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I’m holding a piece of technology in my hands that costs about R4000 at retail. It’s hefty, it’s vomiting RGB lighting from beneath its surface and its undercarriage is populated with input paddle controls. What I’ve got nestling in my greasy palms, is the Razer Raiju Ultimate. It’s a solution to a problem that many of us don’t have. A niche piece of hardware to a market that exists on a competitive level that many of us will never reach, no matter how many hours we pump into Fortnite.

It’s utterly fantastic stuff and my techno-lust is stirring up again, as I begin to want something that I don’t even need.

On the flavour text, the Razer Raiju Ultimate bills itself as the ultimate controller for stepping up your game and going pro if you’re in the mood for a PlayStation 4 controller that offers a little something extra. It has plenty of features that makes it stand out from the usual Dual Shock controller: It can function as either a wired or Bluetooth controller, the face buttons have a satisfying level of clickiness to them and it has a “multi-colour Razer Chroma lighting strip” so that it can stand out from the pack.

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There’s also a row of buttons beneath the touchpad that provide further customisation options, specially designed triggers that are meant to give you that extra nanosecond edge in a heated game and additional buttons that rest below the surface which can be pre-programmed to provide specific functions. All of this is meant to combine and create a product which will give you an advantage in the high stakes world of eSports. What does it all really mean however?

What does all this fancy technology lead to? Let’s address the elephant in the room: The Razer Raiju Ultimate isn’t a get-good-quick ticket when you take it out of the box. Instead, it’s going to enhance the skills that you’ve already honed for the last couple of years, something I realised when I tested the controller in games of Mortal Kombat X, Fortnite and Apex Legends, and still found myself eating dirt in each game.

That being said, how does it feel? What does the Raiju Ultimate bring to the table that makes it a worthy successor to the 2016 controller that Razer developed? If you had to judge the device purely by tactile sensations and you had a preference towards chunkier gaming technology, then good news: The Razer Raiju Ultimate is a big boy.

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It’s beefier than the regular PlayStation 4 controller, and even edges out the Xbox One’s primary device by a slim margin, while also feeling like it has some significant weight in your hands. A few hours with the Raiju Ultimate, and you’ll have forearms that put Popeye to shame thanks to its 352 gram weight. Heavy, but in a manner where the weight is distributed in a way that concentrates the bulk towards your arms instead of feeling like a top-heavy wrist-breaker.

The rubber grip on the handles also feels especially nice, able to easily soak up all manner of hand fluids that you might secrete during the most heated of rounds, while also not feeling stickier than a cinema floor when you put the controller down and return for a new session a few hours later. One of the neater functions of the Raiju Ultimate, is its ability to allow you to swap out its D-Pad and analogue sticks on the fly. Grow some nail, jam it into the directional port that you wish to alter and pop it out as you break the magnetic bond. Easy.

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With the included bundle, you get one extra D-Pad that favours a more circular design as opposed to the dedicated quartet of plastic that points in four directions, while the extra analogue sticks provided give you a taste of either convex or concave options. These analogue sticks are aligned in a symmetrical position however, so if you were expecting the Raiju Ultimate to crib the Xbox One’s offset positioning, you’re bang out of luck.

The real story when it comes to inputs, are felt beneath the Raiju Ultimate. There’s a series of buttons beneath the controller, four in total, which sport a chrome finish and a hair-trigger click. Much like the mecha-tactile face buttons above, they’re a delight to click thanks to their mechanical nature, providing a subtle feedback that can be further enhanced.

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The extra multi-function buttons can exist as either pre-programmed options using the official app or they can offer default input options, with the end result being an idea of doing more with, well, more. The point is, is that the placement and the sensitivity of these buttons are meant to give you that advantage in speed. They’re laid out in a manner where transitioning between actions and commands is just that little bit quicker and smoother: an idea which takes a lot of getting used to when you have to teach your brain and your fingers new paths.

It’s something that I personally could not get the hang of, but watching a friend of mine who happens to own several SCUF controllers use the Raiju in a game of Call of Duty Black Ops 4 Blackout, gave me a good understanding of what a pro was capable of. Seeing those fingers dance between inputs, leveraging the redesigned space and making the most of the slimmest of opportunities speaks volumes.

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What’s also neat is how the Raiju can be customised to your own preferences. Beyond the app that allows you to map the extra buttons, the spine of the controller houses four buttons that provide profile, configuration and lighting options. If you’d prefer to not see unicorn urine leak out during a session, the lights can be toggled to show off single colours or can be switched off entirely, while switching between fighting, shooting and racing profiles was easier than jokes about Batman’s rubber nipples in the mid-90s.

In terms of performance, I did find myself favouring a wired approach more often than the supplied Bluetooth options available, as the Raiju Ultimate did have a slight delay that could be measured in fractions of a second during gameplay. Ordinarily, this has pretty much zero impact on a regular game experience, but it is something which can be felt in a competitive environment.

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Then again, that’s what the bundled wire is for, and while I still have a burning hatred for braided wires, a physical connection managed to nix these latency issues. Supposedly, the latest firmware for the Raiju Ultimate should have also fixed these annoying niggles even further, although a perusal on Reddit resulted in a very mixed opinion from Raiju Ultimate owners. The moral of the story though, is that if you’re looking at the Raiju Ultimate for eSports, then there’s no other option but wired. Something any digital athlete worth their salt knows.

So what’s the verdict?

There’s no denying that the Razer Raiju Ultimate is an expensive piece of technology, but it also feels like it. Everything about the controller exudes a confidence and a polish you seldom see these days. As a wired alternative to SCUF and NACON, it’s able to go blow for blow with the biggest boys in the eSports yard and still deliver a few surprising haymakers of its own. Wirelessly, there’s still room for improvement and hopefully some new firmware can iron out the peskier Bluetooth annoyances with an otherwise superb controller.

But overall? The Razer Raiju Ultimate is a tactile treat. Solidly engineered, designed for specific market needs and surprisingly flexible for more generic gaming needs. You could call it the ultimate PS4 controller.

Last Updated: February 19, 2019

Razer Raiju Ultimate
The Razer Raiju Ultimate is a tactile treat. Solidly engineered, designed for specific market needs and surprisingly flexible for more generic gaming needs.
Razer Raiju Ultimate was reviewed on PlayStation 4

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