I have been an advocate for the Razer Naga basically ever since it was a product that you could purchase. Why? Because it turned out to work really well for me. I love having a whole bunch of ability buttons on one side of the mouse, it improves my ability to play notably, and that’s really enough. It’s telling that I have basically been using a Naga in some form since my first one, with any given model getting replaced usually by the next model.
This does not mean I have some particular brand loyalty, though; the Naga is the mouse that I’ve used because it was the first of its kind, and I’ve never seen enough to really convince me to try another side-button mouse. But the new Razer Naga Pro is in many ways an odd beast because it is trying to be everything at once. It’s all the side-button mice you could need, and it’s wireless, and it has Bluetooth options. Does all of this drag the mouse down? Is it a bloated mess?
Having now fully tested the review device Razer kindly shipped me, I’m happy to say that the new model avoids those obvious pitfalls. While I can definitely see people not being as on-board for the price tag when it comes with a lot of bells and whistles you may not want, the points in the Pro’s favor are noteworthy. At the end of the day, it’s what the Naga has always been: a solid mouse with side buttons that makes itself an invaluable tool in a lot of different games. The number of options for the tool in question have expanded, but the core has not changed.
Since so much of what I could write about the Pro is stuff that’s also true about the now long-in-the-tooth models of the Naga, my main focus is on the stuff that’s different: the wireless options, the side plates, and the configuration utility. And, you know, whether it still holds up as an MMO mouse properly.
Swappable side plates
There was a time when Razer actually had a whole side-line of mice with different numbers of side buttons, but the Naga kind of surpassed that. (After all, with 12 buttons, you can do whatever you would otherwise do with two.) Now, wisely, the mouse comes instead with three side plates for 12 buttons (MMOs and the like), six buttons (MOBAs and the like), or two buttons (FPS games and niche uses).
Rather than locks or clasps, the side plates attach via a few grooves to guide them into place and some tight magnets. That sounds like it could be a bit flimsy, and at first I was worried the plates would slip free in the middle of playing. Thankfully, this was not the case; all the plates attach firmly while being easy to swap between as needed.
I’m very accustomed to the 12-button layout at this point, but I’m also finding the two-button plate useful to swap in when I’m not playing anything; the grip is a bit more comfortable and you can bind some other useful macros to the side buttons. More on the configuration later on, but suffice it to say that the mouse is good about letting you not just use the different side plates to perform the same basic functions if you don’t want.
Bluetooth and wireless
The Pro happily boasts that it can connect to your computer via three means, either using a wire or by wireless USB. It can also use Bluetooth if you’d prefer, and herein I must confess that I’m not sure how well the Bluetooth function connects.
Don’t get me wrong; the pairing process with my desktop was straightforward and easy. Unfortunately, the actual mouse input was somewhat jerky and non-responsive. This might simply be a result of where my desktop sits relative to my mouse (it also doesn’t play nice with wireless stuff sometimes, which I suspect is tied to the wifi support on the motherboard). My hunch is that it will work better if you’re using it on the go for a laptop.
Wireless connection and wired connection, meanwhile, are perfect. The scrolling is smooth, the input is responsive, and I noticed no particular lag or performance gap when comparing the wireless and wired performance. This is a win for anyone who prefers being free of wires, although I’ve never minded them much myself; still, depending on the space you work with, it might be an invaluable addition.
It’s a Naga. It does what a Naga does. You have your side buttons, it’s responsive, inputs are clean, being able to hit a dozen buttons from the side of your mouse makes gameplay much, much smoother. What else do you want?
All right, you may want one other thing: The layout of the side buttons has changed slightly on the 12-button pad, so if like me you’re used to an older model there will be some additional learning curve for your muscle memory. Not much, but enough that you will definitely feel the difference at first.
Like most gaming-oriented computer peripherals cast from black plastic with glowing lights, the Naga Pro requires Razer’s usual configuration utility to be stored on your computer to access its full range of functions. This was mildly annoying to me, since I had apparently been using an older version and needed to replace it with a newer one to configure the mouse correctly. Not a huge deal, though.
Aside from giving you a wide breadth of control over the lights on your mouse if you want to set up a dazzling show, the most notable aspect of the configuration utility (at least to me) is the fact that you can set up different bindings and functions for the different side pads as you choose. If you never want to use the two-button layout for gaming, you can easily set up that layout to open necessary programs with the side button instead of them being bound to other keys – and you can do that without affecting the other pad layouts.
Past that, the configuration utility lets you bind a whole mess of functions as always. Each individual button can be bound to mouse functions, opening program, combinations of inputs, macros, and so forth. You can even use buttons on the mouse as modifiers if you want, so if in a given situation you want to be able to hit Shift by holding the scroll wheel left, it’ll do that. And yes, you can also bind that to specific software.
The down side here is that talking about the Naga Pro feels a bit like damning with faint praise. After all, there’s not much you can say about many parts of it beyond “it is a Naga, it is new, it works like the Naga always has worked.” But that’s what it’s supposed to do. It does the same things the Naga has always done, and this is exactly what I love.
Aside from minor quibbles here and there, I love this product line. The Pro will run you about $150, which is about twice the cost of the older and more basic wired model, but it’s well worth the price tag just for how versatile the dang thing can be. It’s a great tool with extra functions that never reduce the usefulness of that core tool, and I’m glad to have it.
Are you a left-handed MMO player? Check out our hands-on with Razer’s new lefty MMO mouse from a few weeks ago!