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Razer Lancehead gaming mouse review

Razer Lancehead gaming mouse review


Is “Wireless Supremacy” good enough?

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Razer recently introduced a gaming mouse that's a nearly perfect competitor to my favorite mouse of all time, Logitech's G900. The Razer Lancehead is a high-end, ambidextrous wireless gaming mouse, with the option to seamlessly switch to wired. Also, Razer made a whole video comparing it to the G900's wireless performance. So the fight is definitely on, and I feel honored that these companies are spending so much time and money on building the perfect mouse for left-handers like me.

What is it?

If you're going to make a mouse for pro gamers, the accepted wisdom is that it has to be a wired mouse with an optical sensor — like Razer's own $79.99 Razer Lancehead Tournament Edition, for example. But the standard Lancehead model (the one I'm reviewing) is a $137.99 wireless mouse with a laser sensor.

The actual mouse is sleek and minimal, with thin thumb buttons on both sides; rubber sides for improved grip; a notched scroll wheel meant for switching guns in PUBG, not scrolling webpages; and buttons on the top to raise and lower the tracking DPI (effectively, the sensitivity) on the fly.

Like with many high-end wireless mice, the mouse comes with a USB dongle which can be plugged into the mouse's removable Micro USB cable via an adapter. So it's easy to switch between wired and wireless usage, with basically zero downtime.

Razer's Synapse software is also straightforward, which I used to set up a few preferred DPIs, and to swap the left and right click. It's annoying that Synapse requires you to log in to a Razer account to set it up — sometimes I just want to change my mouse DPI, not be a part of an online community — but I basically hate all mouse setup software equally.

What's special about it?

Razer is making a huge deal about the wireless performance of this mouse. In a video, Razer pits the Lancehead against an unnamed "other wireless gaming mouse" which is quite obviously the G900. Razer declares "Wireless Supremacy," and credits its Adaptive Frequency Technology, which is designed to hop to the strongest bands of the wireless spectrum on a per-millisecond basis, instead of waiting for drops in coverage to adapt.

Of course, Logitech makes similarly strong claims about the quality of its own wireless tech. I expect the wireless performance of a $100-plus mouse to be near perfect. It's great that companies like Razer are working hard to solve the problems of interference and inconsistent latency to make it even closer to perfect, but I didn't personally notice the few percentage points of transmission stability Razer claims to offer over Logitech.

Is it good?

Any mouse that costs this much better be great. And in my opinion, the Lancehead is great. It's comfortable to hold, I like the click feel (the G900 has a looser click, which I like as well, but isn't as “confident-feeling”), and it tracks super well on multiple surfaces. I don't really have a preference of optical over laser.

Unfortunately, I have a few problems with the mouse's ergonomics and features. For one, the side buttons are a little slim and therefore harder to mash. Also, for whatever reason, the shape of the mouse put my thumb a little low to the ground, and I ended up dragging it on my mouse pad. I have a large matte graphic novel I stole from my roommate that I use as a mouse pad, and the friction with my thumb and the book cover actually harmed the right side of my thumb to the point of drawing blood.

My thumb wound
My thumb wound

I'll have you know I pushed through the pain, and was rewarded with some really great games of Overwatch.

I also don't like how the current stage of sensitivity isn't displayed on the mouse, but on the computer screen instead, which with Razer's Synapse software only shows up over top of your game if you're playing in windowed mode. I like to switch sensitivity between different heroes in Overwatch (I especially need high sensitivity to play Pharah), but I need be sure I pick the right one or else my muscle memory is confused. So I kept Overwatch in windowed mode, which was fine but not ideal.

Am I happier or more fulfilled?

Here's the most important thing about this mouse: with the Razer Lancehead, in wireless mode, I had the greatest game of Hanzo of my entire life. I was headshotting Lucio on a regular basis, ruining the enemy team's attack Bastion, and made the opposing Doomfist almost useless. I only pick Hanzo on defense, I'm not a monster. But it's really working for me on a few maps, and this one time it was especially great.

But it wasn't all good. I did have a couple times when this mouse stopped tracking for a couple seconds. Mid-match. In lethal ways. The first time it happened, I wasn't sure if I had just lifted the mouse off the pad accidentally. But the next couple times it happened, it was very obvious that my movements and surface were identical before, during, and after the mouse went dead.

That's when I realized there were some clothes on top of the wireless receiver, which was about three feet away from the mouse. It doesn't seem like that would be enough interference to cause this much of a problem, but I removed the obstacles and moved the sensor closer to my mouse and didn't have any more problems.

I also had a problem a couple times where I'd wake up my Windows 10 computer and the cursor wouldn't show up. Typically, unplugging the mouse and plugging it back in would solve it, but it's still an odd problem to have, one I haven't experienced with other mice I've tested. I was using Razer's Synapse 2 software, but there is also Synapse 3 in beta, so hopefully that will improve this situation. Synapse 3 will also make it possible to store settings on the mouse, something I enjoy about my G900 because I switch it between my Mac and PC a lot.

Should you get one?

If your thumbs aren't as fat as mine, if you dislike the G900 for some reason, or if you want a Razer mouse that has RGB lights that flash in sync with your Razer keyboard, and you're convinced the connection problems I had were user error, this is a good mouse. I just prefer the G900, but if I had to use this mouse I wouldn't be mad.

But for $138 I expect something a little more transcendent. Some high-end mice have little LED displays that show your current settings. Other mice are modular, so you can tune the weight or swap the buttons around. And, like it or not, most gamers gravitate toward optical sensors, not laser. I can't point to anything about this mouse that's obviously sensational. Razer's wireless performance might be best in class, but there are diminishing returns at the high end, because anyone who really can't accept anything less than perfect mouse connectivity is going to use a wired mouse anyway.

Disclaimer: At CES 2017 in January I 1-v-1'd a Razer PR representative in Overwatch and lost. I tried my best to leave my shame and bitterness out of this review. I hope I did a good job.