As you may recall, not too long ago, we reviewed SteelSeries World of Warcraft Legendary Edition, and gave it our coveted Golden Fedora award. Not because it was a good MMO mouse, but because it was a phenomenal all-around mouse.
Well, they’re back with the much anticipated World of Warcraft Wireless edition. So I have to prefix this review with: I don’t play World of Warcraft anymore, but I still play other MMOs, and I still game, and as we found with the Legendary, it was fantastic across the board. So let’s dive in to the new number-one selling point of nearly every SteelSeries mouse—the new SteelSeries Engine.
The SteelSeries Engine
The original Legendary’s software had “In-Game Mode” as an “all or nothing”—either it was all profiles, or no profiles. That problem has been fixed. Now “In-Game Mode” is per-profile. What was the other nitpick I had? Oh, yes, sometimes hard to read. Fixed! Defaults? Still awesome. Profiles? Vastly improved, with one caveat. You can now configure profiles effectively infinitely, tied to any application you want, with any number of macros you want, performing nearly any action you want.
The one caveat is that you no longer have the ability to change profiles from the taskbar icon, which really is a minor gripe, since generally, you’ll be automatically selecting your profile. This is also where SteelSeries Engine really shines, and rises miles above everyone else: it’s alt-tab aware. If you open a game with a profile—say EQ2 for example—and then switch to, let’s say Firefox—SSE will select back to your default profile when you alt-tab out of EQ2, and back into it when you alt-tab back in. To call this a killer feature does not nearly do it enough justice.
Every part of SSE is virtually flawless. It’s stable. It’s reliable. It’s easy to use. It’s easy to understand. It’s easy to reconfigure. It’s easy to set up. It’s 99% automagic in daily use. It works flawlessly with every single application and game I have tested it with.
I tried to crash it. I tried to break it. I tried to make it hiccup by switching frequently and running multiple games at once. It would not break. Every single abuse I threw at it, it took completely in stride, and behaved exactly as it should. There were a few hiccups due to my USB hub—but a quick reconnect always fixed it. If I could, I would honestly hug everyone involved with developing SSE. It’s just that great.
It’s not just removing the cord
One of the major concerns I had when I heard about the coming Wireless edition was the changes that would have to be made to accommodate a wireless setup. Room has to be made for batteries, the case has to be changed to support the charging points, and more room may need to be made for all of that. Meaning: you could end up with a very different body over all.
Here we have the Legendary (orange) and the new Wireless (blue) side by side for easy visual comparison.
What you should be noticing first is that the chassis hasn’t changed much, but the surface has changed greatly. The glossy sturdy plastic of the Legendary has been replaced by a very comfortable matte plastic on the Wireless. As I’ve said before, the details matter, and this detail matters a lot. My hand breathes a lot easier with this new material. Long periods of play with the Legendary would often leave me with the dreaded sweaty palms—not so with the Wireless. Not even once—and I tried.
Something else you’ve likely noticed is that the buttons on the side of the scroll wheel are significantly different. The action on them is lighter than it was, but they’re also now impossible to accidentally trigger from the side. The one problem is that depending on your grip style, you may find your fingers squeezing together to hit them—especially if you have long fingers. Still, the action change is a definite improvement and you do get used to the positioning. They’ve also added a non-configurable button behind them—yes, that’s a button—which switches your CPI on the fly between the two settings in your profile.
The rest of the buttons are unchanged except aesthetically. More notches have been cut in the left side buttons to better delineate the feel, resulting in improved action. You absolutely will not hit back when you mean to hit forward. Overall, the action on the Wireless is significantly lighter than the Legendary—and that is definitely not a bad thing. It still requires enough force that you won’t accidentally click, but it’s light enough to support the most rapid of clicking with much greater ease than the Legendary.
Another surprising change that has to be highlighted is the weight. My instincts told me that adding a battery to the Legendary and detaching the cord would make it heavier. I mean really, batteries are not exactly lightweight. In fact, the exact opposite is true. The Wireless feels lighter than the Legendary—not by much, but enough to be noticed. The result is that movement and lifting is easier and smoother.
The 16 Hour Test Of Doom
Whenever a manufacturer claims that they get X battery life, the only response I have is: challenge accepted.
SteelSeries says that the World of Warcraft Wireless Edition will get 16 hours on a single charge. Sixteen hours of intensive gameplay. That’s a lot of time awake playing games there. But I shall suffer this trial, for science! You monsters.
For this test, I did it real-world style. 100% charge starting point (from 8-10 hours on the pedestal) and a mix of games. I ran a mix of Natural Selection 2, PAYDAY: The Heist, EverQuest 2, Champions Online, Firefox and TweetDeck. And some Team Fortress 2 and Portal as well. In other words, pretty much what you’d expect anyone to do normally. Mostly normally.
And the result: 16 hours of fairly heavy use from a 100% charge, and I was still showing a 50% charge. So the reality is that 16 hours is probably fairly conservative—I would not be surprised to see a single full charge go 24-30 hours. Though you may take 2 charging cycles to see this—just make sure to run the mouse to 0% then charge to 100% at least once.
So how good can a wireless mouse really be?
The answer is: SteelSeries World of Warcraft Wireless. It’s packing an upgraded laser sensor that goes all the way to 8200CPI. It is the highest resolution sensor in the world right now. These are not buzzwords, snake oil plating, or made-up claims. You cannot buy a higher resolution sensor in any mouse currently on the market, period. You also cannot buy a faster one—that 8200CPI is supported by a sampling rate of 12,000 frames per second. It’s impressively powerful.
The number one complaint I have always had about wireless mice is the compromises. They’re too heavy, the action is too flimsy, it’s missing this that or the other. I’ve had the Wireless side by side with the Legendary for a few weeks. The only reason I could tell them apart was the gloss versus the matte, and the cord. There are no compromises here, no shortcuts taken, no corners cut. The Wireless is not the Legendary sans cord. It’s an improved Legendary. A vastly improved Legendary.
If you really, really hate the idea of wireless, it works just as well cabled. Just connect the USB cord to the mouse and go. The connection is solid, reliable, and doesn’t interfere with movement at all. You don’t have to worry about charging, and it just works (this also comes in handy if you forget to charge your mouse, so that you can keep using it while it’s charging. I did that a few times).
So what’s the verdict?
Let’s review: last time SteelSeries was here with a mouse, it was the Legendary and we awarded it our coveted Golden Fedora. I told folks that I honestly didn’t believe anyone could build a better mouse, period. And I meant it. Even for non-MMO use it proved to be a phenomenal mouse for everything I do from gaming to Visio diagrams and database development.
While everyone has been off reinventing the wheel so to speak—just look at some of the crazy looking mice we’ve reviewed around here—SteelSeries focused on how to improve a great design. And the Wireless is the obvious result of that.
As before, set aside your opinions of World of Warcraft and other MMOs, and consider the mouse upon the whole of its merits. I tend to only use one mouse no matter what I’m doing—be it browsing, programming, diagramming, or gaming. I play a lot of different games, from RTS to MMO to racing sim. That means that the mouse sees a lot of use—as much as 18 hours per day—and sees nearly every possible situation a mouse can be put in. I found the grand sum of one problem, which was corrected in the latest firmware during my review.
The build quality is, as usual for SteelSeries, fantastic. The fit and finish is without a single flaw. Every detail has been given careful thought and obvious care to its design, from how the mouse feels in your hand to how it sits in its base station. The retail price gave me a brief pause—$129.99 at Amazon. But during that pause I considered the competition in the $100-130 bracket. I’ve had my hands on most of them, and the fit and finish isn’t as good. None of them have sensors even approaching 8200CPI. Only two of them were wireless. And their software, honestly, was downright awful in various ways. So for the money, I couldn’t find anything that even came close.
So this isn’t just lightning striking twice—this is chain lightning (WoW players see what I did there). SteelSeries has combined a fantastic software upgrade, a phenomenal update to an already great mouse, and done it with exceptional and consistent quality across the board. And have once again delivered a product which has earned the coveted Golden Fedora.
You can pick up the SteelSeries World of Warcraft Wireless edition yourself at Amazon for $129.99. And you won’t be disappointed.