Razer makes the best budget gaming mouse on the market today, but I don’t think you should rush out and get one. The manufacturer has been in the gaming-specific mouse business longer than anyone, starting from the humble and weirdly oversized “Boomslang” and expanding to a massive lineup that now includes mice for every taste and budget.
In the last few years they’ve made a push to conquer the cheaper end of the market, and the Razer Viper Mini is the proudest testament of their current ideologies. It packs in a solid sensor, a trendy lightweight body, and even has an extra lighting perk compared to its more expensive counterparts in the Viper family.
Razer Viper Mini Review
But it’s also a complete ruse. Its affordable price lowers your psychological expectations, and makes its average performance seem amazing. It wows you with its relative value and makes you miss that you could have had something truly industry-leading for just a few dollars more. And thanks to its use of off-the-shelf parts and flashy marketing, I suspect it’s even more of a profit maker for the company than the more expensive options.
The Razer Viper Mini sells for just $39.99, which is a very low price for a modern gaming mouse. It uses a smaller shell than the original Viper and the wireless Viper Ultimate, and comes in at just 61g. The braided “SpeedFlex” cable is permanently attached, and the feet are made of pure PTFE, though bafflingly there’s no foot around the sensor.
That sensor isn’t one of Razer’s custom designs that they’re so famous for, but instead is a modified PixArt 3359 model that only goes up to 8500 DPI. It gets the job done but it’s known in the community for having some lift-off and tracking issues, which Razer had to tame with their Synapse software that you’ll need to install to control the mouse. But the click latency of the Razer Viper Mini is superb. Even competitive gamers shouldn’t notice any delay or lag.
Fortunately, the optical switches from the standard and wireless variants are still here, and they’re touted as an exciting premium extra. However, putting two optical switches in a mouse costs a lot less than filling a keyboard with them as far as raw material cost to the company, so it’s not as much of an extra as it seems. Optical switches do actuate a little faster than many mechanical designs, but they often feel just a bit less crispy to the click. That softness echoes across all of the Viper Mini’s buttons and mouse wheel; they get the job done and don’t stand out in any real big way.
The back end of the mouse has a cool underglow lighting area to distract you from how average the tracking performance is. The mouse feels just fine to use, and although I’ve had fun with it over the last few months (and I prefer the feel of the frame in my hand to the more expensive DeathAdder Mini) you never quite get the sense that you’re “connected” to the game the way you might with better sensors or smoother shapes.
If you’re in need of a truly ambidextrous mouse, the Viper Mini isn’t one of those. It removes the right side buttons from the larger version in order to save on weight and money. The frame isn’t that much smaller than the standard Viper, unlike the tiny DeathAdder Mini, and I find it very comfy for fingertip and claw grip, and I can also palm it. Although, compared to other ambi shapes on the market, the Viper Mini is a little low and flat-feeling, and doesn’t quite hug the curves of my hand the way I want it to.
This is an unremarkable, fine mouse that’s buoyed by a cheap price and a nice-looking lighting area on the back of it. It appears to give you all the same greatness of the bigger Vipers in a smaller, more affordable package…but really you’re just getting a cheaper mouse all around that’s been decorated with some premium frills. The 61g frame is built out of the most unexciting matte plastic of any mouse I have used in the last five years.
For thirty dollars more, you could buy the exceptional Razer Orochi V2 instead. Its profile is very similar to the Viper Mini, it’s also far more comfortable in my opinion regardless of grip style. The sensor inside uses Razer’s fifth generation optical tech, and it can track more accurately than the Viper Mini’s all the way up to 18,000 DPI. It connects with Razer’s amazing HyperSpeed wireless, and a custom battery compartment perfectly balances the mouse while providing hundreds of hours of use. But the switches are mechanical to save on battery life, they still actuate just a few fractions of a millisecond slower than those in the Viper Mini, while feeling better to click.
The Orochi V2 costs more, but for that small extra upfront investment you’re getting many of Razer’s cutting edge technologies and performance that can stand near flagships at a more affordable price. The same could be said for many of Razer’s other non-mini mice, all of which come in at very competitive price points.
I loved the “mini” lineup when I first encountered it, but the more time I’ve spent with both the Viper and DeathAdder Minis, the more I’ve realized they’re just a mean trick being played on value-conscious shoppers. It’s all the more brazen when you realize just how well-priced the rest of Razer’s mouse lineup is, not to mention how competitive the $50-$60 range is in general right now.
So yes, the Razer Viper Mini offers the most gaming mouse you can get for forty dollars. It has a decent sensor, a shape based on a very popular design, and nice switches and underglow lighting. But it’s not objectively better in any way than Razer’s other options, and rather than being a clever or innovative new design, it instead just feels like a way to monetize older tech at the expense of vulnerable budget-minded consumers. Look for a deal on the standard DeathAdder, or the Basilisk X, or step up to the Orochi V2 if you want to go with Razer.
Even Logitech, the manufacturer of quality tech products, puts a version of their nicest mouse sensor in their $50 wireless G305. The Viper Mini is a curiosity, and you can do so much better.