Razer Diamondback (2015) review

Razer's revival of a classic mouse lacks the original's bite

Razer's new Diamondback takes a step down on design and a step up on price, making it a poor value.
Razer's new Diamondback takes a step down on design and a step up on price, making it a poor value.
Razer's new Diamondback takes a step down on design and a step up on price, making it a poor value.

Highs

  • Excellent materials
  • The best Chroma lighting setup yet

Lows

  • Ergonomics have changed, for the worse
  • Ambidextrous design undercut by poor button placement
  • Overpriced

DT Editors' Rating

Razer, inarguably the most popular company in the specialized arena of PC gaming accessories, is now 17 years old. The company now has enough history that it can grab the diamonds of its back catalog, and it’s now re-introduced one of its most brilliant gems.

The original Diamondback was a gaming mouse designed to be pleasingly ambidextrous, and it was hugely influential. Its finger-friendly primary buttons and high arched body have made their way into the standard design of almost every gaming mouse since. For the big comeback, Razer has subtly altered the styling and materials and grafted on the company’s best laser sensor, but kept the basic shape the same. Is that enough to warrant its $90 price tag?

A classic re-hatched

The Diamondback is an ambidextrous mouse, with its dimensions mirrored right down the middle. Huge primary left and right buttons straddle a relatively large scroll wheel with a comfy rubbery texture, like a tiny four-by-four tire with lighting effects on either side. Unlike Razer’s more recent designs, such as the Deathadder, the buttons are completely separated from the body. On both the left and right sides you’ll find two thumb buttons that are right at home, with melee and grenade designations for most shooters, no matter which thumb you happen to be using. These have been slightly altered from the original Diamondback, making them longer and thinner.

The most striking change from the old mouse is the difference in materials. Razer has swapped out the smooth and soft-touch plastics for a grippy alternative, which makes it easier to hold the mouse in a variety of grip styles. That’s a welcome change, but trading the admittedly ugly “bumpers” on the side of the old Diamondback for a slimmer, less obtrusive LED strip is not, for reasons I’ll touch on later.

Underneath both thumb buttons is a strip of textured rubber, the better to grip with either pinky. The mouse is topped off with Razer’s triple snake logo on the palm area, which glows with the same Chroma lighting as the mouse wheel, and the LED strip running around the side.

Notably, the new Diamondback omits dedicated DPI buttons, making it more like the Deathadder and less like the wired Mamba Tournament Edition (which costs an identical $90). You can program two of the side buttons to be DPI switches, but that presents some serious ergonomic issues.

In-game letdown

I have fond memories of playing Team Fortress 2 with the 2007 edition of the Diamondback, and I have to say — the more modern interpretation is a step backward. The mouse feels skinny and flimsy, lacking the meaty curves of the Deathadder and Mamba models, leaving small bits of thumb and pinky to drag along the mousepad. The new LED strip is probably to blame. While the older Diamondback had a big spongy bumper of soft plastic around everything except the top area, the new one has nothing substantial to hold on to.

Quality materials and construction freshen up the old design.

As a result, I had to modify my usual grip to a sort of half-hearted claw, bringing down my speed and accuracy in both shooters and more forgiving third-person action games. I found my pinky often grazed the opposite thumb buttons, often causing an unwanted grenade toss (or a “back” command in the browser). I would have preferred to map these buttons to DPI up and down to make for some on-the-fly sniping, but ended up disabling both of them in Razer’s Synapse software.

As I’ve mentioned in my reviews of the Mamba 2015 and Mamba Tournament Edition, Razer’s 16,000 DPI sensor is impressive but mostly useless. I never found any situation where setting the sensor above 9,000 felt sensible.

Software and lighting

Like most recent Razer designs, the Diamondback manages to avoid total over-the-top garishness, instead looking like a stealth fighter that’s been inexplicably equipped with a lighting kit. In Synapse you can make the mouse wheel, Razer logo, and edge lighting strip as fanciful or as stoic as you like, choosing between a handful of effects or creating your own in the Chroma section. Other Razer gear can be synced up for most effects, and if you’re like me and prefer that your desktop not look like a rave, you can turn it off.

Oddly, the multiple multi-color LEDs on the Diamondback have much smoother transitions than some of Razer’s other Chroma-equipped mice. Despite its heritage, the current Diamondback is a newer design than the Chroma-equipped Deathadder and Mamba. Perhaps Razer is refining its manufacturing.

Synapse hasn’t changed much in recent years. While I still abhor the removal of the ability to save button layouts to device memory, and the unavoidable requirement of a Razer login, I do appreciate the ability to program nearly endless commands and macros.

Conclusion

$90 is a lot to ask for a mouse, and it’s even more to ask if your company offers similar mice with an identical price tag and more features. That’s the case with the Diamondback, which compares poorly to Razer’s own Mamba Tournament Edition. The Mamba has an identical sensor and Chroma lighting, but ditches the ambidextrous design and moves the secondary thumb buttons on top of the case to function as dedicated DPI switches. If you’re right-handed, or simply use your computer that way, the Mamba is an obvious choice.

And if you prefer to game as a southpaw? Then I’d recommend picking up the old Deathadder left-handed edition for just $60. You’ll lose the multi-colored lighting and the extra thumb buttons, but as I mentioned above, they’re not all that useful anyway. That’s without mentioning admirable ambidextrous options from SteelSeries, Roccat, and Logitech, all of which can be had for considerably less money. Between the altered ergonomics and high price, the new Diamondback just can’t stand up to its own legacy.

Highs

  • Excellent materials
  • The best Chroma lighting setup yet

Lows

  • Ergonomics have changed, for the worse
  • Ambidextrous design undercut by poor button placement
  • Overpriced
Product Review

Canon democratizes full-frame with the EOS RP, but keep your expectations low

At just $1,300, the RP is Canon's least expensive full-frame camera yet, but it was born into a world of high-end, high-cost lenses where it doesn't yet feel at home.
Computing

Keep your portable computer safe and shiny with the best laptop bags for 2019

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Gaming

Razer Game Store to shut down at end of February, less than a year after opening

The Razer Game Store will shut down on February 28, less than a year after it opened. Games purchased from the digital store will continue to work, but purchased keys will need to be used before its closure.
Gaming

Wage war on a budget with these fun and free first-person shooters

We all know about Halo and Call of Duty by now, but what about quality titles that won't cost you upward of $60? Check out our picks for the best free first-person shooter games from Paladins to Quake Champions.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Mobile

Need speed? Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon X55, the world’s fastest 5G modem

Qualcomm is preparing for an even faster future: The silicon giant just unveiled a second generation 5G modem for smartphones, promising blistering download speeds as high as 7Gbps.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Mobile

Barbie’s Corvette ain’t got nothing on Sphero’s fully programmable robot car

Sphero is known for devices like the Sphero Bolt and BB-8 Star Wars toy, but now the company is back with another addition to its lineup -- the Sphero RVR. The RVR is a fully programmable robot car that can be expanding with different…
Photography

Luminar’s libraries gain speed, drop need for you to manually import images

Luminar 3 just got a performance boost. Skylum Luminar 3.0.2 has improved speed over December's update, which added the long-promised libraries feature giving editors a Lightroom alternative.
Computing

Like to be brand loyal? These tech titans make some of our favorite laptops

If you want to buy your next laptop based around a specific brand, it helps to know which the best brands of laptops are. This list will give you a good grounding in the most reliable, quality laptop manufacturers today.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Computing

Microsoft extension adds Google Chrome support for Windows Timeline

The Windows Timeline feature is now much more versatile thanks to the added support for Google's Chrome browser. All you need to do to increase its functionality is to download the official Chrome extension.
Computing

Google Earth spills the beans, reveals Taiwan’s secret military bases

Google Earth 3D Maps has spilled the beans on Taiwan's deepest secrets. The locations available in full three-dimensional detail include a facility which houses Patriot missiles and the country's National Security Bureau.