Dec 25, 2009

SteelSeries Kinzu & Xai gaming mouses comparison.

Today's episode is brought to you by the letter S and the number 2, as we compare 2 of SteelSeries latest ambidextrous mouses - Kinzu and Xai.

Kinzu being the lower 3200CPI optical mouse, with the Xai possessing a 5001CPI laser sensor.


Both mouses come with just a very basic manual and a sticker, nothing much to look at here.


The Kinzu is stated to be 7% smaller than the Xai. While this may not sound like much, it does make a difference in how each mouse feels.

As can be seen, the Kinzu (on the left) has a lower profile.

Basically, both mouses are more suitable for fingertip / claw grip users, with the Xai also somewhat extending to smaller palm grip users.


Both feature braided cables, a CPI switcher below the scroll wheel, and nice large mouse feet - but that's about where their similiarities end.
The Xai's shell and sides (with the exception of the side buttons) are rubber coated, whereas the Kinzu is just matt plastic.

Being a claw gripper, I find the side of the Xai does get a little slippery when wet, so I went ahead and placed some SteelSeries grip.

Now where the Xai really veers away from the Kinzu is with its built-in LCD on the bottom, which displays information such as how much longer before a firmware update is over, to actual mouse settings which all can be individually adjusted.


The above is the driver interface for the Kinzu, and it obviously does not hide the fact that it is a very basic mouse targetted at the budget conscious gamer.
Three different profiles can obviously be stored on the mouse itself, and they can be either accessed through the driver interface or by pressing the CPI switcher button for at least 2 seconds.

Here we have the driver interface for the Xai, nothing really out of the ordinary for a 7-button mouse.

The next tab, Hardware settings, is where things come to life, with terms that may be alien to some such as ExactSense, ExactAim or FreeMove.

Anyway, just a quick run-down of what some of the terms are.

  • ExactSense - this should be obvious, with CPI being able to be set with increments of one from a low of 100CPI to 5001CPI.

  • ExactRate - Polling rate settings from 125hz to 1000hz again in increments of one, SteelSeries recommends to set the polling rate in multiples of your monitor refresh rate so both are in sync.
    eg. if your refresh rate is 75hz, set the polling rate at say 750hz.

  • ExactAim - Jitter correction - 0 = no correction, 10 = full correction. Recommend to start at 0 and if it feels fine, then just leave it as it is.

  • FreeMove - Reduces prediction (angle snapping and path correction), from a low of 0 to 10 with prediction at full. Again, start at 0 and work your way up to what you feel comfortable with.

The other 2 should be obvious.

  • ExactAccel - Basically acceleration.

  • LCD setup - controls the Brightness and Contrast of the built-in LCD.

The Windows settings and Options tab contains nothing really interesting that no one has never seen before.
What is interesting though is the "Get More Profiles" button by the SteelSeries logo on the bottom which leads you to a page where you can install profiles from certain top gamers onto the mouse itself, useful for those who have no idea where to start.

That page of course can be found here -

Here is where the beauty of the Xai comes in, making full use of its built-in LCD.
All 5 settings (ExactSense, ExactRate, ExactAim, FreeMove, ExactAccel) in each individual profile can also be adjusted on the mouse itself - without drivers.


After updating both mouses to the latest firmware (Kinzu - v1.0.10. Xai - v1.4.2), they seem to track fine on both a SteelSeries 4HD and a Razer Goliathus.
No real problems with acceleration or sensor lock-ups that plagued the earlier firmware versions of the Kinzu, unless of course you are real anal and have a big stick up in you.
The mousefeet of both though could've been developed with a better glide. Guess would have to wait for replacement teflon feet to be released or to make use of some good quality skates.

The Xai, meanwhile, lives up to its claim of having 1mm (or 1 CD thickness) lift-off distance. Sensor also shows no signs of jitter. Afterall, it does possess one of the more stable laser sensors out in the market - the Avago ADNS-9500.

Anyway, I'm getting lazy to write, so bottom line is that if you can live without fancy glowing LEDs and would like a no-nonsense mouse, then either one of these mouses should definitely be on your shopping list.

Oct 16, 2009

Razer Naga MMOG gaming mouse review.

As we approach the end of 2009, Razer shows no signs of stopping and introduces its latest laser equipped gaming mouse - dubbed the Naga.

With its obvious eastern-influenced name - following the Kabuto and Orochi - the Naga becomes Razer's 4th mouse to be introduced this year alone.

The contents itself are pretty standard and are what one would expect from Razer.

Size-wise, it's definitely smaller and posesses a lower hump than the Death Adder.

Notice the two smaller buttons by the front of the left click?

Well, contrary to popular belief, they do not perform dpi switching. Rather they perform the standard Forward and Backward operations used in browsers.

The mouse itself is obviously designed for right handers, and feels pretty comfortable with the ring finger rest playing an influential part - Fingertip or Palm users will definitely be able to adapt easily.

The numpad on the side though does take a little getting used to, nothing a few hours of gaming can't solve.
For the challenged-ones out there, Razer also includes 'trainers' which basically are silicon stickers that are placed on any number the user desires so as to get a feel of the placements and enhance the learning curve.

What the mouse numpad does is obviously replicating the row of numbers above qwerty or the numpad itself.
How this is done is via a switch on the bottom.

The '123' option of course allows one to replicate the row of numbers / action bar for most MMO games on the mouse itself.

The 'Num' option gives one access to more game funcions that are assigned to the numpad.

A slight over-look perhaps is the lack of an option to deactivate the mouse numpad.

Take note of the one-piece foot that runs around the circumference of the mouse (forgive the dust as I don't exactly live in a bubble).

This is Razer's way of having the z-axis tracking of the laser sensor be a consistent distance from the pad.
The teflon ring also feels thicker than what is on the Mamba.

What this all does is to greatly reduce jitter until it's almost non-existent.

Below is how the driver control panel looks like.

Some of you out there may be wondering what's missing due to its very sparse look.

Here goes -

There is no on-the-fly sensitivity.

There is no dpi switching.

There is no profile switching.

There is no way to bind mouse buttons to custom functions without the MMOG Addons.

There is nothing that would really endear the Naga towards the current generation of FPS gamers.

In all fairness, the Naga is marketed for MMOGs, and this is where the Razer Add-ons come into play.

Currently Razer has available Add-ons for Warhammer and Warcraft, with more on the way, which can all be downloaded from

What the Add-ons do, that's for you all to find out as I do not play MMOGs.

Bottom line, the Naga is not meant to compete with the FPS-centric mouses currently in Razer's stables. Rather it offers an alternative to the MMO Gamers out there who have been wanting a mouse to call their own.

Oct 9, 2009

Razer Orochi Bluetooth Notebook gaming mouse review.

The Orochi is of course not Razer's first wireless mouse - that distinction goes to the ProClick Mobile - it is a first when it comes to a travelling sized mouse that is able to perform for gaming.

The packaging consists of the usual suspects with drivers having to be downloaded from

The USB jack this time is not gold-plated as per previous offerings from Razer,
and as can be seen it comes with 2 AA-sized Energizer Batteries which add on a hefty 40-45gms to the 95gms of the Orochi.

One thing to note is that the Orochi does NOT charge batteries while in use, so for those who travel alot you will still need to drag along a charger - or get an endorsement from Duracell.

Design-wise, the Orochi is the first mouse from Razer to feature wing sides which help make its small size more comfortable to the grip,
and being a symmetrical shaped mouse has dual side buttons on each side for programming various functions.

The bottom of the mouse feature four large feet at each corner, which definitely helps the z-tracking of the sensor and for a better glide.

An on/off switch is also present on the bottom which of course is for the bluetooth.

The mouse due to its size, will of course still take a lot of getting used to, and is not really meant to be used for extended / serious gaming sessions.

In short, Claw grip users would find the most comfort with this mouse.

The Orochi on the Kabuto.

A very dusty bottom.

The sensor meanwhile is a 4000dpi 3.5G laser sensor that has been greatly fine-tuned ever since it appeared on the Lachesis - so no real traces of the dreaded jitter.

Basically, you wouldn't be far off in calling the Orochi a mini Lachesis - as their retail prices are also similar at USD79.

What seperates the Orochi from the Lachesis, is obviously its bluetooth wireless capabilities and its size - with both still possessing the Razer Synapse memory system.

The bluetooth obviously is not meant to be used for serious gaming, so to achieve what razer on its site calls 'gaming grade precision, control and accuracy', the cable which only measures 90cm has to be used.

In conclusion, if you're looking for a travelling mouse that can also do some once-in-a-blue-moon casual gaming - look no further than the Orochi.

CM Storm Sentinel Advance gaming mouse review.

Since it's apparently been released in Europe already, guess it's time to release my updated review.
So yeah, here's another company branching out into the gaming mouse category, and hopefully they'll be able to maintain their presence.

Formed by the well-known casing manufacturer Cooler Master - comes their Gaming brand known as CM Storm -

Size wise, comparing it to the ever popular Razer Death Adder, the Sentinel possesses a slightly lower hump.

yes, that's a Razer Boomslang and Naga in the background.

Specs wise it's pretty standard as far as gaming mouses with laser sensors go - 5600dpi with 64k on-board memory.


It has the typical braided cable that all mouses should have nowadays, along with a gold plated USB plug.
The mouse itself is covered in rubber with the buttons being uncovered plastic, just be warned that the rubber itself is pretty slick and not as grippy as what Razer uses.
The bottom of the mouse features a weight system that allows customization from a Death Adder like 130gm to an obese Boomslang 150+gm.

Along with the usual color LEDs on top, there are also a couple at the bottom front of the mouse - perhaps as a torch light in the darkness?

Also on top is an OLED display that shows the profile in use along with the X and Y sensitivities, and also an option to display your personalized logo at a res of 32x32.


Here is where things get a little interesting.

As can be seen, there's the usual Polling rate, DPI, sensivitity settings etc.

Now what may interest those with a liking for bling bling is its LED color changing feature, with 7 different color options including having them Off.
It is also possible to have different colors for each profile so as to easier tell them apart on the fly.

And what is a gaming mouse without options for setting Macros and Scripts?
Below is just a simple Macro done which would need no guessing for those familar with FPS games.
The fastest time that can be set is actually 12ms, though here it's set higher to prevent 'jamming'.


The question that's obviously on everyone's mind is - does the sensor jitter?

'Yes' would be the answer.

The previous prototype had its cursor literally dancing around everywhere though, so props to CM Storm for continuously working on the mouse.

Wouldn't doubt on them having the mouse jitter free by the time it's released.

The mouse should probably work better on a hard mat though, as it was tested on a cloth mat - Razer Goliathus.

But the FAQ does mention that it should work virtually on any gaming mouse pad or surface, oh well.

The feet have also been made much smoother from the prototype.

Left and Right buttons detect hits equally well along its length with an obvious sweet spot where the finger would lie.

The Middle button though is a little hard to press down - perhaps CM Storm would like to get to work on this.

There is also what CM Storm calls 'Mechanical DPI switching' which basically is similar to Razer's 'on-the-fly sensitivity settings'.

This entails holding down the DPI button for 3 seconds, and then moving the scroll wheel up or down to adjust accordingly.

CM Storm's version unfortunately does not show on screen what the setting is at, rather you would have to check the OLED display on top for the needed info.


Just a couple more minor details for CM Storm to work on for future release, though probably not on the Sentinel as it has already been released in Europe - Unless of course they are the guinea pigs.

Should that be done, then there is no real reason why the mouse couldn't be a best seller - especially at its expected retail price of around RM220 when it hits Malaysia.

Further information on the mouse can be found here -