Since the departure of Razer’s old crowd, amongst them, the now-venerable Diamondback, Lachesis and Taipan, the hugely popular peripheral company has been focusing heavily on right-handed ergonomic mice such as the Mamba and refining the Deathadder through multiple revisions. While this approach has led to some of the most comfortable shapes on the market, it’s left southpaws high and dry when it comes to mice, as well as the countless gamers who prefer ambidextrous shapes over ergonomic ones. The Lancehead fills the gap with a premium ambidextrous design combined with top-of-the-line specs.
- Excellent optical sensor
- Good build quality and great materials
- Comfortable shape catering to both left and right handers
- Thin, flexible braided cable
- Onboard memory to save profiles
- Slightly heavy for its size
- Buttons can be shifted sideways slightly
- Expensive for a wired mouse
- Annoying software
Mouse Size & Weight
- Dimensions: 117mm x 71mm x 38mm (4.6” x 2.79” x 1.49”)
- Weight: 110 grams
- Approximate Size: Medium
- Form Factor: Ambidextrous
- Hand size guide: <18.5cm (Palm), <19.5cm (Claw), <22cm (Fingertip)
Table of Contents
What’s in the Box
Razer is going with a simpler approach with their packaging for the Lancehead, which is a welcome contrast to some of their gaudier trappings which have adorned past products. There is a large image of the mouse on the front, and the back has some of the features and technical specs printed on it.
Inside, you get:
- Razer Lancehead Tournament Edition
- Warranty, User Guide, “Cult of Razer” Welcome Letter
- x2 Razer Logo Stickers
Nothing special and fancy – Razer seems to be leaving the “hardcore gamer” vibe behind in favour of a more professional feel. The cable is tied up with a simple wire tie, though I would have preferred it if the cable was wrapped around the inside of the box (as Logitech does), since it helps avoid kinking in the cable. I was also hoping for a spare set of mouse feet like a couple of other companies to include, but no luck here.
Design, shape, ergonomics & build quality
Being Razer’s first foray into high-end ambidextrous mice in a while, I wasn’t sure what to expect. This is a completely new design by Razer, and I can tell that they did their best in making the Lancehead feel like a premium product. Though only a medium-sized mouse, it has some heft to it at 110 grams. This is slightly too heavy for an FPS mouse (I generally prefer 90 grams and under), so hopefully, Razer will remedy this in any future products.
The coating is a very smooth, matte layer, which feels good in the hand. I have dry hands and sometimes it became slippery, but Razer’s use of a textured rubber side grip and the ledges for gripping on the sides successfully combat any slipping that you may encounter. My review sample was the “Gunmetal” edition in grey, but the Lancehead is also available in the standard black and “Mercury” edition white.
I generally use a palm/claw hybrid, sometimes alternating between the two depending on which game I am playing. The shape was quite comfortable for me, with the flare at the back supporting my palm on the left side, and the slight slant outwards towards the top under the buttons allowed for good grip. The subtle hump on the mouse combined with its wide back felt good in the hand, and the narrower front allowed good control of the mouse’s movements.
The other side of the mouse felt best in claw grip, and in palm grip there didn’t seem to be enough space for my pinkie and ring finger up the front of the mouse (my fingers, by the way, are very slim), which ended up being squashed together against the mousepad. The weight also made long gaming sessions fatiguing on the fingers, especially in Quake Live, a quick-paced game where rapid and quick flicks are required constantly.
There are comfort grooves in the main buttons designed to mould to your fingers, and I can say from experience that Razer’s comfort grooves are probably the best, with the Lancehead being no exception. There is a nice curve around the edges of the main buttons, and the clicks feel light and satisfying, though they fall behind Logitech’s due to a slight amount of travel after the actuation.
On my copy, the plastic of the main buttons also shifts side to side easily, creating a grinding, bumpy feel that can be a distraction in-game. As far as I can tell there is no performance loss, but definitely a quality control fault I wouldn’t expect from a mouse costing $80 (£65, $100 AUD).
The side buttons are large enough to be easily pressed but slim enough to be unobtrusive on the opposing side. The rear side button has a lot of pre-travel on it compared to the front side button. This is most likely a deliberate choice, as this prevents the button on the other side from being accidentally triggered – however, it makes it difficult to press with the joint of the thumb (the way I normally prefer) and necessitates moving the thumb backwards in-game to press the button. Otherwise, the buttons are good quality, provide a solid click, and aren’t too stiff or loud.
There are two DPI buttons behind the scroll wheel, and the way Razer has designed the curve leading up to the makes it more difficult to hit them by accident. With two buttons, you can cycle sensitivity both ways, making it easier and quicker than a single button cycling one way only. You can set a sensitivity up to 16,000 DPI in five stages in Razer’s software, which will be covered later in this review.
The scroll wheel has a bumpy-textured rubber coating to prevent slipping, and in my opinion, is one of the best scroll wheels currently out there. It scrolls smoothly and easily, and while the tactile feedback is clear, it isn’t sharp and doesn’t inhibit the scrolling action, or create a loud noise in use. The whole thing feels solid, without any rattle or shaking.
The cable is 2.1m long, which should be enough to reach a PC under the desk without issues. Razer makes some of the better-braided cables on the market, and the Lancehead’s is thin, smooth and flexible. It isn’t of the same tier as a custom paracord, but it can compete with most rubber cables and there aren’t any issues with cable drag or stiffness when in a mouse bungee.
On the bottom of the Lancehead, you will find four mouse feet – two smaller ones up the front of the mouse, a ring around the sensor and a large skate at the back of the mouse. Whilst not the worst of stock skates, the lack of rounded edges and use of machine-grade (a lower quality level compared to 100% pure “virgin-grade”) PTFE means that if you are after a more high-performance feel to the glide, you may want to look at investing in a good set of aftermarket mouse feet. The stock feet took some breaking in from their unpolished, out-of-box form, and do become smoother after a bit of use.
The build quality of the Lancehead is quite good – though Razer does have a reputation for crafting cheaply made products, they seem to have upped their quality with this mouse. Shaking it, I could detect no lens or scroll rattle, and the only fault I could find was that of the shell over the buttons shifting, which seems to be a design fault rather than a result of poor quality control. There is no flex or creaking on any part of the shell, and the side grips haven’t sustained any sort of wear during the testing period.
Performance & in-game testing
Unlike the Lancehead Wireless, which uses a Phillips Twin-Eye laser sensor, the Tournament Edition features a PMW-3389, a vastly superior optical sensor. I have tested the optical in multiple games, and it performs just as well as expected. All in-game testing was done twice at 800 DPI as well as 1600 DPI.
Starting with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – I used this game to test for jitter as well as any tracking issues on the pixel-by-pixel level. Zooming in with the AWP, I noticed no strange crosshair movement even at incredibly slow tracking speeds, and flicks felt precise and in control without any positive acceleration. Hopping into a deathmatch, I was able to make all the necessary micro-adjustments needed to land those Desert Eagle headshots, thanks to a complete lack of angle snapping.
Moving on to Quake Live, I was unable to make the sensor spin out whilst rocket-jumping around, and a few quick games of Clan Arena was enough to prove that the PMW-3389 can handle pretty much anything you throw at it.
Lift-off distance is just around 1 DVD or 1.8mm on the Steelseries QCK+, with a similar measurement for the Artisan Zero Mid. That was slightly lower on the Steelseries DEX, and about half a DVD higher on the Glorious Helios HDPE pad.
Though most gamers will be using a mousepad, I did some surface testing to see what household/office surfaces the Lancehead Tournament Edition would track on:
- Finished Wood Tabletop: Yes
- Clear Glass: No
- A4 Printer Paper: Yes
- Cardboard: Yes/No (some difficulty tracking over corrugations)
- Melamine Office Table: Yes
When testing the polling rate, I used a handy online tool (“Mouse Rate Tester”) by Zowie to put numbers on the Lancehead’s report rate. When setting the polling rate to 1000hz in the software, the actual polling rate of the mouse hovered around the mid to high 900s, which is a perfectly normal deviation.
Software & Customization
Razer mice use a cloud-based software known as Razer Synapse (most users use Synapse 2). The Lancehead is unique in that it is the first to support a newer version of Synapse known as Synapse 3, which promises to offer more features as well as an updated, modern UI.
Software-based features include:
- Macro customization
- RGB customization (Razer Chroma)
- Remap buttons
- DPI adjustment
Whilst Synapse 3 does seem to have the same features as Synapse 2, I found the new green-on-white text harder to read than the legacy UI on Synapse 2. Synapse 3 also has more bugs, and in testing, it crashed twice randomly. The Lancehead will still work with Synapse 2, so I would recommend using it until the newer Synapse becomes more stable.
Another gripe I have with the Lancehead’s software is one I’ve had for a long time. The use of cloud-based software allows your mouse’s settings to sync on any computer with Synapse installed, provided that you sign in. However, I don’t see the point of forcing users to create a Razer account simply to modify their DPI settings, when other companies have software with just as many features without collecting your information.
Synapse is also incredibly unoptimized – it takes up to 500mb of free disk space and still requires you to download an update every time you plug in a new mouse. Other companies such as Steelseries and Logitech have software a fraction of the size and don’t require any additional downloads to use any of their products after the initial install.
Fortunately, Razer has included onboard memory with the Razer Lancehead Tournament Edition, meaning once you install Synapse and tinker around with your settings a bit, you can uninstall the software and have the mouse remember your preferences.
The mouse memory can save up to five profiles, which can be switch in-game via a small button on the bottom of the mouse. A small LED indicates a colour which profile you are currently set to. For some reason, whilst the onboard memory saves performance-based settings such as DPI and polling rate, RGB illumination settings revert to default. Not a huge issue, as it doesn’t affect gaming, but still worth a mention.
You can read our Razer Synapse Gaming Software guide right here.
The Razer Lancehead Tournament Edition is a decent gaming mouse with good ambidextrous ergonomics, top-of-the-line specs and uses quality materials. I’m a fan of many design features such as the comfort grooves in the buttons as well as the rubber side grips, which are some of the best around. For most gamers who play casually, it will be an excellent mouse, but a few flaws such as weight and buggy software keep it from truly becoming a “pro-grade” mouse. Some people do prefer extra weight though (especially non-FPS players), so keep that in mind if you are considering the Lancehead.
At its price point, it also encounters stiff competition from the likes of Logitech, Zowie and Steelseries, who also make outstanding mice with comparable specs and features. Unless you really enjoy the Lancehead shape, I would encourage you to explore other alternatives as well.