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Razer Key Light Chroma

Razer Key Light Chroma review: "An excellent light let down by poor software and connections"

(Image: © Future/Alex Berry)

Our Verdict

A good quality light but one that's badly let down by poor software and connectivity

For

  • Incredibly bright
  • Strong RGB colours
  • Quality build

Against

  • Awkward initial setup
  • Weak native software
  • No Stream Deck support

There’s a new studio light in town and this time it’s not in Elgato’s range. Razer is joining the streaming setup game with their offering, the originally named Razer Key Light Chroma. A familiar-looking rounded-rectangle LED light, this one has a typically Razer trick up its sleeve: RGB. Obviously.

There’s a tough fight ahead though, with a number of high-quality lighting options already vying for a spot in every streaming for gamers set up and in the race to outdo the best ring lights too. So the question is, will a splash of colour be enough to give Razer the upper hand?

Razer Key Light Chroma

(Image credit: Future/Alex Berry)

Design & features

Razer has got a lot right with the build of the Key Light Chroma, even the way it's packaged feels premium. It’s a shift away from the usual glossy black and green boxes to a more understated plain printed cardboard, but it’s cleverly arranged and everything has a neat compartment. 

This quality continues to the Key Light Chroma itself, the metal backplate is a premium choice and helps give the entire unit a professional edge. Measuring in slightly larger than Elgato’s full-size Key Light and more than 6 times larger than the excellent Elgato Key Light Mini, there’s a lot of panel here. It’s not bulky though, just under 4cm at its thickest point and, cleverly, there are no buttons or cable inputs on the back so it’ll happily sit flush against a wall without compromise. 

The included mount and desk clamp is sturdy, which is reassuring because the Key Light Chroma is surprisingly heavy. The clamping mechanism also lets you disengage the handle from turning the screw, allowing you to tighten in small spaces which is a very useful touch. It’s worth noting however the clamp will need at least 15cm of clearance under the worktop which may cause problems for the likes of the best gaming desks that have cable management trays.

Razer Key Light Chroma

(Image credit: Future/Alex Berry)

Performance

As a studio light, Razer’s Key Light Chroma is a strong option and stacks up well against competitors. The 2,800 lumens of power on offer is more than you’ll ever need and I never found myself using more than about 45% brightness. The total power does take a hit when using the RGB function, however, with the app limiting output to 15% "to guarantee the optimal visibility of each effect". 

The Key Light delivers a wide colour temperature range with step-less transitions from 4000 to 7000K, giving plenty of control for proper white balancing in different conditions. With the backlight off, the Razer Key Light Chroma’s RGB options are surprisingly saturated and do still throw an impressive amount of colour. The full rainbow is available with a handful of basic effects by default plus more detailed effect control is available in the Razer Synapse desktop app. 

Integrating the Razer Key Light Chroma into my setup was a frustrating experience. The hardware is excellent, but Razer has completely dropped the ball with software and connections. Trying to get Razer’s own Synapse software to recognise and add the Key Light took nearly 40 minutes and once I did finally get things talking, I was disappointed by the options available. Synapse itself is limited, there’s no way to use an Elgato Stream Deck, and no way to trigger actions with global hotkeys. For a product targeting streamers, this is a huge miss.

Razer Key Light Chroma

The left side is two Elgato Key Light Airs on either side of me and the right side is the Razer Key Light Chroma. Both lights were set to their warmest temperature and both at 30% brightness in an otherwise lightless room. (Image credit: Future/Alex Berry)

Colour is what sets Razer’s Key Light apart from other options but needing to click around in Synapse in order to change anything makes this feature almost pointless for streamers. There’s no simple way to switch colours or effects on the fly and no way to have the light fully interact with Twitch alerts. For someone in the middle of a game or celebrating a hype train, having to tab out to engage party mode just isn’t an option.

Even the Razer Streaming mobile app isn’t without faults. Adding the Key Light was far quicker and easier here, but the connection is patchy and I was often greeted by the sight of the app being unable to find my light for around 30 seconds each time I opened it. This isn’t an issue I’ve encountered with Elgato’s Control Centre app, so there’s certainly room for improvement.

Overall - Should you buy it?

The Razer Key Light has stacks of potential but it’s being badly let down by mediocre software and poor third-party connectivity. For creators not looking for interactivity and simply wanting a 'set and forget' option, the Key Light Chroma is a good proposition that will do a fine job of lighting a scene, and it also really boosts the suite of Razer streaming going right now.

But at nearly twice the price of Elgato’s Key Light and with its only unique feature, the RGB Chroma Effects, rendered near useless by poor software, it’s hard to fully recommend the Razer Key light as the best option for most streamers.

It’s an easily remedied situation though, more robust software and proper integration with other apps would quickly propel Razer’s offering to the front.

How we tested the Razer Key Light Chroma

I added the Razer Key Light to my stream setup and attempted to use it as both a primary light for my facecam and a secondary effects light, as well as some specific testing. In both instances, the Key Light was mounted using Razer’s supplied desk clamp and telescopic arm.

As a primary light, it replaced an Elgato Key Light Air and was used with the chroma function off, using the Razer Synapse software for brightness and power control. Attempting (and failing) to use the Key Light as an effects light, I ran it with the chroma function on and light panel off and tried both the Synapse desktop app and Razer Streaming mobile app.

Complete your streaming setup with one of the best capture cards, the best microphones for streaming, and the best webcams.

The Verdict
3

3 out of 5

Razer Key Light Chroma

A good quality light but one that's badly let down by poor software and connectivity

More info

Available platformsTech, PC
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Alex is a streamer who has been creating gaming content for over a decade, streaming on Twitch regularly across the last five years. With a degree in film and a background in sports media, you'll find him jumping between 60,000 seat stadiums and his Animal Crossing island (where he's growing pears, in case you were wondering).