Razer DeathAdder Review

Author: Kevin Spiess
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/razerdeathadder/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

You might have been in this situation: you are finally going to build a new home gaming PC. You've saved up a wad of extra cash from your night job, school bursaries or loan sharking, and now you are all set to finally build that proper gaming machine you have always wanted. So you budget it out: fast CPU, check, high-end video card, check, mounds of RAM, check; and check and check down the list. 

Then you get to the hardware store. (Or you ordered it online and that package arrives the mail.) And finally, you realize, that you forgot all about something important. You forgot about the mouse. 

While the mouse isn't the first thing that may come to mind when they think about upgrading, it is arguably just as important as any other considering in your gaming PC build. A cheap $10 mouse may get the job done, but for the amount of time you may be spending with your mouse, investing in a quality mouse can be a worthwhile idea. Today we'll be looking at a possible candidate you could consider: the Razer DeathAdder.

Razer products have been around for just over a decade now. While the company sells keyboards, headphones, and a few other assorted products, the company was built on gaming mice, and that is their primary focus. From the get-go, all of Razer's products have been made and marketed to gamers. With the company motto 'For Gamers. By Gamers' they've been focused on PC gamers from the get-go. The company started things off with a bang in the late '90s with their first product, the Boomslang, the world's first mouse featuring a 1000 dpi mouse, and since then, they've become a regular sponsored of a wide berth of gaming competitions, and pro-gamers themselves.

Before we get to look at the DeathAdder, let's take a look at the Razer's line-up briefly, so we can see where it fits in. Razer has kept busy over the years, releasing special and limited editions of their mice. Let's put those aside for now and just look at the main line-up -- including the newest model, the Imperator, which just came out this week:

 

Model dpi Sensor type Speciality? Price (USD)
Salmosa 1800 3G Infrared Value $40
Krait 1600 Infrared RTS / MMORPG $50
Abyssus 3500 3.5G Infrared Highly responsive buttons $50
Diamondback 1800 3G Infrared All-round / FPS $50
DeathAdder 3500 3.5G Infrared All-round   $60
Copperhead 2000 Laser All-round $70
Lachesis 4000 3G Laser All-round w/ better sensor $80
Imperator 5600 3.5G Laser Ergonomics $80
Naga 5600 3.5G Laser MMO $80
Orochi 4000 3G Laser Notebooks (Bluetooth) $80
Mamba 5600 3.5G Laser Dual mode (wired/wireless) $130

 

As you can see, Razer endeavors to have an option available for anyone after a gaming mouse, whether they are looking for something on the lower-end, or the higher-end. What you can't tell from the chart above is the details concerning the various specializations each mouse features. For example, the Naga is aimed at the MMO crowed, with a massive amount of customizable buttons. Whereas the Imperator specializes in ergonomics, and pursues this with adjustable buttons. Almost each Razer mouse has a feature or two that separates it from the rest of the line-up.

So where does that leave the DeathAdder? Well, as you can see, in broad terms the DeathAdder is mid-range, all-around'er; along with the Copperhead and Diamondback. Of these three mid-range, all-around mice, the DeathAdder is priced in the middle. So in the simplest terms the DeathAdder can be considered the quintessential all-purpose mid-range mouse in Razer's extensive line-up.

Let's take a look at some of the features now. On the next page we'll take a look at this rodent and then we'll get into some hands on testing.

First off, the sensor. The DeathAdder features Razer's 3500 dpi Precision™ 3.5G infrared sensor. Your common every-day office mouse has a dpi (dots per inch, the most common metric measuring mouse sensor sensitivity) of probably between 600 and 800. So with a 3500 dpi sensor, you have the potential for over 4x the accuracy when you are trying to line-up headshots, the right angle for your 'cone of cold' spell, or trying to nail that Mig on your six (or what have you).

This 3500 dpi sensor is actually a recent change to the DeathAdder. Up until recently, the DeathAdder had a 1800 dpi sensor -- which is still a very capable sensor, but not as impressive when compared to the higher-end stuff like the Lachesis, or other competitors. (By the way, if you are looking for a good deal, you might consider tracking down the 'version 1.0' of the mouse, with the 1800 dpi sensor -- many online stores seems to be selling it at a discounted price now.)

Technical specifications

Here are some of the specs for the DeathAdder, taken from Razer's website. The '*' signifies that these items were recently added to the DeathAdder in the latest product refresh.

Packaging

Before we spend some time with the DeathAdder, let's briefly check out what comes in first.

Razer could have opted to save a bit of money and go with a standard cardboard box, but chose not to. The packaging is well designed, and slick. It is the sort packaging that I imagine a luxury item might come in, like a Porsche Design watch for example. Sure, in the big scheme of things packaging doesn't mean much to gamers -- but here the quality packaging  does contribute to the idea that you are getting a high-end, uncommon PC peripheral fit for real PC gamers and not the common World of Warcraft peon, when you first crack it all open. 

Installation

Now on to the hands-on phase of this review. Naturally, we'll start off with the installation of the DeathAdder.

Being a mouse, you can only get so complicated with an installation process. As you'd expect, it is a very straight-forward procedure. Un-box mouse, plug into a free USB port, then get the software. Pretty simple stuff.

However Razer did something interesting here, when it comes to the driver software. The DeathAdder actually doesn't come a driver CD, like almost all PC hardware does. Instead it directs you to Razer's website to download it. This works for me; generally power-users and gamers probably download the latest driver for whatever new product they might purchase, instead of getting it off the CD, just out of habit. And the mouse operates as a normal mouse until the software is installed anyways; so not having the CD is not an inconvenience.

Let's take a look at the software.

Overall, we have to say that whoever made the Razer DeathAdder control software did a bang-up job it. The interface, in our opinion, is great, easy to use, and has all functionality that you could want. It only takes up about 10MB of RAM as well, which is entirely reasonable.

After you install the software, the Razer logo icon will turn up in your system tray. Click it and you can configure your mouse to your heart's content.

For the DeathAdder, you have the ability to select what each of the 5 buttons does. Further, you can change the assignments for the scroll wheel as well. It's an easy system to use.

 


The DeathAdder has 32KB of on-mouse memory, which allows for quick changing between up to 5 different customizable profiles. If you are a super-keen gamer you could, for example, make profiles for each game currently at the top of your rotation. So for Dragon Age, you could set up the side buttons to switch targets; or for your other profile, for Burnout Paradise, the side buttons could be customized to change gears. You get the idea.

Further options on the main panel of the Razer software allow you to turn the mouse lights off, change the polling rate (which is basically determines how often your computer looks to the mouse for movement updates), change the dpi sensitivity (for a FPS you might want top sensitivity, but then if you wanted to web browse something like 900 might be more appropriate).

Let's take a look at the sensitivity sub-menus that extend from the left of the main control panel.

Here you can adjust the sensitivity of the mouse, on a scale from 1 to 10. You can also change the speed of the scroll wheel here. Below these sensitivity commands there is a double click slider -- that gray target area there is a little testing space where you can double click (the target breaks when you do) to easily determine your favorite speed.

As we said, this software caused us zero headaches, and has a lot of functionality. And that is all we ask of driver software.

 

So now we've looked at everything except for the big, important question: Just how was the mouse in action?

Some other hardware reviewers handle mouse reviews with a maximum helping of graphs filled with metrics that won't mean all that much to many readers; so we thought that instead, you'd be more interested in just hearing how our experiences with the DeathAdder went. So, that's just what we'll do.

To begin with, the DeathAdder is a comfortable mouse. Just so you know where I'm coming from, I'm a 5'8" male with hands a bit on the smaller side (all the better for installing motherboards is what I tell the ladies). For me, the DeathAdder fit my hand quite well. If you have hands above average size, I think the DeathAdder would work out for you, as it has an above-average length; but we can only say how the things went for us small-handed folks -- and for us, things went well. The ergonomics are good -- but also note if you are left-handed this isn't the Razer model for you.

The top of the DeathAdder is made out of good quality material. It is a type of hard rubber. It is not prone to dirt, and feels comfortable, and offers a nice grip. It is a superior material to use for a mouse than found in your average everyday-mouse. However we liked this material so much that it would have been nice if it was used for the construction of the side of the mouse; instead, a more common, lighter plastic is used, that feels inferior in comparison.

We'll borrow one of Razer's images here, to show how slick the mouse looks with the LED's on.

The layout of the mouse is also quite good. The two primary buttons have a good amount of feedback and 'click' to them, and the mouse wheel also feels high quality and rolls smoothly. For us, five buttons (top two, mouse wheel, two side) feels like the perfect amount. Having two on the side works well -- it's not too many that you are going to be fiddling about needlessly, incorrectly hitting the wrong extra button accidentally. By default, the two side mouse buttons operate as forward in back in a web browser. Before not too long you'll be missing having them there when web browsing.

The 3500 dpi sensor suited the DeathAdder just fine. I haven't used the older model DeathAdder, but I was able to simulate its performance by decreasing the sensitivity in the Razer menu. Fine control and head-shots all came a much easier with the DeathAdder in action, compared to my everyday mouse I was using before (with an 800 dpi sensor). It does not seem like going above 3500 dpi would even bring much additional benefit -- perhaps 3500 dpi is suitable for everyone but a pro-gamer, or hardcore clan-member FPS fan. However we admit that this might not be fair to say without having used a 5600 dpi sensor before. 

That's all the major stuff. Here's some of the smaller factor stuff: the mouse feet are (surprise surprise) high-quality. They seem a bit prone to picking up mouse-pad slime but we expect they will last a long time. The cable of the DeathAdder received an upgrade -- however we dispute the 'tangle-free' claim. In fact just in the two weeks of regular operation our cable seemed to pick up some small, but inflexible, little kinks. Nothing serious at all but worth a mention. The gold-plated USB looks slick but we don't expect that it will actually improve connectivity response rates a noticeable amount. However it is nice little added touch.

Okay it is time for a confession. That guy who built a gaming rig and forgot about the mouse? That was me one day, a few years back. And the second part of this confession is that the Razer DeathAdder is one of only a handful of gaming mice that I have used for an extended period of time. I thought that was forthcoming to mention, as I can not say in all honesty that I have extensive experience with many models of high-end mice -- compared to my last mouse, the DeathAdder is a Rolls Royce.

With that being said, let me say that the DeathAdder definitely left a positive impression on me. Razer seems to know their audience well, and you really get the sense when using the DeathAdder that there are gamers in this company.

The DeathAdder is an all-around good mouse that we'd recommend. If you consider just how many hours you are going to spend using a mouse over the course of your PC's lifespan, than it seems entirely reasonable to not just stick with a budget mouse -- especially if you are a gamer, or would benefit from precision control at your workplace. While any mouse that sells for say, over $80 might be a tough sell to many of us, the DeathAdder going for $50 to $60 USD seems like a fine idea, and a fair price. Furthermore, while the more elaborate mice (with 8+ buttons) may seem like overkill,  the DeathAdder has a simple and effective 5-button design going for it, which we imagine pretty much anyone being able to appreciate. Pair this with the upgraded 3500 dpi sensor, and the added bonus of the grade A+ software, we can't see anyone being dissatisfied with the Razer DeathAdder. It would make for a good, new tool in any PC gamers' arsenal.

»Neoseeker.com

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