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CM Storm Mizar & Alcor Review by Takasta

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post #1 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-15-2014, 11:22 PM - Thread Starter
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CM Storm Mizar & Alcor Review

Introduction



CM Storm Alcor YouTube Review Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdEfkBJVwNw
CM Storm Mizar YouTube Review Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32jONI5mOJE

I’ve never been a particular fan nor user of CM Storm mice. Perhaps due to the fact that I’ve been more of a fan of mainstream and more long standing “gaming” gear companies such as Razer, SteelSeries, Logitech, Microsoft etc. Not to say that their mice are bad, just that their mice never appealed to me particularly for me to pick one up to review. I have “tested” their mice before, the spawn, inferno, recon etc. at stores but this would be the first mouse that I’ll be properly reviewing from them, perhaps, out of curiosity, and the simple appeal that the ergonomic shape brings.

The Mizar and the Alcor are the latest 1-2 punch from CM Storm and can be seen as their opening 2014 models. Like most other gadgets such as audio or keyboards, I strongly believe in price-performance as you’re not always out to find the best mouse every single time ever, but perhaps for a solid offering at a certain price. People’s needs are always different, and thus, this affects what they’re willing to pay for what they’re getting.

Although sometimes they don’t have the flashiest of mice, I believe CM Storm are very hands on when it comes to making improvements and trying to satisfy the market. On the OC forums, and to my knowledge on many forums in China, they are fairly active on getting customer feedback., which is to say the least, comforting. On one hand, you have the enthusiasts who demand pixel perfect tracking with an optimal shape for their specific hands. On the other, you have the more general public who just want a decent mouse to get their hands on. Overall, I think they do a pretty good job of finding a balance as you’re really never going to satisfy everyone.

I’ve been fortunate enough to pick up what I think is a fairly early release of the two mice in Hong Kong, I believe many other places in Asia have already received theirs as well, at an incredibly good price (in my opinion). Seeing how the general ergonomic IE / DA shape is gaining in popularity (or perhaps have always been this popular), CM Storm decided to release two mice of their own perhaps to get a share of this market. Undoubtedly, the resemblance to the IE3 and the DA is uncanny. To some extent, perhaps it’s direct competition for the DA and Rival offerings from Razer and SteelSeries respectively. It definitely does not hurt to have more options for this particular niche of mice, offering users an extra bit of choice in terms of shape, feel, and price.

I’ll be reviewing both the Mizar and the Alcor at the same time this time, as both mice spot the exact same chassis, scroll wheel, switches. Other than the fact that one is optical and the other laser, they are essentially the same mouse. I personally feel like this is a good way to go about things as some may purchase optical and some may prefer laser. As much as people bash the 9800, from a business standpoint, it just makes sense for them to release a laser version of the same mouse. Obviously, there are still implementation and acceleration issues at the sensor level, but it’s all in all a reasonable offering and a good strategy. Now, lets head on over to the review.

Boxing

Companies these days have gone for much simpler boxing. Clearly, this would mean reduced costs in making a mouse? (Probably not much in any case) It’s a direction I guess I don’t mind, but I miss having the catalogues and the stickers and just the little things which, I admit, I do feel a little bit attached to (lol).

The boxing for both the Mizar / Alcor are exactly the same. If you haven’t already guessed, they are essentially the same mouse but with different sensors, one being the 3090 Optical from Avago and the other the Avago 9800 laser. Literally, there is no different in the packaging other than perhaps the color scheming as seen below. A more retro open-flap design to the box is quite standard and nice to handle. The silver lettering of the names also pop out quite prominently at first glance which can be eye-catching to some.

Mizar Unboxing - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8V1XnT03ck


















Alcor Unboxing - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj1KySl64OU












What’s included:

- CM Storm Mizar Gaming Mouse
- Called a “Starting Guide” but there’s actually no instructions which is kind of dumb in my opinion

General Specifications / Price

As described on the box:

CM Storm Mizar:

- Avago 9800 Laser Sensor
- 4 Levels and up to 8200 DPI Setting
- Maximum Tracking Speed: 150ips / 30g
- Polling Time (sensor): 1ms
- 7 Fulling programmable buttons
- Cable Length: 2ms
- 12000 FPS (own information)

CM Storm Alcor

- Avago 3090 Optical Sensor
- 4 Levels and up to 4000 DPI Setting
- Maximum Tracking Speed: 60ips / 20g
- Polling Time (sensor): 1ms

In Hong Kong, the Alcor and Mizar costs $299 / $349 respectively. That’s around $39 / $45 respectively. Notably, the price here may fairly cheaper than other areas, but at this price point it is in my opinion quite a crazy offering. Most other mice with the 3090 go for about $399 - $499 respectively, and for the 9800 sensor, go for about $499+ (HKD). Thus, the fact that they can offer an ergonomic option with such a decent sensor at this price point is very competitive to say the least. Perhaps they may price the mouse a fair bit more expensive in Western countries, but I’d expect them to price it somewhat lower than their competitors. Although CM Storm do not have the most flashy branding, I can honestly say that their products are value for money.

Weight and Shape

On an initial look and feel, the mouse clearly resembles the large line of ergonomic mice offerings, notably the IE3. It measures in at 60.4 * 40.2 * 124.8 mm. Subjectively, it does feel smaller than the IE3 and ever so smaller than the DA. Compared to the Rival, it is quite a bit smaller as well. I do not have an EC mouse so I’ll be doing comparisons by memory with the EC. The size is similar to that of the EC1.

Weight

The Mizar and the Alcor both weigh in at 87g +- 2g. This is a relatively light mouse and you definitely won’t feel like it’s dragging you down. For those who need to flick the mouse a lot, it’s a pretty decent option. However, some may find it a tad bit too light as well. Personally I think it could add 5-10g. For comparison the Deathadder is 111g and the IE3 is 100g. I can imagine that some with larger hands might find this too light for their liking.





















Shape

On the left, there’s quite a nice space for the thumb rest which curves into the centre of the mouse quite nicely similar to the DA and the IE3. In this sense, it’s not as “straight” as an EC mouse or the Rival. As you go along to the front of the mouse, the contour curves relatively prominently back to the left. The Deathadder in this sense has a slight curve, and the Mizar curves very similarly to the IE3 in the front.



This is obtained off their official website (in Chinese) which shows different hand size grips for the Mizar / Alcor. In a nut shell, the picture says that the mouse was designed for smaller hands in mind. For 16cm hands, the mouse would feel more “full” and rounded in your palm. For 18cm hands, the grip should be very comfortable without feeling too small or large. For larger 20cm hands, people can choose to claw or finger-tip grip as there may be a slight space between your palm and the base of the mouse. Personally my hands are 19cm from tip to base, and I find myself claw / finger-tip gripping the mouse when gaming. This is a good size for me as I grip my Kana v2 very similarly as well.



It has a nice rounded out base which I believe should be present in every ergonomic mouse. Often times, ergonomic mice forces you to push the base into the depths of your palms, whether you’re palm, claw, or finger-tip gripping your mouse. The Rival in this sense, in my opinion didn’t really have a very “rounded” out base which was one of the biggest reasons why I didn’t like it so much. Notably, many may disagree with this finding, but it’s more of a personal preference than anything I guess. The Mizar does this quite well and immediately reminds me of the very comfortable feel of the IE3. One thing to note is that the groove separate the middle palm piece of the mouse to the side grips are quite prominent. the centre piece is slightly higher than the side piece allowing for your fourth finger to have a sensory feel of where the grip starts and ends. Personally I prefer if the back / side chassis were a one piece so that it smoothed out, but nonetheless, I think people wouldn’t mind this, or perhaps even like it.

For the fourth / fifth finger holds, the grip is very much like the IE3 / DA., more so the IE3 though. For those who are a fan of these mice would immediately fall in love with the shape, provided that your hands are not overly huge or tiny. During gaming, I found myself light griping the side using my 4th/5th fingertips in order to control the mouse. Naturally, different people control it differently, but especially for die hard IE3 fans, this should remind you greatly of home.



Lastly for the shape, the mice spot a more lower height profile compared to the DA and the IE3. The height profile is slightly taller than the sensei. If you’re looking for a ergonomic mouse with a slightly lower height profile, this may be the mosue for you. For someone who loves the height profile of the Kana / sensei, this is extremely comfortable for me. For those who may want a steeper arch like the DA, this might be still comfortable but not as “ergonomic” as you’d like it.

Build Quality

The Mizar / Alcor spot a matte finish very similar to that of the Zowie FK, NOT the smooth kind on the DA 3.5G, or the one found on the sensei raw. The surface uses a UV coating which gives it a smooth but non-slippery texture. The shell itself is made of ABS material.



The surface will give you a good grip as long as your hands have a bit of moisture. If you have very dry hands, the surface would feel extremely slippery. The material doesn’t seem like it’s as prone to wear and tear as the Deathadder is. If your hands sweat a little bit, the material will definitely hold it’s own. The overall build quality of the material is generally solid, but you won’t be blown away by it.

The main differences between the Mizar and the Alcor are in their cable / side grips / scroll wheel respectively. Without the side grips, the Alcor still has a decent grip provided your hands have a little bit of moisture. The grip on the Mizar however, does provide a little bit more grip. The rubber grip is relatively smooth compared to other rubber grips on the market, notably the Rival. There are indentations on the grip rather than having rubber bits sticking out. It’s not extremely grippy, but the quality of the rubber is definitely there.





Both mice employ a “High Impact ALPs encoder” wheel. The scrolling is very smooth with very little stoppage. It takes a very small amount of force to scroll from one position to he next. The scroll wheel lights up on the Mizar ulike the Alcor. It’s a very smooth, some may think it’s slightly too smooth. If you were scrolling through weapons on an FPS game, you may find yourself scrolling one notch too much. In light of this, the quality of the scroll is still very solid.








Cabling is also slightly different. The Mizar employs a relatively thin braided cable. Compared with the Kana v2 wire, it is noticeably thinner. The cable is tangle free, and is relatively flexible and is one of the better braided cables I’ve tried. Cabling on the Alcor is very similar to the FK. Very flexible and elastic to some extent. Overall, feel fairly solid.

Sensor / Performance

Respectively, the two mice use the Avago 3090 Optical and Avago 9800 laser sensors in their mice. The performance of these two mice are well documented on these forums, and I myself have done many tests before. For this reason, I will not as extensive test results as I did not find this to be too necessary.

Before I delve into the testing, it must be important to note that the drivers for both mice have not been officially loaded on their official website yet. I managed to find the drivers for the Mizar off somewhere for me to play around with the settings, and haven’t found the Alcor drivers yet, or if any drivers at all. Therefore these initial tests / specifications may not be complete without them confirming some of the stuff I’m testing here.

ALL TESTS ARE PERFORMED ON THE PURETRAK TALENT

Mizar

The firmware allows you to set 4 DPI settings anywhere from 200 – 8200 with 100 DPI steps. There are a wide variety of polling rates from 100 all the way to 1000. Notably, there are some odd polling rates you can select such as 111, 142, 166, 333 as well if you wish to do so. Another thing that I’ve rarely seen is a button response time option where you can choose between 32ms to 200uz (1/5 of a ms). Personally I’ve tried both options but subjectively could not feel a difference in terms of the button response.

The 9800 sensor is renowned for its inherent acceleration and perhaps smoothing that many manufacturers choose to implement on the mouse. What I will say is that the acceleration is kept to a minimum. I make this comment not on the objective basis that the sensor has acceleration, but more from a subjective standpoint of gaming purposes. If it does the job well subjectively, it’s a decent mouse.

Mainly, I’m a DOTA 2 player, and perhaps I don’t require as precise a mouse movement as FPS players may need, I still need a mouse that gives me control in clicking where I need to click, IE selecting the correct units to use spells on, or last hitting properly. What I can say is that CM Storm’s implementing is a fair effort in an attempt to reduce what acceleration there is and perhaps the jitter that is caused on higher DPI settings. Notably, subjectively I feel like the mouse does incorporate a decent amount of smoothing, enabling the mouse to vastly reduce the amount of jitter at 1000hz and higher DPI settings. Perhaps some may view this as con, but for me personally, not too big a deal. Although I do not game using extremely high DPI settings anyways, it’s nice to know that those who wish to use higher PDI options can feel comfortable with this mouse.











Alcor

The Alcor uses the one of the best albeit slightly older Avago S3090 sensor. The general consensus is that it offers close to pixel-perfect tracking although has the problem of having a fairly high lift-off distance. Some companies like Zowie have chosen to fix it by using a custom lens, others have just chose to leave it as it is.

As I do not have the firmware for this mouse at the moment, I do not know whether or not you can custom set all of the DPI settings, or the polling rate for that matter. The default settings on this mouse is 800 / 1600 / 3200 / 4000 DPI with a 1000hz polling rate. In a nutshell, the performance is pretty standard with maximum tracking rates up to 4m/s. With similar DPI settings as the Kana v2, one can expect a similar implementation. Smoothing is kept at a minimum or non-existent. During gaming, the mouse performs as most other 3090 implementations would.

Lift-off distance is also a problem on this mouse straight out of the box. It measures at about 0.35-0.4mm close to the Kana v2 but actually seems slightly lower at stock. This can be reduced using the tape trick, but greatly affects performance and jitter. There are no custom feet made for this mouse but you can cut pieces in order to reduce the lift-off distance. The tape trick works for me, but may not be an option for everyone.

Alcor NO-TAPE Fix Test






Alcor Tape Fix Test







Switches

For both the Mizar / Alcor (shall confirm later), they employ Omron switches rated for 20M. You can get a better feel of the switches by watching my button / scroll test videos. Actuation is fairly light but with a pitch that is not as high as other Omron implementations. The buttons do require a tiny bit of force to actuate so you won’t be accidently activating them. The scroll wheel has a fairly stiff middle click button to it which is one of the stiffer that I’ve seen in most mice.

Mizar - Button Scroll Test

Alcor - Button Scroll Test

The side buttons are very sturdy and take a little bit more to actuate than the Omrons on the M1 / M2. It provides a tactile feedback that is greater than most. Additionally, it is fairly hard to press it by accident due to the button location. The side buttons also have a long body which allows your thumb to find it easily, with a positioning similar to that of the IE3.




Firmware

Personally I feel like they’ve out done themselves in the firmware department with a huge variety of customization (for the Mizar at least). I’ve never exactly used CM Storm mice before so I cannot comment on their previous firmware, but there’s definitely a lot that you can do with this mouse.

On Default, the mouse is programmed into 4 different DPI settings which can be switched on the fly. Default positions for the Mizar & Alcor are 800/1600/3200/8200 and 800/1600/3200/4000 respectively. These can all be adjusted in steps of 100 and can be stored on profiles on the 32KB on-board memory respectively. As mentioned before, you can adjust the polling rate between 10 different options. There is an option for you to change the DPI settings for both X & Y axis but it is unlikely anyone will mess with these options.



When scrolling through the different DPI options, it goes in the color of white, red, green, and blue from the lowest DPI to the highest DPI options. Once you switch to a certain can then set the inherent color of the lighting that you want with the mouse between red / white / yellow / green / blue / teal / purple. At the time of this piece, firmware has not been released for the Alcor yet so I cannot confirm whether or not you can change the colors to a preset one or change anything of the like, but I’ll update this thread when I do.

With Lighting, there’s also four options of always on / always off / breathing / and rapid fire. I’m still not quite sure what rapid fire lighting does exactly, so I may have to test this out more before I get a clear answer (honestly, it doesn’t really do anything). OS sensitivity, double click speed, and button response times can also be set on the Mizar. Additionally, ANGLE SNAPPING can be applied to the MIZAR if you wish to do so, but for the Alcor, angle snapping is not applied on default (whether it can be applied later is yet to be determined).

All 7 buttons are macro-programmable on the Mizar and I can definitely say it has a very elaborate macro programmable capability. I personally do not use macros at all in my gaming, but for those that do, I’m sure you’ll find this as a big plus. Profiles can be saved on the Mizar, but cannot be switched on the fly.







Conclusion



I personally do think that CM Storm have offered some very competitive mice at a very good price:performance ratio. For $39 - $45 dollars, it definitely poses as solid competition for the rest of the field at these price points. The ergonomic offering is a clear throwback to the IE3 and Deathadder days and poses as a strong competitor against the new Rival from SteelSeries.

If you haven’t read anything else in the review, here’s what you should take out of it. Good price, good performance, IE3 + DA feel, lower Sensei like profile, slightly smaller ergonomic chassis, and an FK like UV coating. The light-weight may be a problem for some, and the lift-off distance on the Alcor may also have to be factored into account as well. As to the Mizar 9800 implementation, I feel like it’s one of the better ones and really is as good as it gets for a laser sensor. For those being anal about that aspect, the Alcor would be your mouse of choice with the s3090 optical sensor.

Would this be my primary mouse for gaming? The Kana v2 unfortunately will still hold that spot. For me, mice are always battling on a king of the court. It remains king till someone dethrones it, which, happens more often than not. Of course, some reclaim their title more often than not as well. Nonetheless, two solid offerings from CM Storm, and really looking forward to how they may implement the Pixelart 3310 in any of their new mice in the coming 2014.
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post #2 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-16-2014, 02:33 AM
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Nice write up!

I've heard that CM is already working on upgrading the Mizar and Alcor for a later release.
Based on what you wrote and what I've heard, I think I'll waiting for the upgraded version of this mouse to hit the market.

That being said I do enjoy the aesthetics of the mizar/alcor.
I'm a bit surprised that the mouse is actually a bit smaller, lengthwise, since this is supposed to be IME 3 inspired.
I'm also a bit sad as I've read that the internal quality isn't as high as some of us were hoping for.
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post #3 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-16-2014, 03:59 AM
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Excellent review. I think it was a mistake from Cooler Master to not have a 400cpi step on the mouse by default as many people here don't even like the idea of having to install software to add a 400cpi step to the memory in case it might corrupt their perfect plug&play tracking. Still, the mouse is light, shape is very similar to the WMO and I hope many people do buy this mouse to replace their WMO.

How grippy is the surface material with dry and sweaty hands?
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post #4 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-16-2014, 05:03 AM
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How is the shape similar to IMO?
Ambidextrous mouse vs ergonomic, could not be further apart.
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post #5 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-16-2014, 05:58 AM
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How is the shape similar to IMO?
Ambidextrous mouse vs ergonomic, could not be further apart.

I think he just mixed up the IMO with the IME/IE3/explorer.

I'm impressed by the low weight for a palm mouse.

Takasta, do you still have your I-2? Does the Alcor track well on it?

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post #6 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-16-2014, 07:01 AM
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Great, looking forward to watch it!!
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post #7 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Takasta, do you still have your I-2? Does the Alcor track well on it?

Tracks quite nicely on the Icemat / I-1/2 series. Liftoff distance is reduced to about 0.15-0.2mm on the glass pads.
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post #8 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-17-2014, 04:12 PM
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if they are that cheap when they retail in the states i will deff get the alcor. thanks for the reviews.
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post #9 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-19-2014, 11:07 PM
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At that weight I can't see myself not picking one up, the LOD kind of puts me off but if it's anywhere as well built as the spawn I'll have to grab one.
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post #10 of 180 (permalink) Old 02-20-2014, 12:56 AM
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The Alcor seems absolutely perfect for me. I'm definitely going to pick one up. Thanks for the review!

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