Razer Imperator

Razer Imperator 2012 review

The Razer Imperator gets more sophisticated sensors and a chassis upgrade to make an already good gaming mouse nearly perfect—for right-handers, anyway.

The original Imperator is a mid-to-upper range mouse that offers all the essential features of a good gaming mouse in a right-handed package. The Imperator ‘4G’ (or Imperator 2012 as Razer calls it) refreshes and upgrades the Imperator inside and out, adding improved ergonomics to the chassis, a cosmetic facelift, and an all-new dual sensor system (the 4G) under the hood.

View slideshow: Razer Imperator 4G pictures [Examiner.com slideshow]

In short, the Imperator 2012 improves the original design and corrects its key weakness, which makes it a solid choice and an excellent ‘all rounder’ gaming mouse.

Ergonomics
The Razer Imperator 2012 sports a subtle, comfortable right-handed design just like its predecessor, but it sports a key improvement: the glossy, black plastic sides of the original Imperator have been replaced with cool, anti-slip rubber grips for better comfort and control.

imperator 4G 250px

The glossy plastic of the original Imperator was its only major weakness—glossy plastics get tacky after even short gaming sessions. But rubber stays cool to the touch and keeps your grip firm. Suffice to say that the rubber grip sides of the Imperator 2012 address the biggest weakness of its predecessor. (OK, I admittedly would have preferredtextured rubber sides like the CM Storm Spawn, but that’s just a personal preference.)

The Imperator 2012 (like the original Imperator) still allows you to the physically move the two thumb buttons forward or backward on the mouse through a switch on the bottom of the mouse. It’s not the transforming awesomeness of theMadcatz R.A.T. 9, but the Imperator 2012 still enables you to customize it slightly to accommodate different grips.

In addition to the rubber sides, the Imperator 2012’s top has been given a new look: a ‘brushed chrome’ finish to further differentiate it from the original Imperator (i.e. it’s more grey than black now).

Features
Although the ergonomic improvements of the Imperator 2012 are (in my opinion) its strongest selling point, it’s the guts of the mouse that will get all the attention and the most bullet points.

The Imperator 2012 sports Razer’s new 4G sensor system, which pairs an optical sensor with a laser sensor for some pretty cool features.

Aside from allowing the Imperator to go up to an even more ridiculous 6400DPI (vs. the original Imperator’s 5000DPI), the key feature of the dual sensors is providing a customizable lift-off distance detection and surface calibration system.

This essentially allows the mouse to detect when the mouse has been lifted off the surface, at which point it shuts off tracking and ‘freezes’ your mouse pointer. This enables you to move the mouse to the edge of your surface, lift the mouse to re-center it, and then continue mousing without losing the cursor’s position. This feature is generally geared toward gamers that prefer lower DPI settings (say 800-1200DPI), which seems to be a fairly popular range for gaming (particularly for FPS games).

The customizable lift-off distance is an interesting feature. For example, setting it to 0 (while using the mouse on my 2mm tall SteelSeries 9HD mouse mat) resulted in extremely jumpy behavior but using the mouse on my desk surface produced silky smooth tracking. Moving the mouse from my desk back to the Steel Series mouse mat completely shut off the tracking and the cursor ceased to move—until I returned it to my desk.

Although I can imagine how this might be useful, in day-to-day gaming I would probably rarely miss the feature—but I also tend to use higher DPI settings in most of my games, and I the SteelSeries 9HD is a large gaming surface (roughly 8”x10”). Again, it’s a cool feature and it’s useful, but the Imperator’s 4G sensor tracks beautifully with or without surface calibration turned on and a customized lift-off distance.

It’s a nice feature to have and makes for some nice bullet points on a box—but practically speaking it may not be a ‘game-changer’ for a lot of us. Regardless, you can probably expect to see dual-sensor systems to appear on more mid to high end gaming mice in the future. (European PC gaming peripheral manufacturer Roccat has brought one to market.)

The Software
The Imperator 4G’s new software offers all the typical features of Razer mice. You can customize and program the Imperator’s 7 buttons, record macros (with customizable delays), and create multiple profiles for different games.

You can also customize each of the Imperator 2012’s five different DPI presets (in 100 DPI increments), turn the LED lighting on the scroll wheel and the back of the mouse on and off, and customize the lift-off distance and surface calibration features.

The only real (and minor) complaint I could level against the Imperator 2012 is its software—and that’s only because it takes a long time to read the profiles from the mouse and load. (Deleting unused profiles reduces the load time, but I still prefer a control panel that loads instantly.)

Overall

The Imperator 4G’s new technology and sensor might get all the shiny bullet points, but it’s the cool rubber grip-friendly sides and ergonomic improvements that really made me like the Imperator 2012 considerably more than its predecessor.

But no matter how you slice it the new Imperator 2012 is a solid improvement above and beyond its predecessor, and at roughly the same price point ($80) at which the original Imperator launched. The Imperator is dead—long live the Imperator 2012.

Razer Imperator (2012) Technical Specifications (courtesy of Razer)

  • 6400dpi 4G Dual Sensor System
  • Rubberized contoured thumb grip for added control
  • Ergonomic right-handed design
  • Adjustable side buttons
  • Razer Synapse Onboard Memory
  • Up to 200 inches per second* /50g acceleration
  • Seven independently programmable Hyperesponse buttons
  • On-the-Fly Sensitivity adjustment
  • Zero-acoustic Ultraslick mouse feet
  • Approx. size in mm; 123(l) x 71(w) x 42(h)
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