Way back in 2009—nearly 10 years ago—Razer released the original Naga MMO mouse for the button-crazy. By that time, I had already been thinking that mice didn’t have enough buttons. We had all these keys under our left hand, but had to make do with just five mouse buttons under our right-hand fingers? The Naga and its 12 side buttons seemed like an answer to my prayers, so I snapped one up as soon as I found it at retail and rushed home with it gleefully. I had some frustrations with the mouse, but I used it for a good while.
The first Naga turned out to be the first and last Razer product I’ve used. It’s not that I hated it—it’s just that name-brand gear is usually too rich for my blood. I tend to stick to cheaper alternatives. Still, I can’t deny that I’ve been a little curious about what the company’s products were like these days. Fortunately for me, Razer stepped up to the plate with its latest Naga Trinity. This isn’t the newest gaming rat that the company sells, but it’s certainly the one with the most buttons: up to 19.
|Razer Naga Trinity|
|Polling rate||1 KHz|
|Programmable buttons||9, 14, or 19|
|Maximum resolution||16,000 DPI|
|450 ips/50 g|
|Built-in lighting||Razer Chroma RGB LED|
|Weight (without cable)||≈120 g|
|Cable length||≈6.6 ft (2 m)|
Yes, “up to.” How many buttons the mouse actually has will depend on which of the three included side plates you decide to use. This trio of panels is the reason this mouse is called “Trinity.” The three side-plates offer the classic Naga 12-button numeric keypad, a circular seven-button cluster, and a simple DeathAdder-style side plate with just two buttons. The seven-button cluster has a rubber grip pad in the middle of the buttons, while most of the two-button side plate is occupied by a larger version of that ribbed grip.
Swapping out the side-plates is just a matter of tugging on the bottom of the one that’s installed and then snapping on a new one. There’s no physical retention mechanism at all. Instead, Razer uses a magnetic latching system not unlike that found on the power adapters of certain fancy tablets and laptops. While I was using the Naga Trinity, the side-plates were completely secure and didn’t slide around or shift while pushing buttons. It felt just like any other mouse, which is a very good thing.
The two primary buttons up front are split (as usual) by a mouse wheel with strikingly severe detents, although they’ve softened a bit with use. The mouse wheel supports four-way scrolling, though not out of the box. More on that in a bit. The two buttons behind the scroll wheel are set up to cycle the DPI presets by default, although both can be re-bound. The Naga Trinity supports four completely-separate profiles that you can toggle through using a hidden button on the bottom.
While there might be utility for some in the Naga Trinity’s swappable side panels, I didn’t find a lot of value in the two-button or twelve-button side plates. If you’re going to use the two-button plate, you might as well have bought a simpler mouse, like Razer’s own Deathadder Elite. That said, if you often switch between FPS games and MMOs or MOBAs, for example, the Naga Trinity can adapt in seconds instead of forcing you to grab a different mouse off your shelf.
In theory, I like the twelve-button side plate, but in practice, that side panel makes it almost impossible for me to move the mouse without accidentally pressing buttons. Folks with a palm grip may have less difficulty in that regard. Those folks will also appreciate the Naga Trinity’s wide body and high-end-of-midrange weight.
Swappable sides aside, the Naga Trinity is exactly what you’d expect from a top-end gaming mouse. It feels solid and the buttons are responsive, with sharp feedback. Razer might make a lot of noise about its “5th-generation sensor”, but the reality is that the Naga Trinity uses a PixArt PMW3389 optical sensor. That’s not a bad thing: the sensor in Razer’s mouse is the best on the market. It’s difficult to get excited about it when everyone else is using the same thing, though. It’s possible that Razer has customized the sensor in some meaningful way, but if so it isn’t obvious in use nor in thorough MouseTester benchmarking.
So having your choice of configurable button arrays is cool, and the sensor performs great. What’s the catch? Synapse. Razer’s software is somewhat infamous among PC gamers because it requires internet access and an online-enabled login before it will even let you configure the DPI on your mouse—much less make a macro or edit the lighting. There’s no getting around it—if you’re not comfortable logging into an online service to customize your hardware, you’d better pick another company’s mouse.
A Process Explorer screenshot showing the memory usage of Razer’s apps and services.
The five Razer services that launch on every boot.
I’ll admit that Synapse’s online nature does add some cool features. You can back up your macros and button presets to Razer’s servers as well as the mouse’s onboard memory. You also can earn zSilver reward credits that you can spend on real physical products as well as in-game purchases. I’m going to side-step the argument about whether the benefits of Synapse are worth its annoyances and instead talk about the functionality of the software itself.
Razer’s been doing this gaming peripheral thing for a long time, so I expected the Synapse 3 beta to work well. I can’t comment as to the quality or features relative to earlier versions of the software, but compared to other companies’ input device apps, Synapse 3 hides a lot of functionality behind big, flat, low-information-density panels. I’m not thrilled about the sparse presentation—it takes four tabs to display what could easily be on one—but many other companies have hopped onto this design bandwagon, so I won’t knock Razer too hard here.
Creating and editing macros is something I do often, and even I find Synapse’s macro editor unintuitive. When you create a macro, you must assign a “shortcut key” from the keyboard that then can’t be used in that macro or any others. I don’t know what the point of the shortcut key is, and the Naga Trinity’s “Master Guide” offers very little guidance. After fiddling with the editor for the better part of a week I’ve got the functions figured out, but it still doesn’t work very well. Macros have a ridiculously limited playback speed. I frequently use macros to spin my game character or to spam an input, but neither function worked at first because of the slow macro playback.
The latter function can at least be achieved without a macro, which is handy, but there’s no way to send a series of different keystrokes without a macro. The maximum speed I can get a macro to play back using the normal “delay” setting (which you have to set in fractional seconds, not milliseconds) is around 250 ms per keystroke. On the other hand, if I use the “sequence” mode, repeated keystrokes play back extremely quickly—too fast for some games to recognize properly. The balky timing control is an odd sore spot given the potential power of the rest of the editor, but it’s so critical to effective macro programming that it sours the whole Synapse macro experience.
The functions available to use in macros are some of the most comprehensive I’ve ever seen, at least. You can incorporate mouse buttons and movements in macros, as well as loops, system commands, and blocks of text. You can even have macros call other macros. The functions that you can assign to keys (outside of the macro editor) are similarly varied. You can adjust DPI by presets, in steps, or on the fly. Synapse also lets you set up a “hypershift” key to create a separate layer on the mouse in case 19 buttons isn’t enough. I used it to turn my LMB into a turbo-fire button—very handy in Warframe.
The red icons indicate that those functions can’t be used when Synapse is not running.
However, even here we run into the limitations of Synapse. The mouse supports wheel tilting for horizontal scrolling, but by default the tilt inputs are instead bound to repeating vertical scroll events. I found out why when I configured them to be horizontal scroll buttons: because you can’t use those functions without Synapse loaded. Many other functions, like cycling DPI presets, also require Synapse to be running. It’s not clear why Razer requires Synapse to be loaded for these features, since other mice can do them without software.
The center area will display all of your Chroma devices so you can preview synchronized lighting.
Razer is more or less responsible for the current RGB LED lighting craze in gaming devices, and Synapse has a powerful editor for your devices’ Chroma lighting. I’ve said before that I think RGB LED lighting is fairly pointless on a mouse because your hand will be covering it when it’s in use, and I still feel that way. I do think that if I had more Razer devices, I might like to play with the Chroma Studio in Synapse 3. It’s also cool that games like the aforementioned Warframe integrate Chroma to represent in-game events using the LEDs.
Synapse 3 is still supposedly in beta, but it’s worth noting that despite its pre-release nature, there is no stable software version to fall back on for this mouse. The Naga Trinity has to use the beta Synapse 3 app or nothing. Overall I feel like Synapse 3 is the roughest feature of an otherwise pretty decent mouse.
Razer got famous making mice specifically for PC gamers, and it’s since established itself as the foremost outfitter for folks looking to espouse the gamer lifestyle. Indeed, Razer describes itself as “the world’s leading lifestyle brand for gamers” and that branding has been very successful for the company. As a result, it’s hard to have any serious discussion about gaming input peripherals without mentioning Razer at least in passing.
I’m a PC gamer, through and through. I play all kinds of games, from Counter-Strike, to TERA Online, to Dawn of War. Despite all that, I can’t say I find what Razer is offering me in the Naga Trinity compelling right now. It’s a beautiful mouse, to be sure, and its well-built hardware functions just fine. I can’t speak to its longevity, but the Naga Trinity feels great under my hand and all of the buttons have sharp, gratifying feedback.
The Naga’s software is another story. I consider Synapse to be the proverbial albatross around the Naga Trinity’s neck. Even if you’re enthusiastic about the features that Synapse’s online-enabled nature allows, the software itself has too many rough edges. Sparse interface design is supposed to allow for things to be more intuitive, but Synapse 3 is confusing and lacks the precise macro controls I want even when it’s working properly. Some basic button functions won’t even work without Synapse running, and that’s plain inconvenient.
If you’re in what I would describe as the small subset of gamers who will actually benefit from the versatility of the Naga Trinity, it’s difficult to recommend anything else. I don’t know of any other mouse currently on the market that lets you swap out the side panel to pick your preferred number of buttons. However, I don’t find that scenario particularly likely. It seems more plausible to me that gamers who get this mouse will find the side that they like and stick to it, but hey—this is all a matter of taste. Others might be completely gaga over the idea of swapping panels around.
The Naga Trinity goes for $100, and that’s a lot of money for a gaming mouse, even one that’s this versatile. If you’re all about the highly-visible gamer lifestyle and you need your mouse to have a whole bunch of buttons, the Naga Trinity could be a great choice, but Razer needs to take some of the roughness off Synapse before the Trinity is a great choice for everybody. If you’re into the idea of a modular mouse that can adapt to whatever game is at hand, though, there’s little else like the Naga Trinity right now, and it’s a few software improvements away from being TR Recommended.