Coolermaster have long been established at the top of the tree in producing top quality PC gaming cases. They’ve been pushing forward on this front for years now, innovating with new ways to maximise cooling within their products, and tool-less designs to make building your own PC a pleasure. More recently though they’ve started to expand outside of the world of market leading PC gaming cases and into the realm of PC gaming peripherals. Under the spotlight in this review are two of Coolermaster’s gaming mice from their STORM range; Spawn, and Sentinel Z3RO-G.
Both are very different and distinctive styles of mice. The Sentinel is a more traditional palm style mouse, whereas the Spawn is a much more compact ‘Claw’ style mouse so named due to the method with which you hold such a mouse. Your palm rests behind the mouse while your hand literally forms a claw over the top of the mouse. This style mouse has found favour with many online FPS fans as it gives a level of control that’s much more centred around full control within your hand and wrist, rather than relying on moving more of your arm with a traditional palm mouse. This is particularly beneficial to those playing games that require fast twitch reflexes which are much more rapid with the claw method (in theory). Both mice come jammed packed with a plethora of features and are built to the high standards we’ve come to expect from Coolermaster and their products.
I have spent a month using both mice on my system, from every day browsing, through an wide range of games from Battlefield 3 to Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim to some space RTS fun with Sins Of A Solar Empire: Trinity. These mice have really been put through their paces.
Let’s take a look at each mouse individually.
The curiously named Spawn mouse (surely the last thing you want to do with your new gaming mouse is to spawn a lot in games!) is a 3500DPI precision optical sensor gaming mouse. It comes in a very nicely packaged windowed box, where the front panel can be opened to reveal the stylish compact claw-style mouse within. Removing the mouse from the box we find a lightweight (142 grams), but very solidly built mouse, that comes in a striking red high-gloss finish. This mouse feels very well made when you hold it in your hand, not in the slightest ‘plasticky’ like many inferior mice can feel. It has rubberised anti-slip grips on either side of the mouse which help the mouse glide with your hand movements and stops sweaty hands from interfering from the all-important game play. Other welcome features of the build are a nice lengthy 2M gold-plated connector USB cable and high quality Teflon feet which help the mouse glide smoothly across the surface.
The buttons are all very solidly made too and feature Omron micro switches which give great feedback when pressed. It includes the two main left and right mouse buttons, two thumb buttons which are pretty standard on gaming mice these days, and finally two buttons just below the mouse wheel that control the on-the-fly DPI changing that this mouse is capable of. Meaning you can quickly switch between 800, 1800 and 3500 DPI settings. I’ve always found this useful in first person shooters as I like a low DPI for sniping and then like to switch to a high DPI setting for running and gunning.
There’s Coolermaster’s Anti-Drift technology built into the precision optical sensor. This effectively means it can compensate for mouse lift and drop, means smooth movements won’t be interrupted, and even features an angle snapping option so you can flick your wrist to create sweeping movements to maximise those twitch kills in your favourite shooter.
The mouse also comes with 32KB of on-board Sentinel-X memory, that will store your gaming profiles onto the mouse. You can then assign buttons for certain games, and you can take that mouse and plug it into any system and those settings will be remembered. Very smart! This can all be set-up using the great software that Coolermaster provides for the mouse, making it very easy to program your buttons and profiles.
So what’s the Spawn like to use?
Well initially I found it a little alien to use. I’m not a claw grip gamer so it took a bit of getting used to. While a claw grip mouse doesn’t sound like it would be as comfortable as a traditional palm grip mouse, I have to say that I found day to day use with the Spawn perfectly fine. It has a great humped shape to it that ergonomically fits perfectly right into your clawed hand, no matter how big your hands are. I have reasonably large hands, so I usually struggle with smaller mice to be able to use them for any extended periods of time, but I can honestly say this was not a problem with the Spawn and claw grip design.
Games again were something of a challenge to begin with, it’s hard to ‘unlearn’ how you’d traditionally use a mouse in a game by moving your arm, to switching to just using your hand and wrist movements. A few rounds of Battlefield 3 under my belt and already I could see some real benefits in using the claw grip method. You could get rapid precise movements with just a flick of a wrist. Before long I was racking up the kills and the Spawn was doing a great job. It didn’t feel quite as natural with an epic RPG like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim or the deep 4X thrill of Sins Of A Solar Empire, however it never felt uncomfortable during prolonged gaming sessions, and always gave me that level of precision that I needed to quickly throw fireballs or issue commands. The only real downside to the mouse was that I did find the side buttons a little too small for my liking, and perhaps set a little backwards from where would be ideal for me. So they weren’t as instinctively placed as I would have liked.
Another great benefit of the Coolermaster Spawn mouse was that due to the compact ergonomic design I could easily carry it around with my laptop and it made for a great mouse to plug-in when on the move.
If you’re in the market for a high quality, well-made claw grip mouse… then you would be well advised to take a look at the Spawn. It’s a great product for the money.
The sentinel Z3RO-G mouse positions itself as one of the premium mice in the CM STORM range… and boy does it pack a lot of features into it!
Packaging is very similar to the Spawn in that we get a windowed box which can be opened to reveal the Sentinel ZG. Removing the mouse we find a sleek looking grey and black mouse, that has a very solid weighty feel to it again. This time it’s a palm grip mouse, and it’s much bigger than the Spawn, 135mm in length compared to the Spawn’s compact 107mm from top to bottom. Weight on the Sentinel can be adjusted by opening up a bottom compartment that contains 5 4.5 gram weights. You can then tailor the weight of the mouse to your own individual liking. Something I am sure many gamers will appreciate, although I like to keep them all in and make the mouse as solid and weighty as possible.
Sensor-wise we have an incredible 5600 DPI Twin-Laser sensor which claims to offer unparalleled precision and stability on virtually any surface. DPI can again be adjusted on-the-fly with two small buttons just below the mouse wheel.
The current DPI setting is clearly presented on what must be one of the real standout features on the Sentinel, a tiny OLED screen that sits on the top of the mouse just below the wheel and the DPI buttons. This is an extremely high quality screen and can clearly display small, fine detail. The screen gives you instant feedback on what the current DPI setting is, what game you are playing and it can even be set to show your clan, or any, logo uploaded to the mouse via the Coolermaster mouse management software.
This software works great and with a whopping 128KB of Sentinel-X memory on-board means you can setup complex gaming profiles and macros within the mouse. These are clearly displayed on the mouse along with any accompanying logos to show what the current gaming profile activated is12 to show which gaming profile is currently activated. It’s a very nice system and it works well. I used it to create clearly defined sniping and general assault modes for Battlefield 3. I swiped the Recon and Assault logos from Battlefield 3 and uploaded them into the mouse. Voila! Instant game modes programmed into your mouse and because they’re loaded into the mouse it means you can take the mouse with you to a friend’s house and the profiles come with you. Excellent innovative stuff from Coolermaster once again.
The flashy OLED screen isn’t the only ‘bling’ on display with this mouse, if you’re into that kind of thing. It also has multiple LED light modes so you can have the mouse pulse rhythmically and in different colours or you can have the mouse react to button presses. Again it all comes down to customising the mouse to how you want to have it. It offers great flexibility to change it whenever you feel you want a change.
In addition to the same 7 buttons that the Spawn has, there’s also an additional 8th button known as the multiplier key. This can be used to actuate an additional 36 button outputs that could be used for macros, built-in game commands etc.
So now we’ve established that the Sentinel is packed to busting point with innovative features, how does it perform?
I put this mouse through the gauntlet through many a session of Battlefield 3, hours of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and too many late nights on Sins Of A Solar Empire: Trinity again.
As I mentioned previously, I have pretty large hands so I found the shape of the Sentinel to not be ideal. It is too flat for my hand to really feel like the mouse is an extension of me. I’d like to see a revised version of the Sentinel that has a much larger hump for my hand to rest on. A great mouse should just mould straight into the shape of your palm. I think the main issue though was with the size of my hands, they were just slightly too large for the mouse, and tended to be either too far forward or too far back when readjusting. I did give the mouse to friends, work colleagues, and even my wife to try and they didn’t have the same issues as I did. All remarked that they found the mouse very comfortable to use. So yes, let’s blame my giant hands on this one.
Once I got used to the mouse though, I have to say it performs excellently. It is hugely precise in its use and I found I could make extremely fast headshots with minimum fuss. There’s a wealth of sensitivity options within the software, so you can create profiles to whichever specification suits you best with relative ease. I found switching between these profiles a breeze too, and it was reassuring to see on the OLED screen that you were indeed using the intended profile. Too often I forgot what profile I was on in the heat of battle and end up using the wrong one. Not so with the Sentinel!
All in all the Sentinel is a very nice piece of kit and one you should seriously consider if you are looking for a premium gaming mouse.
Just as long as you don’t have giant hands!
Coolermaster Heating Things Up
So wrapping things up we have two very different, and very distinctive, gaming mice here with the Coolermaster Spawn and the Coolermaster Sentinel Z3RO-G. Coolermaster should be congratulated on how they’ve brought the great build quality that they’re known for into their gaming peripherals, and I am keen to try some of their other peripherals now such as their headsets and keyboards if these are an indicator of what to expect.
I would urge Coolermaster to spend a little time with the overall shapes of the mice to come up with a design that sits comfortably with hands of all sizes. I use a Razer Deathadder when not reviewing mice and this classic shape not only fits perfectly within my larger mitts but also my 3 year old son with his relatively small hands can use it equally as well. No mean feat.
However, if you’re not blessed/cursed with large hands and you want a premium grade mouse packed full of the latest technology… then I recommend you put the Sentinel up there near the top of your list.
If you’re looking for a top end claw grip mouse, with solid build and macro functionality, then the Spawn may just be for you.
Top stuff from Coolermaster!