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Back in 2008 we took a look at five mice from the likes of Logitech, Razer and Microsoft. Each of them offered a unique blend of features, specifications and overall styling cues designed specifically with gamers in mind. Today we up the ante and bring you a whopping 12 mice in a single round-up. Logitech, Razer and Microsoft are well represented again in this piece, but we'll also showcase some new names that you may not be as familiar with.

The newcomers in this comparison include SteelSeries, Roccat, Mionix and Ozone. Since we have expanded our selection to embrace so many devices, we thought it would be worth adding into the mix some high-end models aimed at enthusiasts that are not necessarily targeting hardcore gamers. With price points ranging from the sub-$30 range all the way up to $130, users with varying budgets and needs should be able to find something that suits them well.

The Contenders
Roccat    Kova, Kone
SteelSeries    Xai Pro
Microsoft    Laser 7000, Sidewinder X3, Sidewinder X8
Mionix    Naos 5000
Ozone    Smog
Razer    Imperator, Mamba
Logitech    Performance Mouse MX, G500

All mice were tested using the same Roccat Sota mouse pad for a level playing ground. Without further ado, let's dive right into the review with our detailed impressions and comparisons between each mouse in our test table today.

Roccat Kova

German manufacturer Roccat has been in business since 2007 but was virtually unknown to most on this side of the pond just a few months ago, before they started pushing their gear to US-based review sites and online merchants. A quick glance at their website reveals a legit-looking page and equally appealing products, somewhat reminiscent of Razer's. If that's any indication of their products' quality then Roccat could become a serious player in the US market.

The Kova is one of two gaming mice sent to us by Roccat. It is a black wired gaming mouse that reminds me of a Lamborghini Reventon, a high-end exotic car sharing many styling cues with a fighter jet. In addition to the standard left and right mouse click buttons and clickable scroll wheel, there are two buttons on either side of the mouse.

Four LED banks provide lighting to the mouse in four different colors: red, purple, green and blue. These lights can be set to "breathing", full illumination or disabled completely. Since the Kova is ambidextrous it can be used by both right and left-handed users.

This no-frills, true plug-and-play mouse doesn't need any extra software or drivers to operate, allowing you to jump right into the action. To pull this off Roccat employs two of the four side buttons as "combination buttons". These means that the buttons are pushed in combination with other buttons to perform various functions such as adjusting the DPI (400, 800, 1600, 3200), selecting right or left hand orientation and changing the lighting scheme.

That said, although the lack of software is nice it does limit you in terms of customizability. For example, you can't program any macros or even remap buttons for Windows navigation. Fortunately Roccat has programmed the Kova with the most common features used when web browsing, so this might not be too big of a concern for everybody.

The Kova turned out to be more comfortable during use than I anticipated based on its looks. It fit my average size hand perfectly and although it isn't the most comfortable mouse ever, I don't have many complaints. The mouse was responsive in all areas and I had no trouble with tracking both in Windows and when gaming.

In terms of weight the Kova feels a little light in hand. Roccat has taken the minimalist approach as there is no adjustable weight system or any other bells and whistles to be found. However, there are grips on either side of the mouse that should provide a solid hold during intense gaming sessions.

As a right hand gamer, I found that my ring finger would inadvertently press the side button closest to the front of the mouse (labeled button 6) when I would use my thumb to press the buttons on the opposite side. But since the right side buttons are only combination buttons, this didn't affect my game play. Keep in mind that since these are combination buttons and they can't be remapped in games, so technically you only have five buttons at your disposal.

The scroll wheel is convex and comes to a point in the center which is a bit unusual. A flat top scroll wheel would be more comfortable in my opinion. The adjustable DPI worked as advertised both in Windows and in games, although it might not be terribly useful in FPS games. For example, switching from an assault rifle to a sniper rifle and adjusting the DPI accordingly means you will have to cycle through all of the DPI settings to get to where you want and then back again.

The Roccat Kova is a nice looking minimalist mouse that I wouldn't mind using on a daily basis. However, but the lack of customization may steer some hardcore gamers away. The price tag of $74.99 at Performance-PCs.com is also a bit steep for a product that offers very few bells and whistles.

Pros:
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Comfortable
  • Ambidextrous
  • True plug-and-play (no drivers or software required)
  • Adjustable LED lighting system
Cons:
  • Lack of customization
  • DPI switching only one way
  • Unusual scroll wheel
  • Very basic feature set
  • Price