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Manufacturer: Razer
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: USB Port

Razer Lachesis
November 12, 2007 | Bryan Clodfelter

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While it’s anyone’s guess as to how long Razer can continue its tradition of naming mice after deadly snakes before all that remains are worms and other, more humble creatures, there appears to be no end in sight for the stream of ideas flowing out of this US-based company. Apparently unsatisfied with the wildly enthusiastic reviews of its DeathAdder--an advanced gaming mouse utilizing a slick design and equally outstanding infrared sensing technology--Razer has unveiled the Lachesis gaming mouse in a bid to push the envelope just a bit further. In this review, we’ll be taking close aim at the Lachesis, and a look back at the DeathAdder, in order to determine if Razer succeeded in its aim.

More Technological Gobbledegook
As usual, new technology breeds new terminology. If you’re wary of mathematics and just want to hear how the Lachesis performs, skip this section. Otherwise, read on, brave soul.

Since you’ve clearly been following along, a couple of mousing terms should already be familiar: polling rate, and resolution. Sadly, familiarity does not always imply comprehension. For clarity’s sake, then, let us briefly review these two concepts. Polling rate--measured in Hz, or samples per second--determines how quickly the mouse reports its status to the computer. Consumer-grade mice usually have a fixed polling rate of 125 Hz (or, one report every 8 milliseconds), whereas gaming mice have an adjustable polling rate that typically tops out at 1000 Hz (eight times faster). Increasing the polling rate of a mouse does two things: it helps maintain accuracy during swift movements, and it increases the amount of work that your computer has to do by a significant margin. Polling rate does not affect mousing speed. Resolution, on the other hand, does affect mousing speed. Commonly advertised by listing the maximum possible DPI, or “dots per inch” that an optical sensor can report, precision is probably the most misunderstood term in gaming hardware. To shed light on the issue, let’s take a closer look at the Lachesis and its 4000 DPI, third-generation laser sensor.

When Razer states that the Lachesis operates at up to 4000 DPI, that means that when the mouse is set to this insanely high resolution, for every inch you move the mouse, your cursor will theoretically will move 4000 pixels. However, this is misleading, since every modern operating system applies its own set of rules to the data it receives. So, when you set your sensitivity settings in Mac OS X’s “Keyboard & Mouse” preference pane, for example, you are actually telling your Mac to apply a multiplier to the data it receives from the mouse. This is how you can create a situation where your cursor may move at a much, much slower rate (perhaps 200 DPI) than the mouse is physically reporting. To help clear up this potential source of confusion, many advanced users have adopted a newer, better term to describe the precision of a mouse sensor: CPI, or “counts per inch.” This term clearly separates the measure of physical precision that a mouse is capable of from the speed of the cursor onscreen (which is better described by DPI).

So, what’s all the fuss about? To put it bluntly, low precision--by its very definition--breeds errors. It also requires users to use high software sensitivity settings, which multiply those errors. Therefore, it is far better to have a high-precision mouse coupled with low sensitivity settings than it is to have things the other way around--even if the result is the same mouse speed in both cases.


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