Razer is continuing to encroach on Elgato's stream hardware dominance with the release of its own Stream Controller. The reskinned Loupedeck gives streamers and creators a powerful tool to improve workflow, but is it worth the upgrade over the industry standard options?
- Price: $269.99 on Razer Website
- Interfact: 12 LCD haptic touch buttons; 2 side LCD screens; 6 multi-function tactile dials; 8 multi-function face buttons
- App support: Native plug-ins for content creation tools such as Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, Twitch, OBS, and more
- Dimensions: 151 x 101.5 x 20.3mm
- Connectivity: 2 meter USB-A to USB-C cable
At first glance, it's easy to see the Loupedeck influence. And it shouldn't be hard to miss: at its core, the Razer Stream Controller is, by all accounts, a reskinned Loupedeck Live. The company has been in the content creation tool game since 2016 and, by all accounts, knows exactly what it's doing.
However, it's inescapable to make comparisons to the market leader, Elgato, here. Stream Decks have adorned the desks of many, many content creators over the years (even mine), so it begs the question: does the Razer Stream Controller do enough to dethrone the Deck's place on the desk?
In many ways, yes.
Razer has stepped up its game in terms of trying to ensure a place on PC gaming desks not just in the headphones, mice, and pads we use, but with how we create content. In recent months we've seen Key Lights, an audio mixer, and more come from the California-based gaming giant, but the Stream Controller takes this fight head-on with one of the most recognizable items a streamer uses.
The Stream Controller packs 12 large LCD screen-equipped buttons on the face, flanked by two vertical LCD screens. Flanking the middle screens are 6 dials - three on each side - to give fine control over things such as volume, brightness settings, and much more. On the bottom are eight buttons that allow you to quickly turn the page on your screen, giving a new set of pre-programmed commands.
This extra set of control already sets it apart from the competition, as the Stream Deck simply uses the main face buttons for navigation, requiring you to either swap scenes in the app or through a command on the face itself, taking up a valuable button slot.
Controlling Your Content
Nothing really has changed since our initial review of the Loupedeck Live in 2020. The device itself provides such a mastery over granular control that it's a dream when scrubbing video timelines or adjusting tools in Photoshop versus just keyboard shortcuts. This device is made for audio and video creation and the ability to finely control programs like Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X out of the box sell this.
However, the partnership with Razer really leans into the streaming functionality of the Loupedeck Live software. While the original product can do all of this, Razer's Stream Controller is set up out of the box with a profile targeting game streamers. As such, two of the initially setup three pages are dominated by streaming controls: Twitch integration, OBS shortcuts, and a soundboard for media control.
Out of the box you can effectively launch OBS, plug this in and go, and for some that is perfect. However, the more I use the Razer Stream Controller, the more I want to granularly control my experience.
Razer's software isn't great by any means, so I was very happy to see that we're using Loupedeck's here. Though, I have to be honest, Elgato still has both beat on the ease of use front with their software. Loupedeck isn't outrageously complicated at first glance: you can drag preset commands over to one of the face buttons or knobs in the software, assigning the action to it. If you have an image you want to use for the button you can upload it, otherwise we simply see a name describing the action on the screen. The two vertical LCD screens tell what is programmed to the knob next to them. It's very easy to read what exactly the device is set up to do.
For someone like myself who has multiple audio sources for streaming, from a game, browser, music and chat audio source, being able to control each independently on the Stream Controller to fine-tune my audience mix was a much-appreciated touch over the Stream Deck's button adjustments.
I've also never really been bothered by Elgato's mushy buttons, but I have to say that after pressing the haptic feedback LCD buttons on the Loupedeck, I'm not sure I can go back. The haptic feedback is just enough to make it feel satisfying to actuate, even though I'm not actually pressing anything down into the device. In fact, my Elgato Stream Deck Mini which had been serving as the most expensive light switch in my house (it activates my Key Light Airs for streaming and photos) has now been replaced by the Razer Stream Controller thanks to a plugin.
Navigating the controller is rather easy as well thanks to the eight programmable buttons that adorn the bottom half of the device. However, if you can't be bothered to press them, you can actually swipe on the screen itself as if you're turning a page over.
It's not all rosy, though. Much like Chris had issues in our review of the Loupedeck Live's software, it doesn't seem like all the kinks have been worked out with the Razer Stream Controller two years later. While it's not complicated at first glance, really comprehending the full depth of what you're able to do and control can be intimidating. And it's not made better by a somewhat confusing UX in the software itself. Just finding the correct dial shortcut to map my individual audio sources to the knobs too way too much searching through pages and pages of windows in the Loupedeck software. Dragging and dropping commands to map also felt sluggish and laggy at times, as if the program was struggling to respond to my commands.
However, thankfully that sluggishness does not extend to the actual device's use, as every time I interacted with the Controller itself it was instantaneous response. I also appreciate the ability to create profiles beyond the Razer pre-built one in order to hotswap between use cases, such as having one purely for audio mixing, one for video and photo editing and more. And since so many creator programs work out of the box (with more being added with the development of plugins) there is just so much potential here to be so much more than just a remote control for the livestream.
As such, the Razer Stream Controller makes no secret that they are working with Loupedeck on this product, and that's for the better. Rather than creating a solution to a problem that doesn't exist by iterating on their own device, the company has worked with one of the best on the market and presented it to its audience. And I think that works in Razer's favor here.
The Razer Stream Controller is a powerful alternative to the Elgato Stream Deck line, and it should definitely be on your radar if you're a content creator looking to take your creations to the next level. With a massive amount of control over your programs (assuming your Controller is set up properly), it offers a level of functionality and refinement not replicated by the LCD buttons on the competition. While the program can be sluggish and daunting to learn, the potential on offer is seemingly limitless.
With the integration of Razer, the device has been tuned out of the box for game streamers, giving a powerful alternative right out the gate. The premade Streaming profile by Razer makes it easy to plug in and just go, but offers the promise of being able to completely refine and enhance the streams from an already stellar baseline suite of controls.
It's not cheap: the Razer Stream Controller clocks in at $269.99, though to be fair that is the same price as the standard Loupedeck Live. However, I feel it's well worth it for what you get. It'll take more learning to fully reach its potential versus Elgato's simpler Stream Deck and software suite, but it's worth the time if you're a serious content creator. Having both a couple of Stream Decks I typically use and now the Razer Stream Controller, I can't see myself going back to the former for the foreseeable future. The Razer Stream Controller is a powerful alternative to the Elgato Stream Deck, and it's a welcome alternative.
The product described in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.