For so long, twitch gamers everywhere have loathed the wretched wireless mouse. With its finicky wireless signal and increased lag, the perception is that it’s a recipe for disaster, doomed to something bad happening at the worst possible moment, when you just need that last headshot to win a match. Things got better with the rise of higher frequencies for RF mice that operate at 2.4GHz, and the modern wireless mouse is much more reliable and safe from interference—although not immune—but the lag problem remains. Although they have certainly come a long way, it’s undoubtedly true that a wireless signal adds another point of lag to the process of translating a mouse gesture into screen movement. An extremely interesting and in-depth article by AnandTech explains input lag here, but the bottom line is that a well-set-up computer can get input lag down to 32ms from mouse movement to response on the screen. The problem is that for a wireless mouse, you’re adding a point to the beginning, before the USB polling rate is taken into account, and that’s the wireless receiver polling rate. That rate is not likely to be specified anywhere, and would be nearly impossible to measure except by feel, which is very subjective.
A4Tech has patented a new technology, however, which they claim solves the problem. They call it No Lag, and it synchronizes the wireless polling with the USB polling, which would in effect remove that extra point of input lag, thus making it identical to a wired mouse. They also have a new feature that promises to guarantee perfect precision through the whole life of the mouse. First of all, there are no openings on the bottom of the mouse to collect dust or other assorted dirt and debris. If you see on the picture, there’s a little lens that appears to be where the sensor is located. Additionally, this new sensor technology is supposed to boost image contrast and filter out unwanted light scattering, allowing something like tracking on a moist surface (the closed surface also helps in that department). We’ll put that to a test in a bit, but let’s take a quick look at the specs on it first. I have a few mice lined up to test it against. My main destkop mouse is a wired Logitech G9x, one of their premiere gaming mice. I also have two wireless mice to compare it to: a low end Logitech Anywhere MX wireless, and the the pricey Logitech Performance MX wireless. Their premier gaming wireless mouse is the Logitech G700, but I unfortunately don’t have one of those to compare it to.
|Mouse Model||Sensor Type||DPI||Polling Rate||Associated Input Lag||Track on any surface?||Orientation||Mouse Wheel Type||Batteries||Price|
|Anywhere MX||Laser||1000||125Hz||8ms||yes||Ambidextrous||Clicky/Smooth||2x AA||$55|
|Performance MX||Laser||1500||125Hz||8ms||yes||Right-handed||Clicky/Smooth||Built in Rechargeable||$85|
These mice also have maximum pixels/second they can read, as well as a maximum acceleration they can register, but those numbers are all so high they don’t really matter much. If it is a noticeable problem while gaming, I will be sure to mention it. The G7-310D for instance, if I clear my desk and move it in a circle as fast as I possibly can, the cursor barely moves, indicating I’ve exceeded its limits. It takes much more than I could move in an actual game though. Also as a note, the G9x has a few gaming specialty features, such as interchangeable grips, customizable weights, on the fly adjustable DPI, and onboard memory for macros. It’s also worth noting that although battery times are hard to find, and even then, not particularly reliable, all three wireless mice seem to have very good battery life. I would venture to say that they would all last at LEAST a week, if not a month or so (although that is not with constant use). None of the mice dropped more than a few percentage points of battery life after an hour or so of gameplay.
When it comes to drivers, I have always been fairly fond of Logitech drivers and control panel, but their mice function quite fine out of the box. I don’t need macro support or some of the fancy settings on most of them, so I don’t use it. In the case of the G7-310D though, I would highly recommend installing drivers. Not only do they offer many tweakable settings, but the defaults on the mouse are all pretty annoying. I’m not sure what DPI it is set to out of the box, but it is definitely low, probably 800, which is the minimum in the control panel. It also defaults to to a polling rate of 125Hz and a very strange hibernate setting where after 10 minutes of not moving it, you have to click a button before it responds to movement. This is annoying when watching something on your computer where you aren’t touching your mouse. The unobtrusive control panel, however, solves all of these problems and more. You can configure the right mouse button to allow for up to 16 gestures to perform all sorts of tasks, which is a fairly interesting feature. I’ve never been much of a gesture fan, but I can definitely see the appeal. It also lets you change the mouse wheel settings, RF signal/wireless settings, and power settings. I have it set now to go into hibernate after 10 minutes, but wake up on mouse movement instead of mouse click. This hibernate apparently takes .8mA of power where as the click type only takes .04mA…but that kind is really annoying, at least to me. I also turned on the handy low power alert and battery indicator. No one likes to run out of power in an intense moment.
There aren’t too many super fast twitch shooters that I still play these days (TF2 is not really twitch to me), but I recently gave CS:GO a shot, and I kind of liked it. I especially liked that Gun Game was built into the game, known as Arms Race now. This fast respawn, upgrade guns as you get kills mode leads to extremely fast paced gameplay, but accuracy is still king as in all Counter-Strike games. Also, having played this game a lot, I should be able to tell the differences in response reasonably well. There are, however, many factors when it comes to liking and performing well with a mouse, so I’ll go into details about those as we go.
First up was G7-310D, and I had a very mixed experience. In one hand, the mouse is extremely light, and slides VERY well—almost too well. See, I tend to find larger mice more comfortable for my claw grip style. Claw grip is where you pinch the mouse with your thumb and pinkie, and move the mouse with your fingertips. This is a very common grip for gamers, as it allows very precise control very quickly. The other grip is the palm grip, where you actually rest your palm and whole fingers on the mouse. The G7-310D is quite small, and the claw grip is not entirely comfortable for me. I actually have fairly small hands for a guy, so I’d be wary if you have very large mitts, although your preference is more important than anything. On top of that, I prefer heavier mice, and find them easier to control accurately, although this is pretty uncommon among gamers I find. That said, I did actually perform quite well in the game, although not quite up to my normal level. I found that surprising given my dislike for the general features of this mouse. I do say, the responsiveness was very good, and I really did feel as though I was using a wired mouse.
On to the Anywhere MX, which was definitely not up to the same level. The grip was better and the weight was better, but I just didn’t seem to do as well. Carefully paying attention, I definitely noticed a slightly higher delay, but it wasn’t super noticeable in the heat of battle. Our brains are very good at adjusting to delay after getting used to it, as long as it’s reasonable. I mean, we learn to deal with at least 30ms of delay all the time, and it feels natural. This mouse seemed close enough that I would have been fairly happy using it.
Now… the Performance MX was a much different story. The grip was definitely designed for palm grip and not a claw grip, and with its huge month long battery, it was too heavy even for me. On top of that, the delay was very noticeable. I have to say, I was just AWFUL with this mouse. I could never recommend this for any kind of gaming honestly. It’s my primary work mouse, and it’s quite good for that as it has a very comfortable grip and long battery life…but really that’s it.
Oh…oh sweet G9x…you have returned to me. The familiar weight, the best grip (a rubberized surface that I really love), and the highest DPI and best polling rate. Enemies were putty in my hands, their deaths waiting to be molded, and I easily took the match, which I had not succeeded in doing with any of the other mice. I was careful to note the delay particularly, and it was still quite noticeably faster than any of the mice, although the G7-310D was definitely second. Now, being extremely used to this mouse is a massive edge, so I’m not knocking any of the others for that much, but its combination of better gamer-oriented features can’t be ignored.
The bottom line
This new line of mice is very fast for a wireless mouse. For a paltry $25, you can get one of the fastest wireless mice out there, although I did not test Logitech’s premier gaming wireless mouse. That being said, it is clearly a budget offering, with limited on-mouse features and no thumb buttons, not to mention its fairly small size. Of course, the drivers are excellent, and offer an even better selection of enthusiast features than Logitech’s software, in my opinion. A4Tech has an entire line of these low lag mice though, and if you were interested in a gaming class wireless mouse, I would highly recommend you take a look at the line, and pick the mouse that you think would best suit your preferences. Even their higher-end mice with rechargeable batteries and fancier features are still quite reasonably priced, and there are many options without having to step up to that massive $100 for the G700 to get the gaming class features like 1000Hz polling, high DPI, and a nifty cable in case you DO want to use it in wired mode. Additionally, if you ARE strapped for cash, I can’t possible imagine a mouse even close to this price range that has such good gaming performance overall. It isn’t quite wired wireless, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction, and maybe one day we’ll all be able to enjoy the perfection of a wired mouse without the snagging cables.