What's the one thing that PC gamers always throw in the face of console gamers? What makes us more accurate in First Person Shooters and more productive in MMORPGs? That's right, it's our favorite input device: The mouse.
Ever since Xerox developed the little suckers, PC users have been evolving and upgrading their desk-rodents to be more accurate, more efficient, and less repetitive-motion disorder-causing. Out of the chaos of this mouse R&D flurry, a select few companies have emerged as the leaders in the gaming mouse field.
Razer is one of those companies.
This is their story.
Wait. No it's not. But it is a review for one of their gaming mice - The Razer Krait.
The Hardware - The Razer what?
The Razer Krait is a wired, optical mouse that uses a USB interface; a gold-plated USB interface... Nice.
It features a 1600 optical DPI, 3 programmable buttons, a 16-bit data channel, zero-acoustic Ultraslick Teflon feet, and an Always On optical sensor system.
Razer is promoting this mouse as an RTS or MMORPG gamer's mouse. Well, golly, that's right up our alley!
The Technology - DPI, isn't that something they arrest you for?
First of all, let's try to clear the air a bit concerning DPI. DPI stands for Dots Per Inch. It originated with printers, but the computer industry has adapted the term for use with everything from monitors to scanners.
As far as mice are concerned, DPI is simply a way to measure how far the mouse moves on screen for every inch you physically move it on your mouse pad. Essentially, a 1600 DPI means that for every inch you move the mouse, it will move 1600 counts of movement. I know, I know, I can hear some of you already: "This guy's an idiot, it doesn't mean counts, it means pixels!" Don't worry, we're getting to that.
A 1600 DPI should mean that when you move the mouse one inch, it will move the cursor on-screen 1600 pixels. However, to complicate things, we have filters such as sensitivity and acceleration.
Why do we have filters to make our lives more complex? Well, basically it is because you don't always want the cursor to go flying across the screen every time you touch the mouse. It increases accuracy so that you can click that macro button on the first try, instead of trying to get the cursor to sit still long enough to click.
So then, why would you want a high DPI? Well, it makes it easier to move the cursor across the screen without killing your wrist, and - coupled with a high sampling rate, it helps to increase your on-screen accuracy.
A sampling rate is basically a measurement of how often the mouse, er... measures. The higher the rate, the more often the mouse is tracking movement on your mouse pad surface, the more often the mouse tracks your movement and the more accurate it gets. This is measured in frames per second (FPS).
The Razor Krait has a 1600 DPI coupled with a sampling rate of 6400 frames per second. Compared to the average optical mouse at a DPI of between 400 and 800, and a sampling rate of 1500 FPS, we get something I like to refer to as PFA - Pretty Freakin' Accurate.
Also, the Razer Krait has a 16-bit data channel instead of the normal 8-bit path. This is good, since it allows the Razer Krait to send all that sampled data instead of being limited by the USB polling rate of 125Mhz. (125 times per second.)
The Razer drivers allow you to set up the sensitivity and click-speed, adjust the DPI, and assign buttons to do things like adjust the DPI on the fly.
Razer's Always On technology simply means that unlike normal mice - which turn off the sensor unless they detect movement - the optical sensor and light is always on, ready to move the cursor the instant you move the mouse.
Appearance - Is it a mouse, or a snake?
The Razer Krait is a low profile, black mouse, with clear, rubberized plastic strips on the side, and a clear mouse-wheel on top. Both the strips and the mouse-wheel glow a cool orange when the mouse is plugged in to a USB port.
The mouse is slightly shorter than a standard mouse, and is about half the height of my Logitech G5 laser mouse. On the bottom are three Teflon "feet" that allow the mouse to glide about on the mouse pad with an almost frictionless feeling, and the seven-foot cord allows you to place the mouse where you want it.
Performance - Does it need rodent-Viagra?
The Razer Krait is zippy. Very, very, very zippy. Unfortunately, the drivers default the mouse to 1600 DPI and 10 sensitivity. Actually clicking the Razer control icon and setting the sensitivity lower was in itself a sort of mini-game. Oh, close one. Oh, I just missed. Oh, man, there it goes again. Ah ha! Gotcha!
Once I turned the sensitivity down a notch (or four) the mouse became much easier to control. Navigating around Windows was a breeze, and the high DPI makes it easy to move the cursor all the way across my 24" widescreen monitor, something that makes my wrist scream if I use a low DPI mouse.
The buttons on the Razer Krait click with a satisfyingly solid feel. Even the middle mouse button/mouse wheel feels solid when you click it, and it's easy to click without accidentally scrolling the wheel - a major achievement for a mouse.
The mouse wheel itself scrolls easily enough to get to where you want, but it has enough resistance to keep you from flying by your selection accidentally.
In fact, this mouse has the best buttons I have ever used, with two notable exceptions:
I tried the mouse with a variety of MMORPG games, including WoW, EQII, Guild Wars, and the newly released Vanguard. Performance in all of the games I tried was outstanding. Moving the camera around was smooth and effortless, and mouse-looking was a breeze.
After a few hours of playing, my wrist did not feel at all sore. The Razer Krait has enough weight to make it feel solid, but not enough to give your forearm and wrist a painful workout. The rubberized strips on the side of the mouse feel like a natural place to rest my thumb, ring-finger, and pinky, and they are non-slip, so keeping the mouse under control is not a struggle.
Should I buy a gaming mouse or a pet mouse?
Let me just start by telling you a little story: Not too long ago, in a place very, very close to where I live now, my loyal and trustworthy Logitech MX500 optical mouse died while fighting the evil forces of the Empire. Ok, so it didn't exactly die, but it came close... Or not... Whatever, listen, that's not the point.
The point is that I decided to get a new mouse. I wanted one with a high DPI and plenty of buttons. I wanted comfort, and style, and something that was almost exactly the same as my old mouse but much better. I was on a mission, a quest from on high.
I ordered mouse after mouse from an online retailer that may or may not have come before the New Chicken. And mouse after mouse went back on an RMA express flight, until I settled on a Logitech G5 laser mouse.
The G5 is almost exactly the same as my old mouse, with three notable exceptions: It has a high DPI, it is missing one button on the side, and the mouse wheel tilts side to side. It seemed perfect.
I hate it.
My Logitech G5 has sides that are supposed to be "grippy", but are in fact very slick. I was getting hand cramps trying to keep the mouse in my grasp, and had to eventually use some fabric tape on the sides to keep my hands from slipping. It's an 80 dollar mouse, and I had to put tape on it to make it somewhat comfortable. That does not make me happy.
If you're wondering when I am going to come to some sort of point, you're in luck, because here it is: I am super picky when it comes to mice.
What I think of it:
At first, I was very skeptical of the Razer Krait's low profile and lack of side buttons. After using it for a while, I now find it hard to go back to my main mouse. In fact, I haven't for weeks now.
Although I do still think that the Krait could benefit from another button or two, it more than makes up for its lack of buttons with its extremely comfortable use. Until they make a Krait with a side button, or until someone sends me an even better mouse, I see myself using the Razer Krait for all of my MMORPGs. I like it that much.
Who I think can benefit the most:
Let's face it, all MMORPG players can benefit from a good mouse. This is one. It's comfortable to grip, easy on the wrist, and - surprisingly - easy on the wallet.
At the time of this writing, you can purchase a Razer Krait for about $40. For a mouse this good, that's a steal.
Also, all you southpaws can rejoice, the Razer Krait is completely ambidextrous!
Take it from a super picky mouse connoisseur, the Razer Krait is top notch. It's also an incredible value at 40 dollars. Razer gets two enthusiastic thumbs up from me, and they can have my wrist brace too. I won't be needing it anymore.