This mouse has curves in all the right places. The nearly symmetrical design feels comfortable in either hand, but the side buttons and general slopes of the Mamba are clearly biased towards right-handed users. Rubber grips on both sides ensure that gamers with big or small hands will maintain a sturdy grip on the Mamba. The scroll wheel is smooth and comfortable, with a ridged rubber surface that, like the matte finished section of the body, provides optimal grip without sacrificing comfort. The two standard buttons click with a crisp, tactile feel.
Razer's driver software lets you configure custom button functions, profiles tied to applications, and also set macros. You can assign any of the Mamba's buttons to a specific profile, and then further embed that profile inside another one. That lets you assign profiles by game, and then even to certain roles in a game, so you can, for example, switch from on-foot controls to vehicle-based controls in Far Cry 2. We're also glad to have macro-recording capability in the software, but we prefer the X8's easier on-the-fly macro recording via a dedicated button.
Thanks to its on-board memory, the Mamba also allows you to carry both profiles and macros between computers or operating system installations without having to reassign them by hand. It only requires you to install the Razer drivers, which are freely downloadable, on the machine. Logitech's similar G9 Laser Mouse and G9x Laser Mouse also have on-board RAM, but the X8 doesn't.
Razer has gone beyond the bounds of necessity and boosted the laser sensitivity to 5,600dpi. We tend to feel anything beyond 2,000dpi or so is overkill, but perhaps the most competitive gamers really do need such high sensor resolution. More universally useful is the 1,000MHz polling rate, which ensures no connection lag in either wired or wireless modes. That will surely appeal to anyone who plays hard but also wants to go cable-free. It's also twice the polling rate of the X8, which had a noticeable performance drop-off in wireless mode at high sensor resolutions.
You can toggle among five levels of laser sensitivity via the Mamba's dpi switching buttons, tucked into the top-left corner. Lights on the side of the mouse change from red to green to indicate the selected sensitivity. It isn't terribly useful (a battery indicator would be more useful here), but you can still understand the progression of lights in relation to the cursor speed. As with every other button on the Mamba, Razer's software lets you customise the dpi button settings, and save them into a profile.
Wired or wireless
Razer has implemented a decent solution for switching between wired and wireless modes. The USB cable plugs into the charging base and mouse via a clunky boot-shaped connector. As with other mice of this type, most notably the X8, the Mamba will also recharge its included battery while the mouse is in wired mode. In the Mamba's case, you have to turn off the mouse first, via a switch on its underside.
Connecting and removing the cable from the Mamba's charging base is easy, but the same process with the mouse feels too unwieldy. Razer obviously designed the USB input to match the design of the mouse, and it's aesthetically pleasing enough. But actually plugging the cable into the Mamba requires just enough finesse for it to become annoying. The X8's magnetic cable connection is much more seamless.
Razer rates the Mamba's battery life as good for 14 hours of 'continuous' gaming and 72 hours of stop-and-start gaming. Aside from plugging the Mamba into the USB cable to charge it, you can also simply mount it on the charging base, which displays the mouse like a trophy.
It provides unmatched precision, but the Razer Mamba is one of the most expensive mice we know of. If wireless PC gaming is important to you, you'll find little fault with the Mamba. The price tag will probably alienate everyone else.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet