Gam­ing Gear Re­views

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ASUS ROG GLADIUS II

Let's get started in the big leagues. At $119, the Gladius II is Asus’ en­try into the pre­mium mouse mar­ket. Its key sell­ing point is the abil­ity to swap out the Om­ron switches thanks to the ROG ‘Switch Socket’. Sure, they’re rated to han­dle 50 mil­lion clicks, but af­ter a few thou­sand they lose that re­spon­sive­ness, so MOBA folks will make the most of this fea­ture. Or you could al­ways go for a dif­fer­ent feel, as this mouse sup­ports the Om­ron D2F Se­ries switches: D2F, D2F-F, D2F-01, D2F-01F

And Om­ron D2FC Se­ries switches: D2FC-3M, D2FC-F-7N, D2FC-F7N(10M), D2FC-F-7N(20M).

There’s three thumb but­tons, one of which is for DPI, yet once again it’s lim­ited to just two pre­set DPI pro­files. The sen­sor can han­dle 12000DPI, and is ap­par­ently us­ing the newer Pixart 3988 Op­ti­cal sen­sor. Asus’ Aura light­ing is in full ef­fect, with three dif­fer­ent light zones.

The abil­ity to swap Om­ron switches com­bined with the ex­cel­lent sen­sor make this a mouse wor­thy of note. And yet, when it comes to Asus’ mice, we still think they have a lot to learn from the com­pe­ti­tion.

VER­DICT

Great sen­sor and su­per slip­pery feel, but lack­ing but­tons and pro­gramma­bil­ity.

ASUS IM­PACT STRIX GAM­ING MOUSE

This mid-range mouse from Asus also re­quires the same soft­ware of the mouse above, and once again it’s lim­ited to just two DPI pre­sets. Con­sid­er­ing many gamers use three, it’s a strange omis­sion. At just $60, we can’t ex­pect the re­mov­able top of the Strix Evolve, nor much else to be Frank. The phys­i­cal de­sign is rel­a­tively short, at just 120mm, mak­ing it fine for claw gamers. There are a mere three but­tons – the usual left/right, as well as a DPI switcher. Both main switches are Om­rons, rated to han­dle 50 mil­lion clicks, while the sen­sor within is an op­ti­cal sen­sor that can do 5000dpi. Asus hasn’t men­tioned what type it is, but the in­dus­try con­sen­sus is that it’s the Pixart PMW3360, which is rather av­er­age. At least the mouse is nice and light, at 112 grams, but the feet don’t feel as slip­pery as the Strix Evolve. Lefties will be happy with the am­bidex­trous de­sign, but it’s fac­ing off against some stiff com­pe­ti­tion at this price point.

VER­DICT

Not quite enough to com­pete with other $60 mice.

ASUS STRIX EVOLVE GAM­ING MOUSE

Why must man­u­fac­tur­ers force us to in­stall soft­ware just to use a mouse? Asus aren’t the only ones guilty of this, but to fully un­leash the us­abil­ity of this mouse you’re go­ing to have to. At least you don’t have to give them your email de­tails.

Head­ing into the soft­ware re­veals that only two lev­els of DPI can be set, but it also al­lows for an­gle snap­ping, speed of hand move­ment (?) and even but­ton re­sponse times, though why you’d want to set it to 32ms is be­yond us. The hard­ware it­self is su­per slippy on a hard mouse pad, yet the sen­sor feels ex­tremely ac­cu­rate. Asus doesn’t re­veal which sen­sor it uses, but it’s an op­ti­cal model with a 7200 DPI and 1000ms polling rate. A to­tal of eight but­tons are in­cluded, but most im­pres­sive is the re­mov­able top, which changes the over­all er­gonomics of the mouse, from quite high to low.

It’s ac­cu­rate, nice and light, moves smoothly across the mouse pad and has a great sen­sor. We just with we could set more than two DPI lev­els and it’d be per­fect.

VER­DICT

A good all-rounder with a solid set of fea­tures.

COOLERMASTER MASTERKEYS PRO S

The fo­cus on this key­board is to­tally qual­ity over quan­tity. For­get blingy light­ing schemes, though it does have that, this me­chan­i­cal key­board is all about a solid, re­li­able piece of hard­ware. The Cooler Mas­ter soft­ware is in­cred­i­bly easy to use, al­low­ing you to map each of the keys to one of 16.7 mil­lion colours. Rather than use Macro keys, sim­ply hit­ting the FN key plus another one will switch pro­files, record macros and do more. For a key­board of this price, it’s no sur­prise to see Cherry MX switches, and it’s nice and small thanks to the tenkey­less de­sign.

It may not be the most af­ford­able me­chan­i­cal board on the mar­ket, but the at­ten­tion to de­tail and build qual­ity is ob­vi­ous the mo­ment you take this key­board out of the box. Highly rec­om­mended. VER­DICT

This key­board just feels right; with a heft and so­lid­ity that sug­gests it’s not go­ing to have any is­sues over long-term use.

ASUS ROG PUGIO OP­TI­CAL

I’m a lit­tle sur­prised that this mouse is $10 more ex­pen­sive than the ROG Gladius II, be­cause at face value it’s lack­ing many of the fea­tures that make the Gladius the bet­ter mouse. There is the fact that it’s am­bidex­trous, but other than that I’m not sure what the deal is. It’s a slightly lower form fac­tor, bet­ter for claw and tip gamers, but it’s got one but­ton less. And yes, you guessed it, you’re stuck with two DPI presents.

At least the soft­ware opens up the cal­i­bra­tion fea­ture for dif­fer­ence sur­faces. It’s also got the abil­ity to swap out the main L/R Om­ron switches, sup­port­ing the same range as the Gladius. As for the sen­sor, it’s a 7200 DPI, op­ti­cal sen­sor, but we couldn’t find out which one it is; go­ing by the price we’re as­sum­ing it’s the same Pixart 3988 as seen in the Gladius. VER­DICT

At $10 more than the Gladius, we’d go for the Gladius in­stead, although your mouse style might change your mind.

EPICGEAR MEDUZA

How does Epicgear man­age to fit twin sen­sors into a mouse at this price? It has both laser and op­ti­cal, as well as HDST, where both work to­gether. This gets around the limitations of both tech­nolo­gies, and means you can use it on both a hard or soft mouse mat. It also feels great in the hand, though the larger size means its best for palm gamers. The soft­ware in­ter­face is a bit gar­ish, but at least doesn’t take long to fig­ure out how to bind the seven dif­fer­ent but­tons. Max laser DPI is 6030, and this can be set to one of four pre­sets, while op­ti­cal maxes out at 3200 DPI.

It feels great in the hand, and the fact it’s so ver­sa­tile makes it a steal at this price. The per­fect mouse for those who want the ben­e­fits of both laser and op­ti­cal. VER­DICT

Op­ti­cal and laser sen­sors in the one mouse? In­ge­nious.

LOG­ITECH G213 PRODIGY

At this price it’s ob­vi­ous this key­board doesn’t use me­chan­i­cal keys. In­stead it’s based on Log­itech’s pro­pri­etary ‘Mech-Dome’ keys. Ac­cord­ing to Log­itech, they, “are spe­cially tuned to de­liver a su­pe­rior tac­tile re­sponse and per­for­mance pro­file sim­i­lar to a me­chan­i­cal key­board.” Each re­quire the full 4mm height of other keys, yet a mere 50 grams of force to ac­tu­ate. Bet­ter still, they’re si­lent, but whether or not you like the feel will be a mat­ter of taste; we thought they felt a lit­tle soft.

RGB light­ing is in­cluded, but it’s per zone, not key, while the key­board is also spill re­sis­tant. Full me­dia macro con­trols are in­cluded along with two-level stands. Whether you go for this board will en­tirely de­pend on your re­ac­tion to the key type. If you like the feel­ing, it’s a rip­per, but it’s def­i­nitely not the same as a me­chan­i­cal board.

VER­DICT

Well-rounded key­board, but your de­ci­sion will ul­ti­mately come down to how you feel about the Mech-Dome keys.

STEAM CON­TROLLER

If you haven’t tried a Steam Con­troller yet, now is the time to do so. It’s fi­nally avail­able lo­cally for just $90, and af­ter spend­ing a week get­ting used to it, we fell in love with it. The twin touch pads are ex­po­nen­tially more ac­cu­rate than ana­logue sticks, but they do re­quire plenty of prac­tice. The com­mu­nity-cre­ated pro­files that au­to­mat­i­cally load ev­ery time you fire up a game is a stroke of ge­nius, as it does take a lot of fid­dling to re­ally get the Con­troller set up right. There are lit­er­ally hun­dreds of dif­fer­ent set­tings that can be tweaked. Luck­ily if the com­mu­nity hasn’t cre­ated a few dozen dif­fer­ent op­tions, then Valve or the game’s de­vel­oper usu­ally has. At less than $100, this is one of the most im­pres­sive shake-ups of the game in­put we’ve ever seen. Just give it a week or so to get used to.

VER­DICT

With prac­tice, this thing al­most ri­vals a mouse for ac­cu­racy.

ATEN PHAN­TOM S

The Phan­tom S is some­thing of a so­lu­tion look­ing for a prob­lem. It’s a small em­u­la­tor that al­lows users to con­nect a key­board and mouse to a con­sole for more pre­cise con­trol in FPS games. It works quite well for what it is, with a com­bi­na­tion of plug and play con­nec­tiv­ity and fine con­trol and cus­tomi­sa­tion avail­able through a con­nected PC or con­sole con­troller, the former hav­ing in-depth driv­ers al­low­ing for in­di­vid­ual key map­ping and the like, and the lat­ter giv­ing users the abil­ity to change mouse DPI on the fly. Some PC FPS feel a lit­tle odd play­ing with a key­board and mouse given the fact that they are op­ti­mised for a less ac­cu­rate con­trol method, but by and large the ex­pe­ri­ence is anal­o­gous to PC play with the ex­cep­tion of the lack of ana­logue move­ment con­trols, lead­ing to hav­ing to boost the mouse DPI crazy high to turn quickly, or to be forced to con­stantly have to lift your mouse and re­po­si­tion be­cause you run out of mous­ing space.

VER­DICT

A solid so­lu­tion to a rare prob­lem.

COR­SAIR K70 RAPID­FIRE

This is our favourite key­board around. It’s ex­pen­sive, fea­tures a numpad and no ded­i­cated macro keys, as well as a se­cret weapon – Cherry MX Speed Sil­ver Switches. These have an ac­tu­a­tion point of just 1.2mm, al­most half that of a nor­mal Cherry MX key. This means you can lit­er­ally cut down your re­ac­tion time by 50%.

There’s also the fact the key has a frame­less de­sign, mak­ing it easy to blow clean. It’s won­der­ful to see a nice big rub­ber wrist rest for those who type all day, while the RGB light­ing can be pro­grammed in thou­sands of dif­fer­ent ways. There’s lim­ited me­dia keys but we re­ally like are the su­per re­spon­sive keys, which makes the K70 our pick of the lit­ter.

VER­DICT

Su­per-fast re­flexes give this key­board the edge.

ROCCAT KOVA

It might be get­ting a lit­tle long in the teeth, but we still love our Kova. It was one of the first mice to in­clude an ‘EasyShift’ but­ton; click this in and ev­ery other key has a dif­fer­ent func­tion. The Am­bidex­trous de­sign in­cludes three thumb but­tons on each side, as well as a DPI rocker in the mid­dle. The white and black de­sign is slick and easy to hold, while five con­tact zones make it smooth as silk on a pad. Due to the age, it’s built around the PMW3320 IR op­ti­cal sen­sor, which has been dig­i­tally boosted up to 7000DPI and a 1000MHz poll rate. It feels per­fectly ac­cu­rate in use, great for shooter and MOBAs alike. Best of all, it’s damned cheap – oh yeah, the soft­ware is also mas­ter­fully de­signed. For $70 you can’t beat the Kova, it’s as sim­ple as that.

VER­DICT

Got $70 for a mouse? Then get the Roccat Kova.

STEELSERIES RI­VAL 300

This is another slightly older prod­uct, and as such uses a slightly older sen­sor, the Pixart PMW3310. This can han­dle 6500 DPI, and SteelSeries claims an as­ton­ish­ing track­ing ac­cu­racy of 1:1. The chas­sis is de­signed for Palm or Claw, and there is a to­tal of six but­tons on the mouse. The main L/R are Om­ron, rated for up to 30 mil­lion clicks.

It feels a lit­tle chunky in the hand, thanks to the 130 grams of weight, and its height of 70mm and height of 133mm. Un­for­tu­nately it’s for right han­ders only, but at least it comes with a nice long two me­tre ca­ble – many of the other mice come with ca­bles that we felt could be a big more gen­er­ous in length.

VER­DICT

Sadly this mouse is out­done by the Roccat Kova at this price, but it’s a close sec­ond.

GI­GA­BYTE XM300

We’re notic­ing a trend by now – op­ti­cal mice are in, dig­i­tal are out. The XM300 is just the next in the grow­ing range of op­ti­cal mice; a year ago it’d would have been hard to find one. It’s based around the new Pixart 3988 Op­ti­cal sen­sor, de­liv­er­ing up to 6400 DPI. Hav­ing said that, it’s ac­tu­ally lim­ited to 3200 DPI, but uses dig­i­tal en­hance­ment to in­crease this. It’s a lit­tle lack­ing in the but­ton depart­ment, with just two thumb but­tons and twin DPI switches, and it’s also only de­signed for right han­ders. But it does feel good in the hand, with a rather comfy de­sign. It’s def­i­nitely built for palmers with its wide base and sup­port for your en­tire hand.

At just $50, this is a bar­gain. The sen­sor is ex­cel­lent, and it just feels right. It’ll be hard for other mice in this price range to match the com­fort and ac­cu­racy of the XM300.

VER­DICT

Great value for $50, with both ex­cel­lent ac­cu­racy and com­fort.

STEELSERIES APEX M500

We’ve long been fans of Steelseries prod­ucts, as they tend to func­tion on qual­ity over bling, and the APEX M500 fol­lows the same trend. Want RGB lights? Too bad, you’ get blue LED il­lu­mi­na­tion and that’s it. Want a bucket load of ded­i­cated macro keys? Suck it up buddy. Hell, it doesn’t even have USB pass through.

What it does have are Cherry MX switches (ours came with red) and ex­cel­lent soft­ware that can be used to macro your stan­dard keys. It’s also got a very solid build qual­ity, and the keys just feel per­fectly lined up and laid out. If you value sub­stance over style, the APEX M500 is a prime con­tender.

VER­DICT

Beau­ti­fully built but with min­i­mal fea­tures, the fo­cus here is on qual­ity.

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