It's never been a great time to be a left-handed PC gamer. Peripherals for those of the sinistral persuasion tend to be subpar, expensive or absent altogether — which is why it's cause for celebration when we get a really, really good ambidextrous mouse. The Razer Viper Ultimate ($150) fits the bill, with flawless wireless performance, an excellent design and plenty of battery life.
The Viper Ultimate has one big competitor in its price range: the nearly perfect Logitech G903 ($150), whose swappable buttons put its ambidextrous design just a bit ahead of the Viper Ultimate's. For the asking price, the Viper Ultimate doesn't have as many bells and whistles as it could. But if you're a left-handed gamer who's looking to invest in something premium — or you're a right-handed gamer who just wants an excellent all-around mouse — Razer's new offering is well worth a look.
The Viper Ultimate is an ambidextrous mouse, which is already a feather in its cap. Add in a surprisingly comfortable design and a wonderful wireless setup, and there's really nothing to dislike about the way the peripheral looks and feels.
Regarding physical design, the Viper Ultimate is low to the ground, medium-sized (5.0 x 2.6 x 1.5 inches) and completely symmetrical. Most of the mouse is devoted to a palm rest with a light-up Razer logo, which suits players with palm and fingertip grips very well. There's a small plastic dip in the middle, then the right-click, left-click and scroll-wheel buttons on top.
As I pointed out in my wired Razer Viper review, the mouse looks a little strange, but it's much more comfortable than it looks. I played for days on end without any cramps or discomfort in my right hand, and I imagine that any left-handed gamer would have roughly the same experience.
I also appreciate the four thumb buttons — two on each side. That way, you can program two for your dominant hand and deactivate the other two. (You could also train yourself to hit buttons with your ring finger and pinky, but this method is not very precise.)
The mouse's included dock also merits a mention, as it can spruce up a drab desktop. (You can connect the wireless dongle to the dock or directly to your computer if you prefer to avoid another wire.) In addition to charging the mouse when it's not in use, the dock has a pretty RGB LED strip on the bottom, which you can sync with your other Razer gear. The dock stays firmly in place thanks to friction; the feet are not sticky, meaning you can pick up the dock and move it as many times as you like.
The Viper Ultimate's wireless performance and battery life are the biggest reasons to invest in this mouse. I played with the Viper Ultimate for days, making it my regular gaming mouse both in the office and at home. I did not encounter a single dropped signal, laggy command or delayed click during that time. The battery lasted for about five days of heavy play, with all the lighting cranked to maximum. Recharging via the dock took a long time — 4 hours or so — but this isn't as much of a problem if you charge overnight or when the mouse is not in use.
In fact, this brings up one of my quibbles about the Viper Ultimate: Unless you plug the dock directly into a wall outlet (it doesn't come with an adapter), your mouse won't charge after you turn off your PC for the night. I'm not sure what would have been an elegant solution to this problem, but that gorgeous dock needs a lot of juice to do its job.
The mouse runs on Razer's Synapse software. I've had every kind of experience with this software, from the unusable to the superlative. This time, everything worked fine, letting me reprogram (and deactivate) buttons, customize lighting and link profiles with individual games. The Synapse interface is not as simple as it could be, with lots of tabs, options and menus to sort through, but once you get the hang of it, it works pretty well.
Razer estimates the Viper Ultimate's battery life at 70 hours if you turn off all the lighting, but if you're anything like me, you won't want to do that. I had spectrum-cycling active and a charge of about 75% before I started a few long days of gaming. I would estimate that I got at least 15 hours of gaming, plus a few more of productivity, so I would peg the battery life at around 20 to 25 hours with all the lighting ramped up. Your mileage may vary. In any case, it's plenty of time.
The Viper Ultimate performed well across a variety of genres. Rather than being optimized for any one style of game, the mouse was precise and responsive for Overwatch (a competitive first-person shooter), Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition (a real-time strategy game), Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales (a card-based role-playing game) and Final Fantasy XIV (a massively multiplayer online RPG). I spent the most time with AoEII: DE, and I thoroughly enjoyed conquering my way through Europe for hours on end, without a wire to get in the way.
It's worth noting that the Viper Ultimate makes use of a high-grade optical sensor that promises 99.6% resolution accuracy and a DPI rating of up to 20,000 that you can customize via the Synapse software and manipulate via a button on the Viper's underside. I never needed to increase the resolution above about 1200 on a 22-inch 1080p monitor, but this would be helpful if you were planning, perhaps, the world's biggest multimonitor setup.
It's worth comparing the Viper Ultimate to the Logitech G903 directly, as the latter lets you customize physical button layouts and charge while you play (if you invest an additional $100 in the Logitech PowerPlay mat). I think those features ultimately make the G903 the stronger mouse of the two — but the Viper is no slouch. The Viper Ultimate's gorgeous design, convenient dock and excellent performance make it a worthwhile investment, particularly if you're in the market for something ambidextrous.
Granted, not everyone is willing to drop $150 on a gaming mouse — even a high-end wireless one. In that case, the wired Viper is probably a better investment, at $80. But if you can make the splurge, the Viper Ultimate is almost as good as these things get.