Review: Razer Spectre StarCraft II Gaming Mouse

Razer Spectre StarCraft II

If you want to deep-dive on the Spectre's tracking resolution, you can tweak its DPI setting from 100 up to 5600 (it defaults to 1800) and assign up to five sensitivity stages with discrete DPI values. Want to optimize the sensitivity-to-accuracy ratio? You can. Turn down the in-game sensitivity (say to 1.0) while cranking up the DPI and you'll get pinpoint high-coverage performance with minimum effort. There's even an option to configure accuracy by axis, i.e. different DPI settings correlating to the direction you move the mouse. If that sounds overly complex, remember that Razer designed this thing to anticipate tournament play must-haves.

Actions Per Minute

Let's say you're an up and coming competitive StarCraft II player and you want to know how you stack up against someone else in simple mathematical terms. One way involves gauging your "actions per minute" or APM. That's the number of discrete instructions you're able to fire off in the game every 60 seconds. Most non-specialist players average 40 to 50 APM, while some pros reportedly peak at closer to 300 when a match turns frenetic.

The Spectre folds that idea into a fascinating feedback system sculpted with tiny rib-like lights on either side of the mouse's palm rest. The mouse monitors your in-game APM and the ribs-light display a different color depending on your APM rate, offering instant feedback on your performance that's sort of like tracking reps on a weight machine. That's not all: You can set these to flash or show different colors when specific events trigger in the game. Want an alert when your base is under attack? Set a blinking effect (twice, thrice, etc.). Calldown launched? Morph complete? Mothership completed? You can set those too, up to 13 total. If 13 sounds stingy, remember that you're adding an additional feedback interface to, no pun intended, a blizzard of in-game information. It's thus probably best employed as a kind of silent klaxon for the most significant events. That it's there at all should thrill hardcore players who never met an option they didn't like.

Razer Spectre StarCraft II

The backlit StarCraft II logo and strip on the rear underside of the mouse can also be configured to flash different colors, expanding your feedback palette (well, if your peripheral vision's good, anyway). If you want to tweak the thresholds or change which colors trigger at different APM rates, you can set any of that as well. While APM rates by themselves aren't indicators of good gameplay--button mashing produces high APM rates too--if you're already a strong player, it's a valuable alternative way to gauge performance.

Missing in Action

What doesn't the mouse come with? Wireless, as noted above. Also a mouse-sized carry bag, which--since Razer's calling this a tournament-grade mouse--would help when traveling (especially with the braided 7 foot cable). And I'd like to see more than the 13 generic in-game event triggers in the alert panel, say options to focus on specific units or structures and not just "all units" (or structures) in general.

My final quibble with this otherwise astonishingly complete mouse may in fact be an anomaly: Initially, when I left-clicked anywhere on the screen, the pointer would slip slightly to the left. Not a good sign, given the Spectre's precision boasting. After experimenting, I deduced it had something to do with the Artisan gaming mouse pad I've been using. I love the Artisan pads--they're made of resilient, non-spongy material that's higher grade than the usual floppy rubber rectangles you'll find at Best Buy or Walmart--but for some reason they clash with the Spectre's tracking laser. Dropped flush with my wood desktop, the Spectre's tracking shifted to perfect. Just be aware that your mileage may vary depending on the type of surface you place the Spectre.

Terran Perfection

Otherwise you're looking at a nearly perfect StarCraft II gaming mouse. The design's austere but attractive, the response feels tight out of the box and offers dozens of customization parameters, and the best part of the package--Razer's configuration tool--packs in some of the best optimization metrics I've come across, whether you're looking for simple macros and button-maps, or tournament-grade performance heuristics.

Put another way, it's my new full-time mouse, and bravo, Razer.

PCW Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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