Microsoft SideWinder X8 Gaming MouseThe SideWinder X8 is Microsoft's top-of-the-line gaming mouse and the most similar to the original SideWinder featured in our round-up back in 2008. It packs some unique features not found in any other mice in our round up.
The retail offering includes the mouse itself, documentation and software, and a charging station / storage compartment for the optional mouse feet that looks more like a hockey puck. Much like the original SideWinder, the X8 is an overall large mouse. It features a two-tone color scheme with gray on top, black around the sides and silver accents on some of the buttons. There are no rubber grips on the mouse but the covering of the mouse click buttons left me a bit puzzled.
It was next to impossible to show in the photos, but the areas where your fingers rest are smooth and grippy while the rest of the top surface isn't. I don't know if this is by design or if this same unit was used before -- clues point to the latter, such as scuffed mouse feet and a small ding on the bottom of the mouse.
The X8 features two standard mouse click buttons and a clickable scroll wheel that tilts left and right. Behind the scroll wheel are three DPI selector buttons that are very similar to those found on the X3. The DPI presets are: 500, 1,500 and 4,000 from bottom to top. Unlike the X3, however, these settings can be fully customized to your liking.
Instead of a simple LED status indicator, the X8 displays the selected DPI on a small LCD screen on the left side of the mouse between where your thumb and pointer finger rest. The big silver button in the center of the mouse activates Games Explorer in Windows Vista / 7. Just below the LCD screen are two additional thumb buttons in an "up and down" layout and a third horizontal button in front of these two is used to record macros.
The scroll wheel is metal with an array of bumps for added grip. The wheel has a good tactical feel and the tilt works great. The scroll click button is a little stiff but not too bad. The bottom of the mouse is silver with a black battery cover. There are four interchangeable mouse feet that feature different surfaces to best match your mouse pad. An on / off switch can also be found as well as the charge and play connector.
Using the extendable charging cable found on the charging station, you can reload the mouse's battery and use it at the same time, or simply charge it when you are away from the computer. Much like Apple's MagSafe, the charger for the X8 features a connector-free system that attaches to the bottom of the mouse using magnets. Microsoft claims this mouse can handle up to 30 hours of active gaming on a single charge.
The SideWinder X8 uses Microsoft's BlueTrack Technology with image processing of 13,000 frames per second. This allows the mouse to track on a wide variety of surfaces, not just a typical mouse pad. A blue light is emitted from here.
Microsoft uses the same IntelliPoint software for all its mice -- you simply select which model you are using from a drop down menu. As with the previous X3 and Laser Mouse 7000, configuration is virtually identical. The only thing that changes is the button layout, which ones you can customize, and one additional 'Sensitivity' tab used to fine-tune the DPI on-the-fly buttons. Unfortunately, the Games Explorer button cannot be remapped and it's pretty much useless to me.
I had no issues with the X8 during normal Windows use. As I mentioned earlier, it is a large mouse so those with smaller hands may feel a bit overwhelmed. For instance, my thumb was a good quarter of an inch too short to reach the macro button on the side, but it fits perfectly between the "up and down" thumb buttons which were a bit closer.
The wireless / wired system worked great. I really like the magnetic charging cable and being able to use the mouse while it is charging -- most wireless mice use a docking station which impedes this. I tested the range of the wireless mouse from my dining room to the opposite side of the living room, around 20 feet away, and it still seemed to work just fine.
The extra mice feet are a nice addition, although I couldn't tell too much difference between the three included sets. The mouse was pretty loud sliding across my mouse pad regardless of which feet were installed. If you like a large mouse with multiple buttons, the X8 might be worth a look. It has an MSRP of $99.95 but can be found on Newegg for only $72.99.