Logitech G903 & Powerplay review: A wireless gaming mouse recharged by its own mat

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I’ve already reviewed the Logitech G603, which for me was the perfect, non-ridiculous wireless gaming mouse but for some facepalmy design that made it too uncomfortable to use without brutal modification. Today I’ve got its bigger, also wireless brother, the Logitech G903 to look at.

The G903 has similar but improved innards, a different, tweakable design, a fancier scrollwheel and buttons and, the headline feature, an extra-purchase mousemat that wirelessly recharges the mouse’s battery while you use the bally thing (i.e.: never worry about running out of charge while you’re mid-way through sticking a sword through something’s tummy ever again). WITCHCRAFT.

First things first: no finger-spikes here. There is a middle sibling in the Gx03 family – the G703, which boasts most, but not all, of the 903’s features within the 603’s less terrifying Superman-III-robo-lady exterior – and visually, I prefer the 603 and 703’s design by a long shot. That said, I’m not sure either would look quite so neat and tidy once I’d violently de-clawed those spikes around the wheel.

The 903 looks a lot more like the gaming-specific peripherals we’ve sadly become resigned to – a bit like a weapon from some late-noughties Tom Cruise film you can’t quite remember the name of. It’s not hideous, but I could definitely do without the two underslung ‘horns’ on the front, and the faux-vents halfway down its body.

The latter is one example of where material has been cut away to keep it agile. Unfortunately, the general, plasticky weightlessness robs the 903 of the premium feel one would expect from a £130 peripheral. At least there’s a solid surface around the mousewheel.

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Speaking of which, the G903 has a trick not available on the 603/703. A button switches it from a clicky scroll suited to flicking through guns or inventory items to a buttery-smooth scroll that’s easier if, say, you’re navigating to the umpteenth page of your best PC games of 2017 spreadsheet. I do find that the rachety feel makes my finger a little uncomfortable if I’m spending a long time with a document, so I do miss this toggle when I return to my old G602.

What I don’t miss is the more general construction. This is quite a narrow mouse with a noticeable taper in the middle, lending it almost an hourglass aspect. This means my thumb and little finger squeeze into the mouse rather than rest on its lower edges. This pincer movement also forces the bulk of my hand upwards, rather than the more usual palm-resting scenario. It’s a subtle difference, but one that I found caused significant finger-fatigue during use.

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It’s not a design boo-boo this time, but instead reflects different schools of mousing thought. The ‘palm’ grip is the most common mouse design, but many feel that the alternate form known as the ‘claw’, as the 903 encourages, is better-suited to the likes of RTS and mobas, as the tighter, pincer grip enables a touch more fine control.

Personally, I’d prefer a wider waist and a fully-supported palm – I find this uncomfortable, but in a harder to pinpoint way than I did the 603’s finger-poking. A low-level but constant fatigue. I’ve actively considered sticking some kind of putty to its sides.

Frustratingly, so much else is good about this mouse, making me reluctant to part with it despite its Jessica Rabbit construction making it ill-suited to my weary palm. It’s neither too light or too heavy, its wireless performance, speed and accuracy is impeccable and the buttons are well laid-out and non-ostentatious. (Apparently the main buttons offer a ‘better’ click too, but I’ll be damned if I can spot a meaningful improvement).

It’s also ambidextrous, to the extent that the side buttons can be swapped to the other side (or even removed entirely and replaced with smooth surfaces). Said buttons, and the colour-shifting logo on its bum, can also be reprogrammed in software. Whole lotta mouse here, with a price to prove it.

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There’s also the option to plug in a cable and make it wired, which simultaneously recharges the built-in battery and saves a few mid-game emergencies. However, this brings me to the 903’s party trick, the separately-purchased Powerplay Wireless Charging System, which I should say up front requires an additional $100/£100 purchase (and yes, the exchange rate dickery there is scandalous).

It is difficult to justify spending the kind of money you might drop on a nice coat that would last you for years, or six copies of the 24 hour-long Twin Peaks Blu-ray boxset, on a mousemat. It’s a magic mousemat for sure, but it also a piece of boring black cloth with a big ‘G’ written on it.

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I’m in awe of what the Powerplay mat does, at least. It’s one of those technologies that is simultaneously outlandish science-fiction and perfectly everyday, and I’m genuinely excited to see its future permutations. Essentially, it uses the sort of induction tech that you might have seen use for wirelessly charging smartphones, but in this case it pumps electricity back into the mouse as it moves across it.

To sweeten the deal, the slender, USB-connected block affixed to the top left of the mat/charger also contains a receiver for the 903, so you don’t need to take up a second USB port with the latter’s bundled dongle. It’s extremely elegant, to the point that most people wouldn’t realise it was anything more than an oversize (and inexpensive) mousemat.

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To work with this, the pad gives the 903 has a £2 coin-sized element (pictured above) that pops up out of the bottom with a pleasant magnetic click, or can be replaced with a weight if you don’t have the pad or desire a heavier mouse. Again, the design is elegant, and it feels like one of those things that might be simply normal in a few years – but right now, the combined £260 price of the pad/903 combination is impossible to justify.

A £150 bundle – i.e. the pad provided ‘free’ with the super-high-end mouse – wouldn’t be out of the bounds of sanity, but even so, I’d be more tempted by the the bigger-boned and slightly cheaper 703, which also supports Powerplay, though I’d have to attack its wheel-spikes with nailclippers.

The 903? It’s a fine mouse in many respects, but it’s very much a gamer’s mouse, not one particularly well-suited to generalist desktop duties. As such the best-case scenario for me is that I swap between it and a normal mouse, which is messy, inconvenient and doesn’t make best use of the traumatically expensive Powerplay pad.

I really do hope the Powerplay concept becomes the norm, offering mice and pads for all forms, functions and aesthetics, but the current combo of offensive pricing and uncomfortable proportions means, for me at least, that’s a little while off yet.

18 Comments

  1. Tomo says:

    Interesting.

    I have the previous G900, which looks pretty much identical to this and I think it’s a glorious mouse. Feels great and feels fantastic wireless. No noticeable lag. I think it looks good too, not too GAMINGGGG compared to some of the monstrosities that exist.

    Shame I’d have to fork out all over again for a snazzy mat and pretty much identical mouse :/

    • arkhanist says:

      I too have the previous G900, which is near identical to the G903. For me, the biggest party trick is the small side panels that let you replace either (or both) set of side buttons with a blanking plate. I’m a leftie so I invariably end up with ambidextrous mice, and the bane of many for me is that the buttons on the left side catch my ring finger and cause irritation (I tend to claw grip with my ring finger and thumb). Being able to easily put in a smooth plate is simply awesome. Even saves me having to turh them off!

      The ‘horns’ at the front conceal the click-in lock for the microusb charging cable, so its nice and secure when used as a wired mouse, which I do quite often when I can’t be bothered to take out the cable; it works equally as well as a wired or wireless mouse.

      I do tend to swap to palm grip when just browsing etc at night and it’s comfortable for me; you don’t have to go full on claw grip to hold it, just light pressure as there is a decent palm bulge, but I guess it’s not as lazy as having a literal shelf for your thumb and pinky. I wouldn’t know, moulded leftie mice are a rare beast indeed.

      Powerplay is a nice idea, but I go through mouse pads (toddlers, spillages etc) about once a year, so it would be just too expensive.

      Very happy with the G900, I’m not feeling any need to upgrade.

      • Nolenthar says:

        Keep in mind the powerplay mat is made of two parts. The “powerplay” mechanism which is not a mat, and the mat which goes on it and can easily be replaced for the price of a mat (the powerplay comes with a G240 cloth mat as well as a similar one with a hard surface). It’s the charging device which is expensive. So you can still replace the mat easily.

      • Carr0t says:

        Love my G900. Would actually probably shell out £100 for the mouse mat if it worked with it… Sadly not be be. I’m not replacing the mouse for a near-identical one *and* spending all that on a mat. I’ll just keep plugging the mouse in every few days.

  2. Zhiroc says:

    Looking at the images, I’d have to say it’s probably not the mouse for me. So far, I’d have to say that the G602 (note–not 603) has the number of buttons and their placement just about ideally for me: a “rocker”-like button pair the to left of the left mouse button, and 6 side buttons. The only gripe I have with it is that I wish the buttons provided more tactile feedback that you are going to press the right one. The “rocker” ones are pretty much flush with the left mouse button, and almost each other, and the side buttons also have little to distinguish which your thumb is over.

    I’d maybe like to have the mouse wheel have side-to-side action as the only additional feature, but that’s not a really big deal.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I’m back on the 602, which has been ol’faithful for years. It doesn’t have as many features but certainly isn’t made redundant by Logitech’s 2017 crop. The cluster of overly-similar side buttons is the main downside, but I’ve long had the whole top row set to Forward and the whole bottom to Back and all’s well.

      • f300 says:

        Alec, have you tried the 403 Wireless or 703? Although they are the same shape as the 603 they are built slightly differently. The top of the 603 is all one piece so it can be removed for the batteries, on the 403/703 the mouse buttons are separate pieces. On this video at 32s and 1:14 link to youtu.be it looks like the 703 might not have the same gap and sharp edges as the 603.

  3. CaptainDju says:

    I’ve been using the G903 + charging mat combo for a couple of weeks now and I must say I’m in love with it. It’s maybe important to point out I had the whole deal for 200€ thanks to a nice discount as I feel it’s closer to the proper price in my opinion.

    After using it wirelessly for a while (note: I don’t play competitive FPS or anything so I’m not a pro reviewer) I never noticed any kind of lag or any annoyance at all, so I tried using it wired to see if I could spot a difference and there indeed was a major one: the cable felt bloody annoying :-)

    One last thing, I was very surprised that the Logitech store didn’t screw me over when I ordered in euros, the conversion rate felt logical for the first time in a long time, so not sure what happened with the $/£ price there.

  4. Nolenthar says:

    A mouse shape is a matter of taste, but having used the G900 for a long time, and now the G903 (I couldn’t resist the witchcraft, and cables kill me so this was a no brainer), it’s indeed the best mouse’s I have ever used, and I have used plenty, from the G602 to the MX Master. It’s extremely light, accurate, perfectly built, the buttons are well positioned and this mouse wheel is awe inducing. I recycled the G900 as my office mouse as going through long spreadsheets and thousands lines of code with this mouse wheel is extremely efficient.

    Best mouse you can buy, period

  5. Smaug says:

    It hurts being left handed. Pretty much 90% of good mice are useless to me. Thank the maker this one is ambidextrous.

  6. Sin Vega says:

    Cool to see a hardware gimmick that actually seems quite useful and workable. Shame it looks like a pile of shite though. Hopefully the technology will get more widespread and vastly cheaper.

  7. racccoon says:

    A heads up.Guys/Gals,
    make sure the mouse wheel is not too pitted like these, as your fingers will be messed up and the tips will feel the pain after a while playing, I got one of these types and I had to throw the towel in after two days due to pain in my fore finger, once I got back to my old mouse wheel “thin” smooth & normal I was back to fine. So please watch out for that problem if your a gamer like me with these new fancy chunky mouse wheels it does cause problems over long periods of play. :)
    Plus its 100 down the drain :(
    p.s. my normal mouse is gecko optical

  8. Fingolfin says:

    The technology is nice and all, but if you need a wired mousepad, you migh as well get a wired mouse and save a lot of money. I never found the mouse cable to be particularly annoying, even when playing fps at a very low sensitivity (so big and fast arm movements).

  9. Premium User Badge

    calcifer says:

    running out of charge while your mid-way through sticking a sword

    If the “your/you’re” illiteracy has reached the Brits, we are truly doomed.

  10. Vast_Girth says:

    I picked both this mouse and the charging pad up for £170 in the Black Friday sales. Felt slightly silly paying so much for a mouse, but it is very nice. It’s incredibly well designed and feels far nicer than the Razer mouse i had before. Plus it means the kids can’t leave it off the charging dock so it goes flat for the umpteempth time.

    Just don’t tell my wife how much it cost…

    • CaptainDju says:

      Ha! I finally found the alternate username I’m using when I’m drunk!

      Either that or we share an eerily similar overall experience :-)

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