Is a 17-button mouse overkill? Probably. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a quality pro-gaming mouse for the price that gives you more features than the Razer Naga.
The Razer 2012 Naga Expert MMO mouse is the latest edition in their gaming peripheral line geared to meet the unique needs of MMO players. After testing the new Razer Naga for a few days and seeing what it can do, we think it’s worth the $80 price tag for gamers who are serious about MMOs or any other keyboard-heavy PC gaming.
The Naga comes with the usual collection of Razer bells and whistles, including 3 swappable ergonomic grips to make sure it’s comfortable for almost any user and a precision laser sensor, along with some more buzzwordy features like “ultraslick mouse feet.” Though I can’t provide scientific evidence to verify how ultraslick they are, the Naga did slide comfortably over every surface I tested it on. So, that’s nice.
The Naga’s main selling point is the absolutely gigantic number of buttons on the thing. Sporting the typical left and right mouse buttons, a clickable scroll wheel, two additional buttons on the top of the mouse and a full 12 key numberpad for your thumb, the Naga has 17 fully customizable buttons that fit comfortably under your hand.
Naturally, upon grasping a 17-button mouse my first instinct was that the Razer Naga is extreme overkill, even for gamers. At first I found it difficult to use more than the typical left, right and center mouse buttons, and truth be told it’s unlikely that your hands will be limber enough to comfortably use all 17 buttons on the Naga on your first try. Still, my short time with the Naga has made me a convert.
I tested the Naga while playing World of Warcraft, my MMO of choice. My first hour or so with the device was mostly disastrous; since I had to use my keyboard for at least some of my keybindings I kept instinctively hitting the 1-0 keys on my keyboard rather than the mouse, and when I would try and use the mouse’s keypad I would often have trouble finding they key I was looking for purely by feel. Having to constantly look at my mouse hand to verify I was hitting the right buttons helped me better appreciate the Naga’s slick design, but it sure wasn’t improving my gameplay.
After a little more time with the mouse I came to understand these problems were easily worked out. I began getting a feel for the convenient ridges on certain buttons that let me know where my finger was resting on the Naga keypad, and my brain quickly adapted to hitting the 1-6 keys with my right rather than my left hand.
I say the 1-6 keys since the 3rd and 4th rows on the keypad are still slightly out of comfortable reach. Gamers with larger or more limber thumbs may find they can reach those keys easily, and more time with the Naga may be enough to get me using them as well, but with just a few days of playing and only the 1-6 keys the Naga has already revolutionized how I play WoW.
Since most of my core abilities on any character in WoW are hotkeyed to the first six number buttons on the Naga I’m able to rely on my right hand for most of my basic attacks, leaving my left hand to concentrate on movement with the WASD keys and more specialized abilities that I use more rarely.
Since Razer’s Synapse software allows you to remap any of the buttons on the Naga and even add customized Macros I suspect the company would prefer you do most of your customization on the mouse itself rather than in-game, and the ability to port those settings quickly and easily to a new computer using Synapse may make that the most advantageous plan for power gamers who want to maintain their settings across multiple machines.
Personally I don’t see much need for that feature since I tend to do all of my gaming on one PC and the Naga provides me with more enough enough buttons to configure using in-game keybindings. That’s especially true when you realize how easy the Naga makes it to add modifier keys to your keybindings; see MMO classes with a multitude of abilities often end up binding keys to not just their number pad but to shift-1, control-1, shift-2 and on down the line to have quick access to all their spells. This can get uncomfortable in a hurry, as stretching your hand from the shift key all the way up to the number keys likely strains the limits of your hand’s extension.
With the Naga however, mapping six abilities to my shift and control modifier keys means I have 18 abilities that I can use quickly and easily without uncomfortably stretching either of my hands. All I need to do is press the shift and control keys on the keyboard with my left hand and then the 1-6 keys on the Naga with my right. While I may not be able to reach all 17 buttons on the Naga, it still manages to provide me easy access to 18 abilities.
So is a 17-button mouse overkill? Probably. The 10-12 keys especially seem like they could be removed without bothering 99 percent of gamers. Still, at $80 you’d be hard-pressed to find a quality pro-gaming mouse for the price that gives you more features than the Razer Naga. Sometimes a little bit of overkill is okay, and the Naga is some of the best excess money can buy.