If you could say nothing else about Razer, their diverse lineup of keyboards, mice and gaming headsets offers something for nearly every gamer. From their specialized products like the Naga and Naga Hex, to their more universal offerings like the Black Widow keyboard (in both PC and Mac flavors), if you play games with something other than a gamepad (wait, they make those, too), there is probably something to fit your digital lifestyle. Thankfully, there is so much more to say about the company.
I’ve recently had the pleasure of reviewing the Naga Hex Wraith Red Edition, I use a Black Widow keyboard and also have a Death Adder. Each piece is comfortable, performs well and looks good while doing it. It’s with that understanding, that I hope you take what I’m about to say to heart. The new Razer Taipan is, by far, the most comfortable mouse I have ever used.
It’s not going to be the peripheral of choice for MMO players that want a plethora of buttons within reach of their thumbs. It isn’t the ideal weapon for RPG and MOBA players that want easy access to all of their skills without having to use the keyboard. For everyone else, though, this ambidextrous device is the easiest of recommendations.
The Taipan is lit with traditional Razer green on the sturdy, high definition ridge equipped mouse wheel and the logo on the body. Unlike the Naga Hex Wraith Red Edition, the top of the device sports a matte finish. If you don’t like the slickness of a glossy palm rest, you’re in luck. Beneath the mouse wheel, you’ll find two vertically aligned buttons. By default, these are used to increase/decrease sensitivity.
Each side also has two chrome buttons. These aren’t nearly as large as those found on the Death Adder, but also are raised enough that it doesn’t matter. I never had a problem finding them with my thumb. Given that this is an ambidextrous mouse, the buttons on the non-thumb side might be better off assigned a null value. It’s easy to hit them by accident with your pinky in the heat of a game. This effectively reduces the number of assignable buttons from nine to seven, unless you have the most flexible pinky ever to grace humankind.
One of the highlights of the Taipan is the textured thumb rests. If I had read those words before trying the mouse for myself, I would have been incredulous. It’s true, though. The textured rubber provides enough grip to move the mouse quickly and precisely even at the highest sensitivities in the most intense FPS firefights. The combination of the comfortable grip with the ultrasmooth undersurface combine for a great feel.
Speaking of performance, the Taipan also sports two sensors, optical and laser. The purpose is to calibrate the device to any surface. While there is a pull down menu that includes Razer’s line of high-end mouse surfaces, you can follow a simple procedure to optimize for any surface.
In addition to this step, which aids in precision, the mouse can be ramped up to 8200 dpi (the measure of how the mouse interprets movement across the mat) and can poll up to 1000Hz. Polling is the frequency with which the device receives information. Think of it like that television’s refresh rate.
All of this is supported with Razer’s Synapse 2.0. This software suite accomplishes a number of things. First, it unifies the look and feel of the configuration tools across devices. Switching from the Naga Hex to the Taipan was simple, as is moving between them (and any other supported mice).
From the Synapse 2.0 menu, you can create profiles that are tied to specific games, map keys, create macros, adjust sensitivity, polling rate and acceleration and change the lighting options. I recommend spending a bit of time finding the right combination of polling rate and sensitivity for your daily use and for each game you intend to use the Taipan with.
The magic of Razer moving more of their products to this platform is that tournament and LAN party players will have an easier time getting into the game when away from home. Plugging any supported mouse in and signing into Synapse 2.0 will give access to any created profiles. Playing Battlefield 3 at home will feel identical to playing it on someone else’s machine.
I took the Taipan through its paces in a few different games to make sure that it lived up to Razer’s promises. I started off with RipTen favorite Serious Sam 3: BFE, and while I didn’t last much longer than I usually do in that game’s survival mode, I had an easy time maneuvering around the massive flood of aliens that was out for my blood. The mouse operated precisely, and every shot went where I intended it to. Again, the combination of high sensitivity and polling rate with the rubberized sides made moving and stopping natural. I always felt in control, which is especially impressive given how well the mouse glides across my mat.
I then moved over to Team Fortress 2 and had the same success. My K/D is pretty miserable, but that isn’t the mouse’s fault. Again, I felt in greater control, even at higher velocities. For those that are more adept with mouse and keyboard, I have no doubt that precise headshots will come easier with the Taipan. For my skill level, I was happy to land more shots center mass.
While it’s unlikely that the Razer Taipan will magically allow you to compete with pro FPS gamers, it is a damn good piece of equipment. Precision bolstered by the dual sensors and surface calibration, ease of movement handled by the extremely smooth underside and control enhanced by the rubberized grips combine for one of the most accurate gaming mice on the market. It’s not an small investment, but for gamers serious about their headshots and body count, the $79.99 will be well worth it.
Here’s the Rundown:
+ Synapse 2.0 support with surface calibration makes for an extremely versatile experience
+ 8200 dpi and 1,000Hz polling should satisfy even the most speed-hungry FPSer
+ Rubberized sides make it easy to maintain control
+ Matte finish helps prevent the mouse from getting slick with skin oils
+ Comfortable ambidextrous design
– While the device has nine customizable buttons, some aren’t easily usable
– For those that prefer a mouse shape designed specifically for one hand, the contour might not be ideal
9 and 9.5 represent the pinnacle of design. These scores are for hardware that you not only feel would be worth your purchase, but you would actually try to convince your friends to buy them as well.
The Razer Taipan retails for $79.99. A unit was provided by the manufacturer to RipTen for the purposes of review.