Fresh off our Logitech G510 review, we got a double combo for you guys right here. Today we’ll be serving up the Marauder gaming keyboard and Spectre gaming mouse, which just like the Banshee (see review), are designed exclusively for Starcraft II play. So let’s get the vespene gas pumping and see what these two devices are made of and as usual, let’s make this showy!
Just a few weeks ago, Razer sent us the Banshee gaming headset (part of their Starcraft II line of gaming peripherals) for review. I gave high praises for the Banshee due to its great performance with price and its sheer size weighing it down in my ratings. I’ve also mentioned that I’d be doing a Starcraft II experience review when I get the chance to play around with the three (Marauder, Spectre, Banshee) and looks like we got our wish.
Getting right down to our review, we have here the Marauder gaming keyboard and Spectre gaming mouse from Razer licensed by Blizzard as THE keyboard, mouse and headset for EXCLUSIVE use with Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty. So let’s start things off with the Marauder and check this baby out.
Here we have the Marauder keyboard. It’s shorter than your average vanilla keyboard in length but depth-wise, it is a tad bit bigger. You can clearly see that because the box has windows on the right side showing you a peek inside. Going back to what’s printed on it, you can see a large picture of the Marauder all lit up. The Starcraft II logo is in-between the upper and lower slit at the right side.
Going to the back we get all kinds of marketing text. The main highlight here is key features of the keyboard. Allow me to type those in (when I say type I mean literally type them in here exactly from the box):
- Full Keyboard Layout with integrated number pad keys “ Ok, this confuses me. A full keyboard should have the page navigation and number pad separate. That’s a full keyboard for me.
- Reduced desktop footprint “ Yeah, merging the keypad and navigation keys together should really reduce the amount of space the keyboard takes up.
- Action Per Minute Lighting System “ back when I was testing the Banshee, I couldn’t see what this did so hopefully this keyboard would really show me what this is all about
- Laser etched keys “ Because printed keys are for pussies
- Optimized key travel & spacing “ travel is the distance between keys, a nice keyboard with great travel decreases the chances of the user having to glance at his keys to check if he’s touching the right ones based off the home keys
- Ultrapolling (1000hz Polling/1ms reponse) “ this means that the keyboard sends data to and from the computer at 1000hz or 1000 times per second. In layman terms, it doesn’t lag.
- Braided 7 foot USB cable “ judging from past Razer backlit keyboards, I’m pretty sure this is a dual-headed type and is very thick (which is good in my opinion)
Right below that is the same thing only translated into 14 different languages. Checking out the upper right side are some highlights that been mentioned before with the exception of the On-the-Fly Macro Recording which we’ll get into later.
The long sides of the box feature the same marketing stuff so let’s skip that part. The upper long side has the system requirements as well as the package content listing, copyright and a symbol stating this is a US layout keyboard. And yes it says retail packaging so yeah, this is the box-art you’d be looking for when you’re out there looking for this one.
- PC/Mac with built-in USB ports
- Windows® 7 / Windows Vista® / Windows® XP
- Mac OS X (v10.5.8 to 10.6)
- Internet connection (for driver installation)
- 35MB of free hard disk space
The short sides are both labelled with the Marauder’s catchphrase œArmored Assault.
Removing the external packaging, we see the Marauder inside protected by blister packaging and a cardboard enclosure.
Taking the keyboard out, we get to see the included manual and guide as well as a couple of Razer logo stickers.
Razer Marauder – Unboxed
So moving on to the product itself, the Marauder keyboard is a bit on the compact side. Its clad in Terran styling, matte silver with keys that stick-out more than usual hence the extra-height bill on the packaging.
Checking underneath we have 4 wide rubber feet and 2 heightening stands. For the sake of testing, I placed the keyboard on top of my office desk which has a very slippery glass surface. Sad to say it can barely keep still.
Onto the USB cable, its 7 feet long (2.1meters) and is braided in fiber. Its got some heft to it because its capped off by a dual-head USB plug. The Marauder requires 2 USB ports to function properly; one to operate and the other for extra voltage to power the lighting system. The USB plugs are gold plated for clean conduction.
Firing off the Marauder, we now see it in its fully glowing glory. Pretty bright and plenty of colors to choose from also. To give you an idea of how bright this is, in a totally dark room this will illuminate anything within 6-10 inches depending on the colour tone you pick; white being the brightest and black shutting off the lights.
Moving on to the Spectre,we get another nifty box with all the Starcraft II styling going on. Front and centre we get to see the rodent with its Terran-themed body. The packaging is pretty similar with the Banshee with the blister pack protecting the mouse and the cardboard holding everything in place.
The side of the box shows us some info which we’ve already seen in the Marauder so let’s just get to the back.
We should all now be familiar with the packaging template featured in the back of this box because it’s the same as the Banshee’s and Marauder’s. Highlighted are its key features in bullets and an image of the mouse lit up with its features pointed out.
Again, the features:
- Lightweight, Fingertip Grip 5-Button Mouse “ Lightweight is not a word I would like to see in a mouse at this pricepoint
- 5600DPI 3.5 G Laser Sensor “ time to whip out my other mousemat because the one I’m using has a bad history with laser-eyed rodents
- Ultrapolling (1000hz Polling/1ms reponse) “yeah, doesn’t lag either hopefully
- Actions Per Minute Lighting System “ woohoo more lights
- Button Force Adjustment“ I have no idea what this does, we’ll know later of course
- 200 inches per second and 50g of acceleration “ that’s œthis mouse is fast in technical terms
- Braided 7 foot cable
And beneath that are the translations in 4 different languages: Simplified and Traditional Chinese, Korean and Japanese.
The bottom side of the box has the system requirements which are the same as the Marauder. The top has the catchphrase œTactical Precision. We’ll see¦
Razer Spectre – Unboxed
Still the same as its line-up brethren, the package includes the Spectre, a pair of guides and also a pair of those stickers with the Razer logo. Also like the Banshee, the blue backing of the box holds this underneath a flap beneath the Starcraft II logo.
So here we have the Razer Spectre gaming mouse. Clad in a flat metallic silver body and a matte black lower half, the front has a plunging taper to it and an industrial curvature going from the middle down the front side.
Underneath we have the laser sensor for this mouse. Laser-equipped are much more sensitive and faster than they’re optical counterparts and can work on glossy surfaces. They also put a premium for it. Going back to what we have underneath, other than the laser sensor and underglow lighting there’s also the Button Force Adjustment switch. This is to control the amount of force required to actuate the left-click button and cause it to respond.
At the left side we have 2 extra buttons and we can also see the sidestrip lighting.
This rodent’s tail is 7-feet long, braided but is thinner than the Marauder’s or Banshee’s. Capping the USB cable is a gold plated plug.
Lighting this baby up, we get the same lighting effects as its buddies, the Marauder and Banshee. Kinda felt a bit short on the lights here since they can really go for a whole underglow surrounding the mouse but that’s just me wanting more.
Performance, Comfort and Functionality
We’ll be breaking convention for this one seeing as all these are enthusiast-targeted peripherals marketed to the Starcraft II playing crowd and we’re gonna base our review on how these peripherals affect our Starcraft II gaming experience. Joining in this is the Banshee. So let’s see how these babies perform in the game they were made for.
First up the Marauder, for a pretty compact keyboard it’s got pretty fat keys. And it is friggin’ bright. It pretty much lit up the little corner where my rig is when all the lights in the room were off. Going back to the keys, they’re quite tall and protrude more than the G510 and a bit for the Anansi. They’re covered in rubber and have a nice texture to them. You’d actually think they’re floating on the main body since the entire surface beneath the keys is lit.
The layout fuses the navigation keys and number pad into one area and a Fn key modifier enables the extra functions on the keyboard such as media keys. This won’t be a problem if you’re using this strictly for Starcraft II but for general all-day use; you’ll be a bit shorthanded without the number pad active at some time.
In actual play, the Marauder feels just like any other keyboard. Those who go by the Standard hotkey predef would find nothing really lacking with the Marauder. The Macro keys might take a bit of getting used to and also take away available keys but that doesn’t do much damage to the Marauder’s functionality. Comfort-wise, Starcraft II is one fast game, and we’re not gonna argue about RSI issues here. A wrist-rest would’ve helped though.
UPDATE 4/14/2011: After screwing around further and checking out the Razer site, the Marauder suffers from a lighting behavior issue. I’ve encountered this recently and Razer has released a firmware update (1.02) along with a driver update to fix the issue. As of this writing, our Marauder’s lights are behaving nicely.
So let’s move on to the Spectre. Out of the box, this mouse is wickedly shakey. Fiddling with the setting, I found a combination I’m comfortable with and stuck with it. I set the thumb-keys to control the sensitivity and I’m set.
This rodent has a bad habit of swaying to the left whenever I do a left-click. This pissed me to no end when I can’t choose THAT specific Drone, SCV or Probe. I dropped the Windows mouse sensitivity and found a nice balance. I also set aside my carbon mouse mat and used an August 2005 copy of PC World Magazine as my mousing surface. That seemed to have worked.
UPDATE 4/14/2011: We were finally able to subdue the jitter of the Spectre by lowering the Windows Mouse sensitivity to 2-3 notches and sticking to a DPI setting we’re comfortable with. This has effectively reduced the cursor jitter during clicking to zero and has stabilized the rodent.
So in-game, the ability to choose the right sensitivity is quite handy. The option to adjust the click force is quite helpful but I found the mid setting almost indifferent from high so that could’ve just been left out. Razer describes this mouse as fingertip-grip, and they’re right. The butt of the mouse isn’t that comfortable to grip and using the thumb buttons in this position might bea bit hard, but it’s easier to use the Spectre this way but I digress. Pick your poison, they say.
The Spectre’s macro function is tied to the Trifecta software and you can’t really do any mouse macro recording without it. So you have to pre-record your actions beforehand.
Last off is the Banshee, sounds great and can easily handle the 128-voice option in Starcraft II. This is the part of the set that’s really the easiest to appreciate. Its sounds great and it looks great. Nuff said. Check my previous review for more details. This is one great piece of audio hardware.
Ok so the big question everyone has in their mind right now is why buy these? Simple really: Starcraft II is a massive franchise with a loyal following willing to shell-out for its merchandise. As a model kit hobbyist and PC parts enthusiast, there’s that something in our soul that really cries out for that extra swag. That stuff that makes us feel bigger, badder and better than the other guy. Be it a shirt, cap, a brand-spanking new liquid cooling system, the latest processor or the most powerful graphics solution in the market, it’s about having that something that will only really pacify our cravings.
So, if you’re a typical gamer or just someone on the lookout for a new gaming keyboard, the Marauder, Spectre or Banshee isn’t really for you BUT if you’re a Starcraft II pro or fan, or you’re a case-modder going for a Starcraft II Terran theme then this set is for you. They will not slap the Starcraft II branding on these babies if these were meant for Modern Warfare 2 or Bad Company, these are not your off-the-rack do everything peripherals. These are Starcraft II first, everything else later equipment.
If you’ve got the budget and you’re really into Starcraft II, I recommend these equipment. Some might say they’re overpriced but I’ll be an elitist right now and say if you ain’t got the cash, then look elsewhere. They won’t turn you into The Emperor, but knowing he uses these might make you feel a bit better. These are strictly gaming bling for the Starcraft II-inclined enthusiast looking to add some swag into their play.