Computer gaming mice are a lot like shoes. You can fall in love with using one for a variety of reasons--performance, comfort, or aesthetics--and replace them more often than you actually need to. You may buy a new one when your current model is worn down from use, but it could be a result of shifting priorities and evolving taste. For example, I play fewer first-person shooters and more RTS's these days, and value ergonomics over accuracy. Just like shoes, the mouse you use serves the dual-purpose of being a practical piece of equipment and a statement about your lifestyle. And there's also the one in your heart of hearts that has always been your favorite. The model that you wish you had bought two of just to have a spare in case it ever goes out of production. For me, that was Logitech's G5. You know, the one with the awesome blue (or red) lava design and texture.
Since the G5's release five years ago (revision 2, the model with two thumb buttons), I've only switched mice twice. First with the Cyborg R.A.T. 7--with which some people had experienced tracking problems--and then to the Razer Mamba, a wireless mouse that I predominantly kept tethered in wired mode. Both are great mice with different strengths and weaknesses: the R.A.T. is extremely customizable to suit any type of grip and hand size, but its open design attracts a lot of dust over time. The Mamba is very precise and has a great soft-plastic surface but the wireless battery life is only so-so. So today, I'm ready to make another switch.
Logitech is relaunching its line of PC gaming accessories--its G series--and one of its new products is the latest successor to the G5 line of mice: the G500s. I've been testing it as my primary mouse and it fits like an old favorite shoe, reborn with a better laser sensor and some minor physical changes may make it a keeper.
The G500s looks a lot like the G500 that its replacing. It has the same curved contours and physical design that Logitech introduced with the G5, which is suited for people who use their mouse in a "palm" grip instead of a "claw" grip. It has the same 10 programmable buttons (only configured Logitech's desktop software), including three thumb buttons, scroll wheel tiling, and dedicated DPI adjustment buttons. And it has the excellent dual-mode scroll wheel which can be toggled for click-scrolling or continuous spin. Heft and center of gravity is also adjustable with small weight pellets that slot into the bottom of the mouse, with a range of 165 to 192 grams. These days, I like keeping my mouse relatively light, so I only have two of the 1.7g pellets inside in the front two slots.
So at a glance, the G500s really just looks like a reissued G500 with a new paint job. What's changed, then, is laser sensor inside the mouse and the surface materials that affect its feel and texture.
Logitech tells me they're not chasing DPI--at this point it's almost the equivalent of chasing digital cameras chasing megapixels--and the laser sensor in the G500s has a range of 200 to 8200 DPI. That's a higher upper limit than the R.A.T. 7 and Mamba, both capped at 6400 DPI. But along with the long list of technical specs printed on the side of the G500s' box--12mp/s image processing, 30G max acceleration, 4m/s max speed--these are things that matter very little to most gamers. What I care about is that the mouse tracks smoothly across my mousepad and is precise enough in both desktop image editing and in-game pointing. I haven't used a high-end gaming mouse in years that doesn't fulfill both those requirements, and the G500s doesn't break that streak. At its highest sensitivity, it's not as twitchy as the Mamba, and I was able to easily find a good balance between DPI and in-game sensitivity settings for extended sessions of Crysis 3, StarCraft II, and Battlefield 3. And like many other gaming mice, the sensor works great on my Steelseries mousepad and IKEA desk surface, but fails on glass.
Mouse sensor technology has advanced to a point where higher DPI and faster processing simply can't be noticed by many users. What matters more is how the mouse physically feels and its durability. To that end, Logitech says they've studied the hand chemistry of gamers to design the G500s. That's another way of saying that some gamers' hands sweat a lot, which is a large enough concern that there are aftermarket products designed to adhere to mice and gamepads to wick away sweat. Some gamers even apply 3M fiber film sheets on their mice to enhance the grip and longevity. The G500s' palm rest has a hydrophobic coating to protect it from sweat, and the main finger surfaces have a "fingerprint resistive coating" to shield it from wear. My palms don't sweat when gaming, but when spraying the mouse with water, the droplets did roll and wipe off easily. It's not quite Liquipel, but it's effective. This alters the texture of the top surface a little so it's smoother than the soft matte plastic that's on the G5, R.A.T. 7, and Mamba, which I would have preferred. But the trade-off is worth it if it keeps the surface from wearing away, as has happened with all my previous mice. I'll report on whether the G500s succumbs to that familiar index finger oil stain after using it for a few more months.
My favorite thing about the G500s, though, is the texture on the sides of the mouse, where my thumb, ring, and pinky fingers grip the mouse. Instead of soft plastic that's made to feel like rubber, the side shell has a rough plastic texture, almost like ultra-fine grit sandpaper. It's not abrasive, but provides a wonderful tactile sensation that I enjoy--the tactile feedback makes me more aware of my grip and therefore gives me finer control. This will undoubtedly be a divisive attribute, but for me it's a plus.
Finally, the G500s is my return to a wired gaming mouse, even though I kept my Mamba tethered for the most part. It's not that I don't trust the responsiveness of wireless mice technology, I just don't have any real need for it. I also never experienced the "sensitive cord" issue with the G500s's braided cord (or the Mamba, for that matter). Wired mice are much cheaper than their wireless counterparts, and the last thing I need right now is another rechargeable battery to worry about. Logitech is also launching a G700s wireless mouse ($100), and that's something we'll evaluate when testing living room gaming options.
For now, the G500s is my new primary gaming mouse, and it really does feel like going back to an beloved pair of kicks, revived and upgraded in subtle ways. Everything old is awesome again.
Logitech will begin selling the G500s and other new G-series peripherals in April. The G500s has a suggested retail price of $70.