Reviews: Mouse Reviews

REVIEW / Razer Imperator 2012

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Vincent Alzieu Published on August 3, 2011
Translated by Catherine Barraclough


  • Sensor Laser
  • Wired? / Docking Station? yes / no
  • Battery Wired
  • Maximum Resolution 6400 dpi
  • Reporting Frequency 1000 Hz
The Razer Imperator 2012 gaming mouse—set to launch in 2011, despite its name—is a new and improved version of the original Imperator mouse. It boasts 6400 dpi sensitivity (instead of 5600 dpi), a '4G' dual sensor system, 50 g acceleration and is apparently guaranteed to support moves as fast as 5 metres per second. With tech specs like that, the Imperator is clearly aiming high, but can this gaming mouse live up to expectations?

First of all, a word about this mouse's design. For a mouse that's aimed at gamers, the Imperator is actually pretty understated. It has a nice matte finish and the scroll wheel and logo backlighting can be switched off using the driver.

Razer Imperator 2012 review
We switched the default backligthing off

The mouse is very pleasant to use. For starters, the new gliders slide across surfaces smoothly. Second, your hand is held nice and high on the mouse's arched back, which should keep hand and wrist pain to a minimum ... so long as you make sure you lay your hand across the mouse's 12.3 cm long back instead of controlling it with the palm of your hand on your desk. The Imperator is a bit shorter than the Logitech G500 (13 cm), but it's also lighter, weighing 100 g compared with 110 g for the G500 without the stand or additional weights. One great feature of the Imperator's design is that the thumb buttons on the side of the mouse can be moved forwards or backwards on a sliding mechanical system into the position you find most comfortable.

Razer Imperator 2012 review - thumb buttons
A nice touch that makes all the difference: the thumb
buttons can be moved backwards or forwards as desired!

The braided cable feels nice and sturdy. But beware—although braided cables are great for the first few years, as they start to age the cable covering can begin to wear away, which first of all creates bends in the wire. Then, if the covering cracks and falls away, differences in level occur in the parts of the cable still covered in a fabric coating and those exposed to air.

Razer Imperator 2012 review - controls

Seven programmable buttons mean you can customise the mouse to suit your needs and preferences. There's also a handy and easy-to-use macro programming function in the driver. We just think it's a shame there aren't any options for the scroll wheel, as this can't be set to free-wheel or scroll round in notches as desired, like in some Logitech mice. Razer says this is a conscious decision on its part and that it's nothing to do with patent issues—apparently Razer's customers don't need this kind of function. Even if some people don't find it useful, we'd still rather have the choice, as although in some games the click-round steps are very useful, certain users find a free wheel much more practical in office applications!

Razer Imperator 2012 review - macros
The macro programming function makes it easy to set up custom commands
in games or other applications.

Like all 1000 Hz mice, there's barely any movement-response lag with Imperator 2012 when it's set to 1000 Hz mode. In fact, it responds very quickly to every move you make. However, it does make excessive use of the CPU, using 50% of resources on average in fast-action games, and with frequent peaks at 90% at the beginning of a move. Switching down to 500 Hz reduces processor use considerably without affecting accuracy all that much—the lag goes from 1 to 2 ms, both of which are very low.

Razer Imperator 2012 review - dpi
Top: sensitivity.
Bottom: acceleration and frequency (from 125 to 1000 Hz).

We were, however, slightly disappointed with our test model, as while Razer ensures that the Imperator 2012 sensor can keep up with movements of 5 metres per second, we found it dropped out at speeds of just over half that. Our Imperator couldn't handle anything faster than 2.8 metres per second—which is still a good score, but it's not the best we've ever seen.
Two Laser Sensors
Thanks to its two laser sensors, the Imperator 2012 offers manual adjustment (via the driver) of the 'lift-off tracking distance'—or the hight at which the mouse no longer responds when lifted up off your desk.

This was a much talked about function when laser mice first came onto the market, but since then, the lift-off distance seems to have been somewhat forgotten. So who exactly is this function aimed at?

Realistically, we think it can only appeal to a handful of gamers who make huge, oversized moves with the mouse—moves that are so big they have to pick up the muse to bring it back into position. The highest sensitivity mice, such as the 6400 dpi Imperator 2012, accurately follow and control every last movement of the cursor, even on microscopic surfaces, which means picking up the mouse might lead you to make moves you didn't mean to.

These are extreme cases though, which only really arise when using low resolutions (e.g. 400 dpi in sniper mode)—something you probably won't do very often. Don't forget the Imperator's dpi can be set and adjusted on the fly in just one click.

So what's the best lift-off distance to use? That really depends on how you use the mouse and on your gaming technique. In fact, there's no recommended setting—which is the whole point of the function! This mouse offers a large choice of lift-off distances, but you'll need to play around with them for a while to find the best setting and to fully master the function's use.


  • Thumb buttons can be moved backwards and forwards
  • Adjustable lift-off tracking distance
  • Braided cable, comfortable design, backlighting can be switched off
  • Driver with plenty of functions: macros, frequency (125 to 1000 Hz), etc.
  • Very light, pleasant to handle, good glide


  • Our test model couldn't reach the 5 metres per second promised
  • The stepped scroll wheel isn't as flexible as the adjustable scroll wheel in the Logitech G500
  • Heavy CPU use at 500 and 1000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 6400 dpi is pure marketing!


The new Razer Imperator 2012 gaming mouse would be worthy of 10 stars for users who find the thumb buttons on mice are never quite in the right place, and for those want to set the height at which the sensor cuts out when the mouse is picked up. In fact, it's the only mouse on the market offering those two functions!
5 Razer Imperator 2012 DigitalVersus 2011-08-03 00:00:00
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