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Razer Mamba Chroma Hybrid Mouse Review

Foxtrot1

Hardware Canucks Review Editor
Joined
Oct 21, 2015
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Wireless mice don’t have the best reputation with gamers. Early wireless connectivity options introduced noticeable lag, and response times were far higher than comparable wired solutions until very recently. And nobody wants their battery running out during an intense Counter-Strike match. With the latest edition of its wireless gaming mouse, the Mamba Chroma, Razer aims to leave the previous generation behind by bringing together wireless convenience and wired response times.

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The Mamba has been a mainstay in Razer’s line-up since 2009, and many gamers love its contours and those of its wired sibling, the Death Adder. More than half a decade of refinement has helped Razer perfect the feel of the mouse, with well-placed and firmly responsive buttons, an off-centre bump on which to rest your palm, and a solid plastic shell with rubberized sides that lets you keep an instinctive and firm grip. The scroll wheel is solid, and includes side clicks that are easy to use without scrolling the wheel itself. The Chroma feels intuitive and natural from the first moment you use it.

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On the top of the mouse are two buttons for controlling the DPI, giving you quick access to sensitivity controls for different applications. This is a nice feature, but the top-most button is difficult to hit. Thankfully, all the buttons are customizable using Razer’s Synapse software, so you can shift the forward DPI button to cycle between preset DPI settings. The customizability extends to the hardware—Razer has included a tool that allows you to fine-tune the resistance of the main buttons between 45 grams and 95 grams.

The mouse gets in name from the LED strips that line the sides of the mouse and bracket the scroll wheel, which can be tweaked in Razer’s software to show a variety of colours in different patterns. Unlike the Death Adder, the Razer logo on the Chroma that’s only noticeable when the mouse isn’t being used has no illumination, presumably to maintain battery life. On that point Razer claims 20 hours of use, and we have no reason to doubt that figure—the Chroma held up during long sessions, and most users will charge it overnight.

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The Mamba is designed for wireless use and includes a great-looking dock that features an LED underglow that matches your settings for the Chroma. The Chroma is a hybrid, however, and can be used as a wired device by unplugging the micro-USB cord from the back of the dock and slotting it into the nose of the mouse. Yet because the dock acts as the receiver, this isn’t a mouse you’ll want to take travelling. We would appreciate a small USB receiver that serves the same function in order to make the Chroma more usable on the go.

The 16,000 DPI Chroma is more than accurate enough to fulfill the needs of most gamers. In wired mode, the mouse responds as you expect—Razer has been at this for years. In wireless mode, it’s a minor surprise that the Chroma feels almost exactly the same. The input and latency seem to be identical to wired mode, and not having a cable frees up movement and gives you more flexibility with your gaming setup.

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Those results come with a caveat, however. Initial testing with the Chroma’s dock inches away from the mouse itself showed zero difference between wired and wireless response times. Move the dock further away as you would for living-room gaming, however, and a whole host of issues crop up. Lag, skipping inputs—it was back to the bad old days. It’s a lot to ask for a company to deliver high-speed, low-latency, error-free performance over a metre or more of space, and any experienced computer user can detect minute errors in input. Leave your Chroma near its base station, though, and those problems don’t exist.

Razer’s Synapse software allows you a nearly excessive amount of control over the lighting, with user-selectable RGB colours and custom patterns. Synapse also lets you fine-tune options such as the polling rate or, if you need it, acceleration. Yet the interaction between the Synapse software and the Chroma wasn’t always perfect—occasionally the mouse would refuse to turn on its lights, and a setting that dims the mouse when the monitor shuts off is unpredictable at best. \

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Even worse was the Chroma Configurator mode, which offers extra customization but at the expense of noticeable input lag in wireless mode. That’s not a trade anyone wants to make. And because there is no built-in memory on the mouse, all of these options can only be set through Synapse, which requires you to register with Razer in order to download it.

The Mamba Chroma ($149) succeeds if you’re looking for a great-looking, comfortable mouse with great wireless performance at short range. But at that range, the wired Mamba Tournament Edition has the same sensor and ergonomics for around half the price. Putting aside the issues with the Synapse software, the Chroma just doesn’t do enough to justify the extra cost for the wireless freedom.
 
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