Pros: Comfy, looks cool, DPI switcher is useful, good value
Cons: REALLY light, 100% plastic, 1 button useless, DPI switcher really sensitive
A year ago, you really only had two choices when deciding a mouse to buy when gaming was an overwhelming factor; Logitech and Razer. Now though, that list has grown to the point where tons of companies - from dedicated peripheral manufacturers to memory or case manufacturers - have decided to try and grab a slice of the dedicated gamer pie.
NZXT has established itself amongst the PC Enthusiast crowd as a solid manufacturer of PC housing. They have a range of cases to fit almost anyone’s needs, and also manage to toss a few peripherals into their growing portfolio.
One of those peripherals is the Avatar S - an ambidextrous, multi-button gaming mouse. I’ve not really ever bothered with a specific gaming mouse before, I always just used a standard 2-button mouse and hoped for the best, though it was a product line I was interested in sampling. You can imagine, then, my delight when I received an Avatar S straight from NZXT.
NZXT offers a clean, no-nonsense package for the Avatar S - a large window so you can see what you’re getting, and some cool stylized font for the product name. Nothing really else of note here.
On one side you have system requirements, and on the other the remains of the plastic window can be seen along with more stylized font.
The rear is where you need to break out the reading glasses.
In four languages (English, French, Spanish and German,) the features of the mouse are listed for you.
Those features are:
- Precision and Flexibility: 1600 DPI laser sensor with 1600/800/400 DPI settings out of the box
- Tracking speed of 30 inches per second and acceleration up to 20G
- Hardware DPI switch allows for driver-less DPI switch while in game without the hassle of drivers
- 16Kb Onboard Memory stores 1 profile of macros, dpi settings, and LED settings for gaming on-the-go
- Narrow and medium size ideal for users that prefer a thinner and lower profile form
- Ambidextrous design ideal for both left and right handed users
- LED on/off settings
- Teflon feet for effortless gliding on any surface
- 5 Key programmable mouse
- Immense customizability: Ability to modify default DPI settings individually, setup in-game macros, media keys, and X-Y sensitivity options
- Polling rate of 1000Hz
NZXT covers all the bases here, and leaves you with no questions in terms of specification what this mouse is and is not capable of.
A Closer Inspection
At first glance, the Avatar S is quite the looker. Sleek lines akin to the brands Phantom chassis, it’s an appealing looking addition to anyone’s desk. Especially at night, when the lines separating the buttons from the body and the NZXT logo are illuminated a striking blue.
Keeping in mind that the Avatar S is a budget-oriented gaming mouse, I can forgive NZXT their choice of plastic for.. well, everything. It isn’t built with the highest quality materials as you would see from some of the competition.. but who else really offers a gaming mouse for $40? Even Razer’s entry-level DeathAdder sets you back $20 more.
The top of the mouse is rubberised to ensure your hand is comfortable and doesn’t slip during intense moments of gameplay, which is pretty handy. On the sides, the plastic is slightly rougher to allow for a tactile feel, whilst the extra side buttons are a standard glossy plastic.
Connecting to your PC is done by a run-of-the-mill USB 2.0 connector.
The cord is a standard rubber cord with no added protection - nothing to write home about, though it seems sturdy enough to withstand some level of punishment.
Testing and Software
The shape of the Avatar S lets it fall into the “claw” category - it’s not very big, and I found the end of my palm resting upon your mousepad. Its lightweight nature makes it excellent for zooming around the screen, but not so great for precision activities such as sniping.
The rubberized top buttons are comfortable and a pleasure for the fingers. This includes the left click, right click, and scroll wheel.
The sides of the mouse are slightly rough, and it gave my fingers something to grip. In terms of shape, the mouse fits comfortably in my palm, and my fingers rest nicely in the curves of the body.
The side buttons on the side of the mouse should be really convenient, and the one designed for the thumb (depending on left or right handed usage) is in a great position to make using it very easy.
The same can’t be said for the button on the other side. The only finger that can realistically press that button, is my pinky. Not only is that my weakest finger, but it also requires me to use the very edge of it. I’ve tried numerous times to intentionally use that button, and it feels very odd to do so.
I know the mouse was intentionally created to be ambidextrous, but I’d have preferred not to have a button completely wasted. It states it’s 5-key programmable, but once you take out left/right click, and the scroll wheel, really you have 2 “extra” keys - and one of those is pretty useless.
The Avatar S’ software doesn’t come in the packaging, so you do need to download them from NZXT’s website. It wasn’t difficult to find at all, and is roughly a 20MB download - so unless you’re on dial-up, you shouldn’t have to wait very long at all to start fiddling with your Avatar’s settings.
A nifty little feature of the Avatar S is the ability to switch DPI settings on the fly, even if you don’t want to use NZXT’s software. As standard these come in at 1600, 800, and 600, though they can be changed in the software if you do choose to download it. I personally set the mouse at 1600, 600, and 600 again - as the switcher is sensitive and I found myself switching to the lowest setting in the heat of the moment in-game. To do this, you hold the thumb button, and scroll the mouse wheel. The same button can still be bound to an in-game function such as a macro, ability, or weapon action depending on your gaming habits, and it will still retain the DPI switching functionality.
In-game, the NZXT Avatar S did what it was capable of. Scrolling was fast enough at max, and the thumb button was useful for grenades in FPS, or a single active-item in a MOBA. I just wish that second programmable button wasn’t so inconvenient to use.
The teflon feet on the mouse really do glide well on any surface, and moving the mouse around my pad was effortless.
Once downloaded and installed (no restart required!), the Avatar’s software is a compact, 3-pane offering that serves its purpose admirably.
On the first pane, you are presented with LED settings, left-or-right handed settings, the ability to disable the DPI switcher, along with the DPI settings for each “step,” and button programming for within Windows. I left these stock, as I like the “programmable” buttons acting as back and forward buttons when browsing. There is also the option to “save” these settings onto the unit’s onboard memory for use on a different machine without the need for downloading the software, which is a nice addition.
The second pane deals with X/Y axis sensitivity, as well as Windows pointer speeds and acceleration. Standard settings here, and they can be changed from Windows standard “Mouse” settings within the Control Panel - but it’s nice that they added them here for convenience.
The third pane deals with so-called “Advanced Settings” - though really it’s only scroll speed and double click speed. Once more, these are standard mouse settings and can be changed from the Control Panel, but again, it is convenient.
Something worth noting is that the mouse is EXTREMELY light, and it is exceptionally easy to accidentally jog the cursor from any number of accidental movements.
Overall, the software serves its purpose, and aside from the ability to save the profile, doesn’t do a whole lot else. This is fine, of course. I’m not looking for software to launch and guide missles from, so I can’t fault the software. It looks neat, works, and doesn’t hog resources.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
The Avatar S is a fairly decent budget mouse that ticks all the boxes but doesn’t add anything new of its own. It has mid-range max DPI that will allow you easier movements within games but doesn’t give you the level of control of a more expensive mouse.
In terms of build quality, again, for a budget minded mouse, it’s solid. But, it is 100% plastic, so don’t get mad and beat it when one person repeatedly snipes you in TF2. Chances are, it will break, and then you’ll have to resort to that stock mouse you stashed in the drawer “just in case.” I would have liked to see an aluminum base to protect it from dings and drops.
The mouse is fine for some light FPS gaming, but the lack of truly accessible additional buttons doesn’t make it ideal for MOBA or RTS players with heavy reliance on macros, control groups or high APM.
For $40, the Avatar S is good value and deserving of a look, but if you’re into some heavier gaming, I’d look a little further up the peripheral pecking order.
Overall I give the Avatar S a 7/10.
DPI switcher is easy-to-use and helpful in games
One of the 2 additional buttons is useless
DPI switcher can be really sensitive