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Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse Review

Date: March 28, 2011
Author(s): Jamie Fletcher

Ah, I’d love to use a high DPI mouse, every day – And kick major ass in every game I play – But until I get another, where the sensor doesn’t lack – I’ll do what I can, and use the mouse called BLACK.



Introduction

Tt eSPORTS, the professional gaming branch of Thermaltake, consists of various peripherals essential for any gamer to maintain an edge over their opponent. Continuing with our review of the product range from a couple of weeks ago, we have in the lab the Tt eSPORTS BLACK gaming mouse.

Gaming mice of any sort are up against a very broad range of competition, since nearly every tech company going has some kind of peripheral arm. Logitech, Razer, Cooler Master, SteelSeries, GIGABYTE, Saitek… the list goes on and on.

The BLACK is one of three mice in the Tt eSPORTS range, being the mid-range offering of the three. The other two include the low-end AZUREUS and the top-end BLACK Element – from a 3 button optical, up to a 9 button 6400 DPI multi-colored offering.

The BLACK comes packaged in that lovely black and red box art again. It is more of a retail styled box, complete with Velcro-sealed front cover to let you see the mouse. Graphics are dotted over the place detailing features, in 15 languages no less.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

Opening the lid we see the mouse sealed away and some more information on the inside of the front panel.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

Feature-wise, it’s quite the standard gaming mouse. 4000 DPI laser sensor with four levels, interchangeable weights, 6 buttons, a braided cable, gold-plated connector and some cool red lighting to flaunt.

As is common with the eSPORTS range, a small padded bag is provided for you to carry the mouse to LAN parties and the like – in addition to the manual and warranty information guide.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

Design wise; on the face of it, looks to be a slightly modified ambidextrous grip. It’s quite long and deep, so it’s certain to elevate your hand somewhat, though the design is not of the usual tapered nature. A mouse for larger hands it seems.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

However, the left side has a textured surface and a side button, leaving the right side bare. This essentially leaves us with a right-handed mouse.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

The use of a single thumb button is a strange choice, as most would expect the usual two – back and forward control – or at least two for easy access in games.

The whole mouse has a rubberized coating for grip, a popular choice these days, though a little thin on the BLACK.

On the underside, that all-too-familiar gold, the tell-tale sign of the Phillips sensor. This does mean that the evil pick and place diagonal drift is back. Another strange design choice would be the inclusion of a Teflon disc under the sensor. As detailed in the R.A.T. 7 review, this can cause a rather serious issue with dust collection.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

What aggravates it with the Tt BLACK, is that the outer rim of the disc is not beveled. This meant that there was noticeable scratching on the underside as it scraped over the mouse mat. It wasn’t at all aggressive, but after a while, it could wear down a mat. My only advice would be to remove the ring, both to prevent scratching and to stop dust gathering.

The BLACK is not a heavy mouse in the slightest, even with the included weights. There are five 4.5 gram weights tucked away on the underside, hidden away by what looks like a battery compartment for a similar mouse design (just not this mouse). These weights are supported by a piece of molded rubber, so they are not likely to rattle around.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

The placements of the weights makes the mouse back heavy, rather than as a central mass, resulting in the back end dragging along the mat when picking and placing. Without the weights, there’s hardly anything to it and it becomes extremely light. Speaking of lights…


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

What gaming mouse can be complete without a set of lights to back it up? The Tt logo on the palm rest and the scroll wheel both light up by the power of red LEDs. These are not the super bright variety and are not likely to blind you in the middle of the night.

These lights can be controlled via the software, covered on the following page. The Tt logo pulsates slowly, on and off, over 5 seconds. The only problem with this is that you can not force it to be just ‘on’, only pulse or off. While the pulse is slow and not distracting, it is a bit annoying that it cannot be forced on all the time. The scroll wheel does not pulse, but can be controlled on and off via software.

There are also 4 LED indicators on the side to show the current DPI level.

The pulsing light, Philips sensor and light-weight design all seem to remind me of the original Razer Lachesis, a mouse not reviewed here at Techgage, but one I personally own. The shape is different, but the overall feature list is very similar, minus a couple differences.

Software

The software provided is purely for extended functionality. As the BLACK mouse uses a standard HID compliant driver, it is not required of you to install the software to use the mouse.

Being a gaming mouse, the user interface reflects this and is rather graphic heavy, meaning your first use can be a little bewildering. All icons have a tooltip overlay and much of the graphics make sense, so any confusion should be short-lived.

The initial interface allows you to make changes to the main buttons. Unlike some other mice, all buttons can be programmed. The usual array of actions can be configured, like cut, paste, undo, save, etc, as well as a macro key, which we’ll get to later. The inclusion of a timer is a little strange, but it’s meant to be used by the user for anything it might be required for.

There are three profiles that can be saved and switched between instantly within the software. The limitation is that these cannot be changed on the fly due to a lack of a dedicated profile switch or action that can be assigned to a button.

The lower three buttons in the main interface control profile saving to file and to the mouse. Saving to the mouse was a bit of a surprise since there is no indication about memory made available in the specifications. There are limitations to what can be saved directly to the mouse, though; the currently active profile, the configured DPI settings and any macros saved to specific buttons.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

While reading the documentation and the box features, it makes out that the DPI settings were fixed at 400, 800, 2000 and 4000 DPI – the big gap between 800 and 2000 was a bit extreme for me and I couldn’t see an immediate way to change it. It turns out that these options are hidden away behind the advanced settings (I’m too used to easy access DPI settings via other software).


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

Swapping between the DPI modes, you can change the X and Y axis sensitivity for each mode in steps of 100 or by dragging around the red indicator on the graph. Double click, scroll speed and OS sensitivity can be changed as well, but no option for acceleration.

Another surprise was the option for enabling 1000Hz for the USB poll rate. Again, in the specifications, it only lists 500Hz, so maybe a firmware update changed this, even though the software still indicates version 0001. The BLACK is capable of the full 1000Hz poll rate as checked with the DIMR tool, reporting at >900Hz or <1.11ms during most use.

Macros

The macro editor is tied to setting a macro key; there is no other way to access it for small adjustments or to load the same macro onto a different button in a different profile (they must be recorded each time).

Macro lengths are limited to about 40-45 actions, depending on what actions are performed, but since it records both down and up key presses, this cuts the total key press count in half.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

The macro editor will only record key presses and actions while the software retains focus. Switching to another application and recording will not work, so all actions must be performed within the macro window. This does have the side effect of making any [win] key presses useless since as soon as any win key based commands are entered, the macro editor will lose focus.

The good news is you can still sort of make them manually by hitting the win key to record the up/down event, selecting the editor again, continue to record, then move any win key events between the up/down event.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

Recording too many events will result in the above error. The good news is that it’s on a per button basis, so you can program all 6 buttons with macros with 40+ events each should you wish.

Editing macros is simple enough. You select an event, then press [del] to delete, and hit delete again to clear the entire macro. You can also mass select events and delete simultaneously. You can append the macro at any time by hitting record, perform actions, stop, then use the up and down buttons to move events through the action list (all recorded actions appear at the end of the macro). The limitation is that it’s tied to single actions at a time, you can’t move blocks of actions.

All times are recorded to the nearest 25ms with the ability to change the delay later. You can not manually insert a delay though, but could build up a list of long [ctrl] or [shift] events to introduce delays without action.

There are strange quirks with the software though when transferring or unplugging the mouse. If you save a macro to a button, save to mouse, close the editor then open it again, you can see and edit the macros just fine. If you unplug the mouse, even with the macro saved on-board, plug it back in and then edit the macro, it will be blank, even though it will still perform the actions.

To get around this, you’ll need to save the profile to the computer, then load it again; this should allow you to see the macro again. It does mean that if you have the software on two computers and want to edit a macro after switching, you’ll be left blind without loading the profile – more of a nuisance than anything else.

Final Thoughts

At $45, the Tt eSPORTS BLACK gaming mouse is up against a very tough crowd, and just by features alone, there are much cheaper mice with more buttons and just as capable software.

The Mionix NAOS has a 5k sensor and 7 buttons for $47; the Logitech M705 wireless with a 3 year battery life, 8 buttons and a very comprehensive software suite costs $40 (though not gaming); the Cooler Master Storm series have similar pricing, are gaming-orientated and equal if not better feature sets.

It will come down to personal taste in the end, as always, but compared to the competition, the BLACK’s price is a little steep.

The inclusion of the Phillips sensor (yet again) causes issue with diagonal shifting with pick and place movements – but remains accurate otherwise. We may bash the sensor a fair bit here at Techgage, but it’s a valid concern. So many mice in the gaming sector make use of it, probably due to a lack of a real alternatives. While supposedly, the drifting can be fixed via firmware, I have yet to see a mouse implement it.

The Teflon disc under the sensor serves little purpose, it collects dust, clouding the sensor, and can scrape against the mouse mat, so it’s best to remove. The other Teflon feet are more than adequate at providing easy gliding for the mouse. Since this is the second mouse I’ve used that has this disc under the sensor, I do wonder what it’s real purpose is, apart from to provide additional gliding.


Tt eSPORTS BLACK Gaming Mouse

The 6 button configuration is still a little odd, it wouldn’t be too difficult to switch to 7 buttons since the thumb button is quite large. The top-mounted DPI buttons can be reprogrammed, but the lack of a DPI cycle function rather than separate up and down DPI functions means that you can’t recover one of them for another function, like profile switching on-the-fly, which again, is not included.

The software provided works very well; the macro editor, despite the unplugging issue mentioned above, is actually very functional. It would be nice to be able to move blocks of actions in a macro instead of one at a time, but this is minor. The inclusion of a profile switch function would be appreciated, but due to the lack of memory and that realistically, only one button can be programmed without losing standard in-game buttons and DPI control, a profile switch would add little extended functionality.

The Tt eSPORTS BLACK gaming mouse is a functional piece of equipment, but for the price point, it comes across as rather basic in terms of hardware functionality. There are discrepancies with the documentation, like the inclusion of on-board memory, 1000Hz poll rate instead of 500Hz, and adjustable DPI settings, rather than fixed. These are all good changes though, so one can’t complain. It’s just for $45, I would expect a couple extra buttons.

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