Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/2286
Logitech G5 Laser Mouse: When an update is not worthy of a new nameby Gary Key on July 25, 2007 12:01 AM EST
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We have always enjoyed Logitech mice and can count on them providing interesting product refreshes every couple of years. Their last major product refresh for the gaming community consisted of the G5 corded and the G7 wireless mice back in the fall of 2005. Both mice have enjoyed a successful lifespan with very good design ergonomics, software support, and desktop performance in the rodent arena. For the better part of the last two years the superb Razer gaming series of mice have been their chief competition. However, for some of us, the real competition to the G5 has not been from companies like Razer but from Logitech's very own MX518.
The G5 Laser Mouse was originally intended to be the replacement for the MX518 in the gaming sector but as it turns out; the MX518 continues to be sold and is doing quite well in the market. With a street price around $35 the MX518 is still a very good bargain for those needing a gaming centric mouse that is also very adept at performing general desktop activities such as Photoshop. One of the reasons we believe the MX518 is still a fan favorite besides the great value and still competitive performance is the fact the general design is very good, well at least for those of us who happen to be right handed.
While the G5 improved upon the MX518 with a vastly improved sensor engine, software adjustable support for USB report rates up to 1000 reports per second, improved dpi selection, and better surface textures, it was the lack of a second thumb button that was really perplexing to us. It was so perplexing that we never really considered an upgrade to the G5 was essential. After all, the ergonomics, features, and performance were close enough that an additional $20 at the time just did not seem to be a wise investment. As we were in the middle of preparing for our upcoming micro-ATX extravaganza (Yes, you'll finally see it in the very near future!) something interesting happened: we needed a mouse for our gaming system buildup and the "new" G5 Laser Mouse looked like it would fit the bill perfectly this time. Actually, we have a mouse from RAZER that is awfully close also, but for the time being our thumbs are happy to have the second button again.
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As we looked over the product packaging there was only one item that stood out to us. Logitech's marketing department plastered a "Now with 2 Thumb Buttons" label on the front of the "new" G5 box and apparently called it a day. Of course, we prefer not to use the word "new" when describing this mouse and apparently Logitech agrees with our sentiments. Unless you are able to physically view the two mice side by side then it would be difficult to determine which revision will land at your doorstep as the official description remains the same for both mice. However, we have noticed that most major e-tailors are now providing additional product details and generally there still is a price differential between the two units. This price differential can easily determine which version will be received as the original G5 is selling for around $45 and the revised G5 going for $59. We still recommend making sure which version the vendor will ship to you. In fact, when we originally ordered two of these of mice, both versions arrived although we paid for the 2007 version.
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The Logitech G5 Laser Mouse 2007 pictured on the left is meant as the direct replacement for the original G5 pictured on the right. The overall design of the revised G5 is strictly evolutionary in nature with minor changes to graphics design and a return of the second thumb button we were enamored with in the MX500 series. Both mice share the same laser engine specifications with a 2000-dots-per-inch (dpi) optical sensor and the ability to change dpi settings on the fly. Also retained from the original version is the same tunable weight cartridge system and braided USB cord. Let's take a closer look at the features of the revised G5 laser Mouse and see how it performs.
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One of the most noticeable changes from the original design is the new color scheme. Instead of having a faded metallic color scheme like previous Logitech urban design motifs, the main body now consists of black-on-blue color scheme that mimics dry and cracked earth. The sides retain the flat black look that features a unique textured grip surface, which is very good. The other main feature, is of course, a second thumb button on the side that returns this layout design to that of the MX500 series. A change that we wholeheartedly welcome and are glad to finally see.
While the number of buttons first appears to be minimal, the layout design conceals the fact that there are seven available button/wheel choices. The horizontal capable scroll wheel can be configured as three buttons (left, center, right). An additional two buttons are located below the scroll wheel (DPI adjustable) along with the two side buttons, all of which are configurable via the Logitech SetPoint software.
There are a set of 4 LEDs just on the left side of the top of the mouse that are used to indicate power on and the choice of three DPI settings. We found their placement to either be near perfect for taking a quick glance at the current DPI setting or they were completely blocked during usage depending upon your hand size. DPI switching is supported in hardware and features the default 400/800/2000 settings. You only need to install the SetPoint software if you want to customize the DPI settings from the default levels.
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The right side of the mouse has a slight indentation that allows the third finger to rest comfortably and allows for precise movements with the mouse. Each side of the mouse is coated with a textured grip surface that allows for a very comfortable feel. On the left side of the G5 we found the thumb grip design gives you a slightly curved surface to rest your thumb on. It feels very comfortable and natural while resting your hand or during quick movements. The top of the mouse has a non-slip texture design as well. Overall, this is one of the most comfortable mice we have used but it is basically a right hand design only.
The bottom of the G5 is fairly ordinary. There are three low-friction polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon based) feet designed to reduce resistance and improve gliding across most surfaces. We found the material on the feet allowed the G5 to glide better across our various mouse pads or desktop surface a lot easier than previous Logitech offerings. In fact, the difference was noticeable the first time we used the mouse when compared to the MX518. The other feature on the bottom of this mouse is a slot for the adjustable weight system that we will discuss next.
If you read through Logitech's marketing information one of the single most touted features on the G5 series is the tunable weight cartridge system. This creation from Logitech's rodent lab offers the ability to add up to 36 grams of weight to the mouse in order to "tune" the weight of the G5 to your personal preference. We are split as to whether this system seems a little too gimmicky or according to some adamant staff members, it really does make a difference in gaming performance.
If nothing else, Logitech really went all out with the design of the weight system. The system contains sixteen different weights; eight are 4.5 grams each with the balance being 1.7 grams each. The weight cartridge accepts up to eight weights, so you can customize to your liking.
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The weight cartridge inserts into a slot on the bottom of the mouse. This slot is angled and notched making it very easy to insert the cartridge. The button located about the slot allows for a quick spring-loaded ejection once pressed. The weight cartridge is basically centered in the mouse, so any weight changes will be spread evenly across the mousing surface.
The standard weight of mouse is actually very light for its size and we found it to be very comfortable. However, some of us like a slightly heavier mouse so we added a few grams of weight and found ourselves being able to easily "palm" the mouse during gaming with some precision.
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Logitech ships version 3.3a of their SetPoint software suite in the current G5 package. Based upon our early testing in Vista, we just recommend using the CD as a platter and instead download version 4.00 before you use the mouse although the basic mouse functions work fine with the included drivers. Logitech's software installation is painless, but required about 58MBs of disk space, and also searched for other Logitech hardware for updates. The software supports Windows XP, XP-64 Edition, Vista 32 or 64-bit, and MacOS X. The basic mouse functions worked fine in SUSE Linux 10.2 but SetPoint is not compatible with Linux at this time.
The primary purpose of SetPoint is to allow complete control over the mouse's hardware capability. The interface is fairly intuitive and the programs offers a dizzying array of options to control the wheel and various buttons on the mouse. This includes an informative status display for checking the dpi and USB polling rates in the gaming section . While we could spend pages on describing and showing each setting we will simply display the configuration windows and recap any major items of interest we discovered during testing.
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Once we loaded the software and rebooted, our first order of business was to understand how memory hungry the SetPoint application and associated software is in Vista Home Premium. The results were surprising when compared to our MX Revolution that consumed around 18MB of memory when active. Our two Logitech programs, Khalmnpr.exe and Setpoint.exe, consumed a total of 8.5MB of memory in idle state and 12MB of memory while active. CPU usage was nominal during all phases of testing although we have heard reports of reduced frame rates in some configurations.
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The first option screen allows the user to define the function of the scroll wheel along with each button except for the right and left click buttons. A listing of the more common commands is listed at the right of the screen with additional options available if you choose the "Other" option. Each configurable button on the mouse has its own display screen and option choices. Logitech highlights and provides a picture zoom of the button or wheel you are adjusting. If you want the mouse to follow a different set of commands in a particular program then you simply select the supported program from a drop-down list and reassign the buttons. This feature is probably one of the most widely used and if the program is not available you can manually add it.
The Mouse Movement section allows for pointer adjustments and is quicker to use than the standard Windows mouse option screen.
The Mouse Game Settings section allows for OS or SetPoint control of basic speed, acceleration, and button settings if a game is automatically detected.
The Advanced Game Settings section allows for complete control over Mouse Sensitivity along with USB (refresh rates) reports per second settings. You can configure up to five different dpi sensitivity settings between 400 and 2000 DPI although only three are available for the button assignments. You can also set the horizontal and vertical sensitivities separately. USB reports per second settings are available from 125 up to 1000 in six different rates. The mouse defaults to 500, a number we found was just about perfect from both a performance and compatibility aspect across a wide range of systems. The SetPoint software will setup basic profiles for games that it recognizes. These profiles can then be customized or you can setup individual profiles for games that are not recognized.
We have reviewed the features and software capabilities of the Logitech G5 Laser Mouse but what are our real thoughts after using the "2007 Edition"? We will provide a short synopsis in several areas and hopefully come to a conclusion if it is time to ditch our MX518.
We like the redesigned color scheme of the mouse. It is not our favorite design as cracked earth can be a little depressing but we feel like the blue and black color scheme goes well with our G15 keyboard. Also, we are getting tired of the post-apocalyptic metal design of previous Logitech gaming mice. The shape of the mouse still remains very modern, it is sculpted to fit both sides of your right hand, and the textured grip surface provided excellent comfort and tactile feel during high energy gaming sessions. The G5 appears to be bulky, but in practice the mouse was quite nimble in our opinion and we never felt the standard weight was a hindrance to performance. In fact, the ability to "palm" the mouse along with the excellent gliding ability led us to the fact that this mouse is very comfortable over long periods of usage.
The mouse has a minimalist view and a quick glance would fool one into believing it was not very configurable. In total there are now six button and three scroll wheel combinations with only the right and left click buttons not being configurable. The mouse also features a braided USB cord that easily slides across our desk surface and looks nice doing it. The three polytetrafluoroethylene covered feet are very low-friction designs that allowed the mouse to slide almost effortlessly across most of our test surfaces.
Our only real issue with the G5 ergonomics is the lack of a left handed version. Overall, the mouse is certainly one of the most comfortable ones that we have used in our labs and should be considered for this fact alone. However, this is a subjective analysis and what fits comfortably in our hands might not work in yours. For this reason, we always suggest that you hold and move the mouse around first before making a purchase decision. We typically find a quick trip to Best Buy, Circuit City, or Frys to test the equipment beforehand is a good idea. Just beware that they like it better if you also purchase the equipment from them instead of just test driving it.
This mouse is heavy on advertised features for the gamer or professional tournament player. The most prominent feature on the G5 is the ability to tune the weight of the mouse with the weight cartridge system. A system that some of us think is little gimicky and that others swear by for improving their reaction and targeting skills. A total of 36 grams in weight can be added to the G5 via the cartridge that has eight weight holders. The kit ships with eight 4.5 and eight 1.7 gram weights.
While the weight cartridge can be important to some, the heart of the G5 is its 2000 dpi laser engine via a 6.4 megapixels/second image processor. The ability to customize the dpi and USB polling rates is another huge plus with the G5. You can configure up to five different dpi sensitivity settings between 400 and 2000 with the ability to set the horizontal and vertical sensitivities separately. The USB polling rates can be set from 125 Hz to 1000 Hz based on six preset numbers. The G5 defaults to 500 Hz which is a setting that we found offered the best combination of performance and compatibility across several different chipsets.
The included 3.3 version of SetPoint had a couple of minor bugs under Vista. We noticed the inability of our screen saver to start and at times our monitor would not enter sleep mode. The updated 4.00 version was very solid, configurable, and easy to work with throughout testing. However, we highly suggest you download the version 4.00 software and install it first instead of upgrading from 3.3. We have had a couple of issues with the mouse or software not working correctly when doing an upgrade. If you already have a version of SetPoint installed, be sure to follow Logitech's guidelines for uninstalling the product first.
Certainly for the majority of users this software is one of the most feature packed and customizable applications that we have used. The options available for customizing how you work with the mouse allows for almost an infinite amount of choices on a global or program specific basis. The 4.0 SetPoint memory footprint hovers between 8.5MB to 12MB which is acceptable but not great. The program allows the user to easily create and store gaming profiles that can be customized as needed.
There are not any real benchmarks for mouse performance nor is there a conclusive way of determining which mouse performs best at a given setting. We used the mouse in a variety of applications from Photoshop to Battlefield 2142 without an issue. In general, gaming was extremely solid and we did not encounter any issues to speak of after a couple of weeks of testing. Overall, the vast majority of gamers will throughly enjoy this mouse. We did not see or feel any lag issues during normal operation in a wide variety of games. The ability to configure the USB polling rates up to 1000 Hz is extremely important for FPS gamers along with the capability to change the standard or customized dpi settings on the fly.
We also used the mouse in a variety of general applications and customized our settings for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Photoshop CS3. Our main interest was how well the mouse would handle outlines and pixel by pixel touch up work in Photoshop. It passed with flying colors as the tracking movement was extremely accurate. We used the lasso tool and could easily outline our images that needed work with precision and during the touch up phase we were able to pinpoint and fill in certain areas with ease. The weight, textured grip surfaces, and overall ergonomics of the mouse really allowed us to keep a very steady hand while we moved the mouse around a variety of curved surfaces and some straight angles. While this mouse will not replace a pen digitizer or high-end trackball for certain applications it certainly comes close enough for dual purpose users.
Our experience to date with the Logitech G5 Laser Mouse 2007 has been better than expected. After using the original G5 and going back to our trusted MX518, we found the minor updates that Logitech implemented turned an already good mouse into an impressive piece of hardware. Maybe we are just creatures of comfort or do not like change but we found the addition of the second thumb button to be very valuable in most situations. We probably could have figured out a way to live without it but that second button allowed additional gaming options and control along with forward functionality for the browsers and office applications.
We found the overall design, ergonomics, and quality of materials to be very good. The textured grip surface is one of our favorite features about the mouse along with the it just feeling right in our hands. While the center scroll wheel certainly sounded quieter and was smoother than our original G5, it would still make a noise as if two plastic surfaces were rubbing against each other if we placed additional pressure against it. While we greatly appreciate the addition of a second thumb button we found the two thumb buttons to be slightly on the thin side, if not a little bit soft when clicking.
At a $59.99 price tag and a design only right handed people can love, this mouse is not for everyone. Would we upgrade from the original G5 mouse, probably not, but then again we probably would not have bought one either. Is it a worthy upgrade to the MX518? At this time we would love to say, "Definitely, Absolutely, Yes!". However, we believe that is a personal call depending upon your likes and dislikes between the two mice. In the end, although we are not crazy about the cracked earth design scheme, the new features and overall performance of the G5 2007 edition will lead us to replace our MX518 lab units with this mouse. However, the real question is if any of our newly arrived Razer units will cause us to rethink this decision. That is a question we will answer shortly.