Razer Mamba Wireless (2018) review: It nails the fundamentals
- 30 November, 2018 21:54
It's been either a few years or a few months since we looked at Razer's Mamba mouse. Back in 2015 I reviewed the Mamba Wireless and Mamba Tournament Edition, which I'd say was our last real look at this design—but in April we did examine Razer's futuristic Hyperflux mousepad, which used an adapted Mamba as its input.
Now there's a new model: a standalone wireless Mamba that doesn't necessitate selling a kidney to afford Hyperflux. Given that the Mamba is one of my favorite Razer designs, it seems worth a look.
Mamba No. 5
I'm honestly a bit confused why Razer sells both the Mamba and the DeathAdder. The differences between the two are minimal. Both are ergonomic right-handed mice, and even the scant few features that used to delineate the two have disappeared over time.
Case in point: The previous Mamba featured a tilt wheel. The 2018 refresh does not. It's just a standard scroll wheel this time around.
The 2015 Mamba Wireless was also gorgeous, albeit over-designed. It came with a little charging base that doubled as a showstand when not in use, a miniature pedestal for your mouse to sit on. The whole package looked incredible, but uh...well, you couldn't use the mouse while it was on the stand, so I'm not too surprised Razer ditched it. The 2018 Mamba Wireless has the usual MicroUSB jack in the front when you need to recharge, but that's it.
And two of the most noteworthy features on the 2015 Mamba have disappeared. The pair of light ribbons running down the sides, probably the most gorgeous RGB implementation I've seen on a mouse, have been removed. The same fate's befallen the 2015 Mamba's "Adjustable Click Technology," a gimmick that let you tweak the resistance on the left and right mouse buttons from 45 grams up to 95 grams.
The 2018 Mamba Wireless is less of a mouse, for sure. Four features, the only four that really separated it from the DeathAdder, have all been removed. There's still a slight shape difference, and I prefer the Mamba's gentler curves and sculpted thumb buttons. But much of what made the Mamba Wireless unique has been lost.
On the other hand, the 2018 Mamba Wireless is quite literally less of a mouse—by which I mean, it weighs a hell of a lot less. I actually complained about the previous Mamba's weight, and for good reason. At 125 grams, the 2015 Mamba Wireless weighed well above the magic 100 grams most users cite as a cutoff, and it didn't carry that weight gracefully either. It felt dense and clumsy in a way some comparable mice (like Logitech's G502) do not.
The new version slims down quite a bit, cutting the weight to 106 grams. A 19 gram difference might not sound like much, but it's a noticeable improvement. The 2018 Mamba Wireless glides smoother, thanks to a combination of the lighter weight and slightly larger feet.
It's also a better mouse than its predecessor. The 2015 Mamba Wireless used a laser sensor, like all Razer's wireless mice at the time. It was a fine sensor, but arrived on the cusp of the shift towards the PWM3360 optical sensor and its various subversions—the gold standard in mice sensors since about 2014.
The Mamba Hyperflux moved to an optical sensor earlier this year though, "presumably a version of the PWM3389," as I said in April. And the 2018 Mamba Wireless uses the same, as far as I can tell. It'd be hard for the average user to know the difference, since obvious numbers like DPI have stayed the same—the 2015 Mamba Wireless boasted a 16,000 DPI sensor and so does the 2018 Mamba Wireless. The shift from laser to optical should see a huge improvement in accuracy though, and result in less jitter.
The real magic is the battery life though. Even weighing 19 grams less and with an optical sensor, the 2018 Mamba Wireless more than doubles the battery life of its predecessor. The 2015 Mamba boasted up to 20 hours runtime while the 2018 edition claims up to 50. As with most RGB devices, I assume that's measured with the lighting turned off, and your real runtime will probably be shorter by a few hours, but even so it's a marked improvement. Again, all the more impressive given the 2018 Mamba's lighter weight.
There aren't many downsides, honestly. Most of the features Razer cut for 2018 were vestigial at best, gimmicks to set the Mamba Wireless apart. And yeah, it's weird that Razer still maintains separate Mamba and DeathAdder lines when there's barely any difference at this point, but that doesn't make the Mamba a bad mouse. As I said, I personally prefer it to the DeathAdder even if the reasons are minor.
Plus there's no wireless DeathAdder. In fact, if you want a wireless Razer mouse the Mamba is one of your only options (the other being the ambidextrous Lancehead model).
It's not going to win any design awards like the 2015 version, nor is it anywhere near as futuristic as the Hyperflux model, but the 2018 Mamba Wireless is pretty damn good regardless. It's lightweight, comfortable, with great battery life and an industry-standard optical sensor. And best of all, the price is much more appropriate this time around. Coming in at $100, the 2018 Mamba Wireless goes head to head with other wireless mice like Logitech's G703 and Corsair's Dark Core SE.
For once Razer's stripped away the gimmicks and just nailed the fundamentals, and the result is solid—if perhaps a bit unremarkable.