Rodent Rhetoric

By Alec Meer on January 16th, 2009 at 10:51 pm.

Every so often I suffer from serious mouse-hunger, and I am far too prone to indulging it. As a weedy man who sits in front of his PC all day, I fairly inevitably suffer from varying degrees of tendonitis. Rather than doing anything about it, like exercising regularly or learning to sit up straight, I manage to use this as an excuse to buy expensive mice – ergonomics, or something. I dunno. Really, I just like luxury mice, which all their flicky buttons and blinking lights and ridiculous adjustable weights. Specifically, I’ve been hooked to the Logitech gaming range, which I used to swear blind genuinely made me better at FPSes – until I got roundly thrashed at Quake III by a guy using a beige PS/2 ball-mouse.


Nonetheless, my hand has become accustomed to their shape, and I feel oddly uncomfortable when using a rival rodent. Unfortunately, I’m in a bit of a bind – the wireless G7 I’ve been happily using for a couple of years now seems to have fatally chewed through its rechargeable batteries. My every day is characterised by my cursor grinding to halt at precisely the wrong time, leaving me frantically scrabbling to swap the dead battery with the barely-alive second one the mouse was usefully supplied with. Two hours later, repeat. I’ve weathered this absurd inconvenience for months now, but I’m increasingly worried the next time my mouse cuts out during a Left 4 Dead session I’m going to lose my mind. Hell, I definitely can’t have it happen during the great Planetside war.

So I’m in the market for a new one, and my attention was naturally drawn to Logitech’s latest lump of oval-shaped excess. When showing shots of the clutch of ominous spiky black plastic that constitutes the new G series of peripherals (see the shot at the top of this post) to a colleague, he described it as looking like a Terminator’s wet dream, which, the logistical questions of such a concept aside, sounds about right. I’ve little interest in that uber-geeky-lookin’ keyboard for precisely that reason, but even the new mouse the G9x (a minor revision of the G9, which I’ve yet to try) looks a bit too cyber-fetishistic for my liking. Of course I desperately want it because all those features I’ll never use sound strange and clever, but the painful pricetag drags me back from my madness. Do I really, really need another high-end mouse? Or should I just solve my battery problem by buying some cheap, comfortable wired model?

It’s the paradox at the heart of all gaming peripherals – Logitech, Microsoft et al are forever trying to improve upon something really very simple, and sometimes it seems amazing that there’s been quite as much revision of mouse’n'keyboard tech as there has over the years. The G9x is capable of 5000dpi – is that really going to make me a better gamer than the G9′s 3200dpi, or my tired G7′s 2000? Is an expensive mouse an augmentation for one’s gaming ability – or a substitute for it? Am I just the middle-aged guy buying a Ferrari to try and compensate for my bloated belly and balding crown?

Which is not to demean gaming mice, keyboards et al – most of ‘em are truly well-crafted pieces of kit and, again, I’m hooked on those fancy-doodle mice for some reason. I just wonder, a little, how much they matter to gamers at large, because it’s not the kind of thing you often catch folk talking about. When you could spend £30 on a game, or £30 on a mouse, which are you going to go for? Who here places much stock in what mouse they use? What about your keyboard? My keyboard has two giant knobs on it, which makes me happy, but I can’t ever imagine using all those programmable macro keys and whatnot that turn up on the really crazy ones. So I’m curious as to who the audience for this kind of high-end stuff is, in an age where everyone seems to be moaning about game prices. Is it Johnny Average PC gamer, is it hopeless materialists like me, or is it some silent, affluent gaming elite?

I’m totally going to buy that mouse before too long, of course. I just can’t help myself.

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120 Comments »

  1. Sev3rity says:

    Razer Death Adder. I’ve had all kings of mice throughout the years. MS, Logitech, and I can say, for me, nothing compares to my Death Adder coupled with the Razer eXactmat.

  2. Sev3rity says:

    *kinds

  3. The Archetype says:

    I would normally pay as little as possible for a mouse on the thoery it doesn’t matter, but you hit on the way I could be sold one in your second sentence. Ever since I said to myself “I’m going to be a drummer!” I’ve had this crippling fear of carpal tunnel, tendonitis etc.., meaning that I’m always drawn to mice that claim to be “ergonomic” in a way that will somehow force you to keep your wrists healthy. I’d probably have fallen for it and bought one by now if I ever had any money.

  4. Paul_M says:

    Cheapy Logitech laser here – two buttons and a mousewheel, nothing else to confuse me. I’ve used my brother’s fancy Logitech gaming jobbies in the past and I just don’t like them. I think light and nimble basic mice are truly the most effective, I wouldn’t buy anything with “gaming” on the box.

  5. wvanh says:

    Personally I have 3 logitech MX1000s. I’ve never used a mouse that had a better weight, or felt as comfortable in my hand. All the new ones just cost more for “features” the MX1000 has too. Being the kind of person who doesn’t believe you need more resolution than the first MS laser mouse offered I decided this was, for the foreseeable future as good as it gets. Then, almost 5 years after buying the first one (which I’m still using now and has a battery life of a week of average use), I’ve still not found a better one and figured logitech will probably discontinue them soon, so I got some more.

    As for keyboards, I use the cheapest compact dell keyboard and I love it to death. Desk space and price is more important to me than seeing my health and ping on a little LCD display when, uh, well, I guess I’d only see them when I look at the keyboard, which, I’m fairly sure, would negatively impact my gaming performance somewhat.

  6. lemming says:

    Razer Deathadder, by far the best mouse ive ever owned and I get through a few…

  7. Ziv says:

    I’ve just now moved to non-generic mouse an keyboard. the keyboard was worth it, it’s a simple logitech keyboard that has everything I need – a volume knob,media player quickbuttons, a key to open FF and is very responsive (even though it has a problem in NFS).
    my mouse is a G5 which i don’t really like the shape of but function wise is good, I don’t change the res in games but I do in windows , the extra buttons could be good if I could get then to work correctly in games.
    oh, and one last thing is that I program for school and the side scrolling is useful.

  8. Wurzel says:

    Using a wired logitech g5 after my previous (wireless) logitech’s battery died, and have absolutely no complaints with it. Fast, cheap, precise and with just enough buttons to avoid clutter. The weight configuration is pretty natty, too.

  9. Rich_P says:

    My old PlanetSide outfit encouraged me to buy a high DPI gaming mouse and a lovely n52 Speedpad, which I still use in every FPS to this day.

  10. LactoseTheIntolerant says:

    When looking for a mouse, my requirements are that it must have at least 5 buttons and be wired (can’t be doing with wireless dropping and batteries failing). It also needs to be fairly comfortable to hold and fairly responsive. As for keyboards, they must have 105 keys. Though I have rather fallen for the Das Keyboard Ultimate.. (€100 is out of my price range, however).

    To be honest I think, like most ‘Gamer’ gear, these mouses and keyboards with their sci-fi aesthetic and glowly LEDs are aimed mainly at 13 year olds who spend their days playing Crysis or CoD4, calling us all “fags” and “noobs” and buying Antec 900s.

  11. AlexW says:

    Woo, MX1000. Not that I use it all that much outside games, on account of the Wacom Volito2 A6 tablet sitting next to it, but I love me some comfy mouse action and an overabundance of buttons. Now, if only I had a mousepad and a desk that didn’t put the only available space half a foot above the desktop, I’d be able to avoid the arthritis I’m expecting as a 30th birthday present.

  12. Satsuz says:

    Until 8 months or so ago, I was using a $10 mouse I got to quickly replace a recently broken pointing device. I bought it at the local CVS (24 hr pharmacy/convenience store). It served me well for 4 years (of nearly constant use), until I accidentally dropped something heavy on it and the scrollwheel died. Everything else worked, so I took my time replacing it with something I thought would be better.

    Replaced it with a $30 or so MS mouse. Not really any better at all. Got a Logitech wireless mouse & keyboard set for Christmas; haven’t bothered to set it up yet. I’m getting the feeling that high-end accessories are overrated.

  13. mexico says:

    I recently purchased the mx 620. the heavy wheel and adjustable clicking is really nice. I set it to spin freely when browsing and set it to clicking mode when I am in game. the side scrolling is great for switching between tabs in firefox.

    as far as keyboards go, i rarely use the macro keys on my g11 in games. but annoying buttonmashing sequences are easily defeated by making a macro. they are very helpful in programs, i do some CG work, and setting macros for the various tools in blender makes my life much better.

  14. Kelduum Revaan says:

    To be honest, something that has annoyed me for quite some time is that keyboards nearly all have the numeric keypad where the mouse really should be.

    Some time back, I picked up a Logitech diNovo set, with the MX700 mouse, and a separate numeric pad. Eventually, after that died from overuse, I picked up the later version diNovo with the MX1000 mouse, which was a nice improvement.

    And then, a few weeks ago, when that started to die (no easily replaceable batteries!), I replaced them both with a MS Sidewinder keyboard and mouse (the original one, not the new mouse) with the fancy lights and adjustable mouse weights.

    I also picked up a Wolf King keyboard pad thing which was pretty cheap, and its effectively a separate keyboard with optimally laid out WASD keys.

    So far, the combination has been pretty good, everything just works as it should do, and without any of the excessively complex stuff. And of course I can plug the keypad in when needed without having to worry about locating batteries.

  15. Pags says:

    MX510 still serving me better than any mouse I’ve ever known. It’s wired because I didn’t want to hit upon the same problems as you Alec, ie. battery inevitably dying. A good wired mouse will serve you indefinitely.

    I did have a Saitek Cyborg thing once, and while the motorised adjuster was nifty, it was still clunky and uncomfortable compared with a Logitech. Plus, it died after a month or so of action.

    I’ve always imagined that the constant attempts at reinvention for peripherals simply stems from scientists in a warehouse attaching as many widgets and gadgets to their mice as they can in an attempt to justify their existence.

  16. elvedrano says:

    G15 Gaming Keyboard, serves me for only one, albeit vital purpose – instant messaging while I’m playing fullscreen games or watching movies.

  17. sbs says:

    I think the main target is kids who want to get into the competetive gaming thing, looking for some placebo that makes them think they aim better.
    At least that’s why I bought this Razer Boomslang piece of shit when I was 14.

  18. Ergates says:

    I’m sure this the gaming worlds equivalent of the Hi-Fi worlds expensive wires.

    It shouldn’t be too difficult to test either – create a game that involves a simple repeatable task (e.g. clicking on a number of randomly appearing circles on the screen or something) and get people to complete it using different mice.

  19. Erik says:

    After a few years of literally wearing out cheap mice at a rate of about two a year, I finally broke down and bought a Logitech MX510. It’s been the best single computer purchase I’ve made… great feel, not too crazy and still going strong after two or three years.

    Wired mice all the way, I hate the weight and recharging of wireless.

  20. Markoff Chaney says:

    I’ve been running an MX 510 so long all the teflon footies fell off long ago. She’s still aiming strong and dead on with no skps or stutters like some I’ve seen. I even foolishly bought a specific optical mouse gaming surface pad. Heh… I also swore the duo improved my FPS ability. Never return to a ball, will I, though.

    I also alternate my left hand between an n52 Nostromo pad or my beloved IBM Model M 101 Key 42H2192 Buckling Spring Keyboard: safe from WinKey interruption and as loud as I love it with perfect response after years of banging and thrashing away on it. I hope I never have to replace this keyboard…

  21. Chris R says:

    Logitech G9 here, upgraded from the Logitech MX518.

    I play a LOT of FPS’s (TF2 and L4D mainly, with a splash of Crysis, FC2, and Fallout3 mixed in), and the G9 is an amazing mouse. If you can find it on sale, it’s totally worth it. I don’t really mess with the weights, because I like the mouse as is (without any weights). The G9 is pretty flat, which is why I love it. The MX518 was decent, but too “rounded” and high for long sessions of playing. If I find another G9 on sale, I’m definitely getting it.

  22. Logo says:

    http://www.steelseries.com/

    I love their products (other than the price).

    I haven’t tried their mouse (though it looks awesome) but I do have their mouse pad and headset and am in love with both of them.

  23. Schmung says:

    I suffer the exact same problem as Alec. Years ago I switched from a naff generic MS mouse to a G7 and it’s been wonderful, the lack of a wire being genuinely handy and the extra resolution and customisation being variously useful.The batteries are now starting to burn out alarmingly quickly and I’ve been contemplating a replacement of some sort as well, but cost is a real factor for me as I am always rather brassic. My ancient PS/2 Dell keyboard that work ‘gave’ me is still functioning, though a number of the keys are worn smooth now.

  24. Logo says:

    And to toss in on the whole gaming debate about if it makes a difference to your play….

    the answer is yes but only if you’re playing at a pretty high level of skill and only on some products. A G15 keyboard isn’t going to make you any better than any other keyboard with a good feel to the keys but a good mouse can make a big difference. The higher sensitivity/accuracy offered by ‘gaming mice’ can really help when you’re try to put out 100, 200, or 300+ APM or trying to head shot someone with an assault rifle from across the map.

    A good mouse is also like a good sneaker. Wearing good sneakers won’t turn you into a world class runner or Michael Jordon but as a good player you need to be wearing a high quality pair to sneakers to keep yourself going strong (and avoid injury). It’s the same with a mouse (other than the injury part).

  25. Pags says:

    It’s the same with a mouse (other than the injury part).

    Well sort of. Choosing a good mouse can be a real limiter on how much damage you do to your hands over time; if you’re using a mouse a lot, it’s sort of inevitable that you’re gonna end up with some stiffness eventually, but the difference between sore joints and full on arthritis can be the extra £20-30 you’re willing to spend on a good mouse.

  26. Schmung says:

    The RSI thing was part of the way I justified my extravagant G7 purchase. Then I realised the 8 hours a day I spent in a crap chair at a crap desk using a godawful mouse and keyboard in work was probably a lot more detrimental to me. Oh well.

  27. wyrmsine says:

    I’m a big fan of the Nostromo n52, which they’ve just retooled with… well, underlights reminiscent of 2002 tricked-out Honda. Still, a fine peripheral that I use for everything from Photoshop to RA3. The only game I can’t program it for, and should be, is Eve Online. If they’d just have a slightly better hat-switch control, I wouldn’t need a mouse at all.

    Also been experimenting with various Wii controllers for PC gaming, and they require a lot of highlty-specific programming, but have potential. The Wii remote failed the Eve test, but that may be the fault of the user.

  28. Requiem says:

    Sod mice, someone needs to make a decent gaming trackball fast. My Microsoft Trackball Explorer is knackered and they don’t make them any more.

  29. MetalCircus says:

    If you’re playing games to get better at them, and buying flash new keyboards and mouse to boost your abilities then you can’t really claim to love video games. It’s no longer fun; it’s something you have to do to brag about amongst your peers.

    Personally, I have a microsoft intelli-mouse. I’ve had it about 6 years now (i think) and the trusty old thing’s never failed me once.

  30. Fede says:

    I have a logitech mouse too, but a very cheap and simple one with a wire, 2 buttons and a wheel.
    I am strangely more comfortable with mouses with wires and without laser.

    But for my pc I also prefer CRT over LCD so maybe I’m just weird.

  31. windlab says:

    Microsoft ergonomic keyboard and the Microsoft/Razer Habu mouse.
    Microsoft may suck at creating OSs, but they’re not bad at hardware.

    N.B. Logitech are t3h 3vil. ;)

  32. Ging says:

    I’m rolling with a G15 and a G7 (though, as with others, my batteries are only lasting a few hours) – I’m not sure about the G9x, it just looks painful to use…

    Admittedly, this is coming from someone who used a logitech rollerball for years, so I’ve only actually been a mouse person for 6 years. I’d have gotten a replacement, but decent ones became almost impossible to find.

  33. noom says:

    I’ve been using the G9 for months now and the only gripe I have is that I’d prefer the mousewheel to be further forwards than it is. I think I laboured under similar ideas about comfort and long term RSI and such, as well as telling myself that £50 really wasn’t that much to pay for something I’d get so much use out of. And really I still believe that. I never get any pain in my right hand now (though my right shoulder is a different matter altogether -_-) and sure don’t miss the problems I’ve had with jumpy cursor behaviour and buttons that click twice when I press them once.

    A sound investment I say :D

  34. A-Scale says:

    A Razer Copperhead, a Razer Propad and a thin generic keyboard. The mouse is a bit strangely shaped, but serves me well. The pad is nice as well.

  35. malkav11 says:

    I have a cheapo wired Logitech keyboard I bought a while back because my *really* cheap General Electric wired keyboard stopped working when I spilled water on it. This one claims to be immune to such things. And a 5-button (left, right, wheel, and sides) Intellimouse Optical I’ve had for at least eight years. Wired all the way. I can handle a little unreliability in my 360 gear – quite aside from anything else, 360 games know to pause when your wireless controller drops – but not on my PC. And frankly there’s nothing worth the pricetag about spendier peripherals.

    Though that one keyboard with every key a separate, programmable holographic display is pretty nifty.

  36. Hypocee says:

    I exclusively buy mice / pointing devices with more than three buttons, but that’s for PC usability rather than any gaming function; I can live without the ‘web browser back’ button, but I strongly prefer it to the other options. I will not buy a wireless PC peripheral until the day that’s all they sell.

    My brother was a serious CS/CSS player for years – I only recently found out that his clan peaked at 13th on the US national CSS CAL ladder. For the majority of that time he was on an everyday Intellimouse Explorer. He did eventually upgrade to a Fatal1ty something-or-other because A. he liked the weight and shape and B. while uber DPI doesn’t improve your play per se, moving a shorter distance per twitch was apparently easier on his wrist. As for a mousing surface, I happened across a thing called a Wowpadwhich my mouse liked a lot, and he spoke highly of the one I gave him. It’s cheap too.

    Personally I’ve actually been using a trackball for PC use and the majority of my gaming for over a year, a Kensington Expert Mouse. It’s done wonders for my hand, which had been starting to fire occasional warning shots. I would expect gaming to be impossible on most trackballs – on the Expert Mouse’s giant fingertip ball it’s merely difficult and weird. I do keep a real mouse handy for gaming, but my skillz are more eccentric than m4d in the first place so the ball usually suffices. Surprisingly it’s not FPSes that suffer most on a trackball, but 3D RTSes. All that RC-dragging for the camera; World in Conflict sent me whimpering back to the rodent. I’m also perpetually tempted by those pressure-sensitive 3D puck things, but so far haven’t been stupid enough to bite.

    I do still wish we could get real information on keyboard ghosting/masking, though, and maybe a couple models with upmarket scanners but less of the LED bling and extra twiddly knobs of ‘gaming’ boards. Five keys at once – any five keys at once. That’s how many fingers I’ve got. Is it really that hard to pull off, keyboard manufacturers? I was recently almost considering one of those Command/Claw doohickeys because presumably they’d have serious anti-masking…right? So one would assume.

  37. KBKarma says:

    What’s the difference between the G9 and the G9x? The latter looks like the former (considering that the former is currently sitting in my vice-like grip right now, I should know). The only difference I can see is that the G9x goes up to 5000dpi, while the G9 only hit 3000dpi (if memory serves).

  38. LactoseTheIntolerant says:

    I should add that I do, unfortunately, have a Razer Diamondback. I purchased it when I was 14 and while I’m now embarrassed by the red glow, I don’t plan on giving it up. It still works perfectly after 4 years, the scroll wheel is nice and smooth, it has a couple of buttons by my thumb (and a couple on the other side that I never use) and is smooth and sensitive.

    I also love how it feels in my hand – the shape and smoothness. Though that’s probably borne out of having used it for so long.

    My keyboard is a standard emachines one that’s about six years old. I did buy a Saitek Eclipse at the same time I got the Razer, but I broke it and this one is serving me fine.

  39. Tony says:

    I’ve got a Logitech Click! or something or other. Served me well, although the paint has worn down to the plastic and the mouse wheel is getting iffy, but it’s a nice smooth mouse and cost me about a fiver, if I remember rightly.

  40. Warduke says:

    FYI, Logitech offers replacement batteries for the G7 on their website. I’ve been using the G7 for 3+ years with the original batteries but recently I had a 3 day LAN fest and didn’t want to worry about having enough juice so I bought 2 extras from Logitech. IIRC it was about $10 delivered. Love the G7!!

  41. jacksonmc says:

    I’ve been using a g9 for about a year and its proved to be my favourite mouse so far. The weight without anything in it is just perfect, and I love being able to switch to and fro from the spinny mouse wheel to the clicky one. I actually cant stand it when I have to use a normal mouse these days.

    But it does have its faults, i personaly would like it to be larger and I’m using the largest chassis, but I do have rather large hands. My main gripe has been that I’ve found the rubber skin they paint the mouse with is peeling off, its not an issue but just looks grimy. This also could be related to living in an area of Africa with high temperatures and humidity. Irritatingly enough Logitec sells a new mouse chassis which is bigger and has a different finish but only in America and you have to have an image printed on it??

    Great purchase, And I figure you approach it like you do a pair of glasses or a monitor, your in contact with it all the time so don’t cheap out

  42. dartt says:

    Microsoft Intellimouse, for as long as I remember. Simple, solid mouse.

    The trouble with high end gaming peripherals, as pointed out by CFIT in RPS chat, is that most of them just look to embarrassing to leave lying around on your desk where someone might see them. Imagine your horror upon luring one of those mythical females back to your lair only to realise you’ve left an enormous phallic joystick sitting beside the PC, illuminating the room with it’s gaudy neon readouts and casting horrifying shadows across the walls and ceiling with it’s intricate arrays of dials, grips, buttons and levers.

    On the other hand, if they remark, “cool joystick”, you know you’ve probably got a keeper.

  43. Eli Just says:

    I have a Razer Diamondback and a crappy Dell keyboard. I’d much rather buy a $60 mouse and skimp on the keyboard than the other way round. The mouse is really an amazing improvement, I know I can’t go back to a regular one.

  44. Ging says:

    Warduke says:

    FYI, Logitech offers replacement batteries for the G7 on their website. I’ve been using the G7 for 3+ years with the original batteries but recently I had a 3 day LAN fest and didn’t want to worry about having enough juice so I bought 2 extras from Logitech. IIRC it was about $10 delivered. Love the G7!!

    I was actually about to go see if they did offer some form of replacement / spares service for the batteries… hopefully they offer something suitable for us in blighty too.

  45. Arienette says:

    I used a laptop mouse with my desktop for years, I loved the small size. Recently it started falling apart, stopping working in the middle of L4D, etc, etc. but lucky for me I won a Sidewinder mouse in some competition.

    Strange thing is, I’ve got this gaming mouse now but it doesn’t feel nearly as responsive as the crappy little laptop mouse I had to hold with my fingertips.

  46. Smee says:

    I bought myself a might upgrade for christmas, dropping 600 or so on the bits. I bought a keyboard too, for seven pounds. It works perfectly. I thought about getting one in the 40+ bracket, but decided that I just couldn’t be bothered. Overpriced peripherals are overpriced.

  47. jalf says:

    I’ve been using my trusty old Logitech MX510 for years. I have no clue how long, because if there once was a sticker underneath it with a serial number or year or something, it fell off long ago. At a rough estimate, it must be 5-6 years old by now. Of course, it’s starting to look a bit worn and occasionally doesn’t seem to register when I move it in Windows (doesn’t seem to be a problem in games), but it’s served me well as a gaming mouse. Feels comfortable, has enough buttons to keep me happy (I use 5 of the 7 it has)

    I’ve always been a fan of Logitech mice too, and when I have to replace this one, I’m most likely going to replace it with whatever wired mouse Logitech has available. But unless something dramatic happens, I expect it to last another year or two.

  48. roBurky says:

    I bought an ultra fancy logitech wireless laser mouse a few years ago, and ended up regretting it terribly. Its ‘ergonomic’ design was just so heavy and uncomfortable.

    I ended up buying a new Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer. Most comfortable mouse I’ve ever used, which is surely the most important attribute of a mouse.

  49. Eamo says:

    I’m using a Microsoft Intellimouse for about 5 years now and it still works perfectly, all the paint has worn off, half the teflon pads are gone and every single crack and crevice is long jammed full of that black gunk that i can only assume is dried out sweat but I still love it.

    The keyboard is the bog standard Dell, nothing fancy but has a nice solid feel for a cheapo keyboard. Have an N52 but never really used it much. No desk space and trying to use it from my lap was never very comfortable.

  50. cubed2d says:

    a logitech *looks under it* mx518 apparently. I do love the shape of there gameing mice, much nicer than the razor ones.