By Tim Hage on Dec 8th, 2009 at 11:29PM
In the past, we’ve reviewed our fair share of hardware from Razer. Today, we’re doing things a little differently. Razer sent us three of their premiere gaming mice and we’re going to do an in-depth evaluation of the Mamba, Orochi and Imperator. We’ll be putting each mouse through its paces to see where it performs best and which mouse is greatest for any given type of gamer. At the end of it all, we’ve got a surprise, so don’t miss that! (If you cheat by skipping to the end, you officially suck)
Razer Imperator – $80
As our only wired mouse in the roundup, the Imperator is also an ergonomic mouse, but unfortunately it’s not as extremely designed as most other ergonomically-designed mice, which is a good thing for anyone looking for a classic-feeling gaming mouse. It just seems that the design could have just as easily been made ambidextrous without much change in overall comfort or feel, not to mention it would then be accessible to the left-handed population of the gaming community. As it stands, with a fantastic design, great features and Razer’s 3.5G, 5600DPI laser engine, it blows most other ergonomic mice out of the water.
Like we’ve come to expect from Razer’s mice, it’s tastefully lit and aggressively designed. The scroll wheel and palm Razer logo are illuminated in blue lights. Razer’s choice to include adjustable thumb buttons on the Imperator is a fantastic move. At first I thought it was a gimmick –just another luxury for Razer to add, but it really makes the mouse that much more versatile and globally usable. Even for gamers that don’t want to spend a lot, the Imperator offers a lot of bang for your buck.
Ideal Audience: Razer’s Imperator is for the gamer that appreciates quality and performance, but needs few luxuries bundled with it. Perhaps not the mouse for a constant LAN gamer, but the onboard memory for profiles never hurts for those occasional LAN parties. It’s a mouse perfect for any FPS, but is still good for just about anything else.
Razer Mamba – $130
For most gamers, the Mamba would need to blow your nose and make you dinner to justify its $130 price tag. However, during the testing procedures, I actually found the Mamba to be one of the best mice I’ve ever had the pleasure to use. It’s aggressively styled, impressively comfortable and it’s all topped of with a stylish, lighted charging dock. This mouse certainly goes out of its way to make that price tag as easy to cope with as possible.
For any gamers that are skeptical about the performance and reliability of the Mamba’s wireless signal, rest assured, the mouse remains fully functional and tracks fine even when I’m 8-10 feet from the wireless receiver and that’s all thanks to Razer’s proprietary wireless system. As for battery reliability, Razer claims the mouse will withstand up to 14 hours of a non-stop headshooting marathon (I take this claim as a challenge). So, in the end it neither blows your nose, nor does it ever offer to make you any meals, but the Mamba’s comfort, looks, and raw power do go a long way in justifying the cost of such an advanced piece of technology.
Ideal Audience: This is a mouse for the budget-less gamer of impeccable taste and a constant craving for power. The price may be hard to get past, but when it comes down to it, the Mamba is the best wireless gaming mouse money can buy, but that’s just the issue: Money. Because of that, the Mamba owners club is fairly exclusive.
Razer Orochi – $80
As the first laptop gaming mouse, there is no real competition for the Orochi to go up against. As the first of its kind, the Orochi is hard to justify or compare the price fairly, but priced at $80, it’s not too far off from other high-end laptop mice on the market. Much is the same in the comfort department. For a laptop mouse, it remains comfortable during long gaming sessions. Add to that the powerful capabilities and aggressive design and the Orochi becomes the mouse you wish you had a good enough notebook to along with it.
The Orochi comes with a set of AA batteries and a removable cable, giving you freedom to use the mouse however you wish. In wireless (Bluetooth) mode, you take a significant performance hit (from 4000 to 2000 DPI), but it’s for the best because it supposedly allows the mouse to last up to 3 months of standard use on a single pair of AAs. Not bad at all.
Ideal Audience: For the gamer that has everything at home, but is looking for that aggressive edge in mobile gaming when at a friend’s house or the local cafe. The mobile gamer that demands the utmost best need look no further than the Orochi.
Now it’s time for a final breakdown to find the best, all-around choice for the versatile, everyday gamer.
When it comes to the price of Razer mice, it’s a very hard task trying to compare them not only by their price tag, but also by what they offer for that price. The Imperator is an obvious choice for the best value with it being tied with the Orochi for the cheapest of the three, but when you consider that the Mamba is equal in performance while being 100% wireless for only an extra $50, I’m gonna have to call it a close tie.
Winner: Mamba and Imperator tied
Again, with a clear choice of the mobile winner, the Orochi would be anyone’s first-impulse reaction to this question, but one must keep in mind that the Orochi is only as portable as your bluetooth-enabled gaming platform. Sure, it offers a cable to have it wired, but then why not consider the Imperator with over double the Orochi’s wired performance numbers? The Mamba may be wireless, but with a clunky charging dock that doubles as the wireless receiver, the Mamba is removed from consideration.
With both the Mamba and Imperator being ergonomic mice, this would be a hard matchup. As far as design, they both offer great support once you acclimate to their curves and contours. They were set for another tie until I took into account the Mamba’s rubber grip pads on the sides and also on the thumb buttons, allowing better control and, more importantly, something other than a sweat-attracting smooth glossy plastic lower body for you to grip.
All three mice in this roundup feature on-the-fly adjustable DPI and the wireless two offer an optional cable giving you 100% usability, but what happens when a left-handed friend needs a mouse? While the Mamba and Imperator are quite comfortable with their ergonomics, south-paw gamers are left in the cold (see what I did there?). In this case, only the Orochi would be comfortably accessible to left-handed gamers as it features thumb buttons on both sides of the mouse and is ambidextrous in design.
While the Orochi maxes out at 4000DPI (2000 in wireless mode), the Mamba and Imperator offer DPI up to 5600. The real battle comes when you compare the Imperator and Mamba. On paper, the two mice perform nearly identical in every aspect. In my tests, I found the Mamba’s wireless signal to be just as reliable as the Imperator’s wired connection. The sheer fact that the Mamba manages its impressive performance wirelessly makes it a mouse unlike any other in function.
Remember that surprise we told you about earlier? Well, here it is. After comparing the three mice against each other, I found the Razer Mamba to be the best all around gaming mouse in this roundup. I will now spend the next 12 months putting it through rigorous testing in a real-world environment: my very own desk. I will provide monthly updates about how the mouse holds up over the months as far as durability, reliability and reporting any issues I might come across. Be sure to contact us if you want to see any specific tests done with this mouse over the next 12 months and we will do our best to report back to you. Don’t hold back, I’ve got a feeling I’ll have plenty of time to get many different tests completed. Feel free to also let us know about any issues that you experience with the Mamba as well.