Get Your Game On: Gaming Mice
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to PC mice, even more so the arena for gaming grade mice has gotten quite intense with Logitech, Microsoft, Razer, Steel Series, and a host of other companies entering the arena to push their wares in the high end gaming market. So how does one know which is truly best for them. I believe it has to do with a lot of different factors. To find the right gaming mouse for you, many different factors need to be weighed:
- Ergonomics / Look and Feel
- Types of games you play
- Wired vs. Wireless
So lets explore some of the current mice on the market and how they stack up against one another
Logitech G500 ($69.99 MSRP $55.04 on Amazon.com)
The G500 is a revamp of the Logitech G5 Laser mouse. The hyper scrolling technology has been added, which is great for scrolling through long web pages, documents, etc. However it may not be ideal for scrolling through options in a game. The G500 has on-board memory which means it can store profile information and you can take it with you, though the memory space only allows for storing one profile.
- Allows you to adjust the weight
- Nice ergonomic design
- 10 Programmable buttons
- 3 side thumb buttons are almost seamless, potential for misclicks
- Hyper Scrolling wheel not optimal for all games, can easily bypass intended selections
Logitech G9x Laser Mouse ($99.99 MSRP, $78.98 at Amazon.com)
The G9x is the ramped up model from the Logitech G9. It has on the fly DPI adjusts. This mouse was designed for comfort, allowing you to change the grip and the weight. It only has 2 thumb buttons. Its quite simple in its overall design. The price you seem to be paying for is the customizability and the performance, not so much for the extra features (like extra buttons, etc).
- Interchangeable grips to provide a more custom feel
- Can adjust weight of the mouse
- Scroll wheel can spin too fast to be useful for most games
- Side buttons awkwardly arranged for use by the thumb for those with large hands
- Left mouse button can be a bit hyper sensitive
Steel Series WoW Mouse ($99.99 MSRP, $84.99 on Amazon.com)
Steel Series went all out to design a mouse with a look and feel specifically to World of Warcraft, from its outer plated design, to ornamented sides full on with in-game rune artwork on the buttons. The total of 15 programmable buttons come pre-equipped with standard functions like dismount, open the mini-map and character windows. The mouse even has LEDs that change color, nothing more than some cosmetics, no real function other than looking pretty. The mouse is big, so those with larger hands will appreciate that; those with smaller hands may wish they never got this. With all these complex features and programming options, the learning curve may be a bit steeper for a mouse than some would like.
- 15 Programmable Buttons
- Integrates specifically with World of Warcraft (per advertisement)
- 10 different programmable profiles (for all you altaholics)
- Integrates specifically with World of Warcraft, MAY be clunky with other games
- 3200 DPI may be good for World of Warcraft, but may not be ideal for other games like a FPS
- Programming some of the mouse buttons could interfere with keyboard presses
Razer Naga ($79.99 MSRP, $75.70 on Amazon.com)
The Razer Naga, is touted as a MMO gaming mouse. With 17 customizable buttons, 12 of which are thumb buttons. This mouse even includes in-game addons for World of Warcraft and other MMOs for ease of customizability. But don’t think because its geared toward MMO, that you will see similar results as other similar mice. The Naga touts 5600 DPI and 1000 Hz polling rate. Originally the naga had issues with remapping keys, but since its release the 2.0 drivers have corrected that. And yes Naga are in reference to the Naga in World of Warcraft. Right out of the box, the keys default to the bindings of the default action bar in World of Warcraft (keys 1-12). This setup allows you to focus your left hand on the WASD keys and modifier keys like ALT, SHIFT and CTRL, to use in combination with the 12 buttons at your thumb’s disposal.
- In-game addons to allow mapping of key bindings inside the game itself.
- Compact design provides benefit to those with smaller hands, especially female gamers
- Thousands if not more key binding options with 17 Programmable Buttons
- Steep Learning curve to use the 12 thumb buttons
- Compact design may be difficult for players with large hands
- Switching the Naga into NUM mode can adversely affect gameplay if you have Caps Lock on
- Forward and Back horizontal thumb buttons are awkwardly placed
Razer Death Adder ($59.99 MSRP)
An oldie but goody, this has been a popular 5 button gaming mouse since 2007. The first thing you will notice is a nice ergonomic feel, which later Razer products were modeled after (i.e. Mamba). It has 3500 DPI, while good for MMOs and Real Time Strategy (RTS), it may fall short for those more heavily interested in a FPS. Though as with the other Razer products it has the 1000 Hz poll rate.
- Horizontal Thumb buttons placed perfectly
- Ergonomic design, even a good fit for larger handed players
- There is even a Left Hand Edition for lefties
- May not meet the needs of hardcore FPS fans
Microsoft Sidewinder X5 ($59.95 MSRP $26.97 on Amazon.com)
The bargain basement mouse in the lot here is the successor to the original Sidewinder, and it provides many of the standard features you are looking for, but also trimmed some features the original had. The mouse goes up to 2000 DPI, and has a polling rate of its sister mouse the x8 of 500 Hz. It has 5 programmable buttons, its side thumb buttons are vertically aligned, to match more with your thumb’s nature motion. The X5 is a larger mouse and you will find it fits those with large hands well.
- Vertical thumb buttons
- Cost (if bought at the Amazon price-point)
- Larger mouse, fits larger hands slightly better than those with small hands
- Smaller handed gamers may find this mouse bulky
- No weight adjustments like its predecessor
Razer Mamba ($129.99 MSRP, $114.99 on Amazon.com)
The Mamba’s design is very similar to that of Razer’s wired mouse the Death Adder. The Mamba has a 1000 Hz polling rate which promises zero lag and achieves up to 5600 DPI, which compares to their wired mice, though necessary in some cases for first person shooters (FPS) it may be overkill for a MMORPG like World of Warcraft. The Mamba uses the 2.4Ghz frequency for wireless, however Razer claims the Mamba also detect and avoids noisy channels to get around interference.
Though Razer claims 72 hours of battery life without charging, many reviews state they got merely 36, and in rare occasions up to 48 hours before having to charge. Also that may be a bit misleading in the fact that several have reported that when on the last bar for battery life they see a substantial drop off in quality. Though you can plug in the USB cable to charge the mouse and continue playing, many complain that why not just have a wired mouse at this point.
- Great ergonomic design
- Great response time
- Can plug in for charging and keep playing
- Battery Life is low
- Price, $130 is quite a steep price point
- Been reported that updating firmware on Vista 64 bit O/S could be problematic at times (not sure if this has been corrected)
Microsoft Sidewinder X8 (MSRP $99.95, but can get it at Amazon for $72.99)
The latest Sidewinder has gone wireless and has gotten a ergonomic face-lift. The sidewinder x8 uses the 2.4Ghz to communicate and has a max polling of 500 Hz and can achieve up to 4000 DPI. 500 Hz you will see is less than several of the other gaming mice, and it just depends on the game you play. I have found 500 is perfectly acceptable to more deliberate games like World of Warcraft, where fans of FPS will want a higher polling rate. The Sidewinder does sport a LCD that tells you what your DPI is set to, in case you need to know your settings on the fly. Though the battery life is quite superior to other wireless mice, it seems to be missing a battery life indicator on the mouse itself.
The play and charge kit is the shape of a hockey puck which allows you some cable management. The cable also attaches to the mouse magnetically, which makes it very simple to attach. The vertical thumb buttons are a shift from the standard horizontal and may take some getting used to.
- Long Battery Life
- Can plug in to charge and keep playing
- 7 Programmable buttons
- On the fly Macro Recording
- Vertical Thumb buttons allow use of natural thumb motion
- No ergonomic “bump” in the middle, making it less than stellar for medium to large hands (test drive first)
- Some issues with the BlueTrack on non-mouse pad, gaming surfaces
- No battery life indicator on the mouse
Logitech Performance Mouse MX ($99.99 MSRP, $85.48 on Amazon.com)
First off, Logitech has seemed to not have created a dedicated wireless gaming mouse (as of yet), so looking at their latest and greatest wireless mice this is one that I saw. The Performance Mouse MX is the successor to the MX Revolution. Logitech introduces a new technology with this mouse called Darkfield Laser Tracking. This gives the mouse the ability to play on virtually any surface. This mouse is similar to the MX Revolution. The mouse’s design however forces it to be used by right handed folks almost exclusively. Also due to the design changes people with large hands will see their hands sliding farther back on the mouse, instead of palming it, which is a step back from the MX Revolution’s design.
The Logitech Unifying receiver allows you to connect multiple Logitech devices (i.e. keyboard) without taking up multiple USB ports, this is a huge plus if you don’t have many to spare on your machine. The mouse also uses the 2.4Ghz channel. It does allow for an adjustable DPI in the software, however this mouse is clearly designed for more office use, than gaming.
- Unifying receiver, allows you to connect multiple wireless Logitech devices in 1 USB port
- Play and charge at the same time
- Play on virtually any surface
- Horizontal Thumb buttons were shifted up and forward, may not work well for those with small hands
- Only 4 customizable buttons
- Overall tracking isn’t fast enough for serious gamers, polling rate of 125 Hz
- Maximum DPI of 1500
Its worth mentioning that in Spring of 2010 MadCatz will be putting out its “RAT” line of gaming mice. These things look nasty (in a good way). Since they aren’t out yet just wanted to leave you with some feature sets on these things. The adjustable grips and palm rests are most intriguing, offering the ability to customize the mouse to your specific comfort level.
RAT9 ($129.99 MSRP)
- Wireless with Recharge Dock, swap out the battery (charge one, play with one)
- 2.4Ghz, 5600 DPI and 1000 Hz polling rate
- Interchangeable pinkie (3) and palm rests (3)
- Weight changing kit
- 5 Programmable buttons
- Lightweight metal chassis
The RAT7 is a wired version of the RAT9 but at a MSRP of $99.99
The RAT5, is a scaled down version of the RAT7, offering 4000 DPI and a polling rate of 500 Hz. Not pinkie or palm rest swap outs, but it does offer a length adjustment for the palm. Of course with lower precision comes a lower price point of $69.99 MSRP.
The RAT3 is the bargain basement with having 3200 DPI 500 Hz polling rate, only 3 programmable buttons, no metal chassis and no adjustments. So what does the RAT3 go for a measly $49.99 MSRP.
So which mouse is best? Well comfort is a big part of a great gaming mouse. I highly recommend going to your local retail store and taking these mice for a test drive, finding which ones feel best in your hand and then start weighing the features you are looking for.
Me I currently use a Logitech MX Revolution (not one that is rated on here) and have been looking for a mouse that will meet my increased gaming needs. So this is the list I have narrowed it down to and after doing a lot of research I still haven’t made a final decision, as comfort, features and price are all big pieces of the puzzle.
If I were to break it out into categories though, of mice currently available on the market
- Best MMO mouse: Razer Naga
- Cheapest Mouse: Microsoft Sidewinder X5
- Most Expensive: Razer Mamba
- Best Packaging: Tied – Razer Mamba and Steel Series WoW Mouse
- Best Feel: Tied – Razer Mamba and Razer DeathAdder
I tried to think of best wired and wireless, but it’s a bit difficult to do so, as my impressions of best are more favored to ergonomics than features. The fact is if you are only going to use a mouse for World of Warcraft, other MMO’s, maybe even the occasional RTS, 5000+ DPI mice aren’t really needed, hell you barely need anything with a polling rate over 250Hz if that high to be honest, but if you want something that scales well and can adapt, obviously going with a mouse that is capable of going higher is the way to go.
|Mouse||Connection||DPI||Polling Rate (Hz)||Programmable
Logitech G9X Laser Mouse
Steel Series WoW Mouse
Microsoft Sidewinder X5
Microsoft Sidewinder X8
Logitech Performance Mouse MX