Cooler Master CM310
Premier pointing without the wallet pounding
THERE’S A FUNNY THING about reviewing hardware: Sometimes you have to look at a device not as it is, but as it would be if it wasn’t. Particularly when scrutinizing something that seems to put a lot of focus on its outward appearance, you need to imagine that thing without those features that make it what it is. Cooler Master’s mouse definitely falls into that bracket, which is very handy, given the number of words we’ve dedicated to prattling on about such a nebulous concept. The CM310 is an utterly gorgeous ambidextrous feast of RGB lighting—but what would it be without the fireworks?
For a start, it would feel—and does in fact feel—light and a little flimsy. Yes, Cooler Master has apparently calibrated that weight to hit the 3.5oz mark, which it reckons is “the sweet spot for precision,” but, eyes closed, we would struggle to tell the difference between the CM310 and a no-name $3 AliExpress special. It is, at least, molded very well, with a soft texture to the plastic and a bulbous thorax, which we feel (as much as Cooler Master might say otherwise) favors palm grip rather than claw. However, saying that, the button split in the top shell does extend further than half of the length of the mouse, and if you tend to rest your hand on top in a fist (for whatever reason—we’re not asking questions), you would still be able to actuate each of the buttons by clicking far from the front.
We’re sure the button switches aren’t bottom-of-the-barrel cheap, but they’re another aspect where the CM310 shows its price. They’re bland, squashy, and light. Really, they’re utterly unexciting, and easy to click by accident, at least if you’re used to a sturdier mouse. The two side buttons (on the left, which makes this a touch less ambidextrous than it might have been) are similarly soft, although they are at least placed within easy reach of the average thumb, something many mouse manufacturers completely neglect to consider when balancing substance and style. ON THE PLUS SIDE… Without the silicon side grips—tight horizontal stripes, which feel smooth and tactile—this wouldn’t be much of a mouse. And without the additional silicon in a grid spidering over the light-click notched scroll wheel ( a little scratchy, but perfectly OK), it would be plain as day. But as much as we need to consider what this could be, we need to look at what it actually is. And it’s one hell of a package for such little money, once you’ve forgiven the bits that feel cheap. It’s well balanced in the hand, and the upper buttons offer quick, definite access to resolution settings, without getting in the way, and— ironically—they have the best click feel of any of the buttons on the device. And that lighting, which we so casually dismissed earlier? Darn, it’s great for a device at this price. Simply fantastic. The RGB colors are brilliantly blended, there are several zones, and while you’re stuck choosing between five preset modes, the CM310 is not going to struggle to blend in with any gaudily illuminated setup. It’s enough to take this mouse up yet another notch, and that’s before we’ve even considered that Cooler Master has slapped in a 1,000Hz, 1ms response Pixart A3325 sensor—one that can be dialed as high as 10,000 cpi, and easily feels as responsive as just about any other sensor on the market.
We wanted to hate the C310. We did our best, as you can tell, and we have plenty of reservations about the rough edges. But considering its price and what it can achieve, we’re very impressed with the resulting package, both in terms of aesthetics and day-to-day use. Not everything has to be blowaway great; if it does the job it’s meant to—and this scoots around a mouse mat as well as any other —you’ll be happy, particularly if it’s backof-the-couch money cheap. –ALEX COX
Cooler Master CM310
MASTER Great sensor; decent RGB lighting; comfortable shape in the hand.
DISASTER Light, flimsy feel; cheap microswitches; not quite ambidextrous.
$ 30, www.coolermaster.com