06/01/2008 | 06:05 PM
The US-headquartered Razer is known as a supplier of exceptional-quality gaming mice since 1999. After they resumed the production in 2004 new models have been coming out regularly but not too often.
Each release is an event for the fans of the brand. The newest additions to Razer’s line-up are the Lachesis with a new-generation laser sensor (4000dpi!) and the exclusive Boomslang 2007 Collector’s Edition.
Following the established naming pattern, the new mouse from Razer bears the name of a venomous snake (Razer’s keyboards are called names of spiders such as Tarantula and Lycosa while audio products are named after predatory fish like Piranha, Barracuda, Mako).
This time it is the name of a type of pit vipers. According to the text on the box, the Latin phrase Lachesis muta muta means the “bringer of silent death” which sounds strange.
The main feature of the new mouse is the third-generation laser sensor with a physical (not interpolated) resolution of 4000dpi and other impressive characteristics. This is a record number for mouse sensors. Besides, the Lachesis features Razer Synapse technology, i.e. 32 kilobytes of integrated memory for storing five user-defined profiles with settings.
Full name: Razer Lachesis Wraith Red
Manipulator type: laser corded mouse
Sensor: Razer Precision 3G Laser
Buttons: nine (including the wheel)
Scrolling wheel: vertical
Integrated memory: 32KB
Interface: USB, 16-bit data path
Default USB poll rate: 1000Hz
Cord length: 210cm
Dimensions: 129 x 71 x 40mm
Except for the unusual Boomslang (both new and old), every new product from Razer can be easily identified as developed by it. In fact, Razer has one basic shape of a mouse that is being steadily optimized and modified for the current requirements. This characteristic ergonomic design appeared in the first modern model of the Viper, improved in the Diamondback, and then passed on to the Copperhead and Krait. As for the source of the original inspiration of Razer engineers, it must have been classic ball models from Logitech (the Logitech MX300 is the most recent model to have a similar design). The key elements are as follows: symmetry, an egg-shaped profile, a high ratio of length to width. Razer has managed to bring this shape to the point of perfection, making it as handy as possible. A special feature from the Boomslang times, the main buttons are huge, almost half the device’s length, with a tricky wavy profile. The mouse has become higher in the middle to lie snugly in the palm. There are grooves for your fingers in the sides, so this design is not altogether non-ergonomic. The Viper, Diamondback, Krait and Copperhead have all been made by this recipe. In fact, they are all revisions of the same design. Released in the last year, the DeathAdder seemed to bear no semblance to the previous products but actually represented the traditional shape of the Razer mouse adapted for right-handed people. Two aesthetic elements were added in the DeathAdder: a new dull black material of the surface and the fusion of the exterior plastic of the buttons with the case.
Why am I so detailed about that? Because, like with all other products from Razer, it is easy to track the evolution trend that has given birth to the Lachesis. It is visually a DeathAdder that has been stretched out to the traditional symmetric shape and has acquired a few more buttons. The dimensions are almost the same, the new model being but 1 millimeter longer and wider than the DeathAdder. An interesting trait has appeared: the two main buttons are wider than the rest of the case, making the Lachesis look like the Boomslang rather than the Diamondback and others. The mouse is small overall. Perhaps it won’t seem handy for people with large palms but they can use the Boomslang 2007 CE instead.
The top surface, except for the two small buttons, has a matte black rubberized coating. Unfortunately, this surface quickly gets greasy even if your hands don’t sweat much. The bottom part of the case is made from glossy black plastic. Thanks to its good ergonomics properties the mouse can be easily held in the air (the side grooves prevent it from slipping out of your fingers). I guess it would be better if the whole case were made from this plastic.
A laser sensor doesn’t need highlighting. The LED-based illumination serves aesthetic purposes only. The Lachesis comes in three varieties: Phantom White, Banshee Blue and Wraith Red. I’ve got the third version, with red highlighting. One LED is located near the scrolling wheel. The other is pulsating and highlighting the Razer logo at the back of the case. By the way, it is the first time Razer provides a white-highlighted version which looks very stylish.
The scrolling wheel has Razer’s traditional shape, diameter, width and material (translucent white rubber). There are cross notches on it for a better grip with the fingers. The notches are few but deep. The wheel’s response feels sharp, every notch (24 in total) clicking perceptibly. Fast scrolling is not quite convenient as you have to overcome the resistance of the wheel, but you can switch weapons in games comfortably – you won’t miss the weapon you need. The mouse doesn’t support horizontal scrolling.
Above the wheel and closer to the middle of the case, there are two additional buttons. It is the first time a Razer mouse has them. By default, they change the resolution of the sensor, but you can redefine them using the driver. I guess it is better than the common practice of dedicating one or two special buttons to change the resolution (without the option of redefining). The buttons are handy. Although small, they are stiffer than the main ones. So if you need more than two buttons in your game, you may want to use these additional buttons considering the problems with the side ones that I’ll describe below.
The bottom panel is quite typical for a Razer mouse. It stands on Teflon feet and has a sticker with logos, serial number and technical information such as compliance with industry standards. The sensor is placed in the center and accompanied with a sticker that says “3G Laser Sensor. Precision 4000 dpi.” Like on the Copperhead, there is a button to switch the settings profiles stored in the device’s memory. It is placed in a depression but is easy to press with your finger. When you press it, the mouse blinks its highlighting to inform you about the active profile number (1 blink for the first profile, 2 blinks for the second profile and so on up to 5 blinks).
The two ultra-slick Teflon feet have remained in all mice from Razer since the original Boomslang: two L-shaped feet at the front and one long foot at the back. This element is too perfect to need an improvement. I guess the feet of Razer’s mice are most universal, quiet and sleek among all that mouse manufacturers use. Razer’s mice can be utilized without special stickers even on metallic and glass gaming pads such as Icemat, Corepad and BansheePad. You shouldn’t do that for a long time, however. Such pad materials are not good for the mouse’s feet. The Lachesis behaves superbly on fabric or plastic. I tested it on a Roccat Sense, X-Trac Ripper, Razer eXactMat and even on a couple of no-name vinyl pads and the mouse ran smoothly on each of them. In fact, the Lachesis doesn’t have a “favorite” surface. You can choose whatever pad you like while the mouse will readily work even on your naked knee!
The sides are designed well even in comparison with the Copperhead. The deep and properly placed grooves for fingers on both sides made the rubberized edging of the perimeter unnecessary. This edging used to help to hold the mouse in the air. It is easy to hold the Lachesis with the fingers as well as in the palm. In the latter case the palm is holding the back of the case and three fingers (the thumb, the ring finger and the little finger) are holding it at the front – you press the very edges of the buttons. And if you prefer to hold the mouse with your fingers only, you can put your thumb and ring finger into the side grooves and press the buttons near the wheel. The mouse’s long buttons respond equally well irrespective of the exact position of your press. Their exclusive wavy shape is comfortable for the fingers. The main buttons have the same movement distance as with any other mouse, but the sound of a click is softer. The buttons do not rattle, of course.
There is one aspect of mouse-making that Razer has not been very good at. I mean the side buttons. Of all the designs, the DeathAdder seems to have been the only proper solution in this respect, yet it was somewhat worse than the competing products, too. The Lachesis has two buttons on each side (it thus has a total of 9 programmable buttons). They are placed right above the finger grooves and are hard to press accidentally. The buttons are very stiff and have a movement distance of 2-3 millimeters. As a result, if you are pressing a side button with your thumb, you have to press on the mouse from the other side with your ring and little fingers. The button just won’t sink down otherwise. The two buttons on the right side are virtually unusable at all. It was hard to press them on the Diamondback, and it is just impossible to press them on the Lachesis. It is especially surprising considering the DeathAdder’s design.
The last element of the Lachesis is its USB interface cord. It is 210 centimeters long (about 7 feet), slim and light, and ends in a gold-plated USB connector with a Razer logo. The hole for the cord in the case is placed quite far from the mouse’s bottom panel. It is another traditional feature, designed for user’s convenience, since the Boomslang.
It is not the revised shape or the amount of buttons that is the key feature of the Lachesis. It is the third-generation laser sensor with a huge resolution and a few improvements concerning other key parameters.
An increased optical resolution was the main advantage of early laser-sensor mice over ordinary optical mice. The first generation of laser mice reached 2000dpi. For optical sensors it is the maximum real (not interpolated) resolution. For example, the Razer 3G optical system has a resolution of 1800dpi, being a mere 200dpi better than the second generation. The higher values declared by some manufacturers like A4Tech are arrived at by means of software interpolation. As a matter of fact, such mice have a lower positioning accuracy than the true 1800dpi.
Anyway, the physical resolution is not the only key parameter of a laser sensor just as the frequency in gigahertz is not directly linked to CPU performance. There are two parameters in which first- and even second-generation laser sensors were inferior to optical mice. It is the maximum tracking speed and the height at which the sensor “loses” the surface when lifted up above the pad.
Perhaps you don’t know what the generations of laser sensors mean? The first generation covers most of the models available on the market, beginning with the firstling Logitech MX1000. The Razer Copperhead and the Microsoft Sidewinder belong to it. Their sensors have a resolution of 2000dpi, a maximum tracking speed of about 45 inches per second, and a max acceleration of 20G. The second generation includes the Logitech G9, SteelSeries Ikari Laser, and Saitek Cyborg. These mice have a resolution of 3200dpi and a tracking speed of 45-65ips. Finally, the third generation debuted with the described product – Razer decided to skip 2G lasers altogether. Take note that such models as DeathAdder, Diamondback 3G and Boomslang 2007 CE use a 3G sensor too, but it is an optical sensor with infrared highlighting. You can refer to our review of the Razer DeathAdder for more details about the genealogy of the optical systems.
So, we’ve got a third generation of laser sensors now. According to Razer, the key parameters of 3G sensors are:
It’s all clear about the first point. The Lachesis will please every person who prefers high sensitivity. When you select the highest resolution and disable all software filters, the mouse becomes very brisk, outperforming any opponent. It means that complex movements (such as moving through a few screens in a real-time strategy) can now be performed with fewer movements of the mouse.
The option of fine adjustment of the sensor resolution is valuable because you can fine-tune the physical resolution to your taste and do this without software tools. In other words, the settings can be saved in the mouse itself and used later even if the driver is not installed. Laser sensors used to change the resolution in a few steps (e.g. 400, 800, 1600 and 2000dpi). The Lachesis has five levels of resolution but each of them can be set at any value in a wide range with a step of 125dpi. For example, the bottom level is set at 500dpi by default but you can set it at anything from 125 to 875dpi stepping 125dpi. The top level can be selected from 2125 to 4000dpi. The settings are saved in the mouse’s memory and are always available for use. I should note there have appeared a few more products allowing such a flexible adjustment of the sensor’s resolution (e.g. Zalman FPSGun FG1000 and SteelSeries Ikari Laser) since the release of the Lachesis, but Razer was the first developer to introduce this feature. By the way, the concept of switching the mouse’s sensitivity quickly, which is now offered by every manufacturer, was invented by Razer, too. In 1999 the On-the-Fly Sensitivity option was available in the Boomslang 2000.
The tracking speed has been the weakest spot of the laser technology. Ensuring a highest resolution even in the first generation of products, the developers of laser sensors neglected this very important parameter. As a result, the mouse could hardly be used at low sensitivity. When the gamer made a sudden long movement, typical for such mouse settings (the aiming accuracy improves when the pointer speed is lowered), the pointer would lose the desired trajectory because the sensor could not process the high-speed movement of the mouse. That’s why a year ago Razer was promoting the non-laser DeathAdder as a solution for people who preferred low sensitivity. The new 3G sensor provides a maximum tracking speed of 100 inches per second, which is two times the performance of the Copperhead as well as other first-generation products. It is easy to prove this fact even if you, like me, prefer high mouse sensitivity in games. With the mouse acceleration disabled, you select the minimum sensitivity (i.e. 1) in the Razer driver and set the dpi value at 500. This makes the mouse very slow as the pointer moves by only 50 pixels per each inch of the mouse movement. Thus, when you shift the mouse quickly right and left on a large pad you can move the pointer by 300-500 pixels. To make the test even more complex I reduced the pointer sensitivity in Windows XP, lowering its speed more. The Lachesis never lost the pointer even when working at such barbarous settings. The OCZ Equalizer, a first-generation laser mouse I took for comparison, could not pass this test, moving the pointer chaotically. The Razer Copperhead coped but poorly with the job, too. On the other hand, the SteelSeries Ikari Laser (2nd generation, 3200dpi) passed the test successfully. The declared tracking speed of 100 inches per second is excessive for any conditions as no gamer can move the mouse by 25 centimeters (10 inches) in 0.1 second. Thus, the problem of the lost pointer is finally solved for laser mice.
What about the maximum acceleration? This parameter is 15G for the best optical mice, 20G for first- and second-generation laser mice, and 25G for the Lachesis. To remind you, 1G equals 9.8 meters per second. You cannot move the mouse with an acceleration of 200 meters per second, so this parameter is only interesting for the marketing people, especially as it has no direct relation to the tracking speed.
I guess you may want to know how to achieve the ideal precision of pointer movements. The sensor gets hardware data about the movement, but these data can be processed by the software filters of the driver or the OS. In order to avoid any software adjustments, you should do the following:
After that, the only parameter you have to set up is the hardware resolution of the sensor. Without any software processing, the dpi value is exactly the number of pixels the pointer will move on your moving the mouse by one inch. Thus, 2000dpi means that the pointer will travel 2000 pixels exactly. Thanks to the fine adjustment of the sensor resolution with a step of 125dpi you can have the desired mouse movement speed without software solutions.
Like any other mouse, the Razer Lachesis can be used without installing any additional software. The mouse retains its characteristics but your customization opportunities are limited to switching the five profiles and the resolution levels.
The driver’s appearance and overall functionality have long remained intact for all Razer products. The consistent corporate style is one of the main constituents of the company’s success, attracting loyal customers.
The driver’s main screen offers basic settings such as assigning functions to all the buttons and the wheel, turning the highlighting of the scrolling wheel and logotype on and off, USB polling rate (choosing from the standard value of 125MHz, 500MHz, and the Lachesis’s default 1000MHz), and the flexible control over the 5 levels of sensor resolution (from 125 to 4000dpi) you can switch between quickly. Besides, this screen offers a button to update the driver and firmware.
When you press the bright green string with a profile name, a user-defined profile management tab opens up at the bottom of the main screen. This technology is officially dubbed Razer Synapse. You can save up to 5 profiles into the device’s 32KB memory. This capacity is enough for each profile to include all of the driver settings, including the macro-commands assigned to individual buttons. Besides, each profile can be named and even linked to a specific application. When this application is launched, the mouse switches to the given profile automatically. It’s handy if you use different settings for different games. You can also choose a profile from the driver window, or by pressing a special button on the bottom of the mouse, or assign another button for that purpose (by default, the two right-side buttons are responsible for switching between the profiles up and down). If the Enable Onscreen Display option is turned on, the name of the current profile is shown in the bottom right corner of the screen for a couple of seconds.
There are two tabs on the left that contain mouse speed settings. The Sensitivity tab is where you can select the desired level of sensitivity, the scrolling speed of the wheel, and the speed of a double click. You can enable the Universal Scrolling option (when the wheel button is pressed, the mouse’s movements perform the scrolling function instead of moving the pointer). The onscreen indication of the On-the-Fly Sensitivity feature is turned on here, too. To use it, you should specify a button for activating this feature, save the profile and move the scrolling wheel while pressing the specified button. There will appear a sensitivity level indicator in the bottom right of the screen. You can adjust it “on the fly” from 1 to 10 stepping 0.5. As opposed to the physical switching of the sensor resolution, this feature only works if you’ve installed the driver. It is actually the software filter mentioned in the previous section.
The Advanced Settings page contains four additional sliders, two of which are responsible for adjusting the sensitivity vertically and horizontally – some gamers find this feature helpful in increasing the aiming accuracy. The Win Pointer Speed performs the function of the appropriate slider from the OS’s control panel. The Acceleration slider has no relation to the mouse acceleration in Windows XP but controls a similar setting of the Razer driver. Fortunately, it can be turned off. It’s a matter of taste, of course, but I don’t quite understand who may need to accelerate a modern gaming mouse.
Finally, you can choose the Advanced Functions option to open a tab for creating macros. Every button of the Lachesis can be assigned a macro of a certain type: duplicating a keyboard key, performing a standard action (from copy/paste to launching a program or locking the PC), or a traditional macro (a user-defined sequence of actions: key strokes with spaces between them). The latter can be especially useful in games. For example, you can create a macro for semi-automatic purchase of weapons at the beginning of a Counter-Strike round. All macros are stored in the device’s own memory and will survive even the formatting of your hard disk.
Below is a short list of the highs and lows of the new mouse from Razer. Ideal products do not exist but how close has the Lachesis approached the ideal?
The Lachesis has got a few opponents on the market currently, namely Logitech G9, Microsoft Sidewinder, Microsoft Habu, SteelSeries Ikari Laser, Razer Copperhead and Razer Diamondback 3G. I compared the new mouse with all of them and found the Lachesis to be the best laser mouse available today. If it were not for some gamers who prefer asymmetrical mice, I’d even call it the best gaming mouse overall. The Logitech G9 is too sophisticated but has weak ergonomics. The Microsoft Sidewinder is too Martian and has an outdated sensor. The Habu and Copperhead are inferior in technical parameters while the interesting SteelSeries Ikari Laser is unlikely to become widely available (and some people may dislike its shape). Comparing with the Diamondback 3G and other high-quality optical mice, the laser sensor of the Lachesis has been improved and now looks competitive against best optical systems even in terms of tracking speed. So, the single argument against the Razer Lachesis may be its shape – but it’s a matter of personal taste and I can’t give you any advice on this point.