Well, now that you have installed Steam and PlayonLinux, download some games, you’re ready to play your games, right?
So today, I’ll be doing a brief comparison between some high end (price-wise) mice. We’ll be covering the highly regarded Logitech Performance MX M950, the Ouroboros, an ambidextrous wireless offering from Razer , TT eSports Level 10 M Hybrid, Steelseries Sensei Wireless, and finally, just for shits and giggles, the venerable Apple Magic Mouse. Most of them are gaming mice, all of them are wireless, and except for the Magic Mouse, all of them would probably cost you around USD100.
Keep in mind that this article will heavily focus on their usability on linux. I will use “xev” to perform button detections, and functionality tests are done through Team Fortress 2 on Steam on Linux, and Life is Strange on PlayonLinux/Wine under Ubuntu 14.04 64-bit, with kernel 3.13. Basic button assignments will be performed via xbindkeys and xautomation, which only covers mapping non-hardware-bound buttons to keyboard keys and functions. More advance mapping will be done via a Windows 8.1 VM and each mouse’s corresponding configuration software, such as Razer Synapse 2.0 or Logitech SetPoint and see whether it sticks to the linux session.
There are a couple of obvious exclusion with the selection of mouse reviewed. Logitech G700, G700S, and G602 are excellent selections if you’re into Logitech mice, and the sole reason that they are not included in this post is that because I simply don’t have them 😀 Mad Catz R.A.T 9 is also another option that I decided to skip, since it’s basically the Ouroboros sans AA batteries compatibility.
Logitech M950 Performance MX
The M950 is arguably the best non-gaming mousing apparatus you can get. While it’s equipped with a sensor with fairly modest DPI count of 1500, it excels in features which fortunately for us linux user, is hardware-bound, so we don’t have to worry about installing some Windows-only software driver and such. The excellent scroll wheels tilts left and right, and can be switched from a regular notched scrolling, or a notch-less smooth scrolling mode which is useful for going through long web pages and documents. The Darkfield sensor can track on virtually any surface, including transparent glass table.
On Ubuntu 14.04 with kernel 3.13, all of M950’s buttons are detected and can be bind to keyboard shortcuts via xbindkeys and xautomation, which is good, since the M950 lacks built-in memory and can’t store profile locally.
Early batch of M950 has a QC problem, causing the buttons to malfunctions after about 1 year of use. Mine did, and a trip to logitech support center fixed it. 4 years and a couple of AAs later, it still works wonderfully. Overall I am very satisfied with the performance and did not regret spending USD80 for it.
A great mouse for casual gamer. The only flaw I can think of is that you can’t switch DPI on-the-fly, which isn’t really that big of a deal.
TT eSports Level 10M Hybrid
I’m having a hard time totally liking or hating the Level 10M Hybrid. It probably has the best build quality among mice discussed in this post, it allows decent physical customization, such as adjusting the elevation and horizontal tilt of the palm rest. On the other hand, the mouse is quite heavy compared to your regular everyday mouse. Also the relatively short living battery is unfortunately non removable or replaceable. It so sad because the Level 10 M Hybrid has the potential to be a really great linux gaming mouse.
The left side of Level 10 M Hybrid hosts a pair of forward-back buttons, and a four way thumb sticks. The forward-back buttons pair is detected on xev, thus can be mapped using xbindkeys and xautomation. The 4 way thumb stick however, needs to be programmed using TTeSports config app. Now, this is where things get a little bit interesting. Aside from M950 and Magic Mouse, all of the mice in this post allow you to create and use multiple profile, but the Level 10M Hybrid goes further by allowing you to store up to 5 profiles locally, in the mouse itself, and then lets you cycle through the stored profiles, simply by pressing down the thumb stick! So basically, you can set multiple profiles, button maps and other options on the TTeSport app on aWindows VM, turn the VM off, and switch between profiles on your linux box! Very neat!
My experience with the mouse has been Okay-ish. At first I thought that I had tracking issue, since the pointer often jammed, not just in linux but in windows too. Switching it wired, the issue went away. Based on this finding, I determined that there might be a communication problem between the mouse and the mini dongle. I did a Firmware upgrade and it failed to solve the issue. So I got it replaced with a new one, but still the problem persisted. As a final attempt, I tried to move the dongle to different USB port, and BAM! The mouse works fine when I plug it on an USB 2.0 port.
If you can get used to the weight, the Level 10M is probably the best wireless gaming mouse you can get for linux. Just remember that a couple years later the battery will stop charging and you’ll stuck with a heavy, wired mouse.
Steelseries Sensei Wireless
The Sensei Wireless inherits its’ older sibling great, ergonomic shape. And unfortunately, that’s about it. Take a note, linux gamers, the Sensei Wireless is not equipped with local memory to store profiles, so anything that you’ve seton the steelseries engine in Windows will not be carried over to your linux session, aside from the colors of the mouse’s multiple LED lights. Which bring us to the main problem. The default, out of factory lift distance setting for Sensei wireless is way… way too high! I can lift it up in the air for maybe a good 5 mms, and the sensor will still tracks. And since it doesn’t have local storage for profile, you can’t fix it on a windows VM. And as a final nail in the coffin, Steelseries is demanding a hefty USD160 for this thing. For a half of the price of the Sensei Wireless, you can get the Level 10M Hybrid, which is in many way, a more competent mouse.
One other problem that I have with th the mouse is that due to the shape, my index finger rests in a slightly slanted position. It feels a bit uncomfortable and tiring on a long mousing session.
In regards to configuring the mouse in linux, all of the buttons, except the CPI switch at the top is detected in xev, so you should be able to configure it with xbindkeys and xautomation.
…Well, if you really want a wireless Sensei, it is a wireless sensei
In term of mouse functionality, the razer Ouroboros is actually pretty basic. What it can do that other mice can’t is it allows you to customize the mouse to fit to your ..err.. “mousing” style. Whether you prefer palm over claw grip, or have a small or very big hands, the Ouroboros can adhere to them fairly well. The side of the mouse can either be equipped with a thumb and/or pinky rests, or a rubber grip if you prefer claw. The palm rest can be retracted and tilted vertically to accommodate large hands.
I really like the matte and slightly rough coating on the surface of the mouse. Interestingly, while the mouse has 2 pair of forward & back buttons on the left and right side of the body, those two are actually registered as a single pair of forward and back buttons, which means when you assign certain function to the left forward button, you’ll be assigning the same function to the pair on the right. It sort of make sense considering that if you use the mouse with your right hand, there’s almost no way yo can use the the pair on the right anyway.
The mouse has a decent weight, courtesy of a single AA battery. Speaking of batteries, you can power the by a single NiMH AA battery than can be charged through the mouse itself. Great feature! Why? because batteries age and overtime it will lost its’ ability to store charges. In maybe 2 to 4 years, the Level 10M Hybrid and the Sensei wireless will revert to being a wired mouse, while you can open up the ouroboros, toss the used NiMH AA away (Please dispose the battery properly), get a fresh one, and your Razer will be as good as new. It’s great, right? Well, that is of course if other parts of your Ouroboros can actually last for more than 2 years. Which bring me to the other point about what people tend to associate Razer peripherals with.
If you look around, you’ll find that Razer mouse buttons has a tendency to break very early in its’ life stage. Mine did, it started to double click after 2 years, but I was able to fix them by blowing air to the crevices around the mouse buttons, NES cart style. I have been using it for about 3 years now, and it has been great. Which bring me to this point. I live in Indonesia, and Razer doesn’t currently have a proper service center here. Well, they do have a “razer service center” in Jakarta, but all they do is accepting and processing your warranty claim, and then replace your broken unit with a new one. Thus, if your peripheral is out of warranty, you’re out of luck. Which means, if you value after sale service, you might want to stick with Logitech or other more mainstream mouse makers.
In regards to setting your mouse profile with Razer config app, the latest version of Synapse 2.0 messed up the Ouroboros built-in profile storage system when rebooting from a Windows session to Linux.To get your profile back, you need to boot to linux, boot up a Windows session with Synapse 2.0 installed, load your profile from the VM, which might require you to temporarily switch to wired mode. After the profile loads, you can savely shutdown the Windows VM.
Putting those things aside, the Synapse does an adequate job at configuring various aspect of the mouse, such as sensitivity, lift off distance, and such. I set the two top button for DPI switching, and the side trigger as DPI clutch to drop the DPI to 800 for sniping. The rest of the keys can be programmed with the combination of Xbindkeys and Xautomation.
Since people tend to associate the Ouroboros with its’ expensive pricetag, they rarely appreciate what Razer has achieved with the Ouroboros. A wireless gaming mouse that will stay wireless as long as Sanyo keep on making rechargable Eneloop battery. See if your R.A.T 9 can pull that off.
Apple Magic Mouse
Look at that thing. I mean, the moment I laid my eyes on the Magic Mouse, I knew it’s designed by the folks at Cupertino. The Magic mouse is not exactly on the same level as the other mice on this post. It’s the only one from the list that uses bluetooth, does not support charging directly on the mouse, and doesn’t have a wired mode. Even worse, on linux, it’s functionality is reduced to a mere regular 3-buttons mouse. I will not even bother to try to set it on windows box, since even finding and installing the appropriate drive for the unit require me to sacrifice a black goat on a temple that belong to certain ancient deity. Well.. not quite, but Apple decided that the only Windows users that are allowed to use the Magic Mouse are those that install it on top of Bootcamp, using a Mac computers. But the reasons I’m staying away from the magic mouse are not even related to how it works (or doesn’t work) on a linux box. You see, when Logitech created the M950 with all of those good stuff, the bad stuff has to go somewhere, right? The Magic Mouse is everything that M950 isn’t. It’s too flat and my hand get cramped just from using it for less than 5 minutes. It’s also a battery hog as a pair of AAs will only last you for 2 to 3 months. Well other mice here might only last 3 to 5 days, but all of them can be used in wired mode. Also, I don’t know what kind of material that Apple uses for the the feet of Magic Mouse, but it’s one of the worst mouse feet ever. It has a lot of drag if used in cloth based mouse pad such as my Speed Edition Goliathus, and screech loudly when used on top of a wooden surface. Only on a glass-like surface that it stays on acceptable noise level. But the sensor doesn’t work glass. So.. yeah..Anyway, if you want a slightly smaller mouse with great feature, for roughly the same amount of money, you can get the M950 smaller sibling, the Anywhere MX M905, or the razer Orochi, which I covered here.
But hey, at the very least it’s good looking kit, great for photo-op
Half a point for using AA batteries and another half for being so ridiculously good looking in a photo-op.
So which one to pick? Well don’t pick the magic mouse unless self-torture is your cup of tea:) Anyway, first you need to consider whether you really want to spend such kind of money on computer mouse. It’s a lot of money, and a fairly good mouse for everyday use and some basic gaming can be had for perhaps 1/3 of a price of any mouse listed here. Having said that, I make a living out of sitting in front of computers, and I find that having tools that comfortable to use is very important. If I use a keyboard more than 6-7 hours a day, that keyboard better be a damn good one. For everyday use and basic gaming, the M950 will be a great choice. If you require higher sensitivity, and switching between them on-the-fly, please consider cheaper, wired gaming mouse, such as the Deathadder or sensei RAW. If you still believe that you’ll benefit from getting one of these, get the Ouroboros. It might lacks on-the-fly profile change features found in the Level 10M, but at least, the use of replaceable AAs will ensure that your Ouroboros will stay as a wireless mouse in 3 to 4 years to come.