Despite looking very similar on paper, the Razer Imperator is vastly different from the SteelSeries Xai when it comes to design and form. While the Xai has an ambidextrous design that is equally comfortable to use with both hands, the Imperator has an ergonomic right-handed form. It is also more ergonomically sculpted and fits in the hand perfectly. But it isn’t quite as comfortable to use as the SteelSeries Xai which we feel is more forgiving to different hand sizes.
The right-handed form factor and sculpted ergonomics also contribute to an attractive visage that portrays very similar design connotations to the rest of Razer’s range. Aside from the form factor, these consist of flared mouse buttons and an illuminated ‘breathing’ Razer logo.
Razer have given the imperator a black rubberised paint finish, akin to that of the SteelSeries Xai, which looks great and provides a decent level of grip. The mouse body is flanked on either side by strips of glossy black plastic which form alcoves on either side. These are perfectly sculpted to fit your hand so facilitate a secure grip on the mouse.
The buttons themselves have a responsive action, despite being slightly louder than those on the Xai. The trademark Razer mouse-wheel is situated between the left and right mouse buttons and is definitely one of the best designs out there. The rolling action feels much more refined than that of the Xai whilst remaining almost silent. It is very easy to scroll through an entire page or just scroll a single click accurately.
Behind the mouse wheel there are two buttons which let us adjust the sensitivity of the mouse. Above the left thumb alcove, we find the browser forward and back buttons. Like the left and right mouse buttons these have quite a loud action but are very resonsive and won’t easily be activated accidently. The position of these buttons can be adjusted using a switch on the underside of the mouse for optimum comfort.
As expected, the build quality of the mouse is up there with the best and is on a par with the SteelSeries Xai. The plastics that Razer have used in construction are decent in quality without adding to the weight of the mouse. Like SteelSeries, Razer have braided the mouse cable for durability and included a gold-plated connector.
One feature the Imperator does have over the Xai is the inbuilt LED lighting. Although it isn’t quite as impressive as that we saw on the Roccat Kone[+], it is implemented very tastefully, only illuminating the Razer logo and the edges of the mouse wheel. This can be turned off, if required, using the included software package.