Before I begin this review of the Tt eSports Level 10 M Gaming Mouse, let me admit this: I am unworthy of this $100 pointing device. My daily work is done using an Apple Magic Trackpad, and at night I use a cheap Logitech Marble Mouse trackball. Nothing in my casual gaming life is so precise or sensitive that it relies on the weight or sensor resolution of my input device.
That said, I can appreciate a finely crafted peripheral and the desire to own it. After all, I have a Happy Hacking Keyboard Professional2, shipped from Japan for around $300. I mean it’s a keyboard—what difference could a simplified keyset and Topre keyswitches make in my daily coding life? Well, my fingers do a happy dance all day long, so you just leave me and my exotic keyboard alone.
You can get this from the the product website. But, here are the highlights:
- 185g with cable, ~158g without (as weighed on my digital coffee scale)
- 147 x 67.5 x 38.8mm
- Available in Diamond Black, Iron White, or Military Green
- Laser-Sensor Engine with 8200 DPI, adjustable by GUI to modify sensitivity level (default DPI setting: 800/1600/3200/5000)
- GUI adjustable polling rate
- 11 programmable command keys, with 128kb on-board memory for 5 different gaming profiles
- Function-Lock mechanism to prevent accidental key commands
- Lighting effects on 4 regions, with 7 color options
- Air-Through ventilation system: Open Structure and Space
- Intelligent X/Y axis to adjust the height and angle of the mouse.
- Gold-Plated USB connector with rubber-coating finish
The Tt eSports Level 10 M Mouse arrives in a sleeved and well-built cardboard case reminiscent of high-end earphones.
The case is pulled from its sleeve with a plastic strip, and it opens with a pair of gate flaps sealed by a metallic sticker. The flaps reveal the device, tied down in a recessed compartment. The cord is folded away out of sight, offering a clean first impression.
The compartment lifts away to reveal the rest of the trimmings. The cord is coiled, bound with a built-in Velcro cable wrap. There’s a neoprene bag for the mouse, with a drawstring and separate compartments for device and cord.
Beneath the bag lies a cardboard envelope. Inside is found a warranty policy and a software disc. Additionally, there are three postcards advertising the mouse in different colors—you know, in case you want to brag about your sweet new gadget to snail-mail friends.
Also in the box is a metal hex key ensconced within a bit of plastic-sleeved foam. This last bit is nice, and reminds me of the maintenance kit that shipped with my Randolph Engineering aviator sunglasses.
Except for the mouse and the bag and the tool, this will all go into the recycling bin. But, I’ll feel really bad about it and will leave the box on a bookshelf for contemplation until spring cleaning comes.
Fit and Finish
The Tt eSports Level 10 M Mouse feels like a $100 mouse designed by Germans. Or maybe Salarians—my overall impression of the design is: “I’m Commander Shepard, and this is my favorite mouse on the Citadel.” I know there’s an officially-branded Mass Effect 3 mouse, but this one actually looks the part.
In terms of aesthetics, the top of the mouse hovers above the base, exposing just a hint of innards through the gap. Visible are metallic red cables leading from the two buttons and click-wheel up front, down into a rubbery black box housing the rest of the electronics and other controls.
The base of the mouse is a folded plate of aluminum, 1/16″ thick, with plastic strips to manage sliding friction. The cord is anchored to the device through an extension of the metal base, a decision that suggests durability. The top of the mouse is a curve of smooth plastic, with thickness matched closely to the aluminum plate. Both are attached at domed points, fore and aft.
The aft dome offers height and tilt adjustments for the top, using the included hex key tool. The height travel is limited to about 1/8″ (~3mm) and the tilt travel goes about 5 degrees from vertical to the right.
The 6′ USB cord is jacketed in fabric, with a built-in Velcro cable wrap and an attached rubber cap for the connector.
Almost nothing on this device flexes or creaks in a cheap way. The main exception is a 4-way hat: It wiggles alarmingly and is destined to someday snap right off after snagging on something in your go-bag. I guess that’s what the neoprene sack is meant to prevent.
The Tt eSports Level 10 M Mouse offers 11 programmable buttons: Left & right; a middle click wheel; two more on each side; and finally a 4-way hat toward on the left.
There are several RGB LEDs, which can be customized using the software explained in the next section. The most functional of these lights form a bar meter on the right button, indicating the current DPI level for the device. This DPI level is selected with forward and back on the 4-way hat, by default.
I’ve never found that my hands get particularly warm or sweaty while mousing. But, in case that’s a problem, there’s a honeycomb grille under the left button that allows air to circulate through the open design. There’s no fan to cause air circulation, however.
I’ve read that avid mousers grip with claws, palms, and fingertips. In trying these various techniques, I found that the open design offers a lot of nice nooks and crannies for fingers. There’s no give to the aluminum base, though, so mashing your fingers against the sides might get uncomfortable after a few hours of gaming.
But, despite the mysterious “Function-Lock mechanism”, the side buttons and the 4-way hat seem too easy to trigger when clutching the sides of the mouse. And yet, some are rather hard to trigger on purpose. I’m guessing that this is just something to get used to.
The Tt eSports Level 10 M Mouse includes software for Windows, but it’s a mess: Part marketing presentation, part configuration tool, all clunky and sprinkled with typos. This does not feel like it should be part of a $100 mouse. Still, the features managed by the software are impressive.
A software disc is included in the box, but this contains an outdated version of everything. Your best bet is to visit the product site to download a firmware updater and fresh configuration software.
At the top there’s a “?” button, but it sends me to a product spec page for a “THERON” gaming mouse. That’s not the mouse I have on hand. There’s an “R” button, which leads me to register some sort of social profile sign-up page but I don’t know why I’d want to do that.
Moving on to “Macro Key”, you can build timed sequences of keypresses and additional commands. The UI for composing and editing is cumbersome, but I got used to it after awhile.
To assign macros and commands to mouse buttons, click the corresponding parts of the hero image of the mouse and use “Key Assignment” buttons on the right. Well, except for the last two—those launch product marketing videos, for some reason. Oh, that’s why the software download was over 40MB.
Under “Light Option”, you can choose from 7 colors for each of the 3 RGB LEDs illuminating the left mouse button, middle click wheel, and the Tt eSports dragon hiding under the ventilation grille. The DPI meter stays red, though. Colored lights are pretty.
In “Normal Mode”, the lights throb slowly; I’ve no idea why, and it leaves me vaguely unsettled. There’s also a ”Battle Mode”, wherein “the illumination effects will change according to the clicking frequency”. I’ve yet to intuit the relationship during use, but this may appeal to RTS gamers whose skill is measured in actions-per-minute. Seems like it might make your mouse look like it’s on fire when you are.
Under “Performance”, you can tweak various settings such as DPI sensitivity, polling frequency, double click speed, cursor speed, scroll speed, etc.
Under “Profile Management”, you can save all the above into named profiles. This confused me at first: Although there are numbered tabs for profiles across the top of the UI, you first have to save a named profile. Once you have a named profile, then you can assign it to a numbered tab.
Despite my initial confusion, this seems handy for building up a library of named profiles devoted to specific games. Then, the numbered tabs let you assemble a 5 profile load-out when it’s game time.
Assembling a profile load-out is important: The 4-way hat is also a tricksy 12th push-in button that cannot be reassigned. When you to push it, the mouse cycles though the numbered profile tabs. This is where the light color customization becomes a handy feature: The color scheme can indicate which profile is currently active. And, when installed, the software offers an on-screen display of changes to DPI sensitivity and profile selection.
But, you don’t need the software once you’ve assembled a profile load-out: Profiles are saved to 128kb of memory within the mouse itself. The mouse also acts as a USB HID keyboard, so your macros are executed in hardware as simulated keystrokes. Thus, you can leave the software behind and carry this mouse in its neoprene bag to another machine, and find all your customizations have come with you.
In fact, I was totally surprised to find that all the keystroke macros I’d configured under Windows just worked when I connected it to my Mac. No special Mac OS X drivers, the macros and profile switching all just worked. Of course some Windows-specific commands didn’t work, such as launching programs. But, no big deal.
The Tt eSports Level 10 M Mouse is nicely packaged and well-built. It has a few awkward points and comes with cruddy software—but, overall, this is a fine piece of hardware with clever embedded tricks that go far beyond most mice I’ve pushed around.
I really like the design and build quality of this mouse—it feels quite durable, except for that loose and protruding 4-way hat. The fabric-jacketed USB cord is generously long and the addition of a built-in cable wrap is a nice touch.
Since I’m a casual gamer, I can’t really speak very much to how this mouse might improve my performance. The weight is nice and substantial, but can’t be customized like a Logitech G9X. I found the side buttons and 4-way hat are hard to use when I want to, yet easy to hit on accident depending on grip. I can’t imagine myself using these buttons deftly and in the heat of the moment, neither for programmed commands nor for profile switching. This mystifies me, but might just be due to the clubs I have for hands.
The height and tilt adjustments for the top of the mouse are interesting, but I can’t honestly say I noticed much of a difference. These small changes seem not to matter much to my comfort or casual gaming experience, but your mileage may vary.
And, someday soon I’m going to lose the little included hex key, probably when I recycle the packaging and forget I left the tool in the box. (Just like what I did with the maintenance kit that came with my sunglasses.) A standard Allen wrench should work in a pinch. Though, it might have been nicer if these sorts of adjustments used built-in thumbscrews, like a Mad Catz R.A.T.9.
Finally, the software makes me yearn for the mouse control panels of yore from Logitech and Kensington. It’s kind of a point-and-click adventure to come up with the right set of interactions to program the device to your liking. But, thanks to the hardware in the device, this software is not crucial to its usage once you’ve gotten some profiles loaded into it. Again, that profiles are stored in memory inside the mouse, and that it executes macros in hardware that even work on a Mac is a really neat trick.
Overall, I’ll repeat my admission that I am unworthy of this $100 pointing device. Though there are other interesting options at this price point, some gamers may find it a nice luxury addition to the kit bag. I think it’s worthy of the Icrontic Stamp of Approval for being a product I’d recommend.
The tT eSports Level 10 M Mouse is available in three colors; curiously all three colors are different prices, and pricing is all over the map. White (as reviewed) is $79.99 (currently $69.99 with rebate on Newegg) or $95.85 at Amazon. The Military Green is $74.99 after rebate at Newegg and $96.82 at Amazon. The Diamond Black is $89.99 after rebate at Newegg and $88.07 at Amazon. Who knows.