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Razer Edge review: A nifty option for gaming on the go, but do you really need it?

Is the Razer Edge something you really need? Starting at $400 for the Wi-Fi model, you get a device with performance similar to one of last year's flagship phones and an included controller add-on, which is actually a pretty good deal. But at the same time, the Edge is basically a chunky phone with an add-on that you can buy on its own for $100.

Video transcript

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SAM RUTHERFORD: Thanks to the latest wave of handheld PCs like the Steam Deck and the AYANEO 2, taking your games on the go has never been easier. That said, those devices are far from pocketable. But with the rise of cloud gaming, there's a newer breed of mobile machines like the Razer Edge that are trying to make things even more travel friendly. Instead of relying solely on local performance, the Edge runs Android for lightweight apps, while services like GeForce NOW and Xbox Cloud Gaming provide the computing power for more demanding titles.

And for those who can't live without access to their games no matter where they are, there's even a model that supports 5G connectivity. But the question is that even with a relatively low starting price of $399, is a cloud gaming handheld something you really want or need?

Unlike Logitech's rival game streaming handheld, the G Cloud, the Razer Edge is based on a two-part design. There's the Edge itself, which is a somewhat plain matte black slab that houses a 6.8-inch 144 Hertz display. And that combines with an included detachable controller. You'll notice that the Edge's gamepad looks a lot like the Kishi V2.

And that's because it's basically the same thing with a couple of tweaks. Technically, the controller that comes with the Edge is called the Kishi V2 Pro. And it features an identical arrangement of buttons, triggers, and joysticks. The two additional features are some added haptics and a 3.5 millimeter audio jack, which is important because the only port on the edge is a USB-C connector.

That said, you do get a micro SD card tray, which is a very welcome inclusion in a world where expandable storage is becoming a rarity. It's got a plastic body that's a bit bigger and thicker than a Galaxy S 23 Ultra. Combine that with a boxy frame and some rather large bezels, and you're left with a chunky slate that's not quite a tablet, but not quite smartphone sized either. You also get stereo speakers on each side of the device, along with a handful of vents in the back for the Edge's internal fans.

The other departure compared to a standard handset is that to better support people who want to livestream from the device while they're gaming, there's also a five megapixel front-facing camera mounted on the long side of the Edge. That said, I wish Razer had included some kind of fingerprint sensor. Because without support for face unlock, being forced to enter a pin, swipe, or password all the time definitely gets a bit tedious.

I mean, just look at it. If this thing had an in-screen fingerprint sensor, it would be so easy to move your finger away from the right joystick real quick to unlock it. So how about it, Razer? Something to consider for the Edge 2 maybe?

When it's finally time to sit down and game, the Edge is pretty easy to set up. The gamepad extends so you can easily fit the Edge inside. And then all you have to do is line up the USB-C port on the right before letting the controller snap back into place. Razer thoughtfully included some small cutouts so that Edge's stereo speakers don't sound muffled.

And despite not being anchored in on the left side, the whole setup feels relatively secure. Yeah, there is a little wiggle room if you press hard enough. But I was never worried about things falling apart.

One of the nice things about the Edge is that when connected to the Kishi V2 Pro, it automatically detects games that feature controller support. So in titles like "Diablo Immortal" or "Streets of Rage 4," you can just jump right into the action. But perhaps more importantly, thanks to a recent update to the Nexus app, the Kishi V2 Pro can also remap touch screen controls to the gamepad's physical buttons and joysticks. This makes playing games like "Genshin Impact" and others that don't have official controller support much more enjoyable, especially if you're like me and you prefer physical buttons over virtual ones.

Now, when you launch a game, you'll see a little semicircle icon at the top of the screen. Tap that and you get access to a handy menu that allows you to map physical buttons to their respective virtual controls. It's pretty simple and it only takes a minute or two depending on the game.

And when you exit out, it'll even save your virtual layout. So you don't have to do it again the next time. However, it's important to mention that this functionality only works when you launch a game via the Nexus Launcher, which you can access via its dedicated button on the right or by touching the app. If you tap an icon from the Android homescreen or the app tray, the feature won't activate.

When it's working, this can make some titles way more accessible, but it's not a cure-all. Not only is the virtual controller feature still in beta, it doesn't do much to address things like menu buttons that don't line up with the game's virtual controls, which is something I experienced when trying out "Mega Man X Dive." That means you'll still need to stretch your fingers over to the screen from time to time.

Furthermore, while the virtual controller feature can be very handy, it doesn't do much to enhance traditional mouse and keyboard games. So while technically you can stream "Civ VI" to the Edge from a nearby computer using the Steam Link app, it's still not a great experience. Just look at those pillar boxes. Thankfully, despite its petite dimensions, the Edge's gamepad feels pretty good. Buttons are nice and clicky while joysticks are tight and responsive. You can get bonus controls on the shoulder for mouse one and mouse two, along with additional buttons for taking screenshots, opening menus, or accessing the general Android settings.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the Edge's screen, which sports big rounded bezels and an extra wide 20 by 9 aspect ratio. The lack of additional vertical screen space can make the Edge feel cramped, especially when trying to use its hilariously squat keyboard. I've made way more typos trying to enter text in on the Edge than I do on my phone. And that's really saying something because my daily driver is a Z Fold4. And the keyboard when you're using that exterior cover screen is tiny.

I really wish Razer had included a taller screen in landscape mode. Because that would make pretty much every game look and play better. That is, you know, aside from regular touch screen apps like "MARVEL SNAP," where the shear width of the edge makes it feel awkward in portrait mode. Look, I know it's hard to make both landscape and portrait games play well on a mobile device. But the balance just feels off.

Now, before we talk about performance, I think it's important to out the Edge's specs first. Because there has been a little bit of confusion since this thing was originally announced. Initially, both the standard Wi-Fi only model and the 5G model were listed with 8 gigs of RAM. However, Razer has since clarified that the Wi-Fi version only comes with 6 gigs of memory, while the 5G version gets the full 8 gigs. Furthermore, while some also thought that the Snapdragon G3x chip features an Adreno 730 GPU, it actually has Adreno 660 graphics. This means depending on how much you care about components, the Razer Edge may not be quite as powerful as you may have expected, which sort of carries over to real world performance.

In tests like Geekbench 5, the Edge posted a multi-core score of 3410 compared to 4921 for the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. And in 3DMark Wild Life Extreme test, that gap was even bigger, with the Edge hitting 1424 versus 3809 for the Samsung. That means you're basically looking at a device with performance similar to a flagship phone from 2022, which isn't bad, but it isn't all that impressive either.

Of course, if you're shooting games from the cloud, local performance isn't nearly as important. And the Edge has more than enough horsepower to ensure titles on GeForce NOW and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate are smooth and stutter free. And in Android games like "Genshin Impact," I didn't run into any major hiccups either. As for longevity, the Edge definitely has an advantage compared to beefier handheld PCs.

On our local video rundown test, it lasted over 15 hours. However, when you're gaming, you're looking at more like seven or eight hours, depending on the title, and even less if you're using cellular data. But in most situations, that's still significantly more than what you get from a Steam Deck.

The one quirk with the Edge is that while its controller features pass through charging via USB-C, juicing it up that way is actually slower than plugging a cable into the slab itself. Using a USB power meter, I found that when connected directly to the Edge, charging speeds top out at around 25 watts. But if you use the passthrough charging on the Kishi V2 Pro, things slow down to around 15 watts.

OK, now, let's get back to my original question. Is the Razer Edge something you really need? Starting at $400 for the Wi-Fi model, you get a device with a performance similar to one of last year's flagship phones and an included controller add-on, which is actually a pretty good deal. You also get active cooling to help keep thermals in check, while Razer's Nexus app helps you play both touchscreen only apps and more intensive games from the cloud with ease. So not too bad so far.

But at the same time, the Edge is basically a chunky phone with an add-on that you can buy on its own for $100. And if you remove the slab from the equation, you even have the option of getting either Android or iOS versions of the Kishi V2. So if you've got a relatively recent phone with good performance, you're probably just better off doing that. This way, you get all the perks of having a dedicated gamepad, but with the upside of having fewer devices to manage and carry around.

Alternatively, you could spend the same $400 on the Steam Deck and get a device that's a bit bigger, yes, but it has the power to stream games from the cloud and play AAA games using local hardware. However, if you have an older phone and don't plan on upgrading for a while, the Razer Edge could be a decent device to hold you over until you do.

And if you're the kind of person who's constantly on the go and can really take advantage of a speedy cellular connection, the Edge 5G might be a good fit for you. My concern is that these situations feel a bit niche. Sure, there are other tasks that the Edge can handle pretty well like emulation. But that's sort of an off-label use. And while the popularity of cloud gaming continues to grow, I'm still not convinced that most people need a dedicated device for apps like GeForce NOW or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

I mean, think about it. One of the best things about cloud gaming is that it works on any modern gadget, regardless of specs. So while the Edge is more than a passable first attempt, I think there's a fair bit of room for improvement as devices like this continue to evolve. But what do you think? Is the Razer Edge something you can see yourself buying? Or are you waiting for a second or maybe a third gen device. Let me in the comments down below. And, as always, stay tuned to Engadget for more news, reviews, and hands on's.

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