Razer DeathAdder 2013 Specifications:
Lots of things are important when it comes to computers: a good graphics card, a powerful processor, plenty of RAM, cooling to ensure it doesn’t blow up in your face, a good screen to stare at and a fantastic keyboard with which to hurl virtual abuse at people you don’t know on Youtube. But something that can easily get overlooked is a good mouse. Since you use it for absolutely everything, having a quality mouse can increase your gaming enjoyment massively as you command armies and shoot more ammunition that your average war manages to get through.. So, it’s with a sigh and a heavy heart that I force myself to sit down and test out Razer’s latest edition of their DeathAdder. God, my job is tough, it really is.
As befits the chilling name which sounds like it should actually be printed on the side of a sniper rifle that fires high-velocity snakes, the Razer DeathAdder 2013 boasts a sleek and sexy design and a simple black paint job. Sitting in the box the mouse looks nice but far from anything special. Plug the 7ft long, braided, gold-plated USB cable into your PC, though, and suddenly the DeathAdder comes alive with a otherworldly green light that you’d usually only associate with UFOs coming to abduct you and do unspeakable things to your…what was I saying again? The scrolling wheel sports two glowing green lines along either side of it, while the Razer logo on the back of the mouse pulsates green, generating raw menace and sexiness. Aesthetic design is a purely personal thing, so I cannot comment for the rest of the human race, but to this gamer the DeathAdder is one seriously nice looking piece of kit, so much so that I proudly showed it off to everyone that came around to my house, shoving it in their faces and demanding that they make appreciative cooing sounds if they ever wanted to get out alive.
The entire mouse has been carefully crafted to fit snugly into your right hand, although lefties shouldn’t feel left (HA!) out as there’s a version available for you too, you strange, strange, people. It’s coated in a slightly textured paint that feels nice on the hand, and on either side are two, small rubber grips for your fingers. The DeathAdder sports a total of five buttons: the standard two on the top, the wheel itself and two more buttons on the lower left-hand side where your thumb shall obviously be resting on its mighty laurels, ready to be called in to action at the merest sign of virtual violence. These days most companies tend to slap buttons on their mice like they’re afraid somebody will cut their budget if they don’t, clogging up the design with more than even your average MMO player could possibly ever need. However, this mouse feels designed primarily with FPS games in mind and so the button count has been kept nice and low, and I for one am glad of that, because really, how many buttons do I need to shoot somebody in the face? However, during testing I did find that I wanted one more button on the DeathAdder, the reasons for which I’ll come back to later.
When it comes to ergonomics the design of the DeathAdder left me impressed for the most part. The mouse fits nicely into my hand with my thumb resting neatly along the closest side button so that using it was incredibly comfortable, requiring just a slight flex to click it and bring death to whomever had annoyed me enough that a button required pressing. However, I did find the furthest away side-button didn’t fall so easily into my reach, requiring me to stretch my thumb a little awkwardly to get to it. It should be noted that this is using a standard palm grip. It’s not a huge flaw, but for someone like me who has their melee attacks in games like Black Ops II mapped to that button it can be a little bit annoying when desperately attempting to slash someone who got in my way at an inconvenient time. The top buttons feature a slight curve to their design and are quite wide, again meeting my approval. In short the DeathAdder is a comfortable mouse indeed, although I would have liked a curved wing for my thumb to rest on. Hey, don’t look at me like that: my thumb works hard and deserves the best. And finally a slightly higher area for my palm, but that’s very much personal preference.
The buttons on the Death Adder all use what Razer call their Hyperesponse technology which offers quite a few benefits that I quickly noticed when using in comparison to my usual mouse, which is a beautiful little thing in its own right but seriously outdated at this point in its life. The buttons require very little pressure to activate – usually just the slightest increase is needed – and are incredibly responsive. At first this was actually a bit of a problem as I find myself accidentally clicking the top buttons when I didn’t mean to, simply because I’d moved my hand a little when adjusting my grip, but once I got used to it I utterly loved how responsive the buttons were. The second big benefit is that both the top two buttons allow for some considerable range in where you can press and activate them, so no matter what position my hand was in I had no problem using them. They also offer a nice level of tactile response with a lovely audible click, although the side buttons feel a tad clunky in comparison. Finally the scrolling wheel feels fantastic to use when gaming thanks to a series of sizable indents to ensure that it doesn’t skip when using it to select weapons, something which I’ve found to be a problem with many mice in the past. However, the downside is this means the wheel doesn’t feel as good for browsing the web as a mouse with a smoother wheel. That’s a small price to pay for being able to select your secondary weapon properly in a fight without looking like a fumbling idiot who can’t decide which gun he wants to use.
I should mention, though, that the DeathAdder does feel a little cheap, despite its slightly hefty price tag. I can’t put my finger on it, although the fact it’s pretty light does factor in to it, but when using the Death Adder it simply doesn’t feel like £65 worth of product. It doesn’t feel solid. However, I couldn’t actually find anything wrong with the overall build quality of it apart from the slightly clunky side buttons, and the braided cable with gold-plated USB connection was a much appreciated touch. Obviously I can’t comment on how long the DeathAdder will hold up under continuous usage. There’s a fair amount of criticism floating around the internet aimed at past Razer products saying that they often develop problems after a while of use, but for the sake of this review I obviously couldn’t spend months testing their latest DeathAdder to the extreme to be able to tell you if it handles constant abuse.
Right, so now that we’ve got all of that out of the way let’s move on to actually setting up the mouse and playing around with your configuration options. Upon plugging in the mouse you’ll be prompted to download Razer’s Synapse 2.o software, unless you’ve already used another Razer product, in which case you’ll already have it installed and just need to sign in to your account. We do hit an annoying snag here, though: Synapse 2.0 requires you to have an internet connection to activate the software. You can use the DeathAdder by simply plugging the mouse in and ignoring the software, but that means you won’t be able to access most of the mouse’s features, making all that money you spent feel like a bit of a waste. Once you’ve actually set up your account you can switch to offline mode and everything will work fine, but it’s irritating nonetheless that you need to have internet access to use the mouse to its fullest capabilities. Older Razer mice came with a chunk of memory built-in to them that stored their drivers and settings and thus requiring no internet activation on the users behalf while making adjusting settings easy. Razer’s reason for changing to the Synapse 2.0 software is that they found having such memory was raising the prices of their products, but that doesn’t quite click with me. However, the mouse must have a small amount of onboard memory, because when I unplugged it and then plugged it into a computer with no internet connection it retained my previous settings.
Regardless, Synapse 2.0 is the software where you’ll configure everything to do with your mouse, from the DPI settings to how you want the buttons mapped. This shouldn’t be a problem for most, but it’s worth noting for those with a lower-end PC the DeathAdder can use up some of your processing power between its Synapse 2.0 software and its maximum 1000Hz polling capabilities, which is essentially the rate with which the mouse communicates with your computer, with a higher rate usually providing far more accuracy. Obviously, though, you can lower the polling rate if your processor is struggling a little.
These problems aside, the Synapse 2.0 software is a breeze to use with a simple user interface ensuring that everything is nice and easy to understand so that even the most utterly technologically impaired human can figure it all out. From the software you can set up an infinite amount of profiles (thanks to them being saved in that magical Cloud thingy) which store your settings for ease of switching between them, turn on and off the mouse’s lighting, configure the button settings and create macros, a feature that is very easy to use. More importantly, though, Synapse 2.0 is where you can adjust the mouse’s DPI setting, which can be set anywhere from 100 to a pretty substantial 6400. From Synapse you can also adjust the polling rate, which can be set at 125mhz, 500mhz or the full 1000mhz, and alter the lift-off settings. There’s also an option to select which Razer mouse mat or surface you’re using, and if you are not using a Razer product you can also calibrate the mouse for whatever surface you’ve got by following the on-screen instructions. You can also set up five different DPI “Stages”, which allow you to quickly swap between DPI settings by selecting one of the five stages from the menu.
Sadly, though, there’s no dedicated button on the mouse itself to swap betweenDPI settings. However, you can remap one of the mouse buttons to swap between the different sensitivity stages, but obviously that means giving up a button to do so, and when there’s only five buttons available that’s a tough proposition. There’s also an “On-the-fly” mode that you can assign to almost any button on the mouse which turns the scroll wheel into a DPI adjuster when held down, with an on-screen bar appearing so you can track what level you’re at. Once again, though, this means giving up on of your precious buttons, and oddly the on-screen bar doesn’t show up if you’re playing a game, either, which makes using it a bit tricky. Finally there’s a DPI clutch, which when held down changes the DPI to whatever you set the clutch at, the concept being that you could use it when sniping to turn down mouse sensitivity. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, though, that again requires a button to be surrendered. With all five buttons on the DeathAdder used up when I was gaming, giving up even one to utilise another of the mouse’s features was a hard thing to do, and so I found myself wishing it had another button or two, like the Razer Mamba does.
All of this means nothing, though. We can talk technical all day, but what matters is how the mouse feels when in use. You see, I’m not exactly up to speed when it comes to the arguments about whether a very high DPI is actually better or not, even after countless hours of reading various arguments, threads and articles online in an attempt to swat up for writing this review. There are people who argue a high DPI is a good thing while other’s argue it means very little other than being a number marketing like to throw on boxes, and I just don’t have the expertise to even attempt to wade in to the debate, all guns blazing and tell you that I know better. Ultimately what matters is what feels good to you, and what I can tell you is that the Razer Death Adder performed wonderfully on every setting I tried it, from the lowest to the very highest 6400 DPI. Usually I find optical mice struggle a little at the lower end of the spectrum but it performed solidly, although arguably no better than several other mice on the market. At more standard ranges the mouse performed very nicely indeed and felt far better than most. At the highest DPI rate with the full 1000Hz polling it was a joy to use, as smooth and precise as I’ve ever felt from a mouse, able to register the slightest of movements without a problem. Not once did the mouse appear to jump or skip pixels on me, the 4G optical sensor providing completely accurate tracking no matter what I was doing. Where the mouse seemed at its peak, though, was at 1800 DPI where its performance was flawless. Perhaps this is the mouse’s native DPI, or maybe that DPI just clicked with me personally, I can’t say, but damn did it feel good!. Can I claim I became a better gamer because of the DeathAdder? That’s hard to say. I certainly felt like I was doing better on Black Ops 2, able to respond quickly and accurately to every threat, and my score certainly seemed to be higher than usual because of it. Topping off the mouse’s performance was the mouse’s slick feet that worked brilliantly with the Ozone mouse mat I was using during testing. In other words, I honestly can’t fault the mouse’s performance: it was fantastic to use across its entire DPI spectrum.
Quite simply said, the Razer Death Adder 2013 is a great piece of kit that I believe any gamer will be proud to own and use. There’s a few problems here and there and some changes I would like to see made to the mouse, but regardless of these it’s still a great product that feels nice in the hand and performs very, very well, from the lowest DPI settings to the highest. It’s a little on the expensive side, but it’s worth it.
+ Looks great.
+ Fits nicely into the hand.
+ Smooth and precise.
– five-button count can be a problem.
– Feels a little cheap.
– A bit expensive.
The Verdict: 4
There’s really not much to fault with Razer’s latest Death Adder. There’s a few changes, tweaks and little improvements that could be made, some of which fall to personal preference, but otherwise this is a comfortable mouse that boasts great performance.