The 17-button mouse feels like a punchline, something you'd flip past with a chuckle in a yellowed issue of MAD magazine. And yet here we are: third or so in its line, the Razer Naga 2014 brushes off any pretense of restraint and serves up a twelve-button number pad, coupled with a pair of buttons on the spine and the requisite scroll-wheel. It is, at a glance, the exact same mouse as later year's model. But grip it in your hands after installing Razer's Synapse software, and you're in for a bit of a surprise.
Razer claims that the Naga is the best-selling MMO gaming mouse in the world, and while I'd take issue with drafting such a narrow category to claim top honors in, credit should be given where it's due. The new Naga feels fantastic, eschewing the complimentary set of ergonomic grips that came with last year's model in favor of a one-size-fits-all mold that I found rather comfortable in my—admittedly large—mitts.
It's a mouse, and does its job amicably. You can tweak the sensitivity—all the way up to 8200 DPI, which I find ludicrous—and even calibrate the mouse laser's ability to track your particular mouse pad or surface. The twelve side buttons are mechanical now, which ostensibly offers improved accuracy. I do love the clicky sound of mechanical keys—hence my preference for mechanical keyboards—and the mouse's tactile and audible feedback should help you know exactly when buttons are being clicked. It's a marked improvement from the squishy buttons of Nagas past—you can check out PCWorld's guide to mechanical keyboards for the lowdown on why mechanical keys are, in general, pretty neat.
That's all well and good, but of far greater importance is the fact that each of those twelve buttons is arrayed in a seemingly haphazard but actually brilliant angled pattern, which makes it easy to find each and every button. This is crucial, as keeping track of twelve buttons can be a colossal pain—earlier Nagas featured buttons that were all uniform, which made firing off that critical spell or ability a confusing mess.
Razer's Synapse software has also stepped its game up, an attempt to evolve from onerous gewgaw to potentially useful tool. The Naga works out of the box, but you'll need to sign up for a Razer account (and thus, have Internet access) to customize any of the mouse's features.
This has always felt a little ridiculous. The general idea is that by requiring Internet access to use Synapse you're able to save your settings into the cloud and have access to your keybinds, macros and the like should you travel with your gear, replace something, or purchase a new PC. I'm sure this would be of use to professional gamers who frequent LAN parties, but many a connectivity headache could be avoided if this cloud-sync functionality were just made optional.
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