by Nate Marion on April 1, 2008 in Peripherals
SteelSeries feels their competition is doing things wrong, but does that mean they are doing things right? After taking a look at their Ikari laser mouse, we can wholeheartedly say “yes”! The Ikari is catered for gamers, and it shows. Simply put? The Ikari is the best mouse we’ve ever laid our hands on.
I’ve been using the Ikari for a few weeks now, and have played a wide variety of games (F.E.A.R., Counter-Strike: Source, Quake 4, Crysis, BioShock, Portal, Oblivion, etc.) and I can easily say that the Ikari is the best mouse I have ever used. The body is extremely comfortable with a very pleasant finish, and I found that my hand did not tend to sweat during long sessions.
The thumb buttons are almost perfectly placed, and while I’d prefer that the buttons had less travel, they are easy to activate without error. The right and left-click buttons are perfect with regard to travel distance and tactile response.
On most surfaces the accuracy is perfect as far as I can tell; I was unable to detect any skipped pixels or errors, and the ability to remove the built-in correction provides a (slightly) noticeable increase in accuracy when making minute adjustments. I also liked that the lift-off distance is very small – I’m talking close to 2mm or less, matching the Ikari’s specifications.
When it comes to mousing surfaces, the Ikari seemed a little more finicky than other mice. I tested the Ikari on a Ratpadz GS, an Icemat, a no-name fabric mouse pad, and my desk, which is clear-coated wood. The results were mostly superb, however tracking on the desk was terrible, and the Icemat didn’t seem to work well with the Ikari’s feet, making it harder to move. The Ikari was flawless with the Ratpadz GS and the el-cheapo fabric mat. Anyone with a $2 mouse pad or a decent textured gaming surface need not worry.
All of the driver functions worked as advertised, but the simple task of assigning a single keystroke to a mouse button needs to be added – I can’t harp on this enough.
If SteelSeries were to ask me how the Ikari could be better, this is what I’d tell them.
#1 Add more programming options. The manual has pictures of programmable functions like ‘Internet forward’, which aren’t available in the drop-down menus. Macro programming is simple, but I can’t program single keys like ‘Q’ or ‘E’.
#2 Add a bit more height to some buttons. The front thumb button feels like it almost needs to be pressed all the way into the outer shell in order to activate – I’d appreciate thumb buttons that stuck out a tiny bit more. Also, if the DPI switch button protruded a couple more millimeters, long-fingered folks like myself could press it with the middle knuckle in our middle finger, keeping the middle finger flat instead of having to curl it.
#3 Lights do not necessarily equal tacky. Sure, glowing/pulsing logos can be obnoxious, but the opposite end of the spectrum can look bad as well. In my opinion, a bit of compromise could’ve made the Ikari more attractive and more functional – for instance, if the mouse wheel were backlit by two different colors (one for high sensitivity, one for low), it would be easier to tell which setting the mouse was on (whereas the white LEDs are very close together) and users might find the mouse more aesthetically pleasing, especially if they were able to choose which color meant what.
#4 Higher resolutions require more CPI. Honestly, I doubt anyone can detect the latency introduced by software interpolation of mouse sensitivity – I’ve been playing games with sensitivities greater than one for as long as I can remember. However, if SteelSeries is convinced that performance can increase notably by eliminating software interpolation, more CPI will be needed. For a high-sensitivity gamer like myself, 3200 CPI is not enough when playing Counter-Strike at 2304 x 1440 resolution.
At the end of the day, this is an incredible mouse with the most useful feature set of any mouse I’ve ever used.
- Extremely comfortable, great button placement
- Sensitivity can be fine-tuned to the greatest degree ever possible
- Accuracy might as well be perfect on a decent surface (even a $2 cloth mat)
- Automatic error correction can be removed/adjusted as the user sees fit
- Software easy to use, macro lengths are acceptable
- No drivers are required for use
- Current software doesn’t allow a mouse button to be programmed to a single key.
It’s hard to rate mice because so much depends on subjective user comfort and aesthetic preference. However, SteelSeries has firmly placed their money where their mouth is, equipping the Ikari with useful, revolutionary features instead of reiterating last years marketing gimmicks. Further, as of the time of this writing, the Ikari Laser can be found for a mere $50, making the Ikari not only the best gaming mouse available (in this reviewer’s opinion), but extremely affordable as well. Thus, I’m awarding the Ikari a 9/10.
If the software had offered more programming options, the Ikari would’ve also received an Editor’s Choice award. While I can’t speak for everyone’s personal preferences, the features and hardware are what really matter, and what really make the Ikari Laser mouse stand above the competition. It’s as close to perfect as you’re going to find.
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