PC gaming has long been a fast-paced hobby, with twitch shooters like Doom and Quake dominating early computer spaces. A good mouse is necessary for success in these sorts of games, and higher-than-normal DPIs is a must for high-level play.
Those aren’t necessarily the settings one would desire for normal computer usage, so what if you had a mouse that could switch between the two on the fly? If you’re willing to sacrifice some high-end features for a better price, Razer has the mouse for you.
The Razer Basilisk Essential is a mouse built for gamers, by gamers, as Razer would say. It comes packing five successive DPI settings you can cycle through at the press of a button just below the scroll wheel, letting you customize your mouse speed and sensitivity on the fly. They range from 800 to 6400 DPI, and the specific values and number of stages can be customized in Razer Synapse 3. While this isn’t the highest DPI you can find, for a budget-priced device, it exceeded most, if not all, of my expectations.
If you need improved accuracy right away, a paddle on the side of the mouse easily reachable by your thumb will set your mouse to the lowest DPI while held. This feature, kind of like holding the Shift key in a SHMUP to move slowly, is very useful when you need to steady your aim and not overcorrect. If you don’t think you need it, you can remove the paddle and replace it with a small cover that the mouse comes with. This paddle’s function, along with that of every other button, is fully customizable.
The mouse itself is a fairly comfortable right-hand model, sporting a medium weight, an inward-curved area for the thumb to rest, and small bumps on both sides to improve grip and comfort. The scroll wheel has more pronounced bumps, though as CGMagazine writer Alex Handziuk notes in his review of the Razer Deathadder Elite, the rigid texture can press into your fingers and cause soreness after extended use. The two primary mouse buttons seem to click well and have noticeably different sounds. There are also two thin buttons above the thumb nook that are set to “next” and “previous” in browsers by default. While your thumb and fingers should be safely away from these buttons normally, I’ve clicked these by accident a few times during periods where I wasn’t paying attention to my hand position.
Even at a lower price point, the Basilisk is designed with quality in mind. Out of the box, it has a braided cord and a cap on the USB. Chroma Studio is a shared feature with other Razer devices and offers in-depth colour customization to those who want it, but you stop seeing the mouse’s light once you start using it, so it’s not a distraction. You can customize the brightness and colours in Synapse, and you can calibrate the mouse mat surface as well.
Finally, there’s the all-important price point. The Basilisk Essential runs for $69.99 CAN on Razer’s official website, $25 less than the regular Basilisk. The regular model has one additional button, a 16,000 DPI cap, a higher maximum movement speed, hybrid on-board and cloud storage, an extra clutch paddle size, and about 10 more grams of weight. For the same $94.99 CAN price, you could also get the aforementioned Deathadder Elite, which trades in the extra button for extra-high quality mouse switches and basic Xbox One input. In comparison, the Essential is just that: the essentials of a good mouse at a good price point, more versatile than a normal mouse but not as powerful as the top end of the range. To that end, it’s best to buy a Basilisk Essential if you plan on using it for things other than just gaming—and if you’re not always playing to win.
The Basilisk is a good middle-range mouse that can give you the edge during fast-paced firefights and regular-paced web browsing. The active DPI switching will let you improve your accuracy with practice, and the Basilisk feels good to use. The bells and whistles are nice, and the degree of customization offered makes this a valuable mouse for a semi-hardcore gamer to have.