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Reviewing the Razer Naga Epic mouse: 12 buttons you never knew you wanted

The Razer Naga gaming mouse is one of those designs that, at first glance, you scoff and laugh at -- because frankly, the thing can look a little ridiculous. A second glance, however, becomes one of cold adoration, slowly letting the fact sink in that Razer, a company already known for quality gaming products, put what amounts to a number pad on a mouse. A third glance is silent wonderment. The number of skills you wish you could have bound to your mouse begins to take hold. "What if I put my tanking cooldowns on the second row, and let the top row deal with movement based abilities like Intervene and Heroic Leap?" I'd think. "No, it's too risky. I'd have to learn an entire new system of button presses and get an entirely new feel for a foreign mouse."

But I did. For you. What follows is my week with the Razer Naga Epic, the newest product in the Razer Naga line that takes the Razer Mamba's wireless successes and adds them to the Naga's MMO-focused capabilities. The result is an MMO mouse that is solidly built, gorgeous on the eyes, and -- after the initial shock of change to the Naga's own brand of world view -- a customizable powerhouse that has your thumb doing acrobatics you never thought it could.

Here are some quick facts for people who enjoy bullet lists:

Mouse features
  • 17 programmable buttons, including the 12-button thumb grid
  • 1ms response time
  • wired or wireless mode
  • charge station doubles as wireless station
  • 16 million color choices for illumination
  • special optional in-game addons for mouse configuration
Box contents
  • Razer Naga Epic mouse
  • charging dock
  • rechargeable battery
  • 3 interchangeable side panels -- three grips
  • certificate of authenticity
  • quick start guide
  • master guide
  • Razer stickers (I love stickers)
Day 1

The Naga design is one that takes some getting used to, mostly because of the new expectations you have to let yourself begin to understand. The same movements are present, but now there is a lot more precision for your thumb to learn.

It sounds daunting, but it isn't. Previously, I would rock the lower part of my thumb back into the side button on my Mamba to hit the lower side button on the mouse. Now, I make the same motion, but now I'm hitting one of the Naga Epic's many side buttons bound to the feature.

Before I configured any buttons, I switched the Naga to "number pad" mode instead of "123" mode. This told the mouse to use the number pad as the input keys for the Naga's 12 side buttons that I would be using in-game. (Make sure Num Lock is on, too.) The configuration utility that lets you mess with the Naga's settings is easily navigated and has options for the color of the mouse's glow, macros, keybindings outside of WoW, and much more. You can even tweak performance of the cursor and movement, but I was perfectly happy with the mouse's speed and accuracy.

I don't use my number pad in WoW for macros, so these keys were all ready to roll without any new button mapping. Instead of using the Naga's own WoW addon, I loaded up Dominos and made a 3x4 bar, tucked it over on the side, and keybound up the bar with the corresponding numbers/keys from the Naga. Then I dropped the abilities onto the positions where I wanted them. You can go with Razer's own addon for the Naga if you choose to, but I wanted to see if I could work it on my own with my own setup.

Performance on day 1 was all about learning the ropes and getting a feel for the newness that I was dealing with. The mouse is a tad smaller than my Mamba, so the initial shock was there but wore off quickly. Slowly but surely, I began to feel my way around the mouse, and using my little number pad action bar as my guide, began firing off abilities when and where I needed them without hesitation from my mouse, not the keyboard.

People told me that the back buttons on the Naga's number pad were hard, if not impossible, to reach. My hands did not have as much trouble as that, but I can understand how it could be an issue. For me, it took a little bit of practice outside of a clearly established comfort zone, but the way I got around this was to bind crucial abilities up front and the lesser-used abilities in the back. That way, I had to make a conscious decision to hit that ability and still had the added convenience of not having to reach over to my keyboard to do it. With that setup, I wasn't having any trouble.

Day 2

Day 2 was all about learning the finer points of the Naga Epic and giving myself the requisite time to do lots and lots of heroics with it as my primary input device. Theories are great and all, but I wanted to be able to deal with stressful situations and not let my crazy thumb get the better of me and start mashing mouse buttons in a jam. Thankfully, this wasn't the case. As a warrior tank, I had bound my cooldowns to numbers 4-6 on the mouse and movement-related abilities to buttons 1-3. This setup worked splendidly.

There was a lot of learning still to be done, and I missed a few clicks and might have fired off a Shield Wall or two that I didn't necessarily intend to -- but the week was still young, and so far the Naga impressed me. Hitting the settings again, I began to tinker with the color of the glow, changing the aura on the fly from yellow to blue to red and back again. I settled on a nice Horde red.

The second day with the mouse was also the wireless test day. After giving the whole setup one day to charge, I went wireless from battery beginning to battery end. Suffice to say, the battery lasted a good long while -- easily all day -- but looked a little low after a long day of heavy use. The specs say the battery can last 12 hours of continuous use, which isn't a generous estimate; it worked for a good 12 hours straight.

Thankfully, the mouse is a combination wired/wireless system in which the same cord that connects the charger/wireless base station to the computer can be plugged directly into the mouse for a wired connection. Surprisingly, I saw no difference in speed or responsiveness when using the mouse in wireless mode. I was told back during BlizzCon that the 1ms response time was the same across both configurations, and that seems to be the case. I tossed aside my last wireless mouse due to interference and slowness, but the Naga Epic performed perfectly. As a wireless Mamba user, I expected the same performance from the Naga Epic and was satisfied.

Days 3-5

Days 3 through 5 were all about incorporating the mouse into my daily life. I am the type of person who does not really like to buy specialized gadgets or peripherals because, as a money-conscious consumer, I've got a limited amount of resources to bring new technology into my life.

As a general do-everything mouse, the Naga Epic was fine. The heft of the mouse was fine, and its precision pointing works just as you would expect it to. The Razer mice that I've had before have always performed admirably in that regard.

My only issue with the Naga Epic is that the buttons for back and forward in my web browser were now positioned on top of the mouse rather than to the side. That took some getting used to, but it wasn't a deal-breaker. I've been meaning to switch back to a gesture-based system on Chrome, anyway ... However, I could see how this might bother some people during everyday use.

Days 6-7

The last two days of my Naga testing were all about raid environment testing and running with my 10-man group. I'd taken the time to learn and practice with the mouse in 5-man content and had graduated up to some leaner, meaner fights.

For the most part, things went swimmingly. A good number of abilities that had once been just the tiniest bit inconvenient were not a thumb press away. I did not have the feared "panic mash-all-buttons" moment I thought I was going to; however, I did mis-click a Heroic Leap and die on the Blackwing Descent elevator -- hardly the Naga's fault, though, as I am generally considered an idiot with WoW elevators.

Essentially, having the keypad of my keyboard available to me without taking my hand off the mouse was a treat and a surprise. You get a host of new options and more for your thumb to do, while freeing up a lot of keybinds that might have been a pain to press. Raiding was tense at times, but after getting a feel for where things were and how the mouse reacts to my presses, things began to take off pretty well.

Hand size

A quick disclaimer before we begin that have to do with hand size, personal preference, and all that jazz: I am reviewing this mouse based on its size relative to my own hands and my own preferences for input hardware. My review is all about my own personal experience, and yours may vary because we all have different hands. However, I can promise you that I do not have little dainty 4-year-old hands, nor do I have Rossi-sized bear paws that are capable of felling a wild boar. My hands are average to large.

With that said, the Naga Epic felt great in my hands. The three sizes, or grips, the mouse can transform into give the hardware a setting for most everyone. While smaller than my Mamba, the Naga Epic didn't lose any of the heft of Razer products. Bigger hands would want to use the largest grip, since you can kind of rest your hand down and to the right of the body of the mouse.

The bottom line

There's a reason I wrote so many words about learning to use the Naga Epic -- it's a device you'll need to learn. You're going to spend the first few moments in adoration, followed by a scant "I can never do this," which will dissipate quickly into "I could get used to this." And, thankfully, you most likely will.

It's like culture shock, really. Given time and a little patience, it becomes an invaluable tool that works towards creating more for your mouse hand to do, giving you the power to never have to take your hand off of the mouse, allowing you to continuously move and adjust your camera. If you never pressed your keypad or top row number keys before, you're opening up a host of new buttons and options for your character to utilize.

You may not ever hit each and every button on the Naga, but just the options with the first two rows of buttons make the Naga Epic a really cool device. Other MMO mice play with the nature of your thumb and have you moving your thumb off of a focal point to press buttons radially out from its default position. The Naga Epic is more like a keypad, where you rest your thumb on it, but press the ability you need, rather than the direction the ability is in. Personally, I'm a fan of the Naga philosophy.

So the bottom line is that if you're already a Naga user, the Naga Epic gives you the wireless options you've probably wanted and a great, long-lasting battery and response time to boot. If you're not part of Haus of Naga (nah-gah, ooh la la) yet and you're interesting in trying something new, I'd say give it a shot. It's a clever system, one I never thought I could enjoy, but it grew on me and began to open up options and ideas for keybinds I never thought I would have had.

If the price tag (around $129.99) is a bit much for you but you still want in on the Naga action, the original wired Naga and the new Molten Naga Special edition are going for around $79.99.

Someone on Twitter asked me, bottom line, am I still using the Naga now? The truthful answer is that I would be -- but it is happily packed up in its box, awaiting its new owner: one of you lucky readers/listeners. Did I say listeners? Oops. You'll just have to wait for an announcement tonight for when we're giving away this bad boy.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Hardware

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