Cooler Mas­ter CM310

Premier point­ing without the wal­let pound­ing

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB -

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

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