It’s a good thing for Microsoft that they sent us the SideWinder X8 wireless gaming mouse before Razer could get its Mamba wireless gaming mouse into our clutches. We thought Microsoft’s product was pretty good (and awarded it a score of “8” on March 25), but the Mamba is superior in nearly every respect.
The Mamba looks a whole lot sexier; feels more comfortable in our hand; has a better button layout; is easier to program; and it boasts even higher resolution than Microsoft’s product. In fact, Microsoft tops Razer in just two areas: The SideWinder X8 has a better solution for charging the mouse’s battery while the mouse is in use, and the Mamba’s tilting scroll wheel tilts in only one direction.
We don’t usually mention retail packaging because there’s no correlation between sales presentation and performance, but we’re making an exception this time because the Mamba’s packaging is sheer genius. The mouse comes mounted on a clear plastic pedestal inside a tall Plexiglass case—there are no wires to be seen. The wireless transceiver (which doubles as a charging station cum display stand when the mouse isn’t being used), battery, USB cable, and documentation are all hidden inside cardboard drawers that slide out of the base as though it were a jewelry box. Once you get it home, you’ll appreciate the pictograms on the side of the box that illustrate how to extricate the device from its Rodeo Drive enclosure.
As with Microsoft’s SideWinder X8, you can use the Mamba as a wired mouse while you’re charging it, but you’ll need to unplug Razer’s special USB cable from the charging stand to do so. Razer isn’t using a proprietary USB configuration, it’s just that the socket is inside the cleft at the front of the mouse, and we couldn’t find any other mini cable that would fit in that space. Although it is proprietary, we much prefer Microsoft’s magnetic-button design. An LED on the side of the Mamba keeps you informed of its battery status. Razer claims a fully charged battery will last for 14 hours of continuous gaming, and 72 hours of normal gaming usage (whatever “normal” means).
The Mamba cuts a much more svelte profile than the either the SideWinder X8 or the Logitech G9x gaming mouse (which we on March 18), but it’s actually equally as wide at its base as the bulbous X8. Still, the Mamba felt so much more comfortable in our palm than either of its competitors. A rubberized skin covering its buttons and most of its surface area lend it a suppleness that just feels, for lack of a better word, natural.
The Mamba has no fewer than nine action buttons: There’s the usual left and right button on top, two large thumb buttons in tandem on the left side, and two smaller buttons in tandem to the left of and slightly below the top left mouse button. The final button is in the scroll wheel. The default functions for the large thumb buttons are forward and back (for web browsing, for instance); and the default function of the smaller buttons is to activate on-the-fly sensitivity changes that enable you to switch from covering lots of on-screen territory to making precision movements very quickly. You can set the Mamba’s sensitivity anywhere between 100 dots per inch (DPI) for precision (editing a digital photo, for instance) to 5,600 DPI. You can also set up between two and five on-the-fly sensitivity values. What’s more, you can set one sensitivity level for movement along the X axis, and an independent value for the Y axis.
Seven of these action buttons can be custom programmed using Razer’s configuration software, and these settings can be stored as profiles in the mouse’s resident memory, so that they can be activated with any computer the mouse happens to be plugged into. (On-the-fly sensitivity, however, does require the host PC to have a Mamba driver installed). Profiles can be tied to specific applications, too, so that launching a particular game automatically configures the mouse for the appropriate play style.
Usability and Conclusion
As much as we liked the amount of resistance the SideWinder X8’s buttons offered, the Mamba’s feel even better. We didn’t need to lift our thumb to switch between the two side buttons, and the two smaller side buttons were within easy reach of our index finger. The rubberized scroll button is vastly superior to Microsoft’s slippery devil, but just slightly inferior to the one on Logitech’s G9x.
Unlike Logitech, Razer doesn’t provide a means of changing the Mamba’s physical characteristics with different grips or weights, but we find it difficult to imagine how this mouse could feel any better in our hand. Aside from its oddly one-sided tilting scroll wheel and quasi-proprietary USB cable, we just can’t find anything to complain about.
- Very comfortable
- Precise control
- Highly programmable
- Odd tilt wheel
- Quasi-proprietary USB cable