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The Razer Viper 8K has arrived and this thing is exciting. The whole conversation about the Viper 8K needs to happen because it’s the next evolution of technology for gaming peripherals. We have a 4000Hz polling rate keyboard with the Corsair K100, so eventually that was going to translate into slightly higher Hertz on a mouse too, that is the inevitable future.
We have gone through many steps of technological improvements with sensors, like we have 20,000 DPI sensors that don’t really make any sense for the user, but they are there because technology allows it to be implemented and rolled out at an affordable price point. I also feel like we have gone through a bunch of iterations of the lightweight mouse design and how companies approach designing the shell with holes or without it. It’s really cool to see companies like XTRFY with the M42 RGB actually give you customization in terms of shape, being able to swap out the backplate to fit your grip style better.
A New Mouse
When Razer approached us and said they were releasing an 8000Hz mouse I got excited, because I definitely wanted to see if you could feel the difference. I have had the prototype for several months and now I finally have the finished product in my hand. So let’s talk about exactly what the technology is, what my experience is like, and does this change the industry in any way.
I’m sure many of you are skeptical and at the very first briefing I was too. I kept asking the same question over and over again: Why does 8K matter? Because from a marketing perspective it’s just fluff right? You can say you have the fastest mouse in the world, it has eight times lower latency versus your traditional 1000Hz mouse, but for the general consumer that doesn’t matter. What is really important though is the technological framework that pushes this whole thing forward, and in fact you do have the benefits of reduced input latency from the click and from the motion of the mouse. That all add up to a bit more consistent experience, maybe not for me, maybe not for 90% of you, but for e-sports level competitive gamers this is an awesome development.
Product & Price
From a technical perspective an 8000Hz polling rate might makes sense, but it doesn’t matter really for the end-user unless the price is right, so my second question to Razer was what is the price premium? Well their answer was brilliant because they are launching the Razer Viper 8K at the same $79 USD price as the original Razer Viper. I think this price is an excellent way to brute force your way into the market, especially because the original Viper is being discontinued so it’s not like you have even an option between the two. This is clearly Razer trying to push the industry forward, they are not charging you a price markup for this 8000Hz technology, but instead are basically just giving it to enthusiasts.
Let’s talk about what’s different between the Viper 8K and the original Viper. First the Razer Viper 8K is 2 grams heavier at 71 grams versus 69 grams. It has second generation Razer optical mouse switches, which are the fastest switches on the market, which is one of those marketing things that doesn’t really matter. Having said that, it makes sense that they would put an optical switch into this mouse and not the mechanical because the debounce delay and other factors of a mechanical switch would kind of undermine the efforts Razer put towards engineering a mouse with instantaneous reaction. The sensor is improved with higher resolution, so up to 20,000 DPI versus 16,000 DPI on the original. Of course this mouse also has true 8000Hz polling versus 1000Hz. The cable is slightly thicker to accommodate additional wiring to carry that signal, although it is still USB 2.0 compatible, so you don’t need a USB 3.0 port to have this mouse running at 8000Hz. And we also have a smoother glide because of the 100% PTFE feet.
As for the rest of the body, it’s identical to the original, and shape wise it fits my hybrid style perfectly. It is a true ambidextrous design with side browser buttons on both the left and the right side. The Razer logo is illuminated, and then it goes completely offline when the RGB is disabled. At that the bottom of the mouse we have a DPI switch button that is colour coded with up to 5 profiles. It’s definitely in my Top 5 for gaming mice, and you can check out our Top 10 gaming mice of 2020 right here.
Now I feel like we are primed to talk about this hyperpolling of 8000Hz, which actually gives us 8000 unique individual reports per second. Polling rate is how many times a second the mouse sends its location and clicks information to the computer, which is reported in Hertz. A traditional mouse of a 1000Hz will report its location and its clicks a 1000 times per second back to the computer. If I were to draw a perfect curve line it would look like a solid line, but on a microsecond 1000Hz level it’s going to look more sporadic. It’s not going to be a perfect line. The spaces are going to represent the latency of 1ms response time between each poll. At 8000Hz we have 8 little dashes in between the same amount of space. The dashes also represents 1ms of space and time, but we have 0.125ms between each polling rate, so the curve line is going to look much, much smoother without micro stutters.
This graph is also very interesting because it clearly shows how superior faster polling is when it comes to micro stutters, shown as the delay between the frame rendering and when the polling occurs. For example, if the above polling section represents a mouse click, you don’t actually see it until a new frame begins to render, and that delay is significantly reduced with faster polling. Another interesting observation is that I have noticed CPU usage is slightly higher at 8000Hz versus when I’m using a 1000Hz mouse. Specifically the CPU usage almost doubled went from 4% to 8% when I’m moving the mouse sporadically. That is something to keep in mind, which is why Razer actually provided us with the minimum testing specifications for hardware, because this 8000Hz polling rate has to be processed somehow.
That brings up another question about will USB controllers be bottlenecking and introducing any more latency into the equation when you are dealing with such large bandwidths? I guess we will have to find out, and so far I have only noticed higher CPU usage, but when I’m sure this technology gets into many more technical hands we will find out.
I’m sure this mouse is going to start conversations that are similar to two gamers discussing refresh rates on screens like 144Hz versus 240Hz, 240Hz is obviously faster and better but can you notice the difference between that and 144Hz, which is already incredibly fast. The conversation with mice polling rate will be 1000Hz versus 8000Hz, it’s almost the 8 times faster at 0.125ms response time versus 1ms response time, but will you notice and/or feel it? It should give you just overall more consistent registration and smoother tracking of the actual mouse cursor. That means not just clicking on the mouse, but moving the mouse on screen as well.
It is fascinating to see this graph provided by Razer, competing mice versus the Razer 8K in terms of actual millisecond response time for input latency. Technically Razer has become the market leader for mice and the Viper 8K becomes an extension of your aim, not just for clicks, but for mouse movement as well. Razer told us that they want to keep moving up as monitor refresh rate goes up, like right now I’m using a 360Hz display so it pairs nicely with this mouse, and it’s good that peripherals are catching up and eventually other hardware will too.
That brings me to the conversation about the entire input latency ecosystem. It’s not just the mouse that is important, but it’s everything from the monitor to your CPU. Having the best performance possible from a quick latency example is not just dependent on the peripherals, but the entire pipeline of from the mouse click, to the processing of that signal, and then the action being displayed on your monitor. Right now for example, am I at a disadvantage by using a 1000Hz keyboard, but an 8000Hz mouse? I don’t think so because my level of FPS gaming isn’t really up there yet, and I feel like many other gaming brands will try and sell you higher polling peripherals just so that you can have a more cohesive set of peripherals that can support anything above 1000Hz polling rates. Also frame rate is super important, the frame rate in your games and the refresh rate of your monitor, if you have a 60Hz display and you have a 8000Hz mouse those two don’t exactly make sense. The 8000Hz rate is going to be appealing to anyone who is trying to really maximize performance in terms of hardware, monitor refresh rate, and the best FPS possible.
As for my gaming experience with the Viper 8K versus the original, this is where we move into the subjective territory. I’m not an extreme pro gamer, so I couldn’t really feel difference. I tried to do like A/B testing, not knowing which mouse was plugged in, and as long as my DPI is correct and I’m comfortable with the shape I can perform very well. The Viper 8K gives you a little bit of a confidence boost of having smoother and more precise mouse tracking, especially when you are dealing with anything that is above 144Hz refresh rate. It’s been great for CS:GO and Call of Duty, one taps are super easy. I’m not sure if this is because of 8K or just the mouse in general is good enough at what it does. Technically it’s supposed to offer a superior experience, and I think I got there, but I can’t say for 100% sure. What I can say is that the price is the same as the original, so it doesn’t make a difference because now it’s the same mouse just with better tech that pushes the industry forward.
To conclude, I want to say that it is good that this technology is being pushed upon the market, and we as users are going to adopt it because you have no choice since the original Viper is being discontinued. Thankfully, Razer are playing it smart by keeping the price the same, because otherwise why would they recommend it if I can’t subjectively tell the difference? I understand all the technical advantages, but from a subjective point-of-view it didn’t change gameplay much. Maybe I’m not the right target audience because I’m not a pro gamer who spends 8 hours a day gaming and knows exactly how my mouse behaves.
Now we will see hardware and software trying to catch up to these faster polling rates and hopefully not introduce any other latency in the pipeline. I’m really curious to hear what you think about 8K polling, and I’m also wondering if all peripheral makers are going to start giving us higher polling peripherals as a way keeping up with Razer and also just pushing the industry forward.