Editor’s note, Nov. 19: The Razer Viper 8K Hz mouse levels up the company’s already excellent Viper esports mouse line with new high-speed polling technology that ultimately delivers better performance where it counts. That’s why we’ve given it a CNET Editors’ Choice Award. Our original review, first published in January, follows.
Razer levels up its Viper Ultimate gaming mouse with a wired model, announced Thursday, that octuples its polling rate to a market-leading 8,000Hz. Using the same Focus Plus 20,000-dpi sensor and updated optical switches as the Ultimate, Razer’s $80 “HyperPolling” Viper 8K Hz is fast becoming my favorite mouse. It’s the first mouse I’ve been able to use at higher resolutions, up to 1,600 dpi for gaming and 6,400 dpi for nongaming, which means good gamers will get a lot more out of it. It feels fast, fluid, accurate and responsive.
- High polling rate is good for using high-resolution settings
- Light, but not too small or too light
- DPI clutch on the underside of the mouse is not a good location for frequent switchers (but you can reprogram it)
This is more than just a numbers game. Practically, a higher polling rate — how many times per second the mouse reports its position to the system — means better accuracy, the same way a higher sample rate in music or higher bit rate for color results in more accurate reproduction of sound or images. (Assuming the system’s powerful enough to handle the higher influx of data.)
A mouse with 1,000Hz, the most common polling rate today, reports values approximately every millisecond; an 8,000Hz mouse like this one reports them every 0.125 ms, or eight times faster.
Movement is continuous, which means to perfectly reproduce movement you’d need an infinite polling rate. Below infinity, gaps appear between the actual cursor location and where the software thinks it is. That’s known as latency.
But it’s not just the size of the gaps that matter, it’s also how consistent their sizes are. If it varies too much (called stutter or for very small values, microstutter) you can’t rely on feel to make sure the cursor is where you expect it to be, which means you’re more likely to overshoot or undershoot where you want to be. Some mice claiming polling rates higher than 1,000Hz fill those gaps by reporting the same (or estimated) location multiple times.
The final variable on this side of the equation is the mouse’s sensor resolution, the density of the grid the mouse uses to map its location. If the grid is too small relative to the polling rate, you’ll also get latency.
For any gamer, the less stutter and latency — the more accurate the mouse is — the better you play. The question is, at what point do improvements in accuracy hit diminishing returns? The answer depends upon your monitor’s refresh rate, the other side of the equation.
For a 60Hz monitor, the screen updates every 1/60 second, or about every 16.7 ms; a 360Hz screen drops that to 2.8 ms. At 60Hz, it doesn’t matter if the mouse is reporting its location every 1ms; the system has a luxurious 15-plus milliseconds to process the data and send it to the display. At 360Hz, you’re giving the system less than 2 ms to process the mouse input. Toss in higher frame rates on particular games as GPU power increases (as it has this year with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30-series cards and AMD’s Radeon 6000-series cards), and the mouse has a lot more to keep up with.
At the moment, mostly esports players are going for the 360Hz monitors. They’re all relatively small (25 inches) and low 1080p resolution; the rest of us are happy with bigger and/or higher resolution models with refresh rates in the 120Hz to 240Hz range. But a byproduct of the higher polling rate is that the mouse becomes more consistent at the lower rates. In other words, the 8,000Hz mouse delivers dead-on 1,000Hz consistency.
On a more mundane level, I’m still not crazy about the location of the dpi clutch — on the underside of the mouse, it’s hardly for on-the-fly changes — but it was easy enough to remap to a side button. But otherwise I’ve got no complaints. It weighs 2.5 ounces (71 grams), which isn’t the lightest, but is in a good middle ground, and has the great polytetrafluoroethylene (i.e., Teflon) feet that many manufacturers are adopting and which glide like ice skaters.
Because of all the variables, your mileage may vary significantly by moving up from another mouse to Razer’s HyperPolling 8K Hz model unless you’ve got a hyperfast system, hyperhigh-refresh rate display and hypersonic reaction time ‘twixt optic nerve and hand. But if you’re sensitive to mouse sensitivity, the Viper 8K Hz is definitely worth a shot.