Gaming mice used to be simple beasts, but in recent years we have seen increasing specialisation in designs. A mouse focused on first person shooters is significantly different from one focuses at real time strategy players, for example. These different designs combine everything from specialised sensors to the type and arrangement of buttons, each aimed at delivering the best control scheme for a single genre.
Razer’s Naga was one of the first mice to launch with a focus firmly on MMO players, and did so with its near ludicrous number of side buttons. On the left side of the mouse sit twelve such buttons, arranged in a 3 x 4 grid. These are designed to allow for the huge number of abilities used in games like World of Warcraft, and can be a boon for players who are serious about their MMOs.
To make the most out of the Naga one needs to spend a decent chunk of time training with it. With so many buttons arranged in such a small space it takes some time getting used to hitting the correct ones. It is tricky and a sometime uncomfortable learning curve, but once using the Naga clicks it is hard to go back to less featured mice. In fact, the biggest competition to the Naga, Corsair’s M90 mouse has a similarly large amount of buttons and accompanying learning curve, with the major difference when choosing between the two a question of which button layout is preferred.
There have been a few iterations of the basic Naga design released over the years, and it is the latest version that we have been playing around with. This 2012 edition brings a couple of changes to the basic design, adding two buttons behind the scroll wheel and shipping with three interchangeable side panels.
These side panels click onto the right side of the mouse and are held in place by magnets. They offer three distinct types of grip, ranging from one with an extra wide finger rest to one designed for use with a ‘claw grip’ in which the mouse is held between thumb and little finger. Normally we’d dismiss these grips as a gimmick, but they work incredibly well with a mouse of the Naga’s design.
Because the array of 12 buttons requires quite precise thumbwork, we find that our grip on the Naga is different to what we use on normal gaming mice. In our case the wider finger rest grip made the experience a lot more comfortable than it was on the original model Naga, a noticeable change to a mouse design that we have used extensively over recent years.
While the major selling point of the Naga is still going to be whether or not you need 12 thumb buttons, the changes made with the 2012 edition make it the most compelling version to date. Not only is the use of the new cloud-based synapse software quite handy, but the ability to tailor the mouse to our hands via the side panels is excellent, and provides a noticeable improvement over the previous generations of the Naga. One of the best MMO mice just got better.