DeathAdder Specs

Razer Copperhead Review

Pros: Lightweight, symmetrical, precise and speedy; perfect primary buttons and wheel; onboard memory stores profiles for tourney players; firmware upgradeable; good grip; it glows.
Cons: Needs DPI buttons in center of mouse; no application profiles.
Verdict: A solid performer with solid support, the lightweight Razer Copperhead is a finely tuned gaming mouse that’s sorely lacking two buttons.

A mouse can make a world of a difference when it comes to gaming. Buttons, ergonomics and performance all come into play when competing for the top rank, and as usual some gamers are constantly looking for the latest edge. Today Everything USB (finally) brings you a review of the highly-anticipated Copperhead, aka Razer's Laser. Fasten your seatbelts; it doesn't get any more in-depth than this.

Low-Carb Eye Candy
One of the most important (and subjective) aspects of a mouse is how it feels. The Razer Copperhead is a lean mouse, low in height, slim, and rather long in length at over 5 inches tall - best suited for people with medium to large hands. That, combined with the incredibly lightweight (127g) body result in a mouse that's controlled more by fingertips than the wrist, a trait that arguably gives more control. Another notable if not obvious trait of the Copperhead is its symmetrical design, which unlike the other heavyweight contenders allows Lefties to play.

On either side of the Razer Copperhead are two rubber non-slip rails, the pinky and thumb resting on the body that angles inwards beneath them. While my slender hands worked well with the rails (I can lift and shake the mouse while barely squeezing the sides and it won't drop), two fellow LAN gamers I had try the mouse found that the moderately sharp edges of the rails felt uncomfortable as they played Quake with it. Then again, they might have been squeezing the rails instead of underneath them.

Oh, one other thing that may or may not appeal to you is the Copperhead's illuminating personality. Like most anything sold to gamers now, the Copperhead casts a vibrant glow in one of three colors: blue, green, and red. The scroll wheel is translucent to allow the light to pass through, while the light cast by the side rails is segmented by plastic from the inside to give an appearance of scales. On the topside is Razer's three headed snake emblem, which pulsates much like that of a sleeping Macintosh. There's currently no way of turning the LEDs off, although Razer has stated in their FAQ that this may change in the future. I say leave 'em on, when combined with a backlit keyboard my otherwise cluttered desktop looks sick!

Tuned and Tactile
Grasping the Razer Copperhead, I found that my first two fingers felt at home with the oversized primary buttons that travel almost half the length of the mouse, especially since the buttons themselves are concave in the center to mold to the fingers. Despite their long length, the buttons harbor enough resistance to prevent accidental clicking unlike the long buttons found on the Microsoft S+arck mouse. The rubber scroll wheel placed in between the two buttons is just to my liking - it's stepped and well calibrated for perfect weapon selection yet surprisingly quiet, and the wide wheel is lined with horizontal troughs to provide an excellent grip. Like the primary buttons, the mouse wheel also has perfect resistance for easy middle-clicking without error.

Four additional buttons (two on each side) are hidden from view underneath the rails, the thumb resting upon them. When lifting the mouse, it's important to simply lift it, rather than squeeze and lift - the side buttons click so easily that even squeezing the center of the rails alone will click them. I got over this in about 20 minutes. The thing I didn't get over was the inability to press the buttons on the right side of the Razer Copperhead. Granted, they'd work if I was left-handed, but then the left buttons would be useless. Why? In order for the pinky or ring finger to reach them, you must take valuable seconds to angle your wrist to meet the buttons in an awkward position, and in practice the first two fingers are lifted from the primary buttons. This may work if you're just doing Windows work, but forget about using them in the middle of a firefight.

Long-Term Memory
The Razer Copperhead is different from the large majority of mice on the market today in the sense that configurations are stored on the mouse rather than on the computer. Button mappings, sensitivity, and the USB polling rate can all be stored into one of five different presets that are saved into the Copperhead's 32kb of onboard memory, aka Razer Synapse. While not particularly useful to the typical BYOC gamer and lacking application based profiles that load automatically for individual games, the Synapse system would definitely come in handy for gamers competing in a tournament where installation of drivers is prohibited, allowing them to retain their custom settings anyway just by pushing the button on the underside of the mouse.

The configurations are defined through the Razer Configurator, a 3-pane utility where you may map each button to a single keystroke, multi-key macro, individual profile, sensitivity setting, or disable it entirely. On the 2 hidden panes are options for setting the sensitivity and scroll speed, double click speed, and windows pointer speed. More advanced options like changing individual X/Y axis sensitivity and configuring mouse acceleration are also available.

An additional benefit of installing the drivers is on-the-fly sensitivity switching, not to be confused with the DPI Up/Down switching similar to that found on Logitech's mice. By holding a button down and rotating the mouse wheel, it's possible to smoothly change the sensitivity from 1 to 10 in 0.5 increments, and an overlay will appear in the corner of the screen with the current setting. Alternatively, the Copperhead's buttons may be mapped to the traditional DPI Up/Down for use without drivers, or set to a specific DPI resolution (400, 800, 1600, and 2000).

The system works very well although you may not specify custom DPI resolutions, and it's near impossible to pull off in game unless you sacrifice the thumb buttons since the pinky can't reach the other buttons as I outlined above. It'd be much better if Razer could add two buttons between the primary buttons to keep their symmetry for Lefties, while letting users who want melee/grenade and DPI buttons get the best of both worlds.

One last benefit of the drivers is the ability to firmware upgrade the mouse. Although this is no longer an exclusive feature to Razer mice, it's still damn handy. Firmware updates have already helped solve complaints to the laser + black mouse pad issue some users have experienced, and for me they solved a problem where holding down a button bound to a key didn't actually hold it down. The process requires unplugging the mouse multiple times, but it's very straightforward and takes under 5 minutes to complete.

In the Polls
As mentioned earlier, Razer allows for different polling rates to be specified for use with the Copperhead. This is something I've never really seen done before, but after a quick chat with Mr. Google I've learned that increasing the USB port's polling rate lowers the response time and allows for smoother movement. Not surprisingly, the Counter-Strike kiddies lap it up (there I said it) and it's being looked at by the Cyberathlete Professional League. In any case Razer provides three polling options: 125Hz/8 ms, 500Hz/2 ms (not 4 ms as incorrectly listed by Razer which is 250Hz), and 1000Hz/1 ms. In contrast, most mice are locked at 125Hz, and Logitech's G5/G7 is locked at 500Hz. Third party utilities exist for changing the polling rate, although they require booting into safe mode whereas the Razer Copperhead just needs a quick reboot. Increasing the polling rate consumes additional CPU time, but on my A64 3800+ I didn't notice any major drops in framerates.

How well does this work? Well, supposedly if you draw a circle as fast as you can, the higher the polling rate, the smoother the circle - which makes sense since faster movement means the mouse's laser needs to report more data. Tested in Photoshop on a MSI K8N Neo2 Platinum motherboard with a 3800+ and 1GB RAM, I definitely noticed a difference between 125Hz and 500Hz. However, when switching from 500Hz to 1000Hz, I didn't notice a difference at all. Curious if I was doing something wrong or if a 1 ms difference really meant anything, I downloaded the popular Mouserate utility and gave it a whirl. Indeed, 1KHz was reached and in some cases surpassed, with an average rate of 670Hz. I can't verify the accuracy of the program; these are just my findings although they do concur with Razerguy's official word in the Razer Blog. Just for the sake of things I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and leave my polling rate set to 1000Hz, but remember that a tweaked polling rate doesn’t make up for a lack of skill.

Personally being used to larger mice moved with the wrist, I did experience a learning curve when transitioning to the Razer Copperhead. After getting used to the fact I've effectively lost my sensitivity switching and had to work with a much lighter mouse, I found myself pulling snap-180 turns and racking up frag counts without problems after about 4 games, eventually scoring first place a few times in UT2004 during Friday night prime time.

Accuracy was dead on thanks to the 2000DPI Agilent laser tracking system used by the Copperhead, and the mouse tracked well on a multitude of surfaces although I could not test if the black mouse pad issue was indeed solved by the new firmware. Using the stock Teflon feet of the Copperhead, there was little friction on my Func 1030 pad, although not quite as smooth as the Logitech G5's oversized feet since there was some slight dragging on the edges. The difference is very minor however, and the Copperhead’s Teflon feet are a far cry better than standard feet.

One final thing I'd like to add is if you find the mouse too lightweight to your liking, Razer will be releasing a $15 kit for dismantling the mouse to add additional weights or replace the side buttons with duds (why not just disable them?), and replacing the feet. It'll void the warranty, but then again the people who would buy this void warranties habitually anyway.

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