Hands-on review: Zephyr gaming mouse
Image credit: Zephyr
Specialist peripheral's features include a built-in fan to keep your grip secure in sticky situations.
This is a beautiful computer mouse, lit with rainbow LEDs that shine through cut-outs in its shell, but it’s more than just a pretty face. It’s designed with gamers in mind and its form follows function.
Zephyr is designed for gamers in two ways: it’s responsive and it’s comfortable in the hand. We don’t just mean ergonomic. The matt finish is comfortable to grip but there’s also an internal fan that blows cool air through the cut-outs to cool the sweaty palm of a hardcore gamer.
On close inspection, you discover that there’s a tiny button on the mouse’s underside to control the fan. This cycles between high, low and off. This is a relief when you’re not gaming – or working – furiously because the fan makes a slight humming noise and even vibrates slightly in the hand. It’s a tiny vibration, it won’t ruin your aim, but it’s nice to turn it off when you don’t need it.
Turning it off also saves a tiny bit of energy and energy-saving is a slight bugbear with the Zephyr. One of our only peeves is that the LED lights use energy whenever it’s plugged in to a live USB port, so if you snooze your laptop the mouse is still illuminated. You can either see this as an energy drain or a reminder to shut down.
The mouse is somewhat right-handed. The design is symmetrical, so a left-handed person could use it fine, but there are two handy extra buttons on the left side (under your thumb if you’re using your right hand) that are programmed for ‘forward’ and ‘back’. They’d be poorly positioned for a left hand.
Aside from the usual two buttons and scroll wheel, there’s just one further button, a small one on top, that cycles through mouse resolution settings. Choose from 800, 1,600, 3,200, 6,400 and 16,000 dots per inch (DPI). A coloured portion of both sides of the mouse indicates the setting.
It’s tempting to assume the bigger the number the better, but it’s not that simple. Choose a high setting and just a tiny mouse movement is enough to traverse the whole screen, it’s impossible to target your adversary or get your cursor in the right place. Chose low and you can aim precisely but you need big arm movements to get anywhere, which is why pro gamers either have huge mouse mats or are seen furiously lifting their mouse up off the table repeatedly to adjust its position as they move. Pro gamers typically use 400-800 DPI, but the right setting for you is a matter of personal taste: a keen gamer will appreciate being able to change it, and have a visual confirmation.
There are no other buttons, but if you press the left, right and forward buttons at once you can cycle through seven different illumination patterns. This is veritably the Blackpool illuminations of computer mice. We liked the various rainbow patterns but there are others that cycle between colours with different rhythms. The LEDs promise an impressive 16.8 million colours but we didn’t count them all.
Note that the specs online seem to be slightly improved – resolution can go down to 400 DPI, the fan now has three speeds, there’s a choice of 15 different illumination patterns – so presumably our review sample was an early version.
Gamers will bemoan the lack of extra buttons. You can never have too many buttons. But the mouse is well designed: comfortable in the hand and very responsive. The DPI control is superb. Its 1.8m anti-tangle Paracord cable seems long but is ideal if you’re plugging in to a PC tower under the table. If you love PC gaming, or just fancy a pretty rainbow mouse, it won’t disappoint.
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Trust GXT960 Graphin
This lightweight (74g) mouse looks very similar to the Zephyr, with a honeycomb shell, LED rainbow lighting, braided cable and 200-10,000 DPI optical sensor. There’s no fan to cool your sweaty palm though.
Steel Series Rival 600
A bit less colourfully lit, but this 100–12,000 DPI gaming mouse features four programmable side buttons, not two, and adjustable weighting. It also has a lift-off sensor, which disables the other motion sensors whenever you lift the mouse – great for gamers.
Razer Basilisk V2
Up to 20,000 DPI accuracy and a total of 11 programmable buttons make this great for fast and furious gaming. There’s built-in lighting and you can even download software to program it or sync it with Hue lighting.
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