You might better know Patriot as a RAM manufacturer, but they’ve been in the gaming peripheral world for a few years now, with their Viper brand.
Design and Comfort
Patriot has gone with a very simple design with these two mice, with a basic, unassuming matte finish. There’s a splash of color with some RGB lighting, however. On the 551, there are three light zones – one in the scroll wheel, one on the Viper logo near the bottom, and a band running around the base of the mouse. The 550 doesn’t have the band around the base.
Both mice have concave left and right mouse buttons, which provide a sturdy, pleasant grip. There’s also textured rubber side grips to improve the mouse feel, as well as lleft side buttons that can be remapped in Patriot’s software. The ambidexterous V550 has additional side buttons on the right side of the mouse.
If there’s a critique to be made about the design, it’s the side buttons. While the 551’s side buttons are perfectly adequate, the buttons on the 550 are a little too mushy, are prone to accidental misclicks.
That being said, both models feel great to hold, with a sleek, ergonomic shape that’s roomy enough for even the biggest hands. The 551 measures at 1.7” (H) x 2.8” (W) x 4.9” (D), while the 550 is 1.5 (H) x 2.6” (W) x 4.9” (D) – slightly shorter and slimmer than its bigger brother. Both models weigh 166 g, putting them on the heavier side for gaming mice. While some pro gamers prefer a lighter mouse for quicker mouse movements, the V series’ weight didn’t bother me at all.
Performance and Features
The two models diverge when it comes to performance. While they both have fantastic-feeling Omron switches rated for 10 million clicks, they have slightly different sensors. The 551 features a PixArt 3327 optical sensor tuned to 6,200 DPI. If you use Viper’s software, you can go as high as 12,000 DPI. Meanwhile, the V550 has a PixArt 3325 sensor that’s configured at 5,000 DPI, but can go up to 10,000.
While you’re not going to notice the difference between these two sensors if you’re just web browsing, you’ll feel it in-game, especially in fast-paced shooters where you’re constantly making sudden mouse movements. That’s not to say the 550 is sluggish by any means – just not as fast as the 551.
The 550 also lacks in IPS – inches per second. This is the speed the sensor can accurately track movements. The lower the IPS, the less accurate the mouse will feel. While the 551 has 220 IPS, the 550 has 100 IPS. This makes the 550 feel a little more erratic than the smooth, precise feeling I got with the 551. Both models gain points with me for their large PFTE skates on the bottom of the mouse. While some recent gaming mice have feet that tend to get tripped up on rougher surfaces like my wood desk, the skates on the Viper glide across my desk with ease.
On the left side of each mice is a DPI indictor, allowing you to quickly tell which of the three DPI profiles you’ve selected. I love this feature, as it’s nice to have a quick reference to my DPI. However, it’s a bit hard to see on the 550, as it tends to blend in with the RGB lighting band around the base of the mouse.
For those interested in tweaking, Patriot has additional software. Here, you can remap buttons, change DPI settings and set up custom DPI profiles, change the RGB lighting colors, and more. There’s a surprising amount of options here – not only can you adjust the lift off distance and polling rate, but you can also set up a mouse button as a “sniper button,” causing the mouse to snap into a higher-sensitive DPI and snap back on release. It’s incredibly powerful, not to mention cool – it’s just a shame it’s buried deep in menus and not advertised on the box.
Patriot should be proud of both these mice – they offer great comfort and performance, putting them among the best mice in their price range. So which one these mice should you get? For my money, the choice is clear – you want the V551. It’s got a better sensor and better-feeling side buttons, and the V550 isn’t significantly less expensive to warrant the downgrade.