Razer’s Naga Trinity gaming mouse reviewed

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
Interface USB
Polling rate 1 KHz
Programmable buttons 9, 14, or 19
Sensor Razer 5th-generation

(PixArt PMW3389)

Maximum resolution 16,000 DPI
Maximum tracking

speed/acceleration

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.

 

Deep-rooted Synapse

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.

My first complaint with Synapse 3 is actually how heavy it is. Five services start every time you boot, and on a fresh start I count 970 MB of RAM used by Razer’s software. I don’t really feel it on my Core i7-8700K PC with 16 GB of RAM, but it feels excessive. Lower-end systems might not be as well-positioned to give up nearly a gig of memory. Another complaint that some users had around the time that the previous version of Synapse launched is that Razer’s privacy policy was alarmingly permissive. I’m no lawyer, but going over the company’s current terms of use and privacy policy for the Synapse 3 beta, I didn’t see anything that stood out as too concerning.

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.

 

Conclusions

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.

Comments closed
    • Ph.D
    • 1 year ago

    I very much am in the market for a mouse with this amount of buttons, but someone really has to find a way to fully utilize it without synapse.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 1 year ago

    Of all the smooth marketing moves during this current time period…

    you name a product Naga.

    NAGA!!!!

    Yeah, don’t say it with me. I shuddered just doing it myself.

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 1 year ago

    I use a Razer Imperator at work. It fits my hand fabulously. I never use the side buttons or the dpi-scaling, but the shape is dead-nuts on for my hand. The positioning of the buttons and the shelf on the right for my ring-finger to set on, plus the well for the thumb are great. Even the scroll wheel has just the right about of clicky-stops.

    • YukaKun
    • 1 year ago

    I do like the online backup feature of Synapse and I’m still using 2.0 for my Orbweaver and Orochi (traveling mouse), but they don’t use as much as you mention 3.0 does. If they increased the PC requirements to that extent, then they are doing a hard harvest of your data. I wouldn’t be surprised if they are actually tracking your mouse movement and clicks in realtime and sending it to their servers “for reasons”.

    This might be “tinfoil hat”, but I like full disclosure to make informed decisions. If a Company lies to me or hides information, I just won’t give them my hard earned dosh. So far, they’ve been good an non-intrusive (that I’ve noted), but I’d like a proper investigation. Process Explorer can actually check the packages being sent outside. It would be interesting to make this same investigation for the GeForce software.

    Cheers!

      • thedosbox
      • 1 year ago

      [quote<] It would be interesting to make this same investigation for the GeForce software. [/quote<] With nvidia's package, you can at least unzip it and delete all the stuff you don't want (the folder names are obvious). The installer will then run fine, just without the deleted options present. The razer crapware doesn't allow for this.

    • Chrispy_
    • 1 year ago

    Ignoring the fact it’s Razer (with the many caveats that should be abundantly clear unless you’ve been living under a rock), I just can’t get on with this mouse shape:

    The thumb buttons, finger-rest to the right of the mouse buttons and very wide shape means that it’s terrible for both my claw-grip and fingertip-grip; I can use either comfortably and that means that I can usually find a way to get comfy with a mouse.

    This shape and dependence on your thumb being free to click buttons rather than one of the primary grip points on the mouse seems to require more of a palm grip that involves using completely different muscles in your forearm and shoulder. After three decades of mousing I am set in my ways and palm grip isn’t comfortable nor effective for me.

    Of the gamers I’ve known for decades, those that do use palm-grip almost universally suffer from RSI/carpal-tunnel, too – constantly trying to find chairs, wrist rests and compression straps that let them game without further discomfort. I don’t think it’s a large enough sample size to draw any meaningful conclusion from, but it reaffirms my suspicions that palm-grip gaming is bad for you, because it’s using many more muscles in your arm, shoulder and even affects my posture (I can feel my traps and rhomboids stiffening up in my back because I’m tensing those for fine control of a palm-grip mouse).

    Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but I can’t use a palm-grip mouse without moving my elbow and shoulder – all that extra arm mass that needs to be moved means that my twitch gaming abilites suffer as I suffer.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 1 year ago

      Well, I addressed that indirectly in the review: no, you really can’t use the 12-button sideplate without using a palm grip, but claw grip works just fine with the 7- or 2-button sideplates. There are rubberized grips in between the buttons (7-button) or across most of the left side of the mouse (2-button) that make it very easy to use with a claw grip, which is how I prefer to mouse most of the time.

        • Chrispy_
        • 1 year ago

        Yeah, the 7-button ring might work for me using claw, but it’s not just the thumb-buttons – it’s the right-side sloping shoulder is exactly where my ring-finger needs a vertical sidewall for both fingertip and claw. [i<]Maaaaybe[/i<] claw would work if my hand was far enough back, but the 7-button ring fixes the grip position so that there's no wiggle room. The 2-button would also work for claw grip, but I can't feel that you'd buy a Naga if you just wanted a 5-button mouse. There are significantly better gaming mouse options that don't involve Razer/Synapse/$100. I know people that have (older) Nagas and I've used them for short periods. I guess if you can only have ONE mouse, but need something for twitch gaming AND keybind-heavy MMOs, then this Trinity is an option like you said - but I still like the idea of a dedicated MOBA mouse that has a more compatible shape with different grip styles, like the Steelseries Rival 500 or Roccat Kova Pure. I'm not a southpaw but I bet some of them aren't happy about the right-hand-only shape either.

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 1 year ago

      [quote=”Chrispy_”<]Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I can't use a palm-grip mouse without moving my elbow and shoulder[/quote<] I don't think you are doing it wrong. Some palm-grippers I know also move their elbow and shoulder. They are simply more comfortable using the larger muscle groups and toning down the sensitivity to make up for lack of fine motor control. [quote="Chrispy_"<](I can feel my traps and rhomboids stiffening up in my back because I'm tensing those for fine control of a palm-grip mouse)[/quote<] This is the same for me, though apparently not for many palm grippers. It could be they are naturally more comfortable in the posture such a grip forces you into or perhaps they are not as focused on fine control movements (lower sensitivity can compensate somewhat) [quote="Chrispy_"<]Of the gamers I've known for decades, those that do use palm-grip almost universally suffer from RSI/carpal-tunnel, too[/quote<] This is not universally true, but in my experience, there have been few exceptions.

        • Chrispy_
        • 1 year ago

        Good to know that it’s not just me then.

        As much as I dislike palm-grip mice, it could be worse – someone could force me to use [url=https://www.apple.com/uk/shop/product/MLA02Z/A/magic-mouse-2-silver<]one of these[/url<].

    • zealeus
    • 1 year ago

    I’ve been using the original [url=https://www.amazon.com/Razer-Naga-Molten-Gaming-Mouse/dp/B004AM5RAW/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1532485590&sr=8-14&keywords=razer+naga+mouse<]Razor Naga[/url<] for years, and love the side thumb buttons. In almost every game I play, from MMOs to Overwatch, I always find a use for the thumb buttons. At least for gaming, I could not go back to a mouse that doesn't have that feature. Though, to be fair, buttons 7-12 are almost universally unused as they're uncomfortable to access. I've also never installed the synapse software or had a need to.

    • TheRazorsEdge
    • 1 year ago

    I’m looking for a gaming mouse right now. This looked great right up to the moment I hit the wall: Synapse = cloud + 1 GB RAM.

    No way in hell.

    Why the hell is the cloud crap mandatory? If they made it optional, default, and advertised the backup and macro sharing, they’d get 9/10 users to install it anyway.

    Looks like I’m buying Corsair this time around. I get comparable features in a SCIMITAR or a Vengeance M95 without the stupid cloud crap. Plus, their MSRPs are $20 less.

      • Ryhadar
      • 1 year ago

      Agreed. Cloud drivers are a non-starter for me on principal alone.

      Corsair’s mice are nice, but what really bugged me about the M65 I used to own (to the point of me giving it to my brother and switch to a Roccat Kone XTD), were the differing textures on the side and top. On the top, a nice rubberized coating, and on the sides a generic, rough plastic. Maybe some people like the competing textures, but for me it was too distracting during gaming. Which is a real shame because the shape of the mouse is nearly perfect for me. Just FYI.

    • thedosbox
    • 1 year ago

    No matter how “cool” Synapse is, mandatory cloud account login for a mouse driver is ridiculous.

    • reckless76
    • 1 year ago

    I just got the Razer Basilisk, and while I love the feel of this mouse, Synapse has ruined my PC. Even after disabling the many services it installed, my computer doesn’t go into S3 sleep properly any more. I’m wishing I had the foresight to run that train-wreck in a VM. I don’t need DPI switching or lighting.. It’s just incredibly stupid I can’t have them without the software.
    Also, why is it that while the services are running, they’re constantly eating I/O cycles? It never stops. I watched both read and write count up for several minutes. What the hell is it doing??

    • caconym
    • 1 year ago

    “970 MB of RAM”

    *cough*

    *sputter*

    • kurazarrh
    • 1 year ago

    This is cool. Now bring back the left-handed version and get rid of the Synapse requirement, and I’ll be interested.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 1 year ago

    Very well done review Zak; thanks for it!

    • DPete27
    • 1 year ago

    I’m always amazed at the idea that someone out there can fluidly utilize 12 thumb buttons in a game. Not to mention [presumably] all the other hotkeys they’re hitting with their left hand on the keyboard.

      • kurazarrh
      • 1 year ago

      I use them all the time for games that have full 10-action hotbars, especially games like Space Engineers where I might need to switch weapons or tools, or turn thrusters/gyros on/off, but can’t take my hands off the controls for fear of smashing into an asteroid. 🙂

      • drfish
      • 1 year ago

      I have not emulated this yet, but I was [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUyVyhNzd18<]super-impressed by this setup[/url<].

      • Chrispy_
      • 1 year ago

      I can use multi-button mice (9 is the most I’ve had bound) but my aiming suffered for it.

      I find it hard to believe that people can aim and track at their best when the fingers they’re supposed to be gripping the mouse with have to be also pushing mouse buttons at the same time. I guess that means the ideal multi-button mouse for me would be a six-button mouse where the six buttons were actually arranged in the space of the usual left-click and right-click buttons – like a front-left/back-left arrangement instead of just a left-click and maybe a rocker switch instead of a wheel.

      Honestly though, 5-button mice (left/right/wheel/forwards/back) are plenty for me, and even then I only tolerate them if the thumb buttons don’t interfere with my thumb grip.

        • BurntMyBacon
        • 1 year ago

        [quote=”Chrispy_”<]Honestly though, 5-button mice (left/right/wheel/forwards/back) are plenty for me, and even then I only tolerate them if the thumb buttons don't interfere with my thumb grip.[/quote<] Yeah. This is pretty much where I ended up as well, though I don't so much tolerate the thumb buttons as require them. Of course, like you, I also require that they don't interfere with my thumb grip.

          • Chrispy_
          • 1 year ago

          I really do miss having at least one thumb button when a mouse doesn’t have any thumb-buttons at all, but I’d rather have [i<]no[/i<] thumb buttons than too many, if that makes sense.

      • superjawes
      • 1 year ago

      It was pretty easy for me after getting a feel for where buttons were/are. I think these are programmed out of the box to be the number row (including “-” and “=”), and that’s perfect for a game like WoW, where my left hand is only comfortable getting 1-5.

      It’s also good for first-person games with many weapons/items. Once I know where an item goes, it’s faster to press a single button on my right hand than it is to scroll through a wheel.

    • Goty
    • 1 year ago

    I wish they offered the Naga with only the two side buttons rather than the original or like this with the interchangeable sides; it’s one of the most comfortable mice I’ve ever used, but I just don’t like or have a use for the large number of side buttons and would rather not pay for the other two sides I won’t use. Synapse isn’t really an issue for me, though. I might dive into it once to change something like the lift off height, but I probably won’t even open it again.

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