Razer continues to encroach on Elgato’s flow hardware dominance with the release of its own flow controller. The redesigned Loupedeck gives streamers and creators a powerful tool to improve workflow, but is it worth the upgrade over industry-standard options?
- Price: $269.99 on Razer’s website
- Interface: 12 LCD touch sensitive buttons; 2 side LCD screens; 6 multi-function touch dials; 8 multi-function face buttons
- Application support: Native plugins for content creation tools such as Adobe Premiere, Photoshop, Twitch, OBS, etc.
- 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 Loupedeck’s influence. And that shouldn’t be hard to miss: at its core, the Razer Stream Controller is, by all accounts, a revamped Loupedeck Live. The company has been in the content creation tools game since 2016 and, by all accounts, knows exactly what it’s doing.
However, it is unavoidable to draw comparisons with market leader Elgato here. Stream Decks have graced the desks of countless content creators over the years (even mine), so this 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 by trying to secure a place for itself on PC gaming desktops, not just in the headphones, mice and pads we use, but also in the way we create content. Over the past few months we’ve seen Key Lights, an audio mixer, and other products from the California-based gaming giant, but the Stream Controller takes that fight head-on with one of the most recognizable elements a streamer uses.
The flow controller contains 12 large buttons equipped with an LCD screen on the front, flanked by two vertical LCD screens. Flanking the middle screens are 6 dials – three on each side – to give precise control over things like volume, brightness settings, and more. At 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 controls already sets it apart from the competition, as the Stream Deck simply uses the main face buttons for navigation, forcing you to swap scenes in the app or via a command on the face itself, taking up a valuable button location. .
Control your content
Nothing has really changed since our initial review of the Loupedeck Live in 2020. The device itself offers such mastery of granular control that it’s a dream when cleaning up video timelines or adjusting tools in Photoshop compared simple keyboard shortcuts. This device is designed for audio and video creation and the ability to precisely control programs such as Adobe Premiere Pro and Final Cut Pro X out of the box sells it.
However, the partnership with Razer really relies on the streaming functionality of the Loupedeck Live software. While the original product can do all that, Razer’s Stream Controller comes out of the box with a profile targeting game streamers. As such, two of the three pages initially set up 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 it in and go, and for some, that’s fine. However, the more I use the Razer Stream Controller, the more granular control I want of my experience.
Razer’s software is by no means great, so I was very happy to see that we’re using Loupedeck here. However, I have to be honest, Elgato has always beaten both on the usability front with their software. Loupedeck isn’t outrageously complicated at first glance: you can drag preset commands onto any of the software’s buttons or face buttons, assigning the action to it. If you have an image you want to use for the button you can upload it, otherwise we just see a name describing the action on the screen. The two vertical LCD screens indicate what is programmed on the button next to them. It is very easy to read exactly what the device is configured to do.
For someone like me who has multiple audio sources for streaming, from 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-loved touch on the Deck Button Adjustments stream.
I’ve never really been bothered by the Elgato’s soft buttons, but I have to say that after pressing the Loupedeck’s haptic-feedback LCD buttons, I’m not sure I can go back. The haptic feedback is just enough for the actuation to be satisfying, even though I’m not actually pressing anything into the device. In fact, my Elgato Stream Deck Mini which served 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 also quite easy thanks to the eight programmable buttons that adorn the bottom half of the device. However, if you can’t be bothered to press it, you can actually swipe the screen itself as if you were turning a page.
However, all is not rosy. Just as Chris had issues during our software review of the Loupedeck Live, it doesn’t appear that all issues have been resolved with the Razer Stream Controller two years later. While it may not seem complicated at first glance, truly understanding the full depth of what you are capable of and in control of can be daunting. And it’s not improved by a somewhat confusing UX in the software itself. Just find the correct dial shortcut to map my individual audio sources to the buttons as well too much browse pages and window pages in the Loupedeck software. Dragging and dropping commands onto the map was also sluggish and sluggish at times, as if the program struggled to respond to my commands.
However, thankfully, this sluggishness does not extend to actual use of the device, as whenever I interacted with the controller itself, the response was instantaneous. I also like the ability to create profiles beyond Razer’s pre-built one to hot swap between use cases, like having one just for audio mixing, one for video and photo editing and more. And since so many creator programs work out of the box (with more added with plugin development), there’s so much potential here to be so much more than just a livestream remote.
As such, the Razer Stream Controller makes no secret that it works with Loupedeck on this product, and that’s good. Rather than creating a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist by iterating on its own device, the company took one of the best out there and introduced 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 an enormous amount of control over your programs (assuming your controller is set up correctly), it offers a level of functionality and refinement not replicated by competitive LCD buttons. Although the program can be slow and intimidating to learn, the potential offered is seemingly limitless.
With Razer’s integration, the device was ready for game streamers out of the box, providing a powerful alternative from the start. Razer’s preset streaming profile makes it easy to connect and get started, but offers the promise of being able to completely fine-tune and enhance streams from an already stellar suite of basic commands.
It’s not cheap: the Razer Stream Controller costs $269.99, but to be fair, that’s the same price as the standard Loupedeck Live. However, I think it’s worth it for what you get. It will take more learning to fully realize its potential compared to Elgato’s simpler Stream Deck and software suite, but it’s worth it if you’re a serious content creator. Having both a few Stream Decks that I typically use and now the Razer Stream Controller, I don’t see myself going back to the old one in 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 review purposes.