CM Storm Alcor & CM Storm Mizar
CM Storm Alcor & CM Storm Mizar
This year Cooler Master are once again delving into the mouse arena, and I have been lucky enough to get my hands on some pre-release versions of their new Alcor and Mizar mice. To be honest these mice are gorgeous, that was my first impression. Cooler Master has really nailed the aesthetics of these mice.
Some of you may recognise the heritage that these twin mice share. They are undoubtedly based ( at least conceptually) on the incredibly popular Intellimouse Explorer 3 from the mid noughties these mice have taken a great design and transformed it to something that looks more at home at a lan party than an office.
Cooler Master have nailed the look of these mice. I love that they have gone for the sleek matte black look without trying to make it look like a concept super car (Razer, I’m looking at you). The design, shape, quality and finish have really hit that ‘elegant, no compromise’ balance that previous CM Storm mice fell short on.
At the heart of the CM Storm Alcor is the Avago 3090 optical sensor. This is a great quality sensor and is coupled with a 1ms polling rate and four levels of DPI (800/1600/3200/4000) adjustable on-the-fly with two buttons behind the scroll wheel. The addition of a fourth DPI step (over the nominal three) was a wise move by Cooler Master. With a three-step dpi mouse I always find the jumps too large and have resorted to custom DPI profiles. This limits my choice of mice to those with software controlled DPI steps. The DPI levels that the Alcor provides are spot on for my requirements.
Looking to the CM Storm Mizar the optical sensor has been upgraded to a 9800 Avago laser sensor with the same 1ms polling rate and preset 4 dpi levels as its little bro: the Alcor. However, the Mizar is not limited to these DPI settings. The Mizar comes with an app that allows custom DPI profiles to be set (up to a maximum of 8200). A DPI of 8200, whilst nice to have is a little silly – not only is the precision of the mouse compromised at this setting, but the cursor speed makes simple tasks very difficult. I suppose if you were used to these speeds, or were in a cursor speed limited situation (such as a tank in Battlefield 4) then a DPI of 8200 might be okay but I have never needed anything over 6000. More manufacturers are going to this extreme not just Cooler Master, and I guess it is just a selling point.
Both mice have 7 programmable buttons and weigh ~86g. That may be a little light for some people, but the mouse doesn’t feel flimsy by any stretch of the imagination. Both mice are made from ABS shells coated in a rubberised matte finish. The mice measure up at 60mm x 39mm x 125mm. The cables on each mouse come in at 2.0m and terminate at gold-plated USB connectors with an embossed CM Storm logo.
Looking at the base of the mouse I was disappointed to see only minimal slip pads. The Mizar and Alcor only have the standard small slip pads in each of the four corners that can be found on office grade mice. No attempt was made to customize the slip-pads to suit the mouse and this is a major short coming. I found that with my palm resting on the mouse during normal operation that there was noticeable drag in the rear. This issue could have been resolved with broader slip pads placed in more strategic locations.
Both mice are designed as palm grip mice and have identical chassis. The minor touches and cosmetics are all that differ in terms of looks; thus all comments on the shape of the mice apply to both.
The ergonomics of the mice are very good, and the palm, fingers, and thumb rest easily in comfortable positions. The left side thumb rest is slightly concave vertically, meaning that your thumb rests on the mouse pad and not the mouse. The right side is slightly enlarged at the rear supporting the base of your pinky. The downward angle of the front of the mouse isn’t too steep, and the overall design lends to a very comfortable mouse. I did however find that after a few hours my pinky and ring fingers were flared out away from the mouse. The matte finish does get a little clammy after a while, but that is unavoidable.
The Mizar has a few features on top of the shape that I just discussed. Firstly there are rubber grips on both sides of the mouse, which are designed to help prevent slippage and reduce sweat build up during long gaming sessions. I really like this and find that it works well, I found myself gripping the mouse more gently (reducing hand strain) and there was definitely no sweat build up there –plus it looks good.
When looking at these mice I think of suits. There is nothing flashy or gaudy about these mice they are simple, sleek, and black. I do often tire of the look of the more extravagant mice, but the Alcor and Mizar designs waste no time on superfluous attachments and focuses on a comfortable mouse. I am personally a fan of the metallic central bar on the Alcor (like a silver tie?), and would love to see this on the Mizar. The Mizar looks a little flashier with the rubber side grips, and illuminated scroll wheel and DPI buttons but none of that is jarring and it suits the mouse well.
Both mice have a soft illuminated CM Storm logo on the palm rest that changes colour (white/red/green/blue) with DPI settings. The Alcor is limited to these 4 colours but the Mizar has 3 additional colours available through the custom software (Yellow/Cyan/Magenta). I was disappointed not only to see that this colour selection doesn’t extend to the scroll wheel and DPI switches, but also these were forced to stay white irrespective of the DPI. This looks out of place and feels like a cut-corner or an oversight on Cooler Masters behalf.
The braided cable on the Mizar uses a tight smooth good quality braid, and is a welcome addition. Though for the price of the Alcor I would have expected its cable to be braided too.
Functionality and Clickity-Click
In terms of tracking and response, both mice work fantastically on both my desk and any of my mouse pads – no complaints there. The clicks from the main keys are a little rich and heavy (in terms of sound) with maybe a tad too much resistance for my taste. The click response works for the full length of each of the main LMB and RMB pads which is good.
The side thumb buttons don’t respond identically which is off putting. The rearmost longer button has a good resistance and feedback, but the foremost of these buttons is a bit too firm. Not only this, but this foremost button is placed poorly; it is too far forward, and too short to be of any practical use. My hands are on the large side of medium, but I had to struggle to reach this button. When I did press it, I usually triggered the rear button at the same time.
The scroll wheel feels a little cheap, it’s made of light plastic and is too loud when scrolling. The precision of the scroll is good, and the resistance minimal so there is good news there.
The two DPI buttons are well placed and I like that they are ever-so slightly recessed preventing accidental clicking.
Final thoughts and pricing
My over-all impression is that these mice were designed well. Clearly a lot of thought went into the design process, but the over-all finish isn’t staggering. The omission of larger slip pads and the use of a cheap and light scroll wheel have really set these mice back.
Where the mice do excel is in comfort, practicality and looks. I found that these mice are very close to my perfect comfort point (if they were a little wider they would have hit it) and the 4 DPI modes (rather than 3) is an option that more manufacturers should look at. These mice are also very sexy which is not always as easy to achieve as one might think.
The pricing is where these mice take the biggest hit. The little bro Alcor is the cheaper of the two coming in at a staggering AUD $75 (MSRP), but the kitted out big bro is only $10 more at AUD $85; this pricing is ambitious to say the least. Whilst the mice are designed quite well, have a good finish, and are a pleasure to use, the CM Storm Alcor (in particular) does not provide good value for money. A $75 AUD price point puts this neck-to-neck with the likes of the dual-sensor Razer Taipan, and the popular Corsair M65. The Mizar does have enough features to justify the $85 price tag – if barely – but a healthy $20 and $10 price cut for the Alcor and Mizar respectively would see these mice being major contenders in their respective arenas.
So in conclusion, these mice may well be the next thing in the ergonomic palm rest field but their price will prevent them from dominating that arena.
Thanks for reading I will slam in my video review when it is done
See the video review here http://youtu.be/aBfpKKCCMeI
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Edited by FriskyGrub - 3/12/14 at 2:05pm