Best Gaming Mice of the Year

This was really a year for mousing companies to step up. Across the board we saw some of the best gaming mice EVER released during 2015. Some came from big names like Logitech and Razer, others came from lesser-known companies like Steelseries and Cyborg Gaming. All of them were impressive in their own right and we can only hope that the rest of this year as well as 2017 pushes gaming technology forward at the same pace we saw last year.

Logitech

Logitech had a busy fiscal year. Let’s review a few of their releases:

  • G9X – The G9 is one of the best-selling gaming mice of all time, so there was a mix of excitement and anticipation as Logitech announced that they would be “refreshing” the mouse in 2011. Thankfully, that refresh consisted only of boosting the sensor’s DPI from 3,200 DPI to 5,700 DPI.
  • G500 – Another refresh to another popular product.  The G5 was another one of the best selling mice of all time and Logitech rewarded its loyal fans with a significant update. They upped the DPI from 2000 to 5700, added internal memory for macros, added three new buttons, added another button to switch between “infinite” and “click scrolling on the mouse wheel, and finally updated the vision appearance.  Whew!

Cyborg Gaming

  • RAT 7 – Cyborg Gaming gave us the RAT 7, one of the craziest looking mouse I have ever seen.  Sporting up to 5,700 DPI, an exclusive “Sniper” button, and the most (and weirdest) set of customizations we’ve ever seen, this offering from Mad Katz was definitely the most interesting of the year.

Steelseries

  • XaiAs one of the most affordable mice brought to market this year, we were impressed with the strong set of features offered, the understated design, and the number of customize-able items.

Razer

Razer was the busiest manufacturer, churning out 3 new designs and 1 refreshes last year.

  • Naga – Razer’s mouse designed exclusively for MMOs, it has a dial pad of buttons (literally) on the side which can be bound to macros.  It has Razer’s trademark sharp looks, rubberized design, and sturdy construction.
  • MambaRazer’s premium offering, the Mamba sports a blistering 5,700 DPI sensor, wireless performance better than most wired mice, and the same sharp looks of its brethren.
  • DeathAdder Refresh – Razer refreshed their ever-popular DeathAdder, giving it a new sensor to boost its DPI to 3,500.
  • Imperator – Another mid-level offering from Razer, the Imperator is a classically designed mouse with a 5,700 DPI sensor.

So out of all these worthy entrants, which can we declare the “best”?  That’s hard to do because these mice cover a wide range of prices.  At the high end we have the Naga, the Mamba, and the RAT 7 with each one topping $120.  The Steelseries Xai is the least expensive of the bunch at $35.  Picking one is impossible, so we’ll run down our top 3 picks of the year:

Steelseries has been just as solid with their mouse releases as Logitech

Steelseries has been just as solid with their mouse releases as Logitech

 

3: SteelSeries Xai

Though it might not boast the futuristic design of the RAT 7 nor does it have the alien appearance of Razer’s mice, the Xai is one of the best bargains to ever come to the gaming mouse market. At a mere $37, this mouse delivers the features of a premium mouse at a budget that just about anyone can afford. Adjustable DPI, great software to back it up, a comfortable grip, and a nice, if not flashy design really sealed the deal for us. We’d recommend this mouse to anyone who is looking for a truly inexpensive way to enjoy game.

 

2: Cyborg RAT 7

The customizability that comes with the RAT 7 leads us to poll it as one of the top mice of the year

The customizability that comes with the RAT 7 leads us to poll it as one of the top mice of the year

Not givingthis mouse its due would be a crime considering how popular and stable it has been in the industry. It boasts an insane number of customization options including the ability to switch the grip pads, adjust the weight, and physically manipulate the size of the mouse to fit your hand. Though we might stand alone, we really dig its futuristic look and its 5,700 DPI sensor. The sniper button is also really neat, it allows you to lower the DPI as long as its held down, making swapping DPI for sniping duties much easier.

 

1: Razer Mamba

Though other mice like the RAT 7 might have more customizations, the Razer Mamba was truly a game-changer, as it heralded the arrival of mainstream wireless gaming. It rocks a blistering 5,700 DPI sensor, has Razer’s distinctive stylings, and is one of the more comfortable mice we’ve tested. Though it clocks in at the higher end of the price range, we really believe that it is worth it. Amazon has it available with free shipping today, if you’d like to buy it.


Resources:

Mysteryblock Reviews – Affordable Mice

CNET – Cyborg RAT 7 Review

Wikipedia – List of Released Razer Mice

Logitech Performance MX Mouse Review

Introduction

The Performance MX mouse is Logitech’s top-end home office and business mouse on the market. Accessories include a charging cable, a USB wall charger, Logitech’s proprietary Unifying USB receiver, handbooks, a DVD with common software drivers, and a carry case, though the mouse doesn’t fit particularly well into the case. We tested this mouse because, despite being marketed at home and office users, it has some fairly impressive specs and is a great alternative for those who don’t like the insane number of LEDs used on Razer mice, for instance.

Design

Logitech Performance MX aestheticsThe aesthetics of the Performance MX mouse are decent. It sports a sleek black paint job, highlighted by silver accents that run down the ridge right above the thumb rest. It feels solidly constructed and clearly Logitech thought a lot about the ergonomics in designing this mouse. We were especially fond of the rubberized surface underneath the thumb rest. While the rest of the mouse was smooth, this little additionally grippy area made hours of mousing incredibly comfortable.

Its form hasn’t changed that much compared to its predecessor, but Logitech did make the mouse wider and moved a few buttons around. It is extremely comfortable to hold, even for long periods of time. The top of the mouse is fairly straight forward. It has two buttons with a scroll wheel between them. Immediately behind the scroll wheel is a toggle switch that will take you from smooth infinite scrolling to click-based scrolling.

We were very impressed with the scrolling of the mouse in both modes. The weighted wheel spins very freely, allowing you to get through huge documents easily (maybe not strictly a gaming feature, but still useful) and the click-based mode was excellent for precision. During gaming, we found ourselves using the click mode most frequently.

The sides of the scroll wheel also are buttons as is the wheel itself, so nudging the wheel to the right or left activates them smoothly and easily. This is another useful feature, allowing you to bind DPI changes, weapon changes or loadout changes and have them available at the press of your finger.

The top of the mouse also features three LEDs which are used for two functions: showing the battery life and indicating which DPI mode you’re using. When you first use the mouse, the LEDs light up and show you how much battery is remaining, with the last one turning red when the battery is critical. In gaming mode, these LEDs are used to indicate changes in DPI — the top two light up for the “high” setting and the bottom two light up for the “low setting.”

The mouse charges via standard micro-USB cables and the port for charging it is on the front. Logitech clearly learned a few lessons here from other designs and ditched the complicated charging docks. When the MX runs low on battery you can simply connect the charging cable and keep working, instead of interrupting whatever you’re doing to stick it on a cradle.mouse mx DARK FIELD

The side of the mouse sports the classic backward and forward thumb buttons as well as a third button right below them labelled “zoom.” We never used this for the zoom functionality, but instead bound it to our DPI changes. The thumbrest itself is also a button, giving you tons of configuration options.

I did take some points off because the mouse does not look as aesthetically pleasing as the more modern gaming mice out there. It looks a bit old, but it functions just as well as the mice of today.

Technology

The MX boasts Logitech’s “Darkfield” technology which is really incredible. The mouse can be used on literally any surface, including glass. New feet underneath the mouse support it and give it a silky-smooth gliding feeling across any surface.

The mouse has a maximum of 2,500 DPI, which is low by today’s gaming standards, but more than enough for most gamers anyway. Let’s be honest, who uses 5,000 DPI on a regular basis? We found the DPI settings to be more than sufficient, though we might have liked it better if Logitech included three modes for DPI, not just two.

Logitech finally graced us with a non-removable rechargeable battery in the MX. Though it is smaller than some of their previous batteries (and therefore requires more recharging), it is sufficient for at least a week’s worth of serious use. When the mouse needs to be charged, you can attach the USB cable and continue to work.

Software

The software bundled with the MX allows for extensive customization with various button profiles, DPI changes, sensitivity adjustments, mouse acceleration, etc.

One thing we didn’t like was the inability to switch between button profiles on the fly. Though the software supports multiple profiles, it doesn’t let you change them unless you do it through the software. A minor complaint.

We DID really like how the software notifies you of a low battery though. If the battery gets extremely low, an opaque window will pop up on the screen and tell you to connect the charging cable. Considering how we always forget to charge the mouse, this is a nice little touch. You plug in the USB cable and you’re off to the races again.

Verdict

The Performance MX mouse is really fantastic, especially for people that mix work and gaming together. The mouse functions admirably in both capacities, giving you the ability to effortlessly scroll through long documents one day and snipe your enemy in the head the next.

It has sound design, construction, and is loaded with features, reminiscent of some of the top mice in the industry. The Darkfield sensor is absolutely amazing, especially when you first use the mouse on a glass surface.

Microsoft Sidewinder X8 Review

Overview

The Sidewinder X8 is the wireless, feature-packed, latest addition of Microsoft’s popular Sidewinder series.  It sports the same blocky, quasi-futuristic look of its predecessors, the strange vertical side button layout, and the general chrome-y feel of its ancestors.

The first thing we noticed was how comfortable the mouse was.  It fits in your hand well and all the buttons are logical laid out and easily accessible.  Though the thumb-button layout is strange, once you get used to it, it makes sense.  Why reach your thumb forward for a button when you can quickly and efficiently move it up?

The mouse itself is big, but thankfully smaller than the X5.  In order to feel at home, you really need to grip the mouse high up — higher than you’re used to.  Once you get used to it, though, the Sidewinder is incredibly comfortable.

Sidewinder vs razer mamba

Under The Hood

The Sidewinder sports Microsoft’s new Bluetrack technology, which lets it operate on a wide variety of surfaces.  With sensitivity settings anywhere from 400 to 4,000 DPI, the X8 is one of the most versatile mice on the market and can cater to any gamer’s preference. In wireless mode, the mouse operates at 2.4 ghz and can poll at 500 mhz.  Though this was adequate in testing, we found the mouse had issues keeping when we cranked the DPI all the way to 4,000.

In wired mode, there are no problems.  Compared to the Razer Mamba, though, this is an issue.  The Razer exhibited no problems polling at any DPI and could maintain 1,000 mhz polling rate even wirelessly. Important to note: the X8 will deliver around 30 hours of use between charge cycles when it is used wirelessly.

Accessories

The puck-like device that serves as the wireless transmitter, charger, and cord wrapper is fantastic.  It even holds your extra mouse feet and is, by far, one of the best solutions out there for wireless mice.  The charging connector itself is magnetic and is easily picked up by the front of the mouse for smooth, effortless connections every time.  This is a seriously well-engineered device.microsoft sidewinder

Software

The software is a typical Microsoft No-Frills solution.  Though most everything is laid out logically, the software lacks any flash and things like macros are incredibly confusing and poorly documented. To assign a macro you must set that specific button as the macro editor.  Then you establish your macro and, whatever button you’ve selected now becomes the assigned macro.  It’s not that hard once you figure it out, but we were damned to find it documented in the X8 software anywhere.

Quality

The DPI buttons, while well-placed should be more customizable.  Microsoft lets you choose 3 DPIs to assign to the buttons, but you cannot have buttons that increase and decrease the DPI.  Logitech’s solution, which allows you to establish user-defined gradations in DPI and Razer’s sensitivity on the fly are both slightly better solutions.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft has delivered another solid entry into the world of high-performance gaming.  The Sidewinder X8 offers users a comfortable, customizable mouse with high DPI The Sidewinder X8 is put on the market as a direct competitor to the high end Razer laser gaming mouse, and like the Razer Mamba it also has a dual wireless / wired functionality. This means that you get the best of both worlds.

The design of this mouse should be familiar to fans of Microsoft’s gaming peripheral products. With the Sidewinder X8 however they have toned down the hard angles and have put in some curves. The result is a sleek looking mouse with contours that help your hand fall into a natural grip.

I can't help but feel like the Sidewinder pioneered the way most traditional gaming mice look

I can’t help but feel like the Sidewinder pioneered the way most traditional gaming mice look

If you would like to buy the Sidewinder X8, I recommend you get it from Amazon because they are the cheapest online. The Sidewinder X8’s point of difference is in its proprietary BlueTrack sensor. This technology provides great sensitivity and performance than other gaming mouse. This improved sensitivity enables the user to use the mouse on a variety surfaces, from wood and marble to carpet and fabric.

The only thing it has problem with is glass or mirrored surfaces. The Sidewinder X8 offers a range of sensitivity selection, from 250 dpi to 4000 dpi, that are changeable by the user. Although not as high as the 5600 dpi of the Razer Mamba, it should easily satisfy the need of most serious gamers. Three buttons run down the middle of the mouse and that let you select the sensitivity that you want.  Don’t miss out on one of the best mice of the year!

Microsoft Sidewinder X8

Summary

4.33/5
  • Aesthetics
  • Mechanics
  • Price

New Logitech App: Phone as Wireless Remote

Ever wanted to turn your iPhone into a wireless keyboard and trackpad?  I can’t say that I have, but Logitech has still written a new app that allows you to do just that.  This app works for any Apple or PC computer and works over wifi, so you can use to control your PC from anywhere in your house.  As the Logitech site points out, this app is really useful if your computer is hooked up to a TV, though, if it is hooked up to a TV, wouldn’t you already have a remote?

The screen when you use your iPhone as a wireless PC remote

The screen when you use your iPhone as a wireless PC remote

 

The Touch Mouse’s feature:

  • Two or three button configuration which takes advantage of the multi-touch capabilities of the iPhone.
  • The on-screen keyboard features the Windows button, control, alt, and delete.
  • See what you’re typing on-screen.
  • Keyboard can be hidden at any time.
  • Works in both landscape and portrait mode.

Though, obviously, this isn’t exactly a Logitech mouse, this kind of touch-screen technology is going to be wrapped in the next generation of gaming mice.

Razer DeathAdder Review

Razer DeathadderRazer’s DeathAdder is the standard against which other gaming mice are measured. It is priced to be Razer’s “all around, catch-all” option, though it performs like a champ. Released a few years ago, this mouse can still bring it. It has fantastic hardware underneath its rubbery-coated top side. Underneath the hood, the DeathAdder now sports a 3,500 DPI infrared sensor (read more on sensor types). Also important to note, this mouse (like so many) is designed for right-handed use.

Ergonomics and Layout

The DeathAdder is laid out in classic mouse style. It has a scroll wheel, two main buttons, and two side-mounted thumb buttons. Though it doesn’t sport any really fancy flashing LEDs or anything, this mouse has it where it counts — comfort. It is extremely comfortable and fits great in many different hand types. The hard rubberized top of the mouse gives gamers a great grip. This material is so great, in fact, that we wished the entire mouse had been made out of it rather than the cheaper plastic that adorns the sides of the DeathAdder.

The mouse wheel is solid. There is no side-to-side wiggle or cheap construction used here and, truthfully, that’s a Deathadder unboxingwelcome change from many other “gaming” mice on the market. Scroll wheels, after all, are the most complicated moving part on a mouse and, as such, should feel solid when you take it out of the box (the DeathAdder does).

Though this mouse lacks the bells-and-whistles extra buttons of many other gaming mice, that is a welcome change. There are no other buttons to accidentally hit (such as the DPI adjustment buttons on certain other mice) and, truthfully, having two programmable buttons on top of your normal buttons covers about 99% of normal or gaming usage.

In Action

This mouse performs like a champion. Much like the other Razer products that have this sensor, the DeathAdder does not disappoint or lag. It is incredibly precise at 3,500 DPI, maybe even too precise for some gamers. We found that the contours of the mouse and its precise movement both in terms of optical sensor and in terms of button depression, made our gaming experience much, much more enjoyable.Razer Deathadder box

The software paired with the DeathAdder is also fantastic. Sliders help the user easily adjust the overall sensitivity, the X or Y axis sensitivity, assign button actions, turn on and off the lights, and create custom profiles. There is even a test area to make sure your double-click speed is where you want it. Razer has really thought of everything.

Final Thoughts

The DeathAdder is a great gaming mouse and will deliver top-notch performance at a pretty darn good price these days. It is solidly constructed, ergonomically sound, and has some great hardware inside of it. It’s really a great buy these days.

Razer DeathAdder

Summary

4.5/5
  • Aesthetics
  • Mechanics
  • Price

Razer Mamba Review

Wireless technology has afforded us great conveniences. No longer are we slaves to wired telephones, wired internet, or even wired keyboards and mice. Unfortunately for the serious gamer, early wireless peripherals were not up to snuff. Their low polling rate, poor connection stability, and bad battery life made many gamers swear wireless technology off for good. Fortunately, things are changing and, as wireless technology has improved, Razer and other gaming mice manufacturers have taken notice and have been diligently researching, designing, and improving wireless technology. The Mamba is Razer’s first attempt at a truly wireless gaming mouse.Razer Mamba Chroma with dock

Mamba Wireless Technology

Though the industry standard for wireless device response time hovers near 8 milliseconds, Razer has reduced this by eightfold, to 1 millisecond. While this sounds impressive, we’ve found the results to be lacking in the real-world. Most gamers would struggle to feel an appreciable difference between an 8 and 1 ms response time.

If we think about it, the response time is hard to isolate, particularly in online gaming. Let’s say you have the Mamba and your opponent has a regular wireless mouse (not a really crappy one, just one that responds slower). Well, all other things equal, you have a huge advantage. All things aren’t equal though. More often than not, the ping time to the server will completely negate any gain made by a faster response time on your mouse.

All of that being said, the Mamba is one of the smoothest and best-performing mice on the market, thanks mostly to its 5,600 DPI.

Wireless Charging

The mouse in its resting position, with LED lighting, makes any gaming station look better

The mouse in its resting position, with LED lighting, makes any gaming station look better

The Mamba uses an internal rechargeable battery, rated for 17 hours of continuous gaming action and 72 hours of “normal” use. There are two options for refueling the Mamba — you can plug in a special hidden USB plug into the front or you can stick it on the provided charging dock. The dock doubles as the wireless transmitter for the mouse and is aesthetically pleasing. Resting on the charger, the mouse is set at a nice angle.

If you need to recharge and still use the mouse, the wired USB solution is perfectly viable, if not nearly as elegant as the magnetic system found on Microsoft’s Sidewinder X8. The USB connector provides full wired functionality while the mouse charges, meaning that if you aren’t sold on wireless gaming performance, you could theoretically buy a Mamba and operate it exclusively in wired mode.

Aesthetics

The appearance of the mouse is not entirely dissimilar to the incredibly popular Razer DeathAdder wired mouse. On the Mamba, the thumb buttons are located higher up on the arch, giving the user easier access to them. The Mamba also introduces much-needed DPI control buttons, which are located to the left of the left-click button. During gameplay, we noticed that these buttons were not as differentiated as we might have hoped from the left click button, meaning that sometimes instead of laying waste to our opponent, we were changing our DPI.

While not entirely simplistic like the Xai Laser is, the Mamba still holds that basic feel and does not try too hard to add extra plastic.

Final Thoughts

The Mamba is an exceptional mouse, wired or wireless. Though we may have wished a few things were slightly different, it delivers in terms of performance, comfort, battery life, and looks. It is solidly constructed and won’t fall apart — there are no cheap-feeling surfaces or parts.

Razer Mamba

Summary

3.83/5
  • Aesthetics
  • Mechanics
  • Price

Xai Laser Mouse Review

Introduction

So many gaming mice today are the equivalent of mobile raves. They have bold styling, flashy LEDs, and light shows that would put most clubs to absolute shame. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but many gaming mouse are undoubtedly… bold… in their styling. Not every gamer, however, is into the glitz and the flash. If we had to hazard a guess, we’d say that most of them, in fact, probably aren’t. They want a straightforward mouse that works well and has a great set of features, but they’ll leave the pulsating LEDs to someone else. That’s where the SteelSeries Xai Laser Mouse comes into play.

For those of you that don’t know, SteelSeries has built quite the reputation for their high quality performance hardware like keyboards and wireless headsets. Their engineers are seemingly single-minded in their approach — simplicity on the outside with serious hardware under the hood.

Software

Before we dive into the hardware itself, let’s take a look at the software that backs this mouse up. The software is divided into four separate pages, though you’ll spend most of your time on the first as that’s where you can do things like customize the buttons from pre-defined options.

The second panel has an absolutely insane number of hardware tweaks, allowing gamers to really fine-tune the Xai to their liking. You can change the polling rate, DPI, and even advanced features like FreeMove and ExactAim are found here. Strangely, even the LCD screen located underneath the mouse has adjustments for contrast and brightness on this screen.xai pro

Instead of loading the default Windows mouse control screen, SteelSeries has opted to create their own screen. Not only is this more appealing visually, but it actually makes tweaking the mouse surprisingly easy and painless. For newer gamers, this integration makes everything easier because all your mouse options are found on one screen.

The fourth page indicates the version of the firmware and software that is currently running on your machine, useful but not essential, especially considering SteelSeries includes an app to monitor for both hardware and firmware updates.

We did notice that, strangely, SteelSeries chose to hide the macro customization options. When you compare this choice with Microsoft, Logitech, and Razer, all of whom place macro customization front and center in their software, it seems rather strange. Truthfully, this omission (error?) might cause a few newbies to stumble around, but it isn’t hard to find and the editor itself is perfectly good at setting up your macro commands.

Other than some language oddities (SteelSeries opted for using CPI instead of DPI, a debate we can have later) and the odd macro placement, we really liked the software. Options were slightly limited for each button’s customization because there is only a single drop-down menu of options, but we still thought it was easy-to-use and friendly. We also were a fan of the instant “lefty mode” which immediately swaps the functionality of the mouse to cater to left-handed players. Yes, we FINALLY have a mouse for lefties!

Testing

The first thing we noticed about this mouse was how comfortable it was. Palm-grip users will be right at home with the mouse’s delicate contours and its nice shape which cups your hand perfectly. The rubberized texture really adds to the experience and makes the mouse feel natural in your hand.xai laser mouse product box unboxing

The features SteelSeries managed to jam into this mouse is astounding. There are eight programmable buttons, a scroll wheel (vertical scrolling only), and a DPI-switching button. Six of the eight buttons support macro customization — buttons that do NOT support macros are the scroll wheel, the right mouse button, and the DPI button. A little bit of a disappointment, but six macro buttons is still impressive.

The DPI button is one of our favorites. Push it and you flip from your primary DPI to your secondary. Push it again and you’re back at the primary. An LED indicates which DPI you are currently using. It’s not as sophisticated as some other solutions out there, but the simplicity is nice and, during gaming, switching between 2 DPIs is usually all that is required. With a little trial and error, you can find the ideal DPIs for you and switching between them will be a breeze.

The lack of horizontal scrolling might be a deal-breaker to some, but we didn’t mind it. Most games don’t support horizontal scrolling, so we can’t fault SteelSeries for not including it in the Xai.

The lack of a dedicated profile switch, however, was more of an issue. If you’re a gamer that thrives on having the ability to easily switch between layouts, then this problem will be a big one. Setting the two buttons on the right-hand side of the mouse (for righties) to switch between profiles is less than ideal and, evidently, the Xai expects you to flip the mouse over and use the LCD screen in combination with the DPI button to get to the profile you want. Considering that most other gaming mice can jam as many as 10 buttons onto their mice, we were really disturbed to find the lack of a dedicated profile button.

xai laser mouse reviewThe sensor itself was fantastic, working on a variety of cloth, glass, and anything else we threw at it. It delivered precise tracking without a hitch even with the DPI jacked all the way up to 5,000.

Final Thoughts

SteelSeries clearly put a lot of thought into this mouse and it shows. The rubberized surfaces, the careful layout of the menus, and the overall comfort and solid feeling of the mouse point to a product that is both well-built and well-designed. We really liked this mouse quite a bit, even though it doesn’t bring anything new or revolutionary to the table. It takes the no-frills approach to gaming and succeeds widely.

Steelseries Xai Laser Mouse

Summary

3.67/5
  • Aesthetics
  • Mechanics
  • Price