Summary: So Christmas is coming and you need a swank gift for a gamer - or for yourself. Or, perhaps, you already have all the latest games and now need some help playing them. Razer's new mouse, the Coppperhead, is here and has won our Editor's Choice Award. Read on to find out why!
For starters, it permits the owner to modify his sensitivity via dpi settings on the fly. There are four default settings of 400, 800, 1600 and 2000dpi that can be cycled through using two buttons on the mouse, or from the driver menu. As a nice touch, the mouse stores this information in itself rather than on your computer, so if you find yourself going to a LAN party and using someone elseís rig, at least your mouse settings will remain the same.
The driver menu is where you can also adjust the mouse polling rate Ė from the standard USB 125Hz (8ms), 500Hz (2ms) and up to 1000Hz (1ms). Most mice are, as mentioned earlier, using the default 125Hz of the USB bus. The G7 is at 500Hz. There are programs that can change the polling rate, but these require a reboot. Razerís changes on the fly. Whatís the point of a high polling rate? Smoothness. A high rate will check the position of the mouse more often, updating its path more correctly. To use an extreme example, imagine a low poll rate of only 1Hz Ė so that the computer would read mouse movement only once per second. All the other movements you make with your mouse in between seconds do not register, only the positions at the passing of every second.
Of course, that is absurd and no such mouse exists, but back in the days of PS2 connectors there were epic flame wars between PS2 and USB mouse lovers. On the one hand, USB had a higher default rate but was not adjustable at the time, while PS2 mouse fans could use the PS2Rate utility to change from the default 60 to as high as 200. The difference between 200Hz and 125Hz was noticeable, but of course meant the inconvenience of using PS2Rate. As for 500Hz? Itís a noticeable jump from 125Hz. You wonít feel the same jump from 500 to 1000, but presumably it will make a difference every now and then in a wild rail arena match if you end up wildly moving the mouse around.
The high DPI is useful because it provides a very sensitive mouse without sacrificing accuracy, as you might if you use a cheap mouse and compensate with a high software sensitivity setting. Combined with the 1000Hz polling, the Copperhead is at least theoretically the most accurate mouse on the market. My weeks of experience with it and head-to-head testing, though subjective, tend to support that supposition.
In addition to the main mouse buttons and scroll knob/button, the Copperhead has two more buttons on each side of the mouse. Since it is designed to be ambidextrous, the Copperhead is identical from either side, unlike many newer mouse designs. This makes for a different ergonomic problem however. The two buttons on the thumb side are easy to press, but on the other pair of buttons on the opposing side take effort Ė whether with the pinky or ring finger. This is apparently one of those unavoidable trade-offs in making a mouse for right- and left-handers that has multiple buttons, but itís no less annoying for that.
Fortunately, all buttons are programmable. They can be set to key presses and macros, or some of the specific features of the mouse. A button can be set for the next higher or lower DPI setting, or to adjust sensitivity on the fly (hold the button down and use the scroll wheel), to switch between the five profiles the mouse can store, windows buttons four and five, or even an automatic double-click. Thereís no way to adjust polling rate without using the taskbar driver menu, but once you have it set at 1000Hz, thereís little need to change it. Then again, thereís little need to change DPI either, for that matter.
The Copperhead is quite stylish, the version in my hand being a sexi semi-matte black with blue LED lights. The logo in the middle slowly pulsates from dim to bright and back, while the scroll button and plastic around the sides glow steadily. The sides are Ďribbedí with black spots. Iím fairly conservative in my computer tastes and donít like too many lights, but I must admit that this has grown on me.
The teflon pads are fairly thick but have a small profile area, for reduced drag presumably. Part of the rear pad seems to have collapsed in deeper in the mouse since Iíve gotten it; there seems to be a lack of support for it. The mouse has a cord which is about 7 feet long and is not stiff nor prone to tangling, it does not hinder movement in the least. Iím a superstitious beast when it comes to wireless controllers, generally disliking them on the PC so the cord does not bother me. Furthermore, it eliminates any doubt (and, sadly, excuses for heated 1v1 tourney matches in Q4) of delivering the proper signal to the computer about where I intended my mouse to go.
Does the Copperhead make me better? I want to say no, but I cannot deny that my results in Quake 4 and Call of Duty 2 have improved since Iíve gotten it. This may be, of course, due to the extra practice over the passing weeks, but the mouse is very responsive and extremely smooth. Considering that the differences are most noticeable on all-rail or all-rifle servers, Iím inclined to say that at the very least it will give the player new potential to tap, and maybe even help him do it Ė or at least give him the motivation to keep trying. The difference is quite like going from 30fps to 60fps Ė subtle but difficult to deny.
Not all buttons accessible
Itís sleek, sexy, and it performs better than any mouse Iíve tried. The price is somewhat higher than your average mouse, but this is definitely not that average mouse. And despite my reluctance to credit hardware with any improvement in my performance in games, I am again forced to admit that I do better with the Copperhead than ye olde Logitech MouseMan Dual Optical.
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