Review : Razer DeathAdder Gaming Mouse

Need a gift for the gamer in your life- go for the DeathAdder!

MacNN Rating:


Product Manufacturer: Razer USA Ltd.

Price: $59.99

The Good

  • Fast and precise. Unique Features. Can change sensitivity on the fly. Ergonomic design and comfortable to use. Excellent build quality.

The Bad

  • Not for the left-handed (at least Razer is clear about this). Minor bugs in the Mac Driver.
There are many reasons to look for alternatives to Apple's Mighty Mouse, and one of the latest is the Razer DeathAdder Mac Edition.

Razer is known for its mice, especially in the world of Windows gamers, but up to now, there were no Mac drivers for gamers. This does not render Razer mice entirely useless on the Mac, but makes them act like standard mice, stripping them of most special features available on Windows. Razer now has a special Macintosh version of the DeathAdder, featuring a glowing scroll wheel in white and - more importantly - a Mac driver. This allows Mac users to take advantage of the many features of the mouse.

From the bare specifications, the DeathAdder is a right-handed, five button 1800-dot-per-inch (dpi) mouse with the new 3G Infrared sensor. In Razer's line up, this mid-range mouse puts the 800 dpi Mighty Mouse to shame. Razer also tries to tweak their mice to the max, and regularly offers firmware updates to fix errors or to teach an old mouse new tricks.

DeathAdder side

The most remarkable feature of the DeathAdder lies in your ability to change the sensitivity of the mouse on the fly, without opening the control application. While common in high-performance mice on Windows, this is something new for the Mac. You use a definable button on the mouse to adjust the sensitivity with the scroll wheel in precise adjustments, with a visual on-screen indication. This comes in extremely handy in many games, where you often wish to lower the sensitivity of the mouse, for example in sniping situations. Another option lets you change the dpi settings from its standard 1800 to down to 900 or even to 450. This rather course adjustment has no on screen indication though.

As expected from a mouse in this price range, you can assign any function or command-shortcut command to the five buttons. However, the settings are global across all applications, which diminishes the usefulness of the feature. Games often have their own pre-set action for the third mouse button, so unless you want to change the settings each time before gaming, you should not assign a custom action to this button. While there is the possibility to store five different profiles, they would be much more useful if they could automatically be selected depending on the front most application.

The difference between a DeathAdder and a standard mouse is immediately notable, even for mundane tasks. The DeathAdder is both fast and precise, and while some may call its appearance bulky, it allows the hand to rest in a number of comfortable positions. These features make Razer mice popular among both Mac gamers and graphic designers or photo editors who value precise movement.

DeathAdder side with USB

The DeathAdder really shines when playing games ?- with extremely short response times over a gold-plated full-speed USB connection. In addition, as mentioned above, the on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment gives you speed or a steady hand whenever you need it. You may never go back to an 800 dpi mouse. Of course, the DeathAdder works just as well on Windows XP or Vista on BootCamp -- after all, probably no serious Mac gamer can resist the temptation to install Windows for those games that are not yet ported.

Razer Gaming Mats

I used the DeathAdder with the Razer Destructor Professional Gaming Mat. This fine mouse pad has a Razer Fractal textured surface with a gunmetal coating, specifically made for better tracking and movement for any mouse. Measuring 350mm(L) x 280mm (W) x 2.3mm(H), the rubber-bottomed pad gives even the most sweeping gestures plenty of room, yet never moves on your desk. The Destructor even ships in its own aluminum protective case. At $39, the Destructor may be an expense only worthwhile for the serious gamer.

 Razer Destructor

Razer Destructor Professional Gaming Mat

A more reasonably priced option, the Razer Goliathus Control Edition, gives you a mouse pad with a textured weave in a choice of three sizes. This $19.99 pad, available in Oversized: 444mm X 355mm X 4.3mm, Standard: 355mm X 254mm X 4mm, or Space-efficient: 270mm x 215mm x 4mm also has a rubber bottom and pixel-precise targeting and tracking. Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor, used this pad and found it provided precise movement when editing photos, but she had to adjust the tracking to a slower setting. She found gaming much easier than with an ordinary mouse pad because of the smooth, fast mouse movement.

 Razer Goliathus

Razer Goliathus Control Edition Closeup

Minor Issues

There are a few minor issues with the DeathAdder driver, which should be easy to fix with a software update. For example, the default setting does not take into account that on newer Macs, the F-keys no longer map to the Dashboard or Expose. Also, the Razer driver seemed to change the scroll-speed on my MacBook Pro's scroll pad.

Apart from these minor issues, the worst thing that can be said about the DeathAdder is that it does not have an ambidextrous design (for right- and left-handers), nor seven buttons instead of five, like its bigger sibling the Copperhead.

Great Gift

Naturally, I recommend the DeathAdder for any Mac gamer, but it is also is a great work mouse, especially for graphics professionals. The precision of its movements and ergonomic design make it a joy to do fine detail work or play for hours. It is also a worthy holiday gift that should last for years.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor