(Since we all know what this thing looks like, here's a nice stock picture for you.)
For a pretext of this review, I'm going to mention some of the mice I've used in the past: Intellimouse 1.1, Diamondback, Deathadder 3g, Habu, Logitech G5, Logitech G9 & G9x, G500, Mx518, Abyssus, and many more.
Despite what you see people claim, this is not a Xai that looks slightly different, not even close. I'm using the latest firmware download for the Sensei from March and all of the Xai's horrid, buggy firmware problems seem to be gone, so that's a major plus. Due to the on-board ARM chip, each setting changes extremely fast while scrolling through the built in LCD menu. Macros work, profiles work, there's no mysterious surprises of setting a specific DPI setting that you used on the mouse before and having the cursor move eight times as fast like on the Xai.
Now let's talk about the DPI numbers. Either the Xai or Sensei has completely inaccurate DPI:
With Steelseries Software installed, the settings that feel best to me while using the Sensei are: 800 DPI, 6/11 cursor speed, 1000hz polling, at 1080p with 70hz monitor refresh rate. If I used those same settings on a Xai, the cursor would feel too slow. I used 1155 DPI on my Xai with 6/11 cursor speed, so the mice are extremely different. On my G9x, I used 1100 DPI with 6/11 cursor speed, so it seems like the Sensei might be higher DPI than it's reporting? This isn't really a big deal, it just means you'll have to experiment with settings until you find one that feels right.
While the sensor accuracy on the Sensei feels excellent and is better than the G9x and even improved over the Xai, there are a few minor negatives. First, the metallic coating on the Sensei shell is just extremely hard to get used to. It's not really a deal breaker, but it is in fact, possibly the worst coating you could ever put on a mouse. In it's clean state (which will probably last 5 minutes), it's just not grippy enough. Both gloss, rubber, and even hard plastic, have more grip than this metallic coating. It's the equivalent of touching brushed aluminum with a thin clear coat on it, similar to a Coke can. After 5 minutes of holding the mouse has elapsed, it feels like a coke can that was being held while you were simultaneously eating pizza. Due to the negatives of the shell, I'll be trying to find some way to purchase a Xai or Fnatic shell to transplant onto the mouse, otherwise, I can tell it will eventually drive me insane.
Another thing that's important to mention. There seems to be an urban myth that the Xai and Sensei can *only* be changed in steps of 90 DPI. This is completely false. I usually place in the top 10 percentile of whatever games I play, whether it be competitive FPS or PvP MMORPG, and can easily notice small changes of even 5ms input lag. On both the Xai and Sensei, I could easily notice a distinct change in cursor movement increasing the mouse even 1 DPI. 800 DPI on the Sensei feels different from 801DPI, and that feels different from 810DPI. The 90 DPI steps are a complete myth. I'm not entirely, technically literate on laser sensors, so it's possible the mouse only does "native" DPI at 90 DPI steps, but it's 1 DPI steps are definitely valid. I also notice no interpolation drawbacks while using any of the 1 DPI steps either, so I think the whole 90 DPI thing is voodoo economics.
When flicking the cursor at small objects on the desktop, I can easily notice this mouse has less acceleration than the G9x. Avago 9500 mice are definitely not created equal in terms of positive acceleration. Other people I've talked to also noticed the G9x had more acceleration than the Sensei. I honestly notice zero positive acceleration while using this mouse with a 9hd, hard pad, whereas it was easy to notice with a G9x. I've never used a soft mouse pad since probably sometime during the 1980's, so experiences may be different with a soft pad.
One thing that makes people blow the acceleration thing out of proportion with Avago 9500 mice, is that the majority of optical mice I've ever used all feel like they have a little negative acceleration, even at relatively low movement speeds. If I plug in an Abyssus, jitter problems aside, just dragging the cursor around at mild speeds gives you a sense like the cursor is slightly dragging behind your movement, like a boat anchor in the water. Laser mice all seem to have a much more direct response. Going from the vast majority of optical mice on earth to a laser, even *if* the laser had 0 acceleration, is going to feel like acceleration has increased.
I'm well aware of the parsed 1-4% variable acceleration for the Avago 9500 sensor, but I'm honestly struggling to spot it with my specific settings and hard mouse pad. As I mentioned before, it was easy to spot on the G9x, but not here. This may be the most accurate mouse I've ever used for flicking the cursor at targets. I fired up Left4dead to test it. When I used a G9x for the game, I would basically just be aiming at the silhouette of targets. While using the Sensei, aiming only for the head is actually a valid tactic to be pulled off in a similar amount of time. The Xai was less fatiguing though which brings me to the last drawback of the Sensei.
The Xai may have the best weight distribution of any mouse I've ever held in my life. The Sensei claims to be only 8 grams more at 102g, but it really feels much heavier for some reason. All small drawbacks aside, there's absolutely no reason to want a Xai or G9x over a Sensei. You can solve the coating problem by buying the Fnatic version of the mouse, the additional weight can probably be solved by opening the mouse and chunking some non-essential parts like the lighting and related equipment, which I'll be attempting soon.
For an Avago 9500 mouse, this thing really tracks so well that I'd be more worried about the RAW version introducing negatives than hoping for it to improve anything. For my last thoughts on the mouse, I attempted to use it at over 9000 DPI just for the hell of it. About the absolute highest DPI I can use on a 1080p screen and still be somewhat accurate appears to be around 6000ish DPI. I'm not entirely sure who could utilize DPI that high, maybe using a 2560x1600 screen might work.
The only other thing I have to mention is the buttons. Middle mouse is decent and not too hard to press like on some Logitechs. The right and left click buttons have different pressure sensitivity. Left click is harder to press and has a higher pitch sound, right click is easier to press and has a lower pitch sound. Both buttons are a little easier to press than the Xai, but I would prefer if both buttons had the lower pressure sensitivity like the right clicker.
Motherboard: Asus Sabertooth 55i 2003 bios
CPU: i5-760 @ 160x21
Ram: 4g Gskill Eco 1600mhz 7-8-7-24 @ motherboard default timings
PSU: Corsair 750W PSU
HD: OCZ Agility 60g SSD 1.6 firmware, intel RST AHCI driver
Sound: Creative Audigy 2 ZS
GPU: MSI 570gtx stock clocks, 296.10 drivers, "Display - No Scaling"
OS: Windows 7 x64 Ultimate
One LCD attached, Samsung P2770H, DVI mode, 1080p
Desktop DPC Latency = 30
Nvidia Control Panel Settings
Edited by r0ach - 3/16/12 at 9:32pm