Razer Imperator review

Razer’s past 5 years have been quite succesful. Clearly becoming a leading gamer’s brand that pushes the envelope. The hugely succesful Diamondback, using a temporarily Razer-exclusive sensor, showed Razer was back in business after their crappy first optical mouse, the Viper.

Following the Diamondback was an OK laser mouse, the Copperhead, and the awesome Deathadder, Razer’s first right-handed mouse. It was a great upgrade for gamers looking for the next best thing. The very good Avago 3688 sensor, with 1800DPI and very high maximum speed, guaranteed excellent tracking and is still one of the best sensors available. The familiar ergonomic shape pleased many coming from Logitech’s aging MX5xx line and Microsoft Intellimouse series.

The Deathadder was released over 2 years ago and is still very popular. Recently a newer 3500DPI version was released, which I’ll be reviewing soon as well. (Early verdict: Not as good as the old one.)

Imperator

This review, however, is about the Razer Imperator.

First off the specifications, I’ll save you the Razer marketing speak and stick to the relevant parts, which I’ll discuss in order:

  • On-board memory for storing profiles
  • 5600DPI sensor, 1000Hz max polling rate, 50g max. acceleration
  • Right-handed ‘mx500′ shape
  • 7 programmable buttons
  • Adjustable thumb-buttons

On board memory

Starting with the Copperhead, Razer equipped most mice with onboard memory. Using this memory you can store specific key bindings and DPI settings directly on the mouse, which allows you plug it in a different computer, without drivers for the mouse, and still enjoy most of the special button binds.

A very important feature for LAN gamers who play tournaments.

Razer really gets this part about gaming mice, and the Imperator does it just as well as the other memory-equipped Razer mice.

Sensor

The Imperator is Razer’s 4th mouse to use a Philips TwinEye laser sensor. The first mouse to use the TwinEye was a disaster (my Razer Lachesis review). The Razer Orichi bluetooth mouse uses the same sensor, but it has newer firmware and is supposedly better. The Razer Mamba has a newer 5600DPI sensor, which is identical to the one used in the Razer Imperator.

The sensor is much better than the one used in the Lachesis, but still suffers from some of the same bugs that plagued the old one (and the Mamba):

Z-axis tracking

The mouse will move diagonally when you pick it up and put it back down again. Like in a game, you’re chasing a target, reposition the mouse, but after putting the mouse down the crosshair is not where you’d expect it to be. It’s just a little bit off.

In the case of the Lachesis, it also meant that clicking the mouse on a soft mousepad would make the cursor move, even though you didn’t move the mouse. The light tilt caused by the press of a button made the cursor move by a few pixels. This problem is still present in the Imperator, but it’s greatly reduced., only when you press the mouse buttons really hard.

Axis lock

Sometimes after repositioning the mouse one of the mouse directions (up-down, left-right) will not work for a split second. Think rocket jumping in Quake or TF2: a quick flick of the wrist, you fire a rocket, and you end up facing some weird way, messing up your jump.

Tracking errors

Laser sensors still have some annoying issues tracking on certain surfaces, especially cloth. This can turn a smooth diagonal movement into a staircase-like line. I’ve encountered no tracking errors on the Razer Exactmat (white) and Razer Destructor (black), but had a few on the Razer Goliathus.ย  Kinda annoying on the desktop when trying to click a small button.

Shape

Shape-wise it’s obviously inspired (to put it mildly) by the Logitech MX5** series.

If you like the MX500 shape, you’ll like the Razer Imperator. It’s slightly lower, which allows me to use it with palm grip and finger tip grip. Finger tip grip wasn’t comfortable for me on the MX500 shaped Logitech mice.

7 buttons

thumb up, thumb down, left, middle, right, middle up, middle down. 7 well placed buttons. I use 5 of them, because I can’t be bothered to set up the middle up/middle down buttons to do something different than change DPI.

The left and right mouse buttons are slightly harder to press compared to the Diamondback and Deathadder, but not as hard to press as the MX518. The scrollwheel has a nice click when you roll it and is easy to press down.

Adjustable thumb buttons

I considered this to be a stupid gimmick, much like the weights present on mice a few years back, but I actually quite like the adjustable thumb buttons. They allow you to perfectly place the thumb buttons for your hand. So if you use a palm grip, you place them further away from your wrist, and with a finger tip grip you’ll probably move them a bit closer.

Changing the position of the buttons is quick and easy and after moving them the buttons feel just as the normal non-movable buttons.

Conclusion

Playing for a while with the Imperator I’ve come to the conclusion that technically it’s no match for the Deathadder. The Deathadder’s sensor is simply better suited for every surface I’ve tried.
Shape-wise however the Imperator is better for me.

This causes a dilemma, better sensor vs better shape. For now the Imperator’s better shape outweighs the better sensor of the Deathadder, during the coming weeks I’ll try to make a definite decision about which mouse I’ll keep using.

Imperator
Deathadder Lachesis
Price 60 36 52
Tracking Good Best Mediocre
On board memory 5 profiles 1 profile 5 profiles
Lift-off distance Very low Low Low
Shape (for me) Better Good Worst
Z-axis tracking Some None Lots
Axis lockups Rare Never Often
Common issues Rare axis lockups Single clicks as double clicks Cursor moves when clicking, frequent axis lockups

So the ultimate verdict: Would I recommend it?
In its current form, no. Just like the original Deathadder, there are too many issues with tracking.

I hope that, like the Deathadder, future firmware upgrades will fix the issues with the sensor so I can really enjoy this mouse.

Out of my regular group of gaming friends, 8 out of 10 use a Razer mouse. 6 of those are Deathadders, all bought after trying mine on LANs. I wouldn’t recommend them upgrading to the Imperator just yet.
Update:

After some usage, some additional comments:

Axis lockup:

This is a recurring problem and I still haven’t figured out if it’s caused by the way I move the mouse or just a periodic problem. It happens about 3 times per hour during a gaming session. Longest lockup was about half a second, enough to get me killed ๐Ÿ˜›

Random poweroff:

Haven’t seen this happen during my gaming sessions, but sometimes after leaving the mouse alone for a while, the lights are off, scrollwheel doesn’t glow and the cursor won’t move. Buttons still work and a few seconds after clicking, the mouse will come back to life. Weird.

90 thoughts on “Razer Imperator review

  1. Arie,

    This mouse is lighter than a copperhead? I would use it for SC2, so I need to move the mouse really quickly, and thus the weight is crucial.

    In general terms you think it will be worth the update? (copperhead to imperator)

    Thanks!

  2. I don’t think this mouse is worth the upgrade from a Copperhead. It’s too expensive and has too many problems.

    If you want a light mouse that you can throw around easily, I’d get an Abyssus (I did ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). It’s very light, but has only three buttons.

  3. Hi Arie! Thanks for your reply. I am considering the Abyssus, can you please weight it?

    I have seen on the net that it weights 52 grams (not including cable), but in the razer page I found it weights 105grams (including cable). However, I think the cable cannot weight so much (neither the mouse weight so little), so I think there is a problem in the 52 grams measure.

    Thanks!

  4. I don’t have a scale that sensitive, but the Abyssus is lighter than any mice I’ve owned if I recall correctly.

  5. I think I will try it, if it is 50 grams it would (half of my already light copperhead) it should be like a true extension of your hand =)

  6. Arrived a few hours ago!

    The best mouse I ever had. Period.

    I weighted the mouse, definitely it weights 58 grams.

    =]

  7. Hi Arie it’s me again amazing blog here That given me what i wanted to here about the Imperaor “facts!”

    Do these problems happen constantly and when they don’t affect the mouse is the mouse tracking as good as a mx518 v1 and deathadder 1800dpi or isn’t their a time when it works well ie: axis problems constantly effecting tracking in a game i play cod2/4 and i want a super presise mouse for high sensitivity sniping in promod.

    I want a mouse that you just feel like your 100% incontrol of and the flick shost just feel awesome on is this the mouse for me asided from the problems or is it a no go still?

  8. I’ve never been able to play properly with it. The z-axis tracking screws up my aim whenever I reposition the mouse.
    For your purposes you’d be better of with a 1800DPI DA, MX518 or maybe new DA.

  9. Thanks Arie for giving me feedback it’s so hard to find anything on mew mice sometimes, so thanks for that.

    I was just wondering I had my eye on the steelseries Xai laser mouse have you tried it, apparently its’ really good, I have other steelseries stuff and it’s good stuff plus their customer service is very good.

    Anyway wish me luck, Btw i’m using a g5 atm managed to find one for 40 quid very good mouse, I have a feeling that the Xai is going to beat it from what I have read.

    Ill let you know how i get on with it.

  10. The Xai is pretty good. It does however suffer from some acceleration due to the sensor used.
    Should be better than your G5.

  11. Hi Arie, and others

    First want to thank you for taking the time to make these reviews and answer questions, really nice to read what an informed person has to say.

    I have a few questions myself:

    I was a huge, huge fan of the Deathadder 1800, best mouse I ever owned, period. Unfortunately they had the tendancy to break, the scroll wheel was dodgy on my first one, and then when I bought a second one it had a click issue when it would double click automatically.

    Anyway, I wanted to buy a third one last year only to find that they don’t make the DeathAdder 1800 anymore and that I’ll have to get a 3500 Respawn. I got it, and it’s nowhere near as good as the original due to the jitter and braided chord (it drags my mouse).

    So my question is do you know where I could buy the original DA from? All the Razer resellers just sell the original now and I can’t see it on auction websites. :(

    If there’s nowhere to buy it what would you recommend as an alternative? I am a low sensitivity gamer who lifts the mouse up frequently and places it back down, I prefer cloth pads but don’t mind plastic. I dislike jitter, especially the crazy movement when you lift the mouse a little bit into the air. I’m guessing my grip is palm but with all the lifting I do it’s hard to say. The DeathAdder, G5, Mx518 have all felt fine however.

    Maybe I should buy a Razer mouse which uses the 3.0 sensor like Salmosa or Diamondback? Perhaps the Abyssus would be a good buy?

    Sorry for the wall of text and appreciate any help from anyone.

  12. Hi Tom,

    The Mamba uses the crappy sensor also used in the Imperator. It had jitter issues as well, which they ‘fixed’ by introducing dynamic dpi scaling (fancy word for ‘weird accel.’)

    If you want the 1800DPI DA, try looking for the DA Guild Wars edition or the DA White (Mac edition). Some retailers still have those and they’re just 1800DPI versions in a fancy shell.
    Also, you can fix the double-click (switch bounce) issues by blowing some air through the bad button.

    The only unfortunate thing about the Diamondback 3G and Salmosa is the built-in prediction/drift-control which you can’t turn off using a special firmware (like with the Deathadder).

    I can’t recommend the Abyssus, it has a horrible scrollwheel, only the Zowie EC2 (which I’ll be reviewing soon) has a worse one. It has the same crappy 3500DPI sensor used in the Deathadder respawn, but unlike the Deathadder Respawn there are no firmware upgrades to address jitter issues.

    General mouse recommendations:
    Steelseries Xai is pretty good, has some accel issues otherwise it’s fine.
    Razer Deathadder 3500DPI should work OK on most surfaces with the latest firmware.
    Zowie EC2 is OK, except for the mouse wheel which is the worst I’ve seen in years.

  13. Hi Arie. Thanks for the reply, really appreciate it.

    I’ll look for the DA GW edition or the MAC edition then, I actually did see those online but wasn’t sure if they were the same.

    I’m glad you’ve said that about the Mamba, was quite close to getting one! And I’ll stear clear from the other Razer mice as well now.

    Never heard of the Xai or Zowie EC2. Will have a look into them. I also saw the Mionix 5000 but haven’t seen many people comment about them.

    Thanks again! :-)

  14. Hi Arie,

    It’s nice to have somewhere to post a question and know the answer will be honest and informed. Thanks for that.

    I’ve been holding on to my last beloved Copperhead, as I use fingertip grip and simply cannot find a good quality replacement for it.

    Can you perhaps suggest a fingertip grip replacement, as the Copperhead’s scroll wheel is starting to go.

    Thanks a lot.

    Chris.

  15. @Chris Jansen:
    The Diamondback 3G is probably the closest that might be still on sale in some shops.

    The only other small fingertyp mouse in Razer’s lineup at the moment is the Abyssus, but it has a horrible scrollwheel that started to act up after only a month for me.

  16. Thanks Arie.

    No 3Gs available here unfortunately.

    Guess I’ll just have to re-adapt to a non-fingertip mouse :)

    Fingertip grip is just so much agile and faster in games IMO.

  17. i have an Imperator and it suffers a lot axis lockups, i would like to throw it on the wall.
    I’ve used for YEARS a logitech mx1000, best mouse i’ve ever had, perfect on my glass surface, unfortunately left click was broken so i take this imperator, bad choice indeed.

    i’ve seen on the local shop here the guy still have a logitech mx revolution, is not exactly the same as mx1000 but i’m sure it will work better than this imperator and i can finally swicth back to my beloved glass mouse pad.

    do you have any info about the new Logitechยฎ Anywhere Mouse MXโ„ข with darkfield laser tracking technology ?

  18. If I’m going to get one of those new Razer mice it’s probably going to be the new Mamba, as I don’t have one of those yet ๐Ÿ˜‰

    If I do get one, I’ll surely review it.

  19. Hi Arie Iv’e said it once and I’ll say it again , Great blog!

    Just a quick question What is the best mouse in your opinion the old deathadder 1800dpi or the new 3600dpi version

    Thanks again.

  20. The new one with the latest firmware should be close to perfect. I only have an Abyssus with 3500DPI sensor, but its firmware is not upgradeable, so I don’t know how well the 3500DPI performas with the latest firmware.

  21. Hi Arie.

    Great blog. Thanks for the Imperator ‘facts’. So, I would like to ask, what “palm-grip” mouse that you would recommend? doesnt matter if its razer or other brand.

    thanks :)

  22. Hi Arie,

    Great blog!
    You’ve said that the 3500DPI Deathadder with latest firmware should have sorted out its problems. Do you think it would work well on a cloth pad (QCK) as the 1800DPI did, with no more jitter problems?

    Thanks :)

  23. I have been using Imperator version 1 with Razer Mantis Control for few months. Unfortunatelly, they didn’t work well together. The tracking and pointing are so unprecise, and I am looking for a new mousepad to replace the Razer Mantis Control now.

    Is there anyone who has a suggestion of what mousepad should I buy? I am thinking about SteelSeries SX or 4HD, but the SX is so expensive and the 4HD is acceptable. Which one should I buy?

  24. The hard plastic pads should do. You’ll still have some acceleration of the dynamic dpi scaling mechanism and the Z-axis tracking, so don’t expect miracles.

  25. Thanks Arie!

    The Z-axis is not really a big problem for me because I use high sensitive and DPI in work and games too. I really don’t need to lift the mouse of the mousepad most of the time.

    And about the dynamic dpi scaling problem. I updated the newest firmware 1.16 few weeks ago and the problem disappeared. I do not know if it will happen in the future or not but it is okay now.

    The newest firmware could tackle the turn on and turn off of the mouse randomly too.

    But you need to uninstall the driver after you update the newest firmware because the driver is main thing that causes so many problems of this mouse.

    In addition, remember to use a non-colorful mousepad. I am using my Imperator with a white paper now.

    Hopefully Razer company will improve the quality of their products in the near future. The Mamba, Naga or even the Imperator 2012 version still have so many errors. What happened to the Razer technology? They were so good such as Razer Copperhead and Diamond Back. But now it’s quality is dropping.

  26. The mouse do not track anything on my black mouse pad o_O
    any one has an idea how to fix it ??

  27. I’ll try that new firmware LoveKnight, with the current firmware on my Imperator the dynamic dpi scaling makes the mouse unusable for me.

    @Cipic, black pads shouldn’t be a big problem, your mouse might be defective.

  28. What the hell is happening to my Imperator, oh men! After I had bought 4HD this morning, I tested Imperator with 4HD. You know what? The mouse can not move or at least work on this mousepad. I was so confused and I was asking myself “What is going on?”

    I used other mousepad such as my old Razer Mantis Control and white paper. The mouse track well on these materials but not on the 4HD. However, I tried to move the mouse on the mousepad in 3-4 minutes and the mouse worked on 4HD.

    But it was not over yet. The feeling on the 4HD was very good and smooth until I recognized something wrong happened. The Imperator did not tracked well on this mousepad, it was lag and unprecise and sometimes it stopped working on this mousepad.

    Enough is enough. I do not want to stick with Razer company anymore. Imperator is enough for me to say goodbye to Razer forever. This mouse sucks, Razer sucks.

    I will try Logitech G500 or SteelSeries Sensei next time but not Razer.

  29. Oh my god! I have just discovered a secret that could tackle the axis lock and the lift Z-axis problems. But first you need to take this solution on your own, that means if you follow my instruction carefully, then nothing wrong will happen to your Imperator mouse.

    Firstable, you need to turn your mouse over and look at the laser censor of the Imperator which is called Philip Twin censor Eye (stupid censor causes so many troubles). Do you see around the censor and the eye the censor? Is there dust around it or not?

    Next, you need to use a blunt small stick and use a small amount of cotton wool. Have you figured out what do I mean? Yes, you need to use cotton wool and the stick to clean the censor eye. Remember you do not need to use water so a dry cotton wool is good enough. Then you need to clean the laser eye carefully and gently, do not push too much power on it or you will break or damage it. Gentle as a woman takes care of her child.

    After cleaning it in 1-2 minutes, you can use the mouse normally. This solution could tackle the mouse axis lock and Z-axis over 50%-70%.

    I tried it with my 4HD. At first, I though the mousepad caused trouble but not, and then I looked at the laser censor and I can see the dust inside and around it. So I tried to use above solution and It worked. Thanks god for blessing me!

  30. About the axis locks – in my case switching off the Surface Calibration helped. I lost the possibility of LOD adjustment though… Razer – move ur ass and fix it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  31. Your review is the only mice review I find really helpful, thanks!

    Anyway, I gave away my Imperator 3.5G because of the z-axis issue and the jittering while clicking issue.

    Am wondering if these are fixed in the 4G version, since I really love te shape.

    Currently using DA 3.5G, but it has high lift-off, and I fixed it by putting a plastic light filter between the LED and the prism, works wonder, and I can finally give that mouse 10/10, but I still wish for the Imperator shape… >”<

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