Razer seems to be aiming for the title of "fastest wireless mouse on the planet" with its new Viper Ultimate, a more-than-just-wireless version of its recently released Viper esports-targeted . It introduces a host of new and updated technologies, including a 20,000 dots-per-inch sensor and improved wireless bandwidth and stability over its previous mice -- and, Razer claims, better than the competition's. Plus, it has a pretty cool dock to go with it. And I think it's just become my new favorite.
The Viper Ultimate, available now, comes in a bundle with the dock for $150 or dockless for $130 -- the dock by itself costs $50. (Note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of products referenced on this page.) That's more or less comparable to competitors such as Logitech's G502 Lightspeed Wireless and G Pro Wireless ($150) or the SteelSeries Rival 650 Wireless ($120). For comparison, the wired Viper is $80 (£80, AU$135).
It has the same symmetrical ambidextrous design as the wired version. I really like it -- I'm awho occasionally "goes claw" depending upon the design of the switches. It may not be not to everyone's taste or comfort, though. It fits well in small or medium-size hands, but if you've got large hands you may find it too cramped. If it does fit your hand, it's low-profile enough to easily switch among different grips.
And while it's not as light as the wired version, 74 grams to the other one's 69 grams, it's still pretty light. But after swearing up and down that I prefer heavier mice -- I've been using the SteelSeries configured to a whopping 136 grams for a while -- adapting to this featherweight was surprisingly easy.
There have been some complaints about the the wired Viper's feet making it feel a little more frictiony, and for the Ultimate Razer replaced the large pads with smaller, less draggy ones made of polytetrafluoroethylene (the same material used by HyperGlide Mouse Skates). They deliver a really, really smooth glide on most surfaces, especially hard ones, though only time will tell if wear and tear will change that. They don't seem to collect schmutz along the edges, either, thanks to a gradual curve around the outsides. Instead, dust seems to collect inside the indentation where the mouse fits into the dock.
Like the regular Viper, the Ultimate incorporates optical switches which respond more quickly, are less subject to registering unwanted clicks, and (theoretically) experience less wear and tear than mechanical ones. They do feel a little less stiff than those on Razer's other mice, without sacrificing the satisfying (or loud, depending upon your point of view) click.
But the Ultimate also has a lot of internal improvements over the original. It uses a new sensor developed with Pixart, the Razer Focus Plus, with an industry-leading 20,000 dpi resolution and a high tracking rate of 650 inches per second on top of the same acceleration rating of 50G.
The wireless performance seems to have gotten good enough to demand its own branding -- HyperSpeed Wireless. Razer has further optimized its Adaptive Frequency Technology to sustain a faster connection and to significantly cut the lag in communication between the mouse and the computer. It doesn't hurt that you can stick the wireless dongle (2.4GHz) into the dock so it's parked right in front of the mouse.
The new sensor sends data more concurrent with polling rate, so that the system can more accurately track the cursor coordinates (Razer brands that as "Motion Sync"). Razer claims all these add up to precision accuracy rate of 99.6%, compared to 99.4% for the standard model. That sounds like a trivial improvement, but the better location data theoretically translates to an overall decrease in wasted movement. Over the course of a long day of playing, that can add up. Still, unless you're in the tippy-top class of speedmeisters, you probably won't see a difference there.
It also boasts improved power efficiency, rated up to 70 hours of battery life, though without illumination. Anecdotally, in a full day/s normal office use and about an hour of gaming (I was tired!) with the illumination at 100%, the battery dropped by about 25%.
When you place it on the dock, the lighting scheme changes to indicate an approximate battery level, which is useful, and of course charges it. The bundled Micro-USB cable connects either the dock or the mouse. You can operate the mouse wired, and it's the same braided-but-flexible SpeedFlex cable that's used by the wired Viper.
New Smart Tracking technology lets the mouse recognize different surfaces and apply presets -- or let you manually specify -- liftoff and landing distances. In my brief time testing, the defaults worked OK. You manually calibrate a new surface by moving your mouse around it, but it's hard to tell exactly how the calibrations are working.
Though the dock is optional, it really does seem worth the extra $20 to get it in the bundle -- $50 standalone might be a bit much. In addition to the ability to charge the mouse and hold the dongle, it's got the elegant underglow that syncs with Razer's Chroma lighting ecosystem, and makes it findable in the dark. The one drawback I found, though, is that after using the mouse to put the system to sleep, docking it wakes the system up. Oops. Turns out it wasn't the mouse, it was another USB device. Pro tip: In Device Manager, turn off the ability of the USB-C port on an Nvidia card to wake the system, if you've got anything attached to it.
And my one quibble with the design of the mouse is the the dpi indicator. The switch is on the bottom, which makes sense if you're worried about accidentally triggering it during gameplay, and since I change it in-game I remapped it to one of the side buttons (there are eight, plus Razer's HyperShift for a total of 16 programmable states). It can show onscreen when you switch levels, but that doesn't work in-game, at least in fullscreen mode. The indicator LED is on the bottom of the mouse, and though larger than it is on the wired Viper, that means you can't tell what the current setting is while in-game. I wish it could be mapped to Chroma.
Originally published Oct. 18.
Update, Oct. 23: Corrected information about the new technologies in the mouse, added manual calibration details and solved the USB wake-from-sleep problem.