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Razer Basilisk V3 gaming mouse hand-on: Much ado about scrolling

Razer's Smart-Reel automatically switches between freewheeling and tactile scrolling on the fly. It's great for more than just gaming.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read
Lori Grunin/CNET

Unlike most of its kin, Razer's Basilisk gaming mice don't have a particular type of game in mind. FPS, RPG, MOBA -- it can handle wherever your tastes fall in the alphabet soup of gaming, as long as you're not so hardcore as to need, for example, 16 programmable buttons instead of 11, ultrafast 8,000Hz polling or another type of tailored feature. The latest in the line is the $70 Basilisk V3, a wired model that's not tremendously different from its predecessor, with the exception of its new Smart-Reel, which automatically jumps the scroll wheel between free-spin and tactile (stepped) scrolling depending upon how fast you flick it.

Smart-Reel can come in very handy if you've got a huge map to zoom in and out of, for example, since it can essentially go from min to max zoom really fast if you need to (at least with scroll acceleration enabled) without sacrificing the ability to step more precisely through a handful of weapons. It's also really helpful for nongaming tasks where you need (or want) to quickly scroll, like through a lot of code, from one end to the other on long web pages and so on.

You can also briefly override Smart-Reel via a toggle button. That helps because in some cases the freewheel automatically kicks in too late, at least for me; in other words, if you need it to freewheel for the first flick, not the second one, you can be out of luck with smartypants unless you really give it a push. It just takes a bit of time to get used to it, to prevent accidental freedom.


The "sniper" button (below and ahead of the buttons on the left side), which by default drops to the lowest dpi setting for better long-range targeting, is no longer removable. Plus, the mouse now supports nine zones of underglow lighting.

Lori Grunin/CNET

There's a noticeable and somewhat disconcerting "clunk" feeling when the friction mechanism switches back from, it can feel a little too quirky. And if you're not a fan of Razer Synapse, don't bother: Smart-Reel doesn't work without it, though the manual toggle does. But you don't have to log in -- that's a dark pattern in the software interface -- just continue as a guest.

The Smart-Reel plus scroll acceleration replaces the physical resistance button that the V2 and wireless models have. I kind of miss the ability to set that rather than the new all-or-nothing approach. The mouse also adds nine zones of underlighting, but in exchange, the multifunction trigger -- aka the sniper button because by default it drops to the lowest dpi setting for greater precision -- is no longer removable.

It jumps from a 20,000dpi Focus Plus sensor to a 26,000dpi version but keeps the same 650 inches-per-second speed, 50g acceleration and 1,000Hz polling, so your feels may vary. I found it a little more manageable at the 3,200 dpi setting than before, but I've also gotten more used to the higher settings using the Viper 8K, so that may just be me.

And it's gained a little weight, 0.3 oz./9g, which brings it up to 3.6oz./101g in total, and the design's a bit bottom-heavy to begin with, so it's probably not ideal for claw grippers.

Otherwise, it's the same well-liked mouse it's always been, with features like left and right tilt buttons on the scroll wheel (HyperScroll Tilt Wheel), a comfortable shape and size for medium-to-large righthanders and slots for five on-board profiles. Probably not enough to get me to switch from the Viper, but I haven't used it long enough for that decision.