Those who check out my gaming rig invariably ask me the exact same question: why use an entry-level gaming mouse such as the Razer DeathAdder when you've spent Rs 7,000 on a mechanical keyboard and another 1500 bucks to mod it? Unfortunately, this brand of ignorance is the bane of a large chunk of gamers, whose perception of quality and performance solely depends upon the price of a product. If that logic had any merit, guns and knives would have been fashioned out of gold and not steel. Good engineering, you see, is the pursuit of the simplest and the most efficient solution possible. In the world of gaming-grade mice, the best solution also happens to be the cheapest—optical sensors.
The smart money's on optical
Although every single gaming hardware manufacturer pimps laser sensors, I have yet to find a single laser mouse that's perfect for gaming. From the catastrophically bad Philips Twin-Eye (PTE) sensors used in high-end Razer mice to the inherent tracking inaccuracy of the Avago A60XX/S60XX sensors found in Logitech GX series of laser mice—they all have serious flaws. Even everyone's favourite laser sensor, the Avago ADNS 9500, is plagued with negative/positive acceleration that kills low-sensitivity precision.
The build and material quality is impeccable
The best gaming mice in the market are all powered by Avago's S3XX8 (infrared LED) and A30XX (regular LED) optical sensors, which are similar designs differentiated by firmware enhancements. Even optical rodents such as Logitech G400 and Roccat Kova are excellent, but they are marred by pronounced jitter and tracking issues at certain resolutions. The Razer DeathAdder has pretty much flawless tracking precision-wise. Unfortunately, it is let down by recurring reliability issues.
All these optical mice, however, lack the bells and whistles found in more expensive mice. All that tracking quality comes at a cost of features such as LOD (Lift-Off Distance) customisation, advanced lighting controls, and other gimmicks found in high-end laser mice. However, all that is about to change with Cooler Master's CM Storm Recon, which packs in premium features in a relatively inexpensive optical platform.
Clever design and premium build quality
The Recon has been cleverly designed to cater to a wide gamut of gamers with different playing styles. The body, for example, is ambidextrous and mirrors the thumb-activated buttons on both sides. This works well for southpaws, but that also makes it easy to inadvertently press the buttons mirrored on the opposite side. However, that's an issue found in all ambidextrous mice, and you can always disable the switches on the pinky side through the driver suite. It's theme of maintaining balance is evident in the size and shape of the mouse as well. It is small enough to be suitable for the claw grip, while its pronounced hump makes it feasible for the palm grip as well. The weight is just right—not too light for the palm style, without being too heavy to be used with the claw grip either.
Its ambidextrous design plays well with claw as well as palm styles
The plastics employed are top notch, which is palpable thanks to their soft feel and a reassuring lack of shine. The top surface is rubberised and feels great to touch. The sides are equally soft, but fashioned out of a grippy matte material that makes it easy to anchor the mouse even with sweaty fingertips. Build and material quality wise, you will not find anything better in this price range. My only gripe is the lack of a braided cable. The mouse cord's rubber construction, although surprisingly tangle resistant, tends to grip and snag against the desktop as well as the mouse pad. This annoyingly introduces drag unless you leave enough slack in the cable.
The rubber-coated mouse wheel is large and chunky, while providing a positive tactile feedback tuned for reliably cycling through your weapons. The hollow, plasticky sound made by it is a letdown though. Just to the south of the wheel, a pair of DPI switching buttons come in handy for adjusting sensitivity on the fly. The Recon incorporates high-quality Omron micro-mechanical switches that sport a delightfully light minimum actuation force, without compromising on tactile feedback. The mouse feet are the slickest I have seen in this price range, and provide a considerably smoother gliding motion when compared to the Razer DeathAdder, Logitech G400, or the Corsair M60 mice.
Comprehensive driver suite
Unlike its Spartan optical brethren, the CM Storm Recon has most of the bells and whistles found in more expensive laser mice. It features LED lighting in three zones: the wheel, logo and the DPI switching buttons. Each zone can be assigned any colour you fancy, in addition to other individually adjustable parameters such as brightness and illumination modes.
The level of customisation offered is quite impressive