi-Fi dongle with my Windows PC, I got a lot of stuttering and jumping about from my mouse pointer. Given how uncomfortable the shortness of the mouse felt in my hand, I quickly returned to my trusty Kone Pure.

The BlackWidow Lite Silent, on the other hand, is probably my favorite keyboard right now. Razer has been building its own bespoke mechanical switches for a while, and this keyboard has the company’s orange “silent” switches. By default, they’re nowhere near silent, but Razer provides orange rubber dampeners that you can attach to each key to deaden its sound. My preference is for the keyboard without the rubber rings, as it strikes the right balance between the snap and responsiveness of a mechanical keyboard and the discreetness of a membrane one.

With or without the dampeners, the BlackWidow Lite Silent click is significantly dampened relative to the usual sound of a mechanical keyboard in action. When I press a key in, there’s resistance through the entire key travel, as if pushing it into a liquid. There’s a less defined “bottom” to a key press, certainly no bounce back, and I really enjoy that for typing. It’s not the best choice for gaming, but I think with a bit of practice, it’ll be fine.

At its lowest setting, the keyboard’s backlight is almost imperceptible.
At its lowest setting, the keyboard’s backlight is almost imperceptible.

Besides its good looks and the nice feel of typing on it, this keyboard has charmed me with its backlight. It’s white to keep with the Stormtrooper theme, and it goes from super bright to a level so low that the keyboard appears to have no backlight turned on at all. I have been waiting my entire life, it feels, for a keyboard backlight subtle enough to seem like it’s not there. Each key is individually backlit, and the whole thing just looks ridiculously classy.

The only bit of color that Razer indulges in is for the Caps Lock key activation, lit up in its signature green.
The only bit of color that Razer indulges in is for the Caps Lock key activation, lit up in its signature green.

The Goliathus mat measures 90 centimeters / 35.4 inches across, and that’s the only size I use anymore. With a tenkeyless keyboard such as the BlackWidow Lite, this mat perfectly accommodates my keyboard, mouse, and smartphone. It’s got a soft and quite lovely cloth surface, a non-slip rubber bottom, and a stitched periphery to prevent fraying. It’s a good mat. If I could change anything about it, I would get rid of the chunky “STORM TROOPER” lettering at the bottom, which, whether I like it or not, I have to read a few dozen times each day. It just isn’t unnecessary when the five uniformed soldiers above it are pretty unmistakable in their appearance.

My recommendation with this Stormtrooper Razer set should be obvious. The BlackWidow Lite Silent is absolutely worth the money, and I’d pay the $10 premium over the generic black version for its cosmetics. The Atheris mouse is to be avoided. (You can just replace it with some other Razer mouse that comes in white, such as the Lancehead.) The Goliathus gaming mat doesn’t have any price premium to it, so if you’re in need of one and like the look of the Star Wars edition, go right ahead.

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Photo by Vlad Savov

Photography by Vlad Savov / The Verge

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