Razer Stream Controller X review: "An impressive sidekick"

Razer Stream Controller X with the reviewer's hand pressing one of its keys
(Image: © Alex Berry)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The Razer Stream Controller X is a big improvement on the brand's original Stream Controller and is an impressive sidekick for the Razer content creation ecosystem.

Pros

  • +

    Compact overall footprint

  • +

    Secure, non-slip stand

  • +

    Impressively sharp button screens

  • +

    Strong native integrations

Cons

  • -

    The software can be finicky

  • -

    Buttons are allocated to paging

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Razer has slowly but surely been beefing up its offering of some of the best gear for streamers over the last couple of years. To complement the likes of the Key Light Chroma, Seiren mic, and Blue Screen there’s now a new member of the family, the Razer Stream Controller X. A $149.99/£149.99 macro pad to help you get more done, on and off stream.

This isn’t a new area for Razer, of course, last summer saw the arrival of the original Razer Stream Controller. That was nothing more than a rebadged Loupedeck Live though and felt like a lazy addition to the range that never quite hit the spot. The X variant however is all-new, it’s Razer from the ground up and looking to go toe-to-toe with the Elgato Stream Deck for streamer sidekick supremacy.

Design and Features

If imitation is the most sincere form of flattery then Elgato must be blushing from head to toe. Anyone that’s ever looked at the Stream Deck, or indeed the Stream Deck + before will find the Razer Stream Controller X eerily familiar. And upon further inspection, it’s more than eerily familiar, it’s practically identical.

You almost have to respect the audacity of it, not only is Razer looking to jump in the ring with Mike Tyson - they’ve turned up to the weigh-in with the same bizarre face tattoo while talking about adopting a pet tiger.

Razer Stream Controller X next to the Elgato Stream Deck

(Image credit: Alex Berry)

I’ve called the Stream Deck a “must-have for streamers” in the past and you’ll find them along with the likes of the best capture cards in setups of content creators around the world, so clearly it’s a winning blueprint. Razer has followed the instructions to a tee as like with Elgato’s pad you’ve got access to 15 keys across three rows, each with its own customizable LCD screen. 

The Razer Stream Controller X runs a little smaller than a Stream Deck thanks to a smaller bezel, however, the square keys themselves are the same size across both at around 16mm. Razer hasn’t published the actual resolution of the LCD screens behind each key though they appear sharper with less harsh edges than the ones on a Stream Deck. The backlight is punchy enough without being distracting in dark rooms and the colors are as vibrant as you need them to be, they’re buttons and not one of the best gaming TVs after all.

Razer Stream Controller X from the side while sat on a desk

(Image credit: Alex Berry)

While everything feels suitably premium for a Razer product, it’s a shame to find an all-plastic body on the Stream Controller X. A metal faceplate would have been welcome given the $149.99/£149.99 price point, however, the plain black plastic faceplate does pop off which hints at customizable options down the line so I’ll give Razer the benefit of the doubt for now.

One real strength of the Razer Stream Controller X is the stand. Compared to the flimsy plastic bar of the original Stream Controller, this one is beefy and noticeably sturdy. It’s a fixed viewing angle but sits just right for me, or you can pop it off with a satisfying magnetic click and lay it (nearly) flat on your desk. The base is one giant friction pad that does an almost unbelievable job at keeping the Stream Controller X in place. I actually checked to see if I’d missed something and this was a single-use 3M pad, it’s not by the way. No matter how hard I tried, even from off-centre, the X never shifted. It takes a concerted effort to pick it up and move - great stuff.

Performance

Razer Stream Controller X hero image with some red lighting in the right hand side

(Image credit: Alex Berry)

I’ve been streaming consistently with a MK1 Elgato Stream Deck for probably five years so using a device like this is second nature at this point. While testing the Stream Controller X, I swapped out my Stream Deck and tried to recreate the experience. I put it through its paces primarily as a tool for Twitch streaming but also for some general PC tasks and editing shortcuts.

Once again the Razer Stream Controller X is powered by Loupedeck’s software, just like the earlier Stream Controller. It’s not quite as simple to use as Elgato’s solution and the interface is noticeably busier and less user friendly. It feels aimed at a techier crowd so the learning curve is a little longer and steeper, but once you’re warmed up it’s easy enough to integrate into your existing setup.

All the expected integrations with the likes of OBS and Twitch are here but where Loupedeck’s marketplace is particularly strong is native integrations with the Adobe Suite, perfect for content creators with heavy editing workloads. There’s also a handful of preconfigured pages and profiles for certain apps which is a nice touch, even if only as a jumping-off point to tailor it to your setup. If you’re looking at the Stream Controller X because you’re deep in the Razer ecosystem already you’ll find better integration here with the brand's gear like the Razer Kiyo Pro Ultra, or its other best webcams for that matter - than with a Stream Deck. Unsurprisingly though, there's no way to control Elgato products, for obvious reasons.

Razer Stream Controller X separated into its three components

(Image credit: Alex Berry)

While in theory, you have 15 buttons to customize, in practice it’s 13 or 14 as the corners are allocated to navigating between pages of commands if you have them set up. It’s a strange choice, an unnecessary self-nerf when Elgato has proven a folder system works perfectly well. I’m all for suggesting a user allocates some buttons to paging, hey, even set that as the default, but don’t force them to give up buttons that could be used in other ways if they prefer.

Unlike the original Stream Controller which offered haptic feedback from touchscreen buttons, the X sees switchblade buttons that have a physical press. These bring a pleasantly tactile bump that allows for no-look interaction, a major area I missed with the Stream Controller, but in testing, I did find the Stream Controller X suffered from some missed presses. There’s a certain amount of rock to the buttons, allowing you to feel that bump-click with just one side of the button pushing down. On most occasions, this side press triggered the action but in some instances, I felt the same bump with no result. This was particularly an issue when trying to press multiple buttons in quick succession so may be more of a hangup on the software or data flow side, but it was annoying either way.

Should you buy the Razer Stream Controller X?

Ignoring those occasional missed presses, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the Razer Stream Controller X. In fact, if Elgato’s Stream Deck didn’t exist I think I’d feel better about Razer’s version. From a hardware standpoint, it’s great thanks to its strong build quality and super steady stand. Ultimately though, it’s once again that Loupedeck software that holds it back.

However, if you’re deep in the Razer streaming gear ecosystem and don’t mind the (albeit minor) drawbacks of the software, the Stream Controller X will certainly prove a helpful addition to your workstation. If you’re here because you can’t decide between a Stream Deck or a Stream Controller X though, I’d go with Elgato - just.

How we tested the Razer Stream Controller X

I swapped out an Elgato Stream Deck and replaced it with the Razer Stream Controller X for a couple of weeks. I tried to replicate my existing uses via the Loupedeck software to help control my Twitch stream, some basic desktop actions, and video editing. 

If you'd like to read more about the ways we tested the Razer Stream Controller X, take a look at our Hardware Policy.


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More info

Available platformsHardware, PC
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Alex Berry

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).