The contest to build the best esports mouse keeps heating up. Smaller outfits like Finalmouse and PC Gaming Race are making names for themselves with lighter, more comfortable mice made for high-performance play. But the biggest mouse-makers aren’t just going to let themselves fall out of favor. Razer’s newest entry, the $79.99 Viper, is the company’s most esports-focused controller to date. While Razer already has a popular esports mouse in the Lancehead Tournament Edition, the wired variant of its wireless Razer Lancehead, the Viper adds features that make it feel even more specialized. Some, like a dedicated DPS profile select button on the mouse’s bottom, will be familiar. Others, like the Viper’s hybrid optical/mechanical switches, offer new highs for players looking to shave milliseconds off every action. While we’re not prepared to tell you it will automatically up your game, it’s fair to say that the Viper is an incredibly slick, well-made gaming mouse.
Snakebite at the Speed of Light
Let’s start with the basics: The Razer Viper is an ambidextrous gaming mouse. It technically has eight buttons, but that includes two side buttons on both the left and right and the aforementioned DPI profile switch underneath, so it’s really the standard five-button form factor.
The buttons have a good click and are well-placed, but nothing about them is new or exciting—until you look under the hood. The two primary clicks feature a new type of hybrid optical/mechanical switch. In effect, clicking the mouse opens a path for a laser to actuate the input signal. According to Razer, what it calls the Razer Optical Switch does two things: First, it shaves a few fractions of a millisecond off the time it takes for your PC to register a click by removing “debounce delay,” a feature that prevents double-clicks in mechanical mice. Second, it reduces the number of mechanical parts, making the mouse more durable—the company rates the switches for 70 million clicks, which is very high though not unheard-of.
With such a tiny improvement in response time, it’s unlikely that anyone, myself included, will notice the difference from moment to moment. For what it’s worth, I found the Viper to be quick and accurate, so the change hasn’t impeded the mouse in any way. It’s possible that, at the highest level, it may make a small difference, but it isn’t going to give anyone a notable competitive edge.
In general, though, the Viper has great components and feels very well constructed. It features Razer’s 5G Optical sensor, which can track accurately at up to 16,000 DPI. Its matte plastic base and textured grips on either side feel good in hand and help you keep your position.
The most impressive features of the Viper are the simplest. It’s one of the few truly comfortable ambidextrous mice I’ve used. Though it does not have an ergonomically minded hump like a right-handed mouse, your hand naturally falls into a good fit on it. You rarely have to move or reposition your hand if you don’t want to, and playing palm is comfortable, even for long stretches.
That’s a testament to the Viper’s shape and balance. At 126.7 by 66.2 by 37.8 millimeters (5 by 2.6 by 1.5 inches), it’s a little taller than the average low-profile mouse. And at 69 grams (2.43 ounces), it is extremely light, though not the lightest mouse available (Finalmouse says its new Ultralight 2 weighs just 47 grams). That the Viper feels as comfortable and quick as any esports mouse I’ve used serves to show that specs, even weight and dimensions, are just numbers: Being light and fast should not come at the expense of fit and feel.
The other surprisingly novel feature of the Viper is its tail—what Razer calls its Speedflex cable. It’s a very flexible, low-drag cable that doesn’t pinch, bunch up, or drag against rough surfaces as many other cables do. Even in less than ideal conditions (like a crowded desk), there were fewer instances where I felt I had to pull the mouse into place or adjust my space to improve my performance.
Similarly, while it isn’t a particularly radical feature, having a DPI profile setting button on the underside of the mouse is always welcome. I personally prefer it over assigning a macro button to change DPI because it’s more clear and deliberate. There’s an LED indicator above the button showing what setting you’re using, so once you’ve set it up, you rarely have to use the configuration software.
Watching Synapses Fire
Like all Razer peripherals, the Viper uses the company’s Synapse configuration software. In general, I find Synapse offers a robust set of tools for customizing button configurations, setting your DPI presets, and setting up new mouse profiles for specific games and apps. For the most part, these features are all very clear and easy to use.
The Viper can store up to three profiles in its onboard memory. That’s realistically enough storage, especially for pro players who focus on one game, though it’s slightly below average relative to other mice. As with most peripherals, you can set up as many profiles you want on a specific device, though, so it’s easy to configure for every game you play regularly at home.
The one snag I found was with Chroma, Razer’s lighting customization utility. Chroma is a one-size-fits-all app that offers a lot of features, which is great for devices with many lighting options. When customizing the Viper, which only has one lighting element—a logo in the mouse’s base—I found myself stumbling through features and combinations that were meant for other devices where you have more room to work with. This is a minor issue, and one I think most users will adapt to over time, but you should be prepared for some trial and error.
Is the Venom Worth The Bite?
Still, the Viper is one of the only esports mice from a major manufacturer that delivers a fit and feel comparable to the more forward-facing mice in the category. If you’re looking for a mouse that takes a big swing, but comes from a brand you know, the Viper feels like the logical choice.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The comfortable, light, and quick Razer Viper refines the company’s esports offerings with an excellent gaming mouse.