Razer's new DeathAdder comes very close to usurping the Logitech G5 Laser Mouse as our gaming mouse of choice. At around £40, Razer's mouse is about the same price, but the DeathAdder offers much more customisability and is also more accurate. That alone will be enough to sway the gamers in the audience. More casual mouse users will like that this mouse has two thumb-side buttons as well.
We were surprised that the DeathAdder didn't come with a Windows Vista driver though. That and Razer's stubborn refusal to offer a dedicated button for switching between sensitivity settings prevent us from giving this mouse a higher rating.
If you're unfamiliar with Razer's mice, the company has dedicated itself to creating the perfect gaming input device. The DeathAdder comes with all of Razer's familiar touches. The rubberised coating on the top surface of the mouse prevents excessive moisture (or rather, sweat). And the extra-long, 2m USB cable makes it easy to connect the DeathAdder to even the most outlandish gaming setups. It has a large scroll wheel and a pair of thumb buttons on its side, giving you five buttons in total, all of which you can customise in the mouse's software.
Setting up the DeathAdder is easy enough. Both Windows XP and Vista recognised it without asking us to install any software. If you're happy with the mouse's default settings, you can probably just put the driver CD away entirely. We suspect that gamers will want to at least look at the customisation options though, and for that we're sad to report that Razer's software works only in Windows XP.
The software will install in Vista, but it doesn't recognise the mouse, which must happen in order for your settings changes to kick in. The DeathAdder's box even claims Vista support, which makes this omission particularly irritating. Like other hardware vendors, Razer is working on Vista drivers. When they'll be finished is anyone's guess.
If you still run Windows XP, you'll find the Razer software intuitive and robust. The basic settings window lets you adjust button assignments and change the polling rate and the DPI settings, which extend to a whopping 1,000Hz and 1,800dpi, respectively. Such high settings give the DeathAdder exceptional responsiveness and accuracy. Dig deeper into the software and the advanced window lets you tweak the sensitivity of the X and Y axes independently of each other. You can also adjust the pointer speed and apply a range of acceleration effects to get the cursor moving even more quickly.
One other feature we like about the Razer drivers is that it lets you set and save profiles for the DeathAdder, for when you want to switch DPI settings on the fly. You can also program macros to tie different key combos to a single click of the mouse. We like the macro feature, but the DPI switching is less than ideal. You can set a button only to switch to another DPI setting, but you can't use it to cycle through different sensitivities. A button on the bottom of the mouse lets you cycle through different profiles, but it's hardly in an ideal location if you're in the middle of a gaming session.
That DPI switching issue is really our biggest problem with the DeathAdder. The Logitech G5 gets it right with a dedicated button preset to three different DPI settings, as well as a small row of lights that provide visual feedback as to which mode you're in. Razer's ad hoc approach doesn't work half as well. On the other hand, the 1,000Hz polling limit of the DeathAdder gives it twice the accuracy of the 500Hz G5.
We also have to give the DeathAdder the nod for its pair of very firm and responsive thumb-side buttons. It's a right-hand-only mouse, so lefties will have to adjust or look elsewhere. But for the other 85-or-so per cent of us, the two thumb-side buttons are a major boon over Logitech's single button -- not to mention older Razer mice, for that matter.
Finally, we found a link to another review of this mouse that we think you should read. As far as we're aware, the team at gaming hardware site ESReality.com has the only mouse benchmark in the industry. We can't speak to the accuracy of the test results or anything else about the site in general (although we have no reason to think there's anything shady going on), but for sheer ingenuity, we think their review is worth a read.
Additional editing by Nick Hide