Razer has solidified itself as one of the best game-peripheral, and now game platform, developers in the world. To stay at the top means that sometimes you have to try bold, new-innovations and take risks. At other times it means slightly recreating a classic design to meet new standards. The new Razer Naga 2013 fits squarely into the second category, but that’s something you probably already knew just from the device’s name. So does a few tweaks and features make the new iteration worth a second buy for dedicated gamers? That’s what I had to find out.
I by no means stand by one peripheral manufacturer, writing-up these devices allows me to experiment with brands and options that normally I wouldn’t have time for. Razer makes amazing hardware, I haven’t met anyone without an odd grudge that has said otherwise, they are unfortunately one of the most expensive. So when the company announced the new Razer Naga 2013 I was interested, and hesitant. The Razer Naga was already a fantastic gaming-mouse, it’s responsive and durable, it’s form-fitting and almost completely customizable in every detail. It also comes in several versions and layouts, so another upgrade to the Naga Brand isn’t anything new on its own.
If you are familiar with “the old Naga,” then the first thing you will notice is the size of the mouse in your hand. It’s larger, not jaw-droppingly larger but if you use a device for several years and switch to a new one, you can easily feel the slightest differences I think. The at-rest positioning of my hand changed slightly when going from the previous Naga to Naga 2013. This wasn’t anything major, but it was different, and different needs field-testing. So for a little more than a week, the Naga 2013 was everywhere I was, and I can now report my findings.
The width of the new design (75mm/2.95) adds a little more space for your index and pinkie finger to stretch across (either hand of course). For comparison the Razer Naga Epic sits at (42mm/3.07”). It’s by no means a deal-breaker, and the larger handed community might enjoy the idea, but if you do have narrow-hands you might want to give it a test run. It’s also lighter, something that I personally wasn’t thrilled about, but that’s a personal choice and I won’t hold a company against it. I do wish Razer would allow a weight-management system, other brands have done this in the past and I did hope it would become a larger trend in manufacturing.
Moving on with aesthetic changes, the forward-left thumb-buttons have been moved. They now sit under the scroll-wheel, and this is a very precise move on Razer’s part for one exact instance. The scroll-wheel has been completely reformed and new functions have been built into it. A new ’tilt-wheel’ has taken the place of the standard scroll, and I found it to be a terrific improvement. It’s so functional that I could instantly see why the alternate buttons were moved underneath the wheel (1. The new functionality makes the center wheel a premiere destination for key commands) and (2. They are so much more intuitive, that the extra buttons are almost unnecessary, since you are gaining two with the scroll-wheel tilt). I think Razer just kept the other two-buttons for the select fans that would revolt in losing the option. In the next design I wouldn’t be surprised if they were gone entirely.
The standard Razer apps apply to the new Naga, and the in-game configuration utility makes on-the-fly changes almost too easy (causing me to meddle with settings at every break I got). Now the scroll-wheel is nice, more than nice, it’s a brilliant addition to the device, but that’s not why people love the Naga. Customers love the thumbpad options and this was my biggest fear going into the review, for the slightest misstep could spell pure outrage from the dedicated community.
First off, there are new changes, and that could be a factor in the ‘upgrade base’ that already own a Naga, but I personally enjoy the new setup better than the old. The buttons are more inline, closer together and not as curved along the slope of the mouse as they were before. Moving from the earlier model to the Naga 2013 will be an adjustment for everyone I think, but new users will learn on one of the most intuitive and precise setups on the market today.
Many of the same credentials that Razer has earned carrier over to the new model. The Naga 2013 is fully supported with software, the buttons are crisp and precise with a definite edge to help you navigate without looking. Although lighter, the device is well manufactured, sturdy with a seamless design. Optional lighting and a slick and durable cord are nice touches, but nothing that the previous versions didn’t already offer.
If you are in the market for a new mouse, and are new to the Naga series, this is top-tier work from Razer. You’ll have a mouse that could last you for years to come. If you already feel comfortable with the older version, and just feel that a new layout isn’t worth learning for the new scroll-wheel, then you’ll have to weigh your options carefully.