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Razer Basilisk Essential Gaming Mouse Review

Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: Razer

Razer is never one to shy away from reinventing and refreshing its products. Every year or two, we find ourselves receiving a new press release on a familiar item that’s been updated or made new again with a fresh feature or new design. Today’s review is exactly one such item with the Razer Basilisk Essential. The design of the original Basilisk proved to be quite popular amongst gamers. Today’s update takes that same shape and intriguing multi-function paddle and trims it down to the titular essentials, landing at just under the fifty-dollar price point.

Is it worth adding to your Amazon wishlist? Join us as we find out!

Specifications

  • Current Pricing: $49.99
  • Sensor: 6400 DPI Optical Sensor
  • Gaming Grade Tactile Scroll Wheel
  • Multi-function paddle (single length)
  • Razer Mechanical Switches
  • 20 Million Click Lifespan
  • 7 programmable buttons
  • Customizable backlit logo
  • Weight: 95g

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Starting, as always, with packaging, Razer is keeping to the mold here. We have the usual high-end product shot on the front and the specific feature highlights on the back. Inside, we see the first hints of the budget-oriented nature of the mouse in that it ships in a brown cardboard tray and styrofoam sleeve. This kind of packaging is perfectly fine, and transports the mouse safely, but it doesn’t offer the same kind of presentation found on some of Razer’s more expensive products.

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Continue reading our review of the Razer Basilisk Essential gaming mouse

Still, I was surprised to see the inclusion of a full paper manual. The first page also includes the usual congratulations letter from Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan. I was also happy to see that Razer included braiding on the USB cable. The packaging might not be as fancy, but the company included a lot of what gamers would expect to see coming into a new Razer product, which is great at this price point. The multi-function paddle also ships as a separate attachment, which I thought was interesting for such a key feature.

Taking a closer look, the first thing you’ll notice is that the Basilisk Essential is a larger mouse. In length and width, it’s almost identical to my Logitech MX Master 2S, though it’s not quite as tall. This makes it a great fit for palm, claw, or hybrid users but it may be too large for users that enjoy a fingertip grip. I’d still recommend getting your hands on one at a local store to try it for yourself as Razer has shaved off 12g from the original, breaking the 100g barrier. It feels very lightweight in the hand, so mass shouldn’t be an issue for any grip style.

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There are a total of four buttons on the top surface of the mouse, each of which are programmable via Razer’s Synapse 3 software suite. The small centermost button cycles through five DPI levels ranging from 800-6400 DPI by default and customizable in 100 DPI increments beginning at 200. The palm rest also features the illuminated Razer logo, which can be customized inside the software.

One important change in the Essential from the original Basilisk is that Razer has included a normal mouse wheel, sans the tensioner that was so neat on the original. That said, it was always the kind of feature you would set once and forget about, so its loss doesn’t feel particularly painful here. Still, it’s something to consider when deciding between the two models.

Looking along the left side, we find an additional three buttons - two, if you don’t use the paddle, but it’s hard to imagine anyone buying this mouse and not. This brings the total button count up to seven. The buttons are all easy to access, though I do wish the paddle was just a little longer so I didn’t have to consciously reach to press it. By default, it’s mapped as a “clutch” or sniper button, which lowers the sensitivity as long as it’s pressed. For shooters this is especially useful for keeping on target.

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Also, note the reptilian-like scale texturing. It’s a small touch, but on a mouse called the Basilisk it made me smile. The texture is pretty effective to boot! Do note, though, that the button placement and cut-in contouring on this side make this a right-handed mouse only. (Sorry lefties!)

The right side is simple and unadorned save a matching rubberized grip. Like the left side, the grip worked well to keep my hand in place, even when swapping to a fingertip grip.

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Flipping the mouse over, we see that it’s equipped with three large teflon feet that allow the mouse to glide very smoothly. More interesting is the optical sensor.

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In their quest to take the Basilisk back to basics, Razer has swapped out the Razer 5G 16,000 DPI sensor with one they describe simply as “True 6,400 optical sensor.” Are we dealing with an in-house sensor? A PixArt? I find the lack of clarity here a bit dismaying. That said, what really matters is how it performs.

I ran the mouse through a series of tests to cross-check the feature claims listed as selling points. First up, I headed to the Zowie Mouse Rate Checker which confirmed that the 1000Hz default and 500Hz alternative report rates were accurate. Next, I loaded up MouseTester to check the velocity of the mouse.

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I only tested four of the available DPI profiles. The lowest three — 800, 1800, and 3600 — are representative of common sensitivities with 6400 demonstrating the velocity at the maximum DPI/CPI. The tests show a maximum velocity of approximately 3.5 m/s, which is faster than any gamer will realistically use, while maintaining mostly accurate tracking.

One thing to note is that some accuracy is indeed lost when you begin extending into higher sensitivities. Particularly at 3600 DPI, I wasn’t able to achieve a single run without at least one far off track point (see the point at around 50ms). Some variance is to be expected on any mouse, but we are a little farther out than I would like. In practice, this isn’t something you’re likely to notice, but in an already crowded market it is certainly something to be aware of. At normal use speeds, forgiving the 50ms/3600 DPI outlier, tracking was very good.

Software

If you’ve ever used a Razer peripheral before, you’re probably already familiar with Razer Synapse. In fact, we’ve already written about it in the past, so you can read a more in-depth run-down here. What you need to know is that Synapse is your hub for a huge array of customization and programming options, each of which is presented through a user friendly interface.

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Inside the software, you’re able to customize each of the buttons to an array of optional functions. You can record a macro on your keyboard and tie it to any of the seven available buttons. The same is true of windows shortcuts, keyboard functions, and media controls. You can customize the multi-function paddle, removing the pre-programmed DPI shift and instead tying it to something else more fitting for your own needs, like activating Discord’s voice chat.

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If you’re willing to dedicate a key, you can also take advantage of Razer’s HyperShift function, which activates a second layer of commands so long as HyperShift is held (the paddle works beautifully for this). In shooters, you might keep left and right mouse buttons as ADS and fire and have them shift into grenade and melee when the paddle is held. In this case, layering with HyperShift can literally be For The Win.

In the performance tab, pictured above, you can customize the number and sensitivity of each of the DPI stages and the polling rate. Lighting and calibration round out the set, allowing you to choose from a handful of Chroma lighting effects and calibrate to a Razer mouse surface.

Usage Impressions and Conclusion

After spending a week with the Basilisk Essential, I’ve really grown to like the mouse. The shape feels great in my hybrid palm/claw grip and it’s reduced weight really makes it feel airy to move. I’m also not a competitive gamer, so I noticed absolutely none of the erratic tracking reports picked up in MouseTester. So what I was left with was a mouse that felt and performed good, whether I was playing a round of Battlefield V or kicking back Divinity: Original Sin 2.

At only $49.99, the mouse is tied for the cheapest in Razer’s catalog. Even so, it still feels simple and a bit expensive when compared with the rest of the market. As other mice come in at ridiculously high 16000 DPI resolutions, the 6400 on offer here feels downright old (even if 16000 is completely unusable in practice). What you’re really paying for, then, is the shape, paddle, weight, and software and only one of those is really married to this mouse in particular. The basic shape and weight aren’t uncommon and since the paddle doesn’t come in multiple lengths, it’s really just a seventh mouse button.

No, the decision on whether this mouse is “worth a buy,” will likely come down to whether or not you want a Razer mouse in particular. If you’re already using other peripherals from the company, the Basilisk Essential will seamlessly integrate with them, allowing you to coordinate your desktop lighting with ease. Or, if you simply want the multitude of easy customization options, Razer Synapse is one of the most refined and powerful software suites on the market today.

For my money, though, I’d save up the extra few dollars and buy the original Basilisk. It offers multiple options for paddle length, an extra DPI button that can be reprogrammed (eight buttons total), and better lighting for at most only $20 more (you’ll find it frequently on sale). If you need to keep your mouse purchase under $50, though, the Basilisk Essential is a solid budget option.

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