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Razer Mamba (2012) review: Razer Mamba (2012)

We have no hesitation in recommending the Mamba if you want no-holds-barred wireless gaming.

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Craig Simms
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Craig Simms

Special to CNET News

Craig was sucked into the endless vortex of tech at an early age, only to be spat back out babbling things like "phase-locked-loop crystal oscillators!". Mostly this receives a pat on the head from the listener, followed closely by a question about what laptop they should buy.

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Presentation is key. You can tell a company thinks its mouse is good when it arrives in a perspex enclosure, mounted like an expensive artefact in a museum.

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9.0

Razer Mamba (2012)

The Good

Smooth, lovely gaming, even over wireless. Larger battery capacity than the original Mamba. RGB lighting. Optical and laser sensors.

The Bad

Driver can be slow loading profiles from the mouse. Quite expensive.

The Bottom Line

We have no hesitation in recommending the Mamba if you want no-holds-barred wireless gaming.

This is the second Mamba to bear the name, and arrives equally as audaciously as the first. It's Razer's wireless gaming mouse, which comes with a docking/charging station that glorifies it almost as much as its packaging and has a glowing blue light around the rim, and acts as the wireless receiver. If you prefer corded mice, you can also use the USB cable from the docking station to plug directly into your mouse, bypassing the whole wireless thing altogether. This is, incidentally, another way you can charge the battery.

Razer's made some tweaks, of course: the most notable being the larger capacity battery, now clocking in at 1100mAh instead of 800mAh so things last a little longer on the battlefield. The USB connection into the mouse has been modified so it slots in easily, rather than being an ordeal. Ah yes, and there's a brand new sensor in here, too, which uses both an optical and laser sensor for increased accuracy, and everything that lights up now has RGB LEDs in it so you can choose whatever colour you like. It even does spectrum cycling, with the mouse changing colours perfectly in sync with the docking station. Overkill, Razer's heard of it.

For the average gamer, though, the most welcome point will be the new price. The original Mamba, whether because of exchange rate or otherwise, had an RRP of AU$299 in Australia at launch. The new Mamba? AU$179.95. This is still significantly more expensive than the US price of US$129.99, and even local retailers hover around the AU$160 mark, so if you can minimise your shipping costs from somewhere like Amazon US, it might be a good idea to import.

Yup, definitely Razer
(Screenshot by Craig Simms/CBS Interactive)

The control panel is the usual Razer fare, although as is expected of the "social" era, there are now Facebook and Twitter buttons crammed in. The usual independent X/Y sensitivity, USB polling rate, acceleration, custom DPI stages and profiles are here, and they're all stored on the mouse so you can go from computer to computer without needing software installed. As a downside, whenever you apply major settings to the mouse, it can take some time to write to the hardware — and ditto whenever opening the driver panel, which can sometimes take forever as it tries to read all the settings from the mouse. Razer calls the tech Synapse, and is in the process of giving gamers online storage options as well.

One interesting addition, perhaps in response to SteelSeries, is the ability to calibrate the Mamba depending on what surface it's on, and how high you lift the mouse off that surface when repositioning. Unlike SteelSeries mice the surface calibration is automatic, while the lift-off settings can be adjusted either manually or automatically.

Macro editing is excellent, allowing the insertion of delays, individual event editing, and default delays when recording regardless of how long you wait between events. Sadly, there's no ability to insert extra events or add events after the macro is finalised: if you hit the record button again, everything is wiped out and you start from the beginning.

It's not just the colours of the lighting system that have received a significant upgrade — now instead of just "on" and "off", you have custom colours, brightness controls and even power management controls so battery life is conserved.

Performance? We've read about some issues with skipping on the early firmware, but we're happy to report we came across no such incidences while running version 1.04. The Mamba's playing experience can best be described as smooth in both wired and wireless gaming modes, our aim gliding effortlessly in Serious Sam HD.

We have no hesitation in recommending the Mamba if you want no-holds-barred wireless gaming.