Razer really needs no introduction as they have been producing some of the best gaming peripherals (among other things) on the market since 1998, when they set out to be ‘the world’s greatest gaming brand’ and to be fair they have been relatively successful. Here we have the Razer Naga Hex a gaming mouse designed specifically for MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) and Action RPG games.
Probably the main feature of the Naga Hex is the 6 large mechanical thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse. It is these six buttons that have been added specifically to help gamers map their six favourite spells, abilities and items for rapid actuation. The Naga Hex also features a 5600dpi Razer Precision 3.5G Laser Sensor, with a 1000Hz Ultrapolling/1ms response time.
The Naga Hex comes in a stylish Razer style (Black & Green) box, with a wealth of information being displayed on both the outer sides as well as the inside of the lid. Lifting the Velcro fastened lid lets you see the Naga Hex in all its glory and its ergonomic curved design. The box contents were well packaged and no issues were found.
Inside the box is the mouse itself and a black cardboard wallet. Inside the wallet is a Master Guide, Quick Start Guide, ‘Cult of Razer’ invitation, Razer Naga promo card, a couple of Razer stickers and 2 interchangeable thumb button rests (more on this later). No software is included in the box, so the Razer Synapse 2.0 software will need to be downloaded direct from Razer.
At the time of writing the Razer Naga Hex is retailing for approximately £68 and comes with a 2 year warranty.
The fist impression of the Naga Hex is almost bound to be good, this is a Razer product after all! But the two things that I noticed straight away, after holding it in my hand (careful!), was that the shape is VERY specific (ergonomic) and those side buttons, while giving you additional options, look like they might just get pressed accidentally , we shall see.
The mouse features a 2.1 metre braided cable with a gold-plated connector.
Top (front & back)
The top of the Razer Naga Hex features an illuminated green scroll wheel with 24 individual click positions and 2 programmable buttons. Below this, at the back of the mouse is an illuminated Razer logo, this slowly pulses (green of course!) but all the lighting can be turned on/of via the Synapse 2.0 software should you wish.
The finish on the the top surface of the mouse is particularly nice, featuring a metallic flake beneath the surface as can be seen in the image below.
Sides (left & right)
The left side of the mouse is the big talking point featuring 6 programmable buttons in a circular layout. In the center of the six buttons is what looks like a seventh button, this is in fact a rubberised thumb rest. Additional thumb rests are also included, one small and one large, with the larger of the two being installed by default. It appears that you will need to rest your thumb on this button (about 7 mm in size) to effectively keep it away from the others, hmm…
The right side of the mouse features a very specific ergonomic curve for you to rest your ring finger on. It is this shape and the position of a small thumb rest that forces you to hold the Naga Hex in a very specific way…
The underside of the mouse features a 5600dpi Razer Precision 3.5G Laser Sensor. To the left of this sensor is a switch that allows you to modify the way the six thumb buttons operate. Leave the switch in its default position (123) and the numbered thumb buttons behave like keys 1-6. Switch this to the (Num) position and the buttons will behave like the number keys on the keyboard’s Number Pad. The mouse features 5 (that’s an odd number!) Teflon feet, one in each corner and large one on the right hand side. There’s not one on the left side due to the position of the switch I assume.
The Razer Naga Hex connects via its 2.1 metre braided cable and a single gold-plated USB connection.
Installation of the Razer Synapse 2.0 driver/software is required to support all of the features of the mouse, this can be download here. One thing to note is that registration is required before you can install the driver, Registration to install a Driver?, come on Razer! During installation the the Naga firmware was also automatically updated to the latest version (2.01).
Driver/Software version v1.01.09
The Razer Naga Hex was tested using my rig with a fresh installation of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (service pack 1) installed together with all the latest relevant drivers and software.
The following games were used to help in the evaluation of the Razer Naga Hex:
From a gaming point of view the mouse is probably one of the most important weapons in your peripheral arsenal. Mice can be purchased for under a tenner and can cost in excess of £100. So one would hope that at around £68 the Razer Naga Hex has a plenty to offer; the good news is that it does. The not so good news is that it offers this by way of a very specific ergonomic design that unfortunately may not be for all.
Let’s take a look at the design first. There are two main aspects to the overall design of the Naga Hex that I want to take a look at. The first is the shape, it’s obviously designed for right handers and a palm style grip, this is not necessarily a bad thing, the issue here maybe the shape itself. The right side of the mouse is molded specifically to support your ring finger and to get the best comfort from the mouse this is the best way to hold it. Unfortunately I found that holding it in this way did not feel natural to me (I prefer a claw style of grip) and therefore my overall mouse control was affected.
Also the thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse, whilst a good idea (more buttons must be good right!?), also force your thumb into a specific position. This is due to the fact that you don’t really want to rest your thumb on or near any of those buttons, for fear of accidentally pressing them (this is easily done!). Razer obviously spotted this and provide a rubberised Thumb Rest in the center of the six buttons. Unfortunately this now means that both your thumb and ring finger really need to be in a specific position to get the most from the mouse.
The point I want to make clear is that the mouse needs to be held in a specific way and unfortunately for me it wasn’t really in a way that (a) I was used to and (b) thought that I could easily get used to (this being mainly due to the positioning of the thumb buttons, and less to do with the shape)! It would appear that the mouse has been designed for a specific purpose (I tested with both FPS and RPG, as I play more than one game!) but it’s obviously geared for slower MOBA, MMORPG and RPG (as stated on the box, to be fair!).
The good news is that if you’re happy with the ergonomics (suggest you try to hold one before buying!) almost every other aspect of the mouse is near perfect. It was during the much slower paced Diablo III that the mouse felt the most a home (but then I guess it would/should!). But even here whilst trying to operate one of the six buttons that I had assigned to one of the various Skills, when I needed to press the right one in a hurry, I mashed others on the way (and no I don’t have fat thumbs!). The mouse is quite light at 110 grams and doesn’t feature any weight management, but during high speed gaming in Blacklight Retribution (DPI 1800) the mouse tracking was excellent. With the mouse set at the same DPI during Battlefield 3 again I had no cause for concern with the Naga performing slow and fast moves with great precision. In most FPS games I normally use the two thumb buttons for Crouch/Prone which means that these buttons normally get used a lot. As these have now been replaced by the six Naga Hex buttons, this made selecting Crouch/Prone (my default setup) a much more hit and miss affair, which was a shame. The mouse wheel performed well with a good feel to its clicks, without being too stiff or loose.
I do feel that as the comfort/grip topic is very subjective, especially regarding the shape (although I’ve not had this kind of issue with any other mouse); if you’re more than happy with the ergonomics or if you really want to make this your mouse of choice, there’s not much stopping the Naga Hex becoming a formidable weapon…
The Synapse 2.0 software first needs to be downloaded and installed, it can be found here. Once installed the software can be accessed via a Razer icon in the Windows System Tray.
The software is split into two main sections MOUSE and MACROS, we will take a look at the the MOUSE section first and its associated three tabs (Customize, Performance & Lighting).
MOUSE – Customize
The Customize tab allows for the creation of Profiles (always a useful thing this, if you play lots of different games) and these Profiles can in turn be linked to Programs/Games. Once Profiles have been created via the (+) button they can be cloned and also deleted. These Profiles can then also be selected via the Razer Icon in the System Tray (see image further down). To the right of the Profiles section is a smart functional image of the Naga Hex, this image can be switched from Top to Side view.
In both the Top and Side views any of the eleven (Left Click cannot be assigned and it’s 13 if you count scrolling forward & back!) programmable buttons can have an action assigned. You can assign various keyboard or mouse functions including Macros (see below), adjust the sensitivity or assign Profiles or even launch a program, there’s even a disable feature too. If you have created a Profile all of the customization is automatically saved against the currently selected Profile.
MOUSE – Performance
The Performance tab allows you to change the Sensitivity DPI (both horizontal & vertical) in a range from 100 to 5600 in increments of 100. Mouse Acceleration can also be managed here via a slider control (scale 1- 10), by default this is set to zero (no mouse acceleration). The Polling Rate can also be modified, three options are available (125, 500, 100), I set mine to 1000. I like that Razer has given some guidance (small test descriptors) to the options, giving the user some idea of WHAT these technologies actually are.
Tucked away in the top right corner of this tab is a Configure Sensitivity Settings option. This allows the user to set two to five Sensitivity Stages (DPI settings) again the values supported are (100 – 5600 DPI). These settings can then be assigned to any of the programmable buttons (most often the top two buttons are used). Once again all of these settings are automatically saved to the currently selected Profile.
MOUSE – Lighting
The Lighting tab allows the the two main lighting areas (Scroll Wheel & Thumb Grid / Logo) to be switched on/off, I would say that the green pulsating Razer logo is actually rather cool. Again these settings are automatically saved to the currently selected Profile. I would have liked to of seen some way of using the lighting to indicate the current DPI setting, unfortunately I could find no way of doing this…
The Macros section allows for the management of Macros, here they can be recorded, edited and deleted. The Macro can be recorded with the User’s delay, a default delay or no delay. I recorded a simple grenade throw for Blacklight Retribution; I had to play with the delay between the two operations to get it right, but it worked perfectly after a little fine tuning.
Below are couple of images from the Synapse 2.0 software in use. The first image shows how you can select Profiles from the Windows System Tray. The second image displays the DPI overlay that is displayed when switching Sensitivity Stages (DPI settings). Whilst a nice touch there was a tendency for this operation to cause the Synapse 2.0 software to crash…
Over the 7 days that I have spent with the Razer Naga Hex I have slowly warmed to this rather special mouse.
The mouse comes well presented and packaged and once out of the box the mouse looks even better with it’s glossy green metallic finish. Power up the mouse and the green lighting set the whole thing off beautifully. There’s no doubt that this is a quality item, as we have come to expect from Razer. The idea behind the six buttons is a good one, it definitely seems to makes sense to have more buttons where they can be easily reached, although this is really geared to MOBA & RPG style of gameplay.
The Synapse 2.0 software is simple and elegant in its makeup, with pretty much all of the functions (DPI switching, Profiles, Macros etc) catered for, all of this is presented with a good twist of Razer Black & Green flair. I did find that the Synapse 2.0 software would crash when switching DPI settings, not too sure what caused this, but suspect Razer’s implementation of an OSD to show DPI settings is to blame.
The actual technical performance of the Naga Hex is excellent, unfortunately this is offset by its ergonomics. The shape of the mouse is very specific and this forces a particular style of grip (palm grip), not that this in itself is bad. But with the grip already feeling more awkward the other palm grip mice, the Naga Hex has another twist to add to the mix. Yes, it’s those six thumb buttons, while a good idea in theory, in practice they become rather frustrating. The issue is that the supplied thumb rest (in the center of the six buttons) forces you again to hold the mouse in a very specific way (to avoid the six buttons) and even after 7+ days this was not something that I could get used to. Trying to pick out one of those six buttons in a hurry is almost impossible and while using the mouse you are all to aware of accidentally pressing one of those buttons, this can make using the Naga Hex a somewhat nervous affair.
The bottom line is that the Razer Naga Hex IS a very good mouse (maybe even better if you just play MOBA/RPG games), but you should really checkout the specific ergonomics before you part with your cash.