Sometimes it’s only clear how far we’ve come when you spend a moment looking back. Take the best gaming mouse, for instance. A decade ago, getting anything beyond 3,200 DPI (‘dots per inch’, or how fast your cursor can move) was good going. Now we’re averaging ten times that kind of speed. Until Razer upped the ante, anyway.
Their new Viper mouse range - including an ambidextrous model, the wireless Viper Ultimate, and the Viper Mini - aims to give us both the most accurate sensor and quickest click possible. And you know what? They manage it. Mostly, anyway. We went hands-on with the standard Viper and the Mini (the Ultimate is identical to the former bar its wireless capability and a faster DPI), and both excel. Designed with esports in mind and tested extensively by competitors, these are mice built to perform.
No matter which version you get, the Viper's headlining feature would have to be its speed. That has a lot to do with weight - or lack of it. The standard model sits at a dainty 69g, while the Mini comes in at a mere 61g thanks to its smaller size. Even though the wireless Ultimate weighs a chunkier 74g, that’s still 10-20g less than the competition. This allows each mouse to glide effortlessly across your mouse pad with a minimal amount of force.
Secondly, every Viper has noteworthy tech under the hood. The standard model packs a 5G optical sensor and up to 16,000 DPI, while the Ultimate can reach a blazingly fast 20,000 DPI. Although the Mini only has 8,500 DPI by comparison, it's still a high-precision sensor that'll more than do the job. Because the latter is also significantly cheaper, it remains an appealing option.
And to be honest, the real stars are Razer's brand-new Optical Switches. The original Viper was the first Razer pointer to feature them, and they allow for a damn-near instantaneous response upon clicking. Wondering how? Most mice use internal metal contacts to register your clicks, and that slows things down due to the technological jiggery pokery required to clean up the resulting signals. Meanwhile, each Viper's Optical Switches don’t need physical contact at all. They utilise an infrared light beam instead that shoots an electrical signal straight to your computer. Basically, this means the Viper range reacts fast. Very fast. When combined with 8 programmable buttons (6 for the Mini) and that ambidextrous design in the case of the standard Viper and Viper Ultimate, you have a formidable set of gaming mice on your hands.
The Viper’s something of a departure for Razer: rather than the smooth, continuous shell you’ll be used to seeing on their other pointers, this has a more modular look. Split into sections and divided by a sizeable groove in the plastic, it gives the impression of a kit-bash. That won’t be to everyone’s tastes, and neither will the original Viper's RGB branding. Here, that iconic Razer logo is hidden beneath a layer of plastic that's only visible when connected to your PC or laptop.
Still, this does provide a focused air - all other distractions have been stripped away. Indeed, there’s a surprising lack of RGB tomfoolery here in general, other than a strip on the underside of the Viper Mini (which does feature the Razer logo more prominently on the outer shell). That makes it a good choice for esports players who are more interested in performance than flash.
With that in mind, it's hard to criticise the design too much. It's tailor-made for peak performance. The Viper and Viper Ultimate’s sides are made up of tiny rubber hexagons that provide a lot of grip, for example, while the matte buttons are pleasant underhand. Equally, the braided Speedflex Cable on all three models offers a smooth glide with less drag than usual. Yes, it's a shame that the Mini doesn't have the added grip or ambidextrous features of its big brothers. But it's still excellent for the price you're paying.
The result of these bells and whistles is impressive. In short, the Razer Viper range handles exceptionally well. Their feather-light weight and optical sensors mean that your cursor flies across the screen at the slightest push, allowing you to have exceptional control in-game. Meanwhile, those Optical Switches result in lightning-fast clicks that are more than handy during a multiplayer firefight. They require very little force to actuate, too.
It’s plain satisfying to use, as well. Even though the Viper isn't as comfortable as a dedicated left or right-handed mouse, it's not far off. Equally, the side buttons are cleverly positioned to ensure you won’t accidentally hit them during play. It’s a shame that the unused side buttons aren’t disabled as per the Corsair M55 RGB Pro, but that’s a small niggle in the grand scheme of things (and I guess it also means you could switch from a left to right grip at the drop of a hat).
In fact, the only real issue I had with the Viper was its method of changing DPI mode. The button for doing so is located on the underside of the mouse without any clear labelling, and while that keeps it away from the specter of an accidental press, it's a nuisance to change on the fly. Considering the fact that there's a handy little cutout below the scroll-wheel where it could have gone (and wouldn't have been in the way), that seems like an odd oversight - particularly because swapping DPI up or down to suit your weapon seems perfect for an esports-focused mouse. I sadly didn't manage to go hands-on with the wireless Ultimate model to compare, but it presumably has the same shortcoming - it's otherwise identical to the standard Viper.
That's where the Mini comes into its own. This one does have a DPI button at the top, and it's so much better for it. It's arguably more practical, even if it lacks the ridged sides for superior control.
Don't worry about the Mini's size letting you down, either. It's comfortable to use and doesn't feel at all cramped. That makes it perfect as a travelling companion for your laptop or in tournaments. At a sub $40 / £40 price, you can't go wrong with it as a secondary pointer you take with you on the go.
The Razer Viper range makes a lot of promises, but it manages to keep them all. This is a fast, responsive, comfortable, and exceedingly lightweight collection of mice that'll serve you well. Even though a few quirks stop them from being a homerun, they're pretty fantastic otherwise.