A bit over a year ago I switched from the Apple Magic Mouse that came with my iMac to a Razer Naga as my primary pointing device. I bought it because it wowed me with its sheer number of buttons– seventeen! I didn’t really know what I was going to do with seventeen buttons, but I knew I was going to do something. Well, it’s been a while, and I can confirm that the buttons turned out to be very useful. But the Naga is more than just a bunch of buttons; it’s a pretty nice mouse in every respect.
The Naga is intended for MMO gamers who need to keep a bunch of abilities, attacks, potions, etc. available for instant access. I don’t play MMOs, but I have my own set of abilities that I like to keep at hand. My standard abilities include opening and closing windows and tabs, switching applications, opening links in the background, toggling specific apps, and a ton of other things that everyone does all the time. I also use functions that are specific to a given app or workflow, like Photoshop.
I’m a big fan of using keyboard shortcuts for small, repetitive tasks because they’re faster than navigating through menus. But, like it or not, your hands aren’t always on the keyboard. Switching to the keyboard takes extra time, which kind of defeats the purpose of using keyboard shortcuts. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to easily access common functions from whatever input device we’re currently using, the keyboard or mouse? That’s what I use all those buttons for. It’s like having a mini keyboard on a mouse. I really do find that I save a lot of time by having these shortcut buttons on the mouse, to the point that I feel more than a little handicapped when I have to use a normal mouse or trackpad.
Design and Look
The Naga is pretty. Like most gaming mice, it’s made of black plastic with a glossy finish on the trim. The backlighting on the buttons is bright enough to actually be helpful in dark environments, but can be turned off if you don’t need it.
Comfort and Feel
This mouse fits my hand perfectly. It’s not too small or too big and the contours are just right. Even after using it for hours, my hands don’t get sore. I didn’t realize how cramped the Magic Mouse made my hand until I switched to the Naga. The weight and balance are acceptable, but I wish the Naga was a bit heavier. All of the buttons are easy to reach and press.
Tracking and Button Performance
I’ve had no problems with the tracking; the cursor is always where I think it should be. I’ve never experienced any lag or dropouts with the Naga, and there has never been lag between pressing a button and a macro being executed. Cursor acceleration is predictable and seems to work well. The buttons are easy to press, but clearly differentiate ‘pressed’ and ‘not pressed’, preventing accidental input. My only complaint is that the buttons and scroll wheel are all very loud; their clicks are louder than key presses on an Apple keyboard.
Drivers and Software
Most gaming mice don’t have any Mac drivers at all, so the performance and macros cannot be customized beyond the basic level that OS X provides. The Naga has Mac drivers that are almost as good as its PC drivers. The software itself is well done: the installer adds a System Preferences pane for setup and a helper process to your login items. This allows you to easily disable the software if it starts causing problems (it hasn’t for me, but it’s always good to have the option). An uninstaller is also included. In addition, you aren’t required to have a GUI app with a Dock icon running constantly like you are with some other brands’ products (not to mention any names, Logitech).
The configuration panel is straightforward and easy to use. You can assign macros, single keys, and a few pre-set functions to your buttons with minimal effort, as well as change the mouse’s sensitivity, backlighting, and other hardware-related options. Sets of assignments can be organized into profiles which can be switched to manually or automatically when a specified app is in use. This is very useful because it allows you to automatically use one set of button assignments in, say, Chrome, another in Finder, and another in Photoshop.
The prefpane isn’t perfect, though: it has two limitations that get annoying. The first is that there is no easy way to assign a button to a keyboard shortcut; you have to record a macro with the key up and down events. This is an annoyance, but it’s also a limitation: some system keyboard shortcuts are executed rather than recorded, making it hard to record certain shortcuts (like command-tab). The second limitation is that you are limited to 5 profiles, meaning that you can only specify five different app-dependent sets of shortcuts. I’m approaching the point where I will need to get around this limitation, so I’ll be working on some plist-juggling scripts in the near future.
The Razer Naga is available on Amazon for $65.
An Apple Magic Mouse sells for a couple bucks less. Let me put it this way: you get a lot more mouse for your money with the Naga.
Overall, the Naga scored 22.5/25. I’ve found it to be a very comfortable and powerful mouse for the price. It’s one of the few with a lot of buttons that works well with Macs.
I recommend the Razer Naga to any Mac gamer or power user.
Don’t let all the buttons scare you away. You don’t need to use all of them; feel free to start off using only a few and grow into the others as you need them. If you think you’d like more than two or three buttons, the Naga is a great investment.