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A Deep Dive Into The Razer Atheris
These cheapies are aimed at serious and single-minded business travelers, who outside of their hard work, would rather close their laptops afterward and relax. However, the market is fast-changing. The teenage gamers of the ’90s and 2000s are increasingly the business people of today.
With the new Atheris, a mobile gaming mouse, the maker Razer clearly believes that they’ll want to get right back into their favorite games after-hours when on the road. After all, Razer itself was founded in 2005 in San Diego, California, by two gamers with a mission to create high-quality products designed solely to meet the demanding needs of gamers like themselves
Razer has made quite an impression in the laptop market in recent years, with large screens and comfortable keypads. However, they’ve faced a fundamental problem; gaming with a touchpad is just not satisfactory, affecting your performance and your overall experience suffers. But traveling with a clunky and awkward cable which isn’t a great option either.
Hence the Atheris; Razer’s mid-range wireless gaming mouse that was released in August 2017. As one of the few manufacturers making such a product, let’s see if Razer has added enough features, and value, to make a good gaming mouse to be used as a traveling one.
It’s certainly a very compact wireless mouse, and as such is a great traveling accessory. It’s easy to carry around in your bag, case, or backpack, even if it is, surprisingly, a little on the heavy side. Connecting via either a USB dongle or Bluetooth, its receiver is stored inside the mouse. Giving you the security and peace of mind that it’s secure and safe from damage or loss. The biggest danger is losing it in your bag; the mouse is that small.
As we’ll show you below in our review, it’s by no means perfect, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and on the whole, does so pretty well. While there are a few fairly significant shortcomings that come up with the Razer Synapse software, we still find that the Atheris is the best of all Razer’s laptop-friendly mice.
Who’s It For?
As we’ve seen Razer Atheris was conceived, designed, and built by gamers; we’d say, with gamers in mind, rather than exclusively for gamers.
If you’re a business traveler with a laptop, you enjoy relaxing after working or traveling all day by playing fast-paced action games. Your everyday working mouse isn’t really up to spec for these. If you could take along your usual gaming mouse, that would be ideal. But what if you only have room in your bag for one? Or even more simply, who wants to take two mice with them on the road?
Razer saw a gap in the market for a one-size-fits-all. Or at least, both work and play. As gamers AND businesspeople, they understood better than anyone, that it would have to be small and light, with the necessary ergonomics, dongle storage, and software. To this day, since its release over three years ago, there simply isn’t that much significant competition with the Atheris for a mobile gaming mouse.
As an easily portable and useful peripheral to your laptop, Razer has got most things right. Its CPI range is certainly more than adequate for its dual purpose. And while it’s not as customizable as some of their other models, these are especially gaming-oriented mice, rather than more of the game/work hybrid that is also offered by Atheris. It’s a good choice, even a productivity aid, for business people, other workers, and students who are regularly on the move. Especially if they’re also gamers.
It’s one of the smallest mice that we’ve used and reviewed. Some previous users have complained that it’s too small; so, it might not be for you if you have large hands. True, the design and so the mouse’s appeal, has been improved with the addition of a right button in later iterations, But ongoing issues with Razer’s software, the only significant part of the product that they’ve tried to upgrade, stop it from being a total success. Plus, some might find it just a bit too expensive.
Of course, for flat-out performance, you’ll always be better off with a full-size mouse in your work desktop setup. With a specialist gaming mouse for home. But the Atheris is very much the right peripheral for its particular purpose, at least.
What We Like About Razer Atheris
The Razer Atheris is a very low-profile mouse, with great travel-friendly portability.
Its design is not too over-the-top. It, and you, won’t look flashy when you take it out in a meeting. There’s no backlighting for example. It’s distinctly plain when compared to some of the brand’s garish looking kits. The only distinguishing feature is a small Razer logo on the palm rest. It all depends on personal preference of course, but we think that the Atheris is appropriately low-key, functional, and attractive.
It has a plain, smooth chassis on top with rubbery ribbed sides for extra grip. The scroll wheel is solidly built and coarse-textured for easy movement. The Atheris itself moves easily, thanks to three glide pads on the underside, one of which takes up the entire back third of the unit.
Measuring 3.9 x 2.5 inches, it’s one of Razer’s smallest mice. Plus, its wireless connectivity eliminates the clutter of a cable. It can be just tossed into your travel bag, especially because of the slot inside the mouse to store its receiver. And with its simple setup, we found that it can’t be beaten for easy travel.
Its most important feature is its wireless connectivity, via both USB dongle and Bluetooth. Which is handy if you forget or misplace the connector. In theory, the former provides a stronger and more reliable connection. But we found that both work just as well as each other. At least on our PCs. The 2.4GHz USB dongle can be stored underneath when traveling, which, coupled with the Atheris’ pocket-sized dimensions, makes it very convenient.
It runs on two AA batteries, which Razer has stated should give you as many as 350 hours of use. Of course, this will vary according to the connection type and how much the sensor works overtime. With a handy user-adjustable for putting it to sleep, we got just over 200 hours, when tested with an assortment of games and work, connected by Bluetooth. Still impressive.
Setup is simple by both dongle to a USB port or Bluetooth pairing. Just press both side buttons simultaneously, and a screen pops up for you to download Razer’s Synapse software, to customize and unlock features for the mouse. Agree, and it installs.
The Atheris is very good for both lights (ish) gaming and office use. Once you are accustomed to its small profile you will find the Atheris in-game performance is excellent with most Razer mice. The 7200 DPI optical sensor is sensitive enough for gaming, and more than that for work. Coupled with its 1000Hz ‘Ultrapolling’ rate, it works a treat when gaming on the go.
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What We Don’t Like About Razer Atheris
What many see as Razer Atheris’s main virtue, is probably also its most polarizing feature. About as compact as a gaming mouse can be, this can be a curse as well as a blessing, depending on how big your hands are.
A good fit for a small or medium-size hand, but for larger hands, it’s not going to be an especially easy or comfortable experience to grasp for hours of gaming. You’ll be crimping your hand to grab it. If you have extra-large hands then you should look elsewhere for a mouse.
With the two AA batteries, it weighs around almost 4 ounces. Still ok, but not particularly light, especially and surprisingly considering its small profile. It paradoxically feels heavier because the weight is densely packed, and it did take a few games to get used to the increased drag that results from this increased weight.
Of course, personal preference comes into play here. Some people don’t mind the drag of a heavier mouse. Let’s just say that for us it’s around the upper limit of our tolerance for fast-paced, real-time games. In certain high-spec titles, you might feel the limitations of its design.
Certainly, it’s sleeker and more attractive than its lower-end competition, but some may still find it too plain. The faceplate is just a single piece of plastic with a black matte finish. And there are no lights, except the tiny blinking LED battery indicator. For sure this is subtle and unobtrusive; red when the charge drops below a user-determined percentage. But how user-friendly is it? A small on-screen popup might break your concentration slightly in a game, but the flipside is potentially a complete loss of power if you don’t see the weak blinking light that’s completely covered by your hand while playing anyway.
Unsurprisingly, Razer has gone for ambidextrous, to fit all, sculpt on this travel mouse. But that of course, makes it less ergonomic than a hand-specific design. The typically standard ambidextrous design of travel mice provides no horizontal arch to support the bottom half of your hand. Along with the unconventional grip of its small size not being particularly comfortable, gamers might end up feeling some strain as a result of marathon sessions.
We often found ourselves passing the mouse from finger to finger, rather than keeping a grip on it at all times. While it’s probably not the most precise way to handle a mouse, it didn’t seem to affect either our gaming or work productivity. At least not after getting the hang of it.
The two side buttons are too close together to make for easily distinguishing using the ball of the thumb. A bit better spacing would have made all the difference, but that’s the functional sacrifice that you have to pay with travel mice. By definition, they just aren’t large enough to be loaded with extra buttons.
Some users have written about the build quality; complaining that the top cover sometimes comes off during transport. We didn’t notice that, but instead what we consider to perhaps be a design fault. Or at least a possible improvement for later model upgrades.
We think that the batteries should go behind the thin and (a little) fragile top shell, as it wouldn’t need removing so often. But only when you change them. But by storing the dongle there instead, the risk of breaking the magnetically secured faceplate is increased in line with how often that it needs to be removed. Especially as that plate is tricky to remove anyhow until you master lifting it from a small notch with your fingernail. Many manufacturers get this right by storing the dongle on the underside. Hopefully, Razer will rectify this in a future revision of the Atheris.
Razer Atheris comes with a Hypershift feature, that can double the actions available to mouse buttons. It’s a nice idea, that you’d get full value from if the Atheris had more than its six buttons, most of which are either locked or too critical in their default functionality to want to shift for a second action. After a week, we turned this feature off.
This shortage of multi-function keys is felt. Yes, the DPI is manually adjustable by the middle button under the control wheel, but beyond this, you need to use Razer’s new Synapse 3 software to setup custom game profiles and map macros.
Synapse 3 includes all the features you’d expect from a gaming suite, but still in beta, its UI and subsequent navigation are kind of clunky. We couldn’t find a way to lock profiles to games, something that we could easily with Synapse 2. Nor could we find key games-focused settings, such as the ability to control acceleration.
Synapse 2 is superior all round to Synapse 3 despite the latter being far more attractive to look at. As well as the addition of the superfluous Hypershift. The large, colorful icons of the latter have replaced the endless drop-down menus of the former. But those drop-downs made the Synapse 2 pretty much foolproof. Instead, Synapse 3.0 has tabs within tabs, making for multiple and confusing steps to accomplish what should be a simple single task.
Overall, the utilitarian Synapse 2 has many more executable-specific profiles and separate DPI axes. As of yet, Synapse 3 has far fewer of these important features for gamers and workers alike. No doubt that this will change as this beta version develops, but Razer, so far at least, isn’t revealing when this might be.
Like when Synapse # might include an improvement on the same disappointing macro editor similarly found in Synapse 2. Other competitor mice to Razer Atheris that we’ve reviewed, let you build and complex macros or execute one action when a button is pressed and another when it’s released. Macro key editing is a similar story; sure, it’s simple enough to map the keys as you prefer, but without such advanced functionality as the ability to chain them, it’s purely on a surface level. These are small, but key features that competitive gamers would want and expect.
Beyond macros, missing from Synapse 3 is any way to link profiles to games, as is present in Synapse 2, but NEITHER version supports angle snapping or software-controlled acceleration and deceleration. Work productivity users won’t miss these, but some gamers will.
What’s more, there’s absolutely no way to stop Synapse 3 from starting up alongside Windows, except for completely uninstalling it. And to make matters even worse, some games (Overwatch, StarCraft: Remastered, and World of Warcraft) didn’t work at all! Even going into the individual game menus and trying to assign mouse profiles, Synapse 3 just exited out of the menu without saving the changes. There’s seemingly no indication as to why certain games worked and other games didn’t.
Although not a criticism of the Atheris specifically, we encountered what may be an even greater problem with the new software. It looks like you can’t play Overwatch if you have the Chroma SDK installed. While you don’t NEED the SDK installed, as Atheris doesn’t have any lighting, you might want it. Sure, but expect Overwatch to crash instantly, as happened to us until we uninstalled Chroma SDK. This has been a known issue on forums for a long time, despite Overwatch maybe being one of the main reasons that you might want a gaming mouse in the first place.
If you still want to use Synapse, you have to sign up for a personal account with Razer, separate from registering the product warranty. Bear this in mind if you’re uncomfortable with providing your name, nickname, password, and an active email account for the company to confirm.
- Compact dimensions
- Low-key, yet sleek and attractive design
- Small and portable
- Decent low wireless latency
- Impressive performance
- Great optical sensor
- Unlimited game-specific profiles
- Excellent and reliable USB and Bluetooth wireless connectivity
- Light on power consumption
- User-adjustable sleep function
- Surprisingly heavy for its size
- Serious software flaws
- Macro editor needs bulking up
- The design could be improved
- The positioning of batteries and USB dongle storage could be reversed
- Side buttons too close together
- Ambidextrous design, but thumb buttons on only one side
- Almost only suitable for a fingertip grip
- Uncomfortable and even unsuitable if you have large hands
- Less precise handling than full-size models
- Build quality compromised by the loose top cover.
- Intrusive registration requirements
Everything that you need, which by the very definition of it being a travel accessory, and therefore small and portable, isn’t much at all. You get the mouse itself, with the Razer Synapse 3 software already loaded, an onboard USB dongle, 2 x AA batteries, a user guide with separate easy setup information, and a warranty card. And that’s it and you are good to go!
Overview Of Features
Razer Atheris is a game/work hybrid mouse for PC and Mac, using Microsoft Windows operating system for its Razer Synapse 3 software. Simple yet attractive, it’s available in Classic Black, Mercury White, and Limited Edition Star Wars Stormtrooper design.
Being small and compact, it makes for a great peripheral if you’re always on the go or the road. Whereas a typical gaming mouse would be approximately 5 inches long, by almost 3 inches wide, and 2 inches high, the Atheris is 3.9 inches long, 2.5 inches wide, and 1.3 inches high. This makes it for sure, a mobile or travel mouse. Although its weight of 2.3 ounces without batteries, increases to almost 4 ounces with batteries.
Its design is pared-back yet sleek. There’s no RGB lighting for example. Just the functional left and right buttons, a solidly built scroll wheel that is coarse-textured for easy movement, two small thumb buttons for gaming, and a dots-per-inch (DPI) sensitivity adjuster. Its only real distinguishing feature, aside from the Stormtrooper edition, is a small Razer logo on the palm rest. Although the rubbery ribbed sides provide extra aesthetics as well as grip.
The only light is a single LED in the central slider. When the Atheris is turned on, it very briefly displays as green, then blue once it’s fully operative online. If the battery charge is low, it blinks twice in red at regular intervals.
On the underside, you’ll find the very responsive and high-precision 7200 DPI Optical Sensor. Giving you on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment and 1000 Hz ultra polling in a compact and mobile form-factor, it’s more than efficient for a travel work mouse and a solid choice for a gaming one. Also underneath is a lift-off distance slider, for tweaking the distance at which, on a scale of 1-10, the sensor stops tracking.
Aside from those, there’s a three-way switch: off, and two on settings to choose from for wireless pairing with either Bluetooth or the on-board USB 2.4GHz dongle with Adaptive Frequency Technology. There are also three glide pads on the underside, which are successful in making it move smoothly, one of which takes up the entire back third of the unit.
The Atheris runs on two AA batteries (included), which Razer states that will allow for up to 350 hours of life. This, of course, depends on the connection type and how much of a workout you give the sensor over time. We’ve run down the Atheris’ power using Bluetooth in an assortment of action games and work, and it took just over 200 hours.
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Yes, Razer Atheris does have significant software problems, which we’re hopeful, if not confident, that Razer will patch and upgrade in the near future. But as a piece of hardware, and especially as an accessory for Razer’s growing laptop line, it’s an attractive, reliable, and more than functional peripheral. Putting the flawed software to one side, for a mouse in itself, the Atheris works very well.
Maybe its small profile won’t work for everyone, but if you’re an on-the-go gamer (admittedly with small-medium sized hands!) Razer Atheris is a worthwhile purchase. Especially if you’re also a business traveler.
If you’re after a small-form-factor, travel-friendly wireless mouse that can be used for work and play, you can do a lot worse options than the Razer Atheris. It doesn’t have advanced stuff like angle snapping, a lift-distance wizard, or a sophisticated macro editor. But then, no standard mobile mouse does.
True, it’s a little on the heavy side, particularly considering its size, but we think that it more than makes up for it in other ways. Razer Atheris is a beautifully unassuming and attractive mobile mouse with a very good optical sensor. It has great response times and top-performing battery life.
Some may think that it’s priced a tad high, but fortunately, Razer frequently drops the prices of their prices, particularly within a few months of release. Another potential benefit of waiting a little while should be the likely implementation of more features in an updated Synapse 3 beta. Its software isn’t as developed as that of its full-competitors, and it’s definitely missing a few advanced features that hardcore gamers would want.
But especially with a souped-up Synapse 3, the Atheris is a good mobile mouse for gamers, both at work as well as play. Quibbles with its Synapse 3 software aside, as a game/work hybrid travel mouse, Razer Atheris is second-to-none. Perhaps even a fairly unique product without many direct rivals at all. If its basic form and function suit your demands, needs, and lifestyle, then you can’t really go wrong in purchasing Razer Atheris.
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