Hello! DogLogic here with a new review. I’m a competitive FPS player of 14 years with a passion for being overly-opinionated about gaming mice. Be sure to follow us on the blog or YouTube to be notified for future reviews!
Thank you to Razer for sending me a copy for testing. While the product was provided to me free of charge, this review is my own and in no way influenced by Razer.
The Razer Viper has always been a bit of a sleeper. Forever outshined by its wireless sibling, the Viper Ultimate, it never managed to find its niche. Eventually, many enthusiasts like myself kind of forgot it existed.
In late 2020, rumors started floating around of a new Razer prototype – called the Avalon – falling into the hands of a discrete few. Soon – the cat was out: the Avalon is a Viper with an 8000 Hz polling rate, something not yet available on any other consumer mouse.
The reaction was… mixed. Not unlike 240Hz versus 360Hz monitors, we see a lot of passionate debate surrounding that one central question: does it matter, or is it a gimmick?
Today, I offer you my experience. We’ll take a look at the polling rate, of course, but also the mouse as whole. The Viper has come a long way since its release over a year ago, and I was really surprised by what it’s become.
|Polling Rates||125, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, 8000|
|Shape||Ambidextrous: 126.73 mm / 57.6 mm / 37.81 mm|
|Switches||2nd-Gen Razer Optical|
|Mouse Feet||Pure PTFE|
The Sensor & 8KHz
Look, I know what you’re here for. But first, let’s briefly acknowledge the other, flawless characteristics of this sensor that we’ve come to expect from all modern gaming mice.
The Viper 8K uses Razer’s “Focus+ Optical Sensor”. It’s a top-performing sensor, without skipping, lagging, or spinout. The lift-off-distance can be adjusted in software to 1, 2, or 3mm. Great.
A brief explanation of polling rate: at a 1000Hz polling rate, a mouse sends a positional update to your computer 1000 times a second. This results in a potential 1ms input lag increase. At 8000 signals a second, that’s reduced to 0.125ms.
It’s reasonable to doubt that such a small difference could be felt, but the brain deserves some credit. Research has shown that we’re incredibly sensitive to latency of the effects of our actions.
For me, the experience of using an 8000Hz polling rate is surprisingly more dramatic than I had anticipated. Clicks register faster, and quick-flick movements feel ever-so-slightly snappier and more responsive. Slower, continuous tracking movements are less smoothed and translate with increased accuracy. You really notice it when using 1000Hz again after a few days with the Viper.
There’s a second way this higher rate of polling manifests: visual clarity. For high refresh rate monitors (240Hz+), even 1000Hz polling can lead to stuttering when the camera is spun at a high speed. At 8000Hz, the movement is smoothed and clarified. It’s a subtle, but noticeable improvement when flicking or quickly scanning for enemies.
So it’s noticeable, but there still remains the question: does it matter?
In terms of competitive advantage, probably not. As good as it feels to use, it would be pretty optimistic to claim that I was actually performing any better than I would be at the standard 1000Hz. Shots were probably not made that I think would have been missed or too delayed otherwise.
At top level Counter-Strike play, where pixel-perfect split-second shots win rounds, 8KHz could be a genuine advantage. However, for us mortals, it’s likely best classified as simply ‘neat’: a cherry-on-top that makes our system feel more responsive and clear, and therefore more satisfying and fun to use.
The first concession: monitor refresh rate. I tested a variety of refresh rates to find my personal breakpoint, and found that I could no longer distinguish 1KHz and 8KHz at 200 frames per second and below. While everyone has different levels of sensitivity, I would not anticipate getting much out of this feature unless you have a sufficiently high refresh rate monitor.
The second concession: compatibility. Early reports have shown that certain systems will not properly run certain games at this polling rate. You can experience massive stuttering and input buffering that renders the game unplayable. My system runs an i5-10600k CPU and 3080 GPU at 1440p resolution, and these were my results:
|Game||Max Stable Polling Rate (Hz)|
|Call of Duty (CW / Warzone / MW)||8000|
Most games I tested ran perfectly fine, but there were a few who seemed to max out at 2KHz. Other reviewers have had better results, and others worse. It will depend on your hardware and software configuration.
The good news is that Synapse, Razer’s device management software, allows for game-specific profiles that allow you to automatically adjust your polling rate when a certain game launches. Even 2KHz is a noticeable improvement, so there’s a silver lining even when having to fall back to that.
The Build Quality
Razer has nailed build quality lately and this mouse is no exception. There is no flex anywhere on the mouse, and no audible rattle when shaking it. The material feels sturdy and unyielding, and the shell did not develop any issues over ~50 hours of use.
The Viper shape is a classic, belonging to a category shared by mice such as the Glorious Model O and Zowie FK2. Across these models there are variances in curvature and dimension, but generally speaking, it’s a competitive shape most in service of claw or fingertip grip. You can certainly palm this mouse as well, but might find some other shapes more agreeable.
It’s a full-bodied mouse that fills out your grip width nicely, helping to prevent cramping. The low button height promotes a sense of precision. To me, the Viper shape is a sweet spot between comfort and performance.
My Viper weighed in at 72g with a bit of cable. There are certainly lighter mice out there, but it’s still an exceptionally low weight, and more than light enough for that ‘featherweight’ feeling.
Everybody is going to have their own breakpoint where a mouse’s weight is too high (or too low). For me, this is about as heavy as a mouse can be before it starts to bug me. After a few hours of adjustment, I acclimated to the weight and never felt it negatively impact my performance.
The weight balance is superb. Absolutely no lopsidedness in either axis to note.
The Viper 8K features an upgraded iteration of Razer’s optical switches. Optical switch technology offers the advantage of exceptionally low click-latency, along with a resistance to mechanical issues such as double-clicking.
Historically, this has come at the cost of tactility. Razer’s first iteration of this switch was mushy and hollow. It felt distinctly unsatisfying to use. Not an issue in-game, but enough to generate annoyance on the internet by people like me.
The new switches have made a huge step in the right direction. They feel far more snappy and satisfying. Not at parity, but more than good enough.
Performance-wise, they have a perfect actuation force that is easy to click, but not so light that you’ll do it accidentally. My copy has virtually no pre-travel, and a smaller amount of post-travel than what you normally get on the industry-standard Omron 20M switches.
The actual shell component of the clicks is also well done. My copy has a minor bit of side play on the left click, which isn’t noticeable in game. The right-click is flawless.
At some point since the Viper’s original release, Razer upgraded the stock feet from low-quality, black-died plastic to pure PTFE, putting them well ahead of most other major mouse manufacturers.
I was surprised by how well they performed out of the box. The glide feels like what you’d expect from pure PTFE: slick and smooth. The skates maintained that feeling after break-in as well.
It’s unlikely you’d need to replace these with third-party skates, but that’s still an upgrade option nonetheless as the stock feet are still not at that same level of quality. (I recommend the Tiger ICE line of aftermarket skates if you did want to go that route)
The Viper actually has two distinct textures you are going to feel when holding it.
The first is the normal shell coating. It’s a solid coating – a kind of textured plastic feeling on the main clicks and top of the mouse. It’s grippy enough and stands up to sweaty hands admirably. Razer sells rubber grips that cover the main clicks if you like, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
The second texture is the rubber covering on the sides of the mouse. The rubber actually feels slightly less grippy than the bare plastic. I guess it isn’t bad, but I’m really confused why Razer bothers including it. Weird.
The Side Buttons
Razer dug a hole for themselves by choosing to go fully ambidextrous, side-buttons included. In order to make it so one doesn’t accidentally press the opposite-side side buttons, Razer opted to make them flush with the mouse body.
Unfortunately, this makes them a bit hard to use. I needed to change my grip more dramatically in order to hit them, which can be disruptive to aim and discourages binding anything to the side buttons you might need to press in the heat of the moment.
The tactility of the buttons themselves is top notch, though. They feel snappy with no pre-travel and minor post-travel. A little too firm for my tastes, but it’s a non-issue.
The Scroll Wheel
The scroll wheel has a nice rubberized texture to it. The steps are well defined, but the actual scroll itself is tight and requires a bit too much force.
The middle mouse click has the perfect actuation force – easy enough to press with an extended pointer finger. The tactility of is a bit mushy and hollow, but it’s another non-issue.
The Not so Great
I sympathize with the fact that a thicker cable may be needed to maintain a stable 8KHz signal, but it doesn’t change the fact that this cable feels very heavy and stiff.
The actual performance impact of a stiff cable is debatable. What I can say for sure, though, is that it’s really, really annoying. I consider a mouse bungee to be pretty necessary for this mouse. So, if you do get a Viper 8K, prepare to invest in or MacGyver one if you haven’t already.
This is the major weak point of this mouse and something I hope Razer changes going forward.
I was really surprised by how much I ended up loving this mouse. I haven’t been the biggest Razer fan in the past, but the sensor, shape, weight, and clicks make for a performant and comfortable experience. I found myself always coming back to it, and now consider it one of my favorite mice.
Ironically, I don’t consider the 8K the most compelling reason to buy the mouse. As cool as it is, shape, weight, and build quality come first. Fortunately, the Viper 8K gets it right, and I don’t feel I’m compromising.
That’s not to say the 8K isn’t a feature worthy of note. It’s more than a gimmick: it’s a genuinely cool feature with real potential to improve your experience, if not just for the fun of it. And, it’s something you really can’t get anywhere else.
The cable is the fly in the ointment. A good bungee will mostly solve the problem, but I’ll personally be on the lookout for an 8K-compatible paracord to pick up ASAP.
- 8000Hz polling rate. Duh
- Rock-solid build quality
- High performance, tactile optical switches
- Competitive, comfortable shape
- Low weight
- 8000Hz is situational:
- Potential game compatibility issues
- High refresh-rate monitor is likely required
- Stiff stock cable
- Expensive for a wired mouse
Razer Viper 8K Alternatives
8KHz Alternative: AtomPalm Hydrogen
The AtomPalm Hydrogen is an upcoming enthusiast-grade mouse featuring an incredible 45-gram weight, Japanese Omron switches, and of course, an 8000Hz polling rate. For those looking for the lightest possible mouse with the lowest available response times, it might be worth waiting this one out.
As of writing this article, the Viper and Hydrogen are the sole two consumer 8KHz options for Q1 2021.
Wireless Alternative: Razer Viper Ultimate
For those unconcerned with polling rate, the Viper Ultimate still exists as a top-tier wireless option. It features all of the other features of the Viper, including the same shape and upgraded optical switches, at the cost of some grams and dollars.
(Buyers beware – at the time of publishing this article, you can only guarantee upgraded switches in your copy buy purchasing directly from Razer, not Amazon)
Left-Hander Alternative: Logitech G Pro Wireless (Original)
While researching this article I was pretty shocked by just how few options you guys have, if you want side buttons. I feel pretty strongly the Viper will be your best bet, but if you really hate the shape, the Logitech G Pro Wireless is a good option. It features configurable left-handed side buttons for you southpaw folks.
The other options frequently listed online are not mice I would feel comfortable recommending.
Small Hands Alternative: Razer Viper Mini
If you have smaller hands and still want that Viper shape, consider the Viper Mini. It hasn’t gotten the 8KHz treatment, but it has the same level of build quality and features optical switches.
It’s also absurdly cheap – dipping as low as $20 if you snag it at the right time.