Razer Diamondback review: A classic returns to life with a hefty price tag

Long ago, before the Naga and the Mamba and the DeathAdder, there was the Razer Diamondback. A relic from another age (2004), the Diamondback was a gaming mouse when the concept of a “gaming mouse” was still kind of an oddity. It came, it saw, it conquered, and then in 2007 it disappeared.

But people spoke of a return, of a second coming of the Diamondback, of a redemption story the likes of which could be sold to Hollywood. It's here. 2015, the Diamondback is back. And it's...well, it's pretty okay.

If there's one thing that's likely to sell you on the Diamondback, it's the shape. And for good reason: There is literally no other mouse I can think of with the Diamondback's form factor. It's downright strange.

Pretty much every mouse on the planet fits one of two molds: Either it's a symmetrical egg shape (for claw grippers) or it's fatter and vaguely hand-shaped (for palm grippers). Or, if you're somehow reading this article from 1997, there are also Apple's stupid iMac hockey pucks.

The Diamondback is unique: A mouse that's long and symmetrical and skinny. It feels almost like a palm-grip mouse with the right half lopped off, resulting in some sort of palm/claw grip hybrid. The end is far enough back to press into your palm, but you'll need to pull your pinky in from the side to grab on to one of the textured underside cut-outs.

It's weird—but also weirdly comfortable, for a while. If you can finagle your fingers into the right position, there's a lot to like about the Diamondback. It's ultra-light and glides very smoothly side-to-side, presumably because there's less horizontal surface-area to drag.

I did find myself needing to take more frequent breaks with the Diamondback, though—and this coming from someone who already rocks an ambidextrous mouse and claw grip day-to-day. There's just no getting around how thin the Diamondback is, and I found myself getting hand cramps after two or three hours of use.

Aside from the shape, it's a pretty standard Razer mouse: Seven buttons (Left, Right, Middle, two on the right side and two on the left), matte black plastic, braided cable sheathe, Razer logo emblazoned on the rear, 1,000 Hz polling rate, and a 16,000 DPI sensor. You know, for if your mousepad is the size of a postage stamp.

A few differences:

1) The buttons are...buttons. Razer's other devices (the Mamba, the DeathAdder) have a tendency to build the top out of one single molded piece of plastic. The Diamondback has distinct Left and Right mouse buttons, with ever-so-slightly more resistance as a result. It feels more solid than the DeathAdder.

The side buttons are also much smaller than you'll find on any other Razer mouse—both horizontally and vertically. They're easy to find though, whether predominantly a palm- or claw-gripper, and extremely easy to press.

2) The scroll wheel is loud. Scrolling forward, it's particularly susceptible to “quacking,” and it can be distracting if you're making quick back-and-forth motions (e.g. to swap through weapons). It's also stepped very aggressively, with higher-than-average friction and up-front resistance.

3) The lighting. Oh wow, the lighting. Sure, 16.8 million color RGB lighting on a mouse is decorative more than functional. We all know that.

The Diamondback is one beautiful piece of hardware though—probably the best RGB-enabled mouse I've seen. Apart from the standard scroll wheel and logo lighting, Razer's built a channel that stretches from the front-left back around the rear and up to the front-right of the mouse. It's very similar to the Roccat Kone XTD, but a bit cleaner in my opinion. You can set up custom lighting in Razer's Synapse software, of course, but even the default rainbow cycle is stunning.

I have one enormous issue with the Diamondback: The price. Everything else—the look, the feel—that's all a matter of taste, and all I can do is offer suggestions and try to make my own preferences clear.

But the price. Razer is selling the Diamondback for $90. Yes, ninety dollars. That's an amount I'd be hesitant to pay for any mouse, even if it were decked out with all sorts of fancy features. The Diamondback isn't even that fancy—it's just your standard ambidextrous mouse with some cool lighting.

I'm sure it's that latter bit—and the Diamondback's reputation—that makes Razer think it can command such a premium price, but I'm not sure it earns it. It's certainly not a better mouse than Logitech's G502 Proteus Core, which is my absolute favorite and runs for “only” $80 normally.

I don't know why the Diamondback went away, and I don't really know why it returned. But it's back, and in a world full of “me too” gaming peripherals the Diamondback's unique shape still stands out. It's probably the most wholly unique mouse in this round-up, and that deserves its own special recognition.

Just be wary of that $90 sticker price. You could get a whole lot of mouse for a whole lot less money, so you'd better have your heart set on the Diamondback before shelling out.


Hayden Dingman

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