With heated competition from the likes of Razor, Steelseries, Roccat and Corsair,  the long overdue update to their flagship gaming mouse, the ’CM Storm Sentinel Advance’, is finally here with the imaginative name, ‘CM Storm Sentinel Advance II’. But does it do enough to stay ahead of the game in the now crowded gaming peripheral market.

If you have read my previous review on the Cooler Master CM Storm Sentinel Z3RO-G mouse, you will know that I loved it. In fact, it was one of the best mice I had used all year and it gave me very little to complain about. It was perfect in my eyes (or rather in my hands). When I was asked if I wanted to review the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II, of course I said yes. Now there is very little difference between the two mice so a lot of this review will be going over stuff that has already been said but as the saying goes, if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. The Advance II brings a few minor tweaks which fans will love, but owners of the original Advance mouse may be disappointed by the lack of changes.   

Specifications and Product Overview:

As I mentioned, there are few updates here to speak of but the most notable one is the new Avago ADNS-9800 Laser sensor which can deliver DPI up to massive 8200. Other specifications are;

  • Right handed Ergonomic Design
  • 200-8200 DPI Tracking Resolution
  • On the fly DPI Fine Tuning (+/- 200 DPI)
  • As little as 1.5.mm Lift off Distance
  • Up to 150 IPS – 3.8m/s
  • 125Hz – 1000Hz USB rate fine – tuning
  • 128kb Sentinel-X memory for profiles and macros
  • 5 Profiles with 4 DPI setting each
  • 8 Programmable Buttons
  • 9 Virtual Buttons via Button Combinations
  • Customisable OLED Logo
  • Customizable Multi Colour LED Light system
  • 5 x 4.5g weight fine-tuning system

Product Packaging:

The CM Storm Sentinel Advance II comes in an attractive red and black box with a fiery aesthetic. On the front is a Velcro door which opens to reveal the mouse inside. On the back of the door is a closer look into the product specifications and an overview of the mouse. The Advance II is packaged comfortably in a transparent clamshell package meaning that it won’t move around in shipping and is well protected.

The mouse doesn’t come with a driver disc. However the latest software can be downloaded from the Cooler Master website. A slight inconvenience if like me, the time when you go to download the software is one of them rare occasions when the site is experiencing technical difficulties but it ensures that the software you are installing is the latest, up to date version.

The Product:

The unit itself looks exactly like its predecessors, the Advance and the Z3RO-G. It is moulded to fit very ergonomically with a large, right hand. It is constructed from strong, grey ABS with a metal mesh accent around the OLED display. Compared with what else is on the market, the grey solid plastic construction of the Advance II appears visually boring but it is functional and that is what counts the most.

On the base of the Advance II are a set of ‘glide pads’ which allows it to move smoothly across any surface you put it on. Like the Z3RO-G, there is also a door which can be removed to reveal the removable weight system.

Following the well-designed construction of the rest of the mouse, Cooler Master have not slacked with the cable. As is the case with the Advance and the Z3RO-G, the Advance II comes with a braided, gold plated USB cable, ensuring it remains tangle free and resistant to snagging.

Cooler Master are offering a healthy 2 year warranty with this mouse ensuring that any problems that may arise in your use of this mouse, you can get them sorted with them. Considering that the mouse is something that you will be using constantly, it is great to have long term support if you need it.

I looked at the software in detail in my review of the Z3RO-G review so I will just reiterate some of the features in this review. The software is more or less the same with some aesthetic changes. Rather than the cool blue that is the case with the Z3RO-G, the software for the Advance II has a deep red colour pallet. This is more fitting with the current CM Storm range of products.

Across the top, there are the same tabs as with the Z3RO-G; Main Control, Colour Control, Storm Tactics, Macros, Scripts, Library and Support.

If you have used this software in the past, you will find it very easy to use. New users however may find the layout a little cluttered and hard to get used to. Once you get around the learning curve, the comprehensive software allows you to tailor the experience exactly how you want it.

On the main control tab you find the DPI adjustment sliders for changing the sensor sensitivity, 4 custom profiles for creating and saving your custom profiles, button assignment for creating custom functions for the 8 buttons and various other settings such as OS sensitivity and double click speed.

The ‘Colours’ tab allows you to change the colour and mode of the built in front and top LEDs. This tab also allows you to add a custom 32x32px logo to be displayed on the OLED screen built into the mouse. Different colour profiles can be assigned to each of the custom mouse profile. 

The Storm TX, Macro, Scripts and Library tabs remain exactly the same giving advanced users the tools they need to refine the mouse exactly how they want it.

Cooler Master recommends that you disable the Windows mouse controls in order to get the most precision out of your mouse.

Testing:

In order to test the Advance II from Cooler Master, I used it in a way I believed people buying this mouse would. I used it over the course of a week in order to get a better feel for comfort over everyday use.

On the surface I tested on, the Advance II moved very smoothly and glided with little effort. The Avago ADNS 9800 sensor did a brilliant job of tracking and during testing, never faltered. It kept up with every mouse movement at every DPI setting no matter how minor. If you are using a glass or reflective desk, I strongly recommend purchasing a mouse mat. Any mouse will struggle to track on a transparent or reflective surface.

Over the course of the week testing during gaming, video editing and web browsing, I found that the Advance II was very comfortable in the hand, even over extended periods. Luckily, I am ambidextrous so whilst I am left handed, I use mice in my right hand. If I used the mouse in my left hand, I would be out of luck. The Advance II is specifically designed for right handers. This allows it to be extremely ergonomic and easy to use but completely useless if you are left handed. This is something I mentioned with the Z3RO-G.

In order to test the multiple functions of the mouse, I felt that the best way to test it was in game. Due to the plethora of customisable buttons (physical and software), it made key binding a charm. My options felt limitless. All of the buttons are within easy reach of each other meaning I could quickly press them on the fly. The position and tactile feedback of the DPI +/- buttons I particularly liked. I could easily change the DPI using my middle finger whilst keeping my index finger on the left mouse button. This great feature particularly stood out in FPS games where I needed to keep my finger on the trigger whilst allowing me to change the sensitivity to refine aim.

Once you learn the software it is very easy to use and you quickly become accustomed to all of the functions and it makes the experience all that more pleasant.  It is one of the most customisable experiences I have had. The best way to learn the software is just to twiddle with the settings and see what each one does and get it to how you like it. The profiles can always be reverted.

Summary:

The Advance II is very much a plug in and play product. The predefined profile gives a good range of settings which is great for anyone scared of fiddling with the software settings. For people wanting to get the most though, the advanced features are there.

While I found the mouse very comfortable and it just slipped into the hand, it is designed for larger hands. Whilst I don’t have small hands, I don’t have large ones either. This made some of the buttons (particularly the ones at the top of the scroll wheel) a little hard to reach.

The Advance II is very responsive using USB and installed very quickly. Being the sort of person who frequently unplugs and transports his peripheral, I liked the braided cable. It meant I could throw it in my backpack without worrying about it snagging.

Conclusion:

Having used the Z3RO-G mouse, I was anxious to try the Advance II in case it left a sour taste in my mouth but I quickly found that this wasn’t the case at all. Cooler Master have taken what is already a great product and built upon it further and added some fantastic additions. That being said, it is very similar to the previous Advance mouse which may put off some existing owners of the Advance from upgrading to the Advance II. However if you are in the market for an excellent gaming mouse and all-rounder, I definitely recommend this mouse. This is something which is also echoed around the internet.

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