We're attracted like particularly stupid moths to any gadget that glows. So we went pretty crazy when Razer dumped its entire StarCraft II gaming peripheral line into our laps. Because they glow a great deal.
But when the Zerg are zerging your command centre, it takes more than flashing LEDs to keep you on the side of StarCraft victory. Do these gaming gadgets measure up? Click through the photos above to check them out...
The Marauder is considerably smaller than most gaming keyboards that pass under the CNET UK microscope, and despite rocking a full number pad, it won't consume all of your desk's real estate.
Some gamers will prefer a greater range of options than the Marauder offers. There aren't very many media keys, for example, and they're doubled up with the F keys along the top of the board, so it'll take a few extra key presses to ramp up the game volume or mute the audio. It all comes down to personal preference, but we have to say a compact design makes a change from keyboards with more square-footage than our flats.
We do like that the keys themselves are set very high up, so there's a tonne of travel on each individual key. Each button is pleasantly sensitive too -- it won't take much effort to reel off various shortcuts and commands using this keyboard.
Naturally the whole shebang lights up, though compared to the mouse and headset, the Maraduer doesn't light up particularly brightly, so if you're gaming in the daylight be aware you won't quite muster Tron-style glowing coolness. Still, using the downloadable (and brilliantly named) Razer Configurator software, you can change the colours that illuminate each individual panel. We opted for a hearty CNET UK red, with yellow accents.
It's worth bearing in mind that to get the Marauder glowing at full capacity you'll need to consume two of your computer's precious USB ports.
There's on-the-fly macro recording, which will come in handy if your fingers and mind are agile enough to figure out exactly which commands you're going to need most often, but triggering the record mode and saving macros again is handled with multiple button presses and the Function key, rather than with dedicated buttons. That adds an extra layer of complexity, which could make recording macros in-game and under pressure a pretty stressful affair.
What is cool, however, is something that Razer calls the APM (actions per minute) lighting system. Basically, the keyboard will keep track of how many commands you're inputting in StarCraft II per minute, and will change the colour of the keyboard glow to reflect that. So when things are particularly frantic you could make everything flash an ominous shade of red, for instance.
Using the configurator software, you can also set the lighting to change when certain in-game actions occur, such as your base coming under attack, which might come in handy.
The Marauder is a cool piece of kit, but it'll set you back a whopping £100. We like the compact build, but while this is a comfy enough keyboard, the actual features on offer for StarCraft fanatics are a little thin on the ground, and you could probably get just as decent a performance boost from a much cheaper gaming keyboard.
Blimey. We've come across some mean gaming headsets in our time, but none quite so... chunky as the Banshee. It puts us very much in mind of the helmets in Starship Troopers, which is reason enough for us to consider the styling extremely faithful to the StarCraft source material. The chunky design makes it really weighty, so it might drag your whole head down on to the desk.
We think the appeal of the Banshee is mainly in the design. Flick through the photos above to check it out in detail. The same actions-per-minute lighting changes that you get on the Marauder are also present here, but being as these headphones are on the side of your head, we're not sure exactly how that's going to help.
There's a whole bunch of equalisation fiddling to be done using the software, so you can customise the sound to suit you, and usefully there's a microphone mute button right next to the microphone stick.
The headset itself offers pretty decent sound quality, though not really £100 worth if we're honest. The headband across the top is really wide, so the actual noisemaking drivers are quite far away from your ears, which gives audio a slightly tinny quality.
It's definitely a looker, but we think you'd get the same functionality out of something like the SteelSeries Siberia V2, which won our recently, and costs a relatively palatable £50.
There's nothing more pleasing to the gamer's calloused hand than a really stonking mouse. We reckon the cursory arts is where Razer's heritage really lies -- it's behind many of our favourite gaming mice. The Spectre, like many Razer mice, is actually surprisingly basic, not overloaded with buttons and switches like many gaming devices.
The £70 it costs to acquire one will nab you five buttons -- two clickers, the scroll wheel and two extra buttons down the Spectre's left flank.
It's a comfortable mouse to hold, though in keeping with the StarCraft II stylings, it's quite blocky, and not very ergonomic, so if you like a mouse that moulds to your hand, keep looking.
Still, if you like a mouse that's quite small, nippy and light, we think this is a really capable device. Best of all, the two main click buttons are really massive and very sensitive, so we can see this mouse being well suited to RTS games like StarCraft. The central click wheel feels sturdy too.
The DPI (dots per inch -- basically how sensitive the mouse is) can be ramped up to 5,600, which is so sensitive that simply blinking is liable to send your cursor rocketing over to the other side of the screen.
There's also a 1,000Hz polling rate, which makes mouse movement nice and smooth, and again that colour-changing actions-per-minute stuff is represented, and the lighting (which again features three different areas you can customise) is bright, so even in the unforgiving light of day, your love of StarCraft will shine brightly for all to see.
We have to admit we're left with the same feeling as we are with the rest of the Razer peripherals -- you could certainly find the same functionality for less money by opting for a rival device. Still, we reckon the mouse is the best of the bunch. It's simple, looks cool and glows very brightly indeed.