Ah, the mouse. When you have a good one, you take it for granted. When you have a crappy one, you definitely notice. When you finally find one that you enjoy, you fall into a comfort zone that prevents you from seeking out a better tool for the job.
This is the struggle that companies such as Razer face. It is an uphill battle. They have to win the hearts and minds of the gaming public and convince you that your mouse isn’t good enough – you need something better to get an edge on the opponent who has ‘figured it out’.
Today we’ll see if they are successful. We will be looking at the Razer Copperhead and the Razer Krait. Both of these mice are designed specifically for gamers and are marketed and supported as such.
Is it worth it? Can a mouse be “better” for a specific task such as RTS gaming or FPS gaming? Read on to find out this humble reviewer’s opinion
First we’ll look at the Copperhead. The Razer packaging is very detailed, but the marketing stuff they put on the box is almost laughable. They make undeniably brash claims about superiority over standard mice, as well as letting you know how much you’ll destroy the competition who use junk mice. I know the marketing people get paid to do this, but it does seem a bit excessive.
Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: The Copperhead is not like any other mouse I’ve ever used. The size, shape, and feel of it are almost alien. It is like learning how to use a whole new input device. It is very sensitive and it grips weird. I have smallish hands for a man, and I found myself having to learn how to hold it differently. Instead of resting my wrist on the table/mouse pad, I had to slide my hand about an inch forward, causing my to have to arch my hand a bit. Also, you cannot grip the sides with your thumb and your ring/pinky finger- you need to slightly move them up to grip the rubber things on the side (In the picture, these are the things that are lit up green). If you grip it like a normal mouse, you will be pressing side buttons on accident, as they are small and very sensitive. It may be just my hands, but I could barely reach the scroll wheel with a normal mouse grip. Basically what I am saying is you need to hold it a different way, and get used to it, or this is not the mouse for you.
Once you get used to it, it’s a whole different story. I found myself starting to prefer the feel of the Copperhead rather than my current Logitech G5. Admittedly, the G5 seems like a bit of a cow next to the Copperhead. The Copperhead is narrower and shorter. When I first installed the Razer software that I downloaded from their web site, and fired up UT2K4, it crashed. Not very encouraging. UT2K4 has never crashed on me before. Later, I thought perhaps it was because I had Logitech’s G5 driver installed. I uninstalled the Logitech driver, reinstalled the Razer driver, rebooted, and it’s been fine since.
The software is pretty, without a doubt. I will admit however that I am starting to tire of the “OMGZ XTREME HARDCORE ULTIMATE” look. You know the one – it’s the one with all the dark colors and rusty looking stuff. In fact, the interface of the Razer software looks like it comes right out of Doom III. And there’s always gotta be a grid in the background, you know?
Aesthetics aside, the software is functional and easy to figure out. The cool thing about the Copperhead is that it has onboard memory and you can upload profiles to it, so even if you plug it into a different computer, the button config and sensitivity settings stay the same. There is a small button on the bottom of the mouse that you can press to select one of five profiles. You can’t do it on the fly really (unless you want to flip your mouse over in-game and press a button a few times) but it works.
So how does it actually work? Good. As far a mice go, I’d rather have a gaming mouse than a standard windows mouse. The Copperhead is a super-sensitive, extremely twitchy mouse. Even when you crank the sensitivity down it still feels jumpy. I let my twelve year old nephew (an avid Counter Strike player) use it for a week. He said, “At first I thought it was really twitchy, but after a while I got used to it. When you first start using it you have to turn the mouse sensitivity down to about 5.0 just to be able to move it and see the cursor, but now I put it up to about 11.0 and am able to play really sensitive games like Counter Strike:Source. It’s a good mouse but it takes a while to get used to it.”
That’s as good a summary as I could come up with. Basically this is a tool that you have to get used to. This is a device that will generate a lot of opinions, with very little middle ground. You either love it or you can’t stand it. But if you have a chance to try it, I would recommend giving it the time to get used to it, because this is not something you are going to be able to plug in right away and start fragging ten times better than you did before.
One major complaint I have is the side buttons on the right side. If you are right handed, these would be the buttons for your pinky and ring finger. They are set back way too far to be useful at all. You have to bend your whole hand to access them and then you’re not sure which one you are hitting. Trying to use them was an exercise in frustration and futility. I realize that the mouse is perfectly symmetrical, so that it works equally well for righties or lefties, but if you take a quick glance at the human hand (you may have one or two), you will see that it is not symmetrical at all. Ergonomics be damned. They could have just left the buttons off and gone with the two thumb buttons. Even the thumb buttons are smaller than I would have liked. I ended up not using any of the side buttons in the end.
I do a lot of Photoshop work as well, and I’m going to be honest and say this mouse is not great for that. As far as an all-purpose “replace your other mouse for good” thing goes, the Copperhead is not it, at least for me.
If I was a professional FPS player, I might choose the Copperhead as my mouse. It’s really going to boil down to a matter of opinion. Don’t believe the hype, it’s not going to improve your game, but if you find your current mouse lacking in the gaming department, this would be a suitable replacement if you’re willing to invest the time into mastering it.
The claims that are made on the box of this mouse have got to be some of the most over-the-top I’ve ever seen. “Pumped with an APM rate that will deliver an adrenaline rush”. Huh?
APM is a term I’ve never heard of (except for Advanced Power Management). I found tiny print on the box with an asterisk that explains: “Actions Per Minute is the number of actions completed within a minute of gameplay in a real-time strategy game.” What? Google was no help. Obviously this is a term that Razer came up with to put some big fancy number on the box. Gamers love numbers, you know. So at any rate the Krait boasts an “APM” of up to 1200.
I’ll be perfectly frank: There is no way a mouse is going to have any effect on your “APM” in a strategy game. The game itself has something to do with it, as well as the play style of the individual.
I’ll tell you exactly what the Krait is: It is a way for Razer to introduce people to their mice with a more palatable price point than the $55+ Copperhead. It is a fairly stripped down high-end mouse. Allow me to explain:
The Copperhead, like the Logitech G5 and G7, is a laser-based mouse. Very precise, you can use it on any surface, etc. The Krait is optical. Since I came from a Logitech MX1000, graduated to a G5, and then used the Copperhead, it’s been quite a while since I’ve used an optical mouse. I don’t have a mouse pad anymore, so when I first plugged the Krait in, it worked horribly. I could not figure out why it was working so badly, and I was beginning to formulate a horrible review. I played with the software for about a half hour and gave up. Finally I was looking at the bottom for maybe some clue, such as a dirty sensor, when I realized this was optical instead of laser. A mousepad changed everything, and it started working like a mouse is supposed to.
Fine, Razer went optical instead of laser. I’m no mouse engineer but the only reason I can think of this is the price factor.
Next we have the lack of any side buttons. I read somewhere that Razer claimed this was because the mouse is “optimized” for RTS/MMOG play, where those pesky extra buttons would be accidentally clicked. Why would they not be accidentally clicked in a first person shooter? I don’t know. Some of the other cheap-outs seem aesthetic. The Copperhead’s side lights are bright and consistent, while the Krait’s side lights look like there is one orange LED on each side and they are relying on a diffusion effect to light the whole side. The Copperhead features a glowing Razer logo on top, which is a cool effect. The Krait is just solid plastic with a screened Krait logo on it. These things are ultimately unimportant, but overall left me with the impression that the Krait has had some corners cut.
Okay, enough tearing it apart. It’s a good mouse, honestly. I think I like it better than the Copperhead, for the sole reason that it is MUCH more comfortable for me. It fits nicely. The scroll wheel is just right, the buttons are perfect, and the side grips well placed. I really like the smooth rubber they use on the mouse buttons, as well as whatever switch they use inside – the buttons are very responsive and give a nice satisfying click. The scroll wheel also has a very solid, rugged feel to it. There’s no accidental scroll-slippage as is common with cheaper mice.
This would be much more suitable as a total replacement mouse than the Copperhead would. In fact, they make a great team. This may say something – I am using the Krait right now. When I was reviewing the Copperhead, I found myself going back to my Logitech G5 for normal windows stuff, and Photoshop work. However, my G5 has been unplugged now for four days and I haven’t felt the need to unplug the Krait for any reason. It is sensitive, well built, and attractive, as well as being very comfortable to use.
Optimized for RTS or MMOG gaming? I’m going to go out on a limb here and call BS on the whole thing. I think Razer should just drop the marketing garbage, slice $10 off the price, and put this out there as a great “all around replacement” mouse. It’s really good, and I would recommend it for all general purpose use, even gaming – unless you really need those side buttons.
The only other feature I miss (on both the mice) is the left/right scroll of the mouse wheel that some of the Microsoft and newer Logitech mice feature. Again, especially when working on Photoshop, that left/right scroll feature comes in handy.
If you are left-handed, you would definitely love these mice. You can swap the buttons in the software.
If you have the money, a Krait paired with a Copperhead would make a great team – use the Krait for everything except for FPS gaming, and then bust out the ol’ Copperhead when you want to impress your friends at a LAN party or really take your 1337 sniper skillz to the next level. Of course, not many of us are going to have the luxury of spending a hundred dollars or more on two mice, so for you I say seriously consider buying a Krait as a general all-purpose, high quality primary mouse. If you like the bling-bling factor, lots of big stats, and blinky lights, the Copperhead is more your style.
SIDE NOTE: Razer vs. Logitech G-series
This is tough. I really like them both. My G5 has become ol’ faithful at my primary home computer, and my G7 holds a valued place as my primary mouse on my Mac at the office. If I was left handed, there would be no question that I would own multiple Razer mice. I can’t really say there’s a clear winner here. The G5 has a lot of things going for it – the adjustable weight system, the nice grip, the side scrolling wheel, and the intuitive sensitivity adjustments. The Krait has a lot going for it too – the excellent buttons, the ergonomics, and the very good scroll wheel. They’re both adjustable to amazing levels of sensitivity – so sensitive that they are unusable for anything other than FPS gaming. I honestly don’t know how to explain the difference between 1000dpi and 2000dpi or 8-bit vs. 16-bit data channel. Frankly, I don’t think there is a difference. The most detailed work I do is in Photoshop when trying to aim almost pixel-perfect, and both families of mice do the job way better than a standard mouse. I think it’s mostly marketing.
If you get a chance, I would highly recommend trying each one out somewhere before making a purchase decision. They are all great mice, way better than any $14 mouse you buy at the local big-box mart or something. Someone will always have an opinion about things like this anyway, and his is sure to be different from mine. My personal preference is for the G5, but my nephew prefers the Copperhead. My eight year old son likes the G7. Everybody’s different. Isn’t it great? 🙂
Please feel free to discuss this review in our gaming forum.
- Hot looking
- Krait is very comfortable and Ergonomic
- Probably can’t find better performing mice
- 32kb of onboard memory for the Copperhead = portable profiles
- Very configurable through software
- Marketing hype – you can’t optimize a mouse for RTS games
- Copperhead is quite uncomfortable for those with smaller hands
|Bonus items & software||9||With the Krait, you get a Razer logo window cling! yay! The software bundle is standard, but your going to go to the website for the latest drivers anyway, right?|
|Design & layout||7||The design of the Copperhead is very particular. It was made for people with bigger hands. Also, the side button placement on the Copperhead is just plain bad. The Krait is very well designed.|
|Documentation||8||The manual was good enough for me.|
|Features & options||9||What can I say that hasn’t already been said in the review. These are good mice.|
|Fine-tuning features||9||Highly tunable. You can tune them almost too much, with variable X/Y sensitivities, etc.|
|Presentation||6||The marketing hoodoo on the package is over the top to the point of ridiculousness. One quote says “With the fastest mouse on the planet with a kick-ass APM rate of up to 1200, I take half the time to dispose of my opponents.” Spare us, please.|
|Price / value||7||They should make the Krait a bit cheaper and stop trying to market it as a device that will improve your RTS game. It won’t. But it is a great mouse, and if it were even $5 cheaper they might have more of a market than they would for just people who buy it because they are hardcore RTS players. The Copperhead is an exotic boutique mouse, and is priced as such, but still could stand to be $10 cheaper.|