The best gaming mouse
RAZER DEATHADDER 2013
AT A GLANCE
Excellent optical sensor
Ideal shape for palm or claw grips and a variety of hand sizes
Driver software requires one-time online sign-in
The Razer Deathadder 2013 is the best gaming mouse I’ve ever used, and I’ve spent a few hundred hours playing games, using Photoshop, and browsing the Internet with it over the past year and a half. In that time I’ve used a couple other dozen mice for variety and testing, but the Deathadder has become my standard go-to. At a price of about $50 (£64), it’s also more affordable than a large number of gaming mice I’ve used.
The Deathadder 2013 uses a 6400 CPI optical sensor, has a large, well-notched scroll wheel, and two large buttons on the left side of the mouse that feel satisfying to click, but are stiff enough to prevent accidental presses. The buttons sit just above a large rubber grip pad that helps keep your thumb anchored on the mouse at all times, and they can easily be pressed without repositioning your thumb.
The placement and feel of those buttons and the grip pad play a large part in why I think the Deathadder 2013 is the best gaming mouse. The Deathadder has a fast, shallow click with two slightly concave grooves on the left/right mouse buttons that your fingers can nestle into.
The mouse’s matte plastic texture is also fantastic—while my hand still gets sweaty when I’m playing intense games, the Deathadder’s material doesn’t make me lose my grip or cause me to sweat as much as soft touch rubber coatings.
The shape of the Deathadder 2013 makes it work with palm, claw, and hybrid grips, with the palm anchored solidly on the back of the mouse with two fingers arched over left/right click. In all my time gaming with the Deathadder, I’ve never found my hand get sore, or found my hand overly relaxed when gripping the mouse—I always feel alert, but still comfortable. The mouse slides very well despite its 105 gram weight—heavier than mice like the Steelseries Sensei, but much lighter than the 145 gram Logitech G502 Proteus Core.
There’s no “right” weight for a mouse, necessarily, but I’ve talked to pro gamers who play Counter-Strike, Starcraft, Battlefield, and other games, and they almost universally recommend the same thing when it comes to gaming mice: the lighter and simpler the better.
Best Gaming Mouse - Deathadder 2
Fewer buttons are generally better than more buttons, which can over-complicate the design of a mouse or make it harder to grip. A lighter weight means you can make more precise movements more quickly with less exertion. The Deathadder strikes the right balance here: it’s large, but still light, making it ideal for a wide range of hand sizes, and its two buttons allow for a couple specific keybinds.
When the Deathadder was first released, some users complained about “smoothing” on the sensor, and I’ve seen other users say that those issues were later fixed in firmware. By the same token, I’ve seen some claims that one particular optical sensor is the best on the market, while others claim it’s unusable for gaming. There’s rarely consensus on these types of issues, and in my experience using the Deathadder for more than a year, I’ve never encountered any smoothing on my cursor movements, jitter, or any other issues. I typically use the Deathadder at between 1600 and 1800 CPI, higher than many games but much lower than the 6400 CPI maximum. If any smoothing issues appear, they likely appear at CPIs closer to 6400, which is typical with gaming mice—they don’t perform as optimally near their maximum performance threshold.
In addition to using the Deathadder 2013 in day-to-day gaming, I put it to the test with MouseTester to check for issues like jitter, acceleration and smoothing
A smoothing-free circle drawing test with the Deathadder 2013.
Deathadder 2013 - 6400 CPI fast swipe slow return
A fast swipe to the right, followed by a slow return to the right, shows the Deathadder 2013 reaching the exact same spot (forgive my inability to draw a straight horizontal line). No acceleration.
I’ve seen complaints in the past about Razer’s build quality and reliability, but I’ve never experienced those issues with the Deathadder 2013. It’s held up well for me after more than a year of use, and on Amazon, the mouse has a 4.5/5 star rating with more than 2600 ratings. Most of the mouse’s negative reviews focus on Razer’s Synapse driver software. Synapse has a cloud component, which requires an Internet connection for the initial 30 second sign-up. That sucks—you shouldn’t have to be online to start using the software—but once you’re registered, it doesn’t require an always-on connection, and the interface is great.
Synapse is extremely simple and straightforward, without being garishly ugly like some driver software, or slugglish and crashy, or crammed with excess, needless features. With the Deathadder, there are simple tabs for customizing mouse profiles, CPI, and surface optimization. There’s a tab for macros and one for lighting, and that’s about it. And having that data synced to the cloud is handy; it’s not as handy as having everything stored onboard, like in the Steelseries Sensei, but that’s part of why the Deathadder 2013 only costs $50. The mouse also has a small bit of onboard memory for remembering its last CPI setting, so you can set that in Synapse and uninstall it if you choose.
As I was writing this guide, Razer released a new version of the Deathadder, the Deathadder Chroma, with a new 10,000 CPI sensor and RGB lighting. The body design is unchanged. It's $70, so more expensive than the Deathadder 2013, and the sensor hasn't been exhaustively tested yet. Higher CPI isn't necessarily better, but Razer could have potentially improved upon what I already consider the best gaming mouse. I'm still going to recommend the 2013, which is an amazing choice for its price, until I've done further testing (and the Internet's mouse experts have put the Chroma through rigorous analysis).
For the majority of games and gamers, the Deathadder 2013 is the best mouse. It’s simple where it should be, has a great optical mouse sensor that will work on both hard and cloth pads, and has the ultimate body shape for a claw or hybrid claw/palm grip.