Original Link: http://www.anandtech.com/show/6855/capsule-review-logitechs-g100s-g500s-and-g700s-gaming-mice
Capsule Review: Logitech's G100s, G500s, and G700s Gaming Miceby Dustin Sklavos on March 30, 2013 12:01 AM EST
Introducing the Logitech G100s, G500s, and G700s Gaming Mice
The dirty secret of gaming peripherals is that if they're good quality products in general, they're often going to be head and shoulders above hardware marketed toward the regular consumer. For whatever reason, high rent keyboards and mice just aren't marketed to consumers who'll often settle on an inexpensive wireless mouse and keyboard combination. This was strangely evident in Logitech's pre-G-branding era, and while the G branding is ultimately a good thing, some users are liable to miss out on some fantastic quality kit.
In the strictest sense, the Logitech G100s, G500s, and G700s aren't new mice. They're three of the four mice that were recently announced (the fourth being the G400s, which we unfortunately didn't receive in time for review), but they're primarily refreshes. That's okay, though: the G100s is a descendant of the G100 which wasn't made available in North America, the G500s gives me a chance to properly review my beloved G500 as a new product, and the G700s sheds light on the oddly scarce G700.
When I met with Logitech in San Francisco, their statement with these "new" mice was essentially this: "if it ain't broke, don't break it." While I'd be liable to rib them a little bit for complacency, the reality is that many of these products have been phenomenally successful for them and well-received. Seriously messing with the formula runs the risk of disenchanting the customer as well as potentially resulting in a run on a dead product. That's not what you want; you want a run on a live product.
Our conversations regarding peripherals were actually pretty long and detailed, certainly more than I've gotten from other vendors, but I think that's due to Logitech being principally a long-standing peripheral manufacturer. Mice and keyboards can be tricky things; each person's body chemistry is different which in turn affects the way different materials feel in the hand. I can't use Razer mice, they make my palms clammy in seconds, but I know a lot of people love the texture on their products. That's before getting into the differences in preference between the different mechanical switches Cherry produces in keyboards.
What Logitech is pushing with their G branding marketing, other than finally having a unifying brand umbrella (and software package!) for all of their gaming products, is summed up in their slogan: "Science Wins." It's goofy, but the philosophy is sound: they rigorously test their products (apparently one version of the G600 MMO mouse had a small production run alongside the current version, they were tested against one another, and the release one won out), and they design them based on scientific data about how they're used. That means looking at grip, looking at the situations they're used in, and so on.
The G100s, G500s, and G700s may have gradually increasing model numbers (and price tags to boot), but don't be deceived: each really does serve a unique purpose unto itself.
The Logitech G100s: For Real-Time Strategy
The simplest model in the series has a pretty familiar look to it; if you bought into the first wave of optical mice from Logitech, you'll find the G100s has essentially the same shape. That's not exactly a bad thing, since that was a very functional mouse design and was popular in my circles. So why go back to this type of design?
As Logitech tells it, those old style mice wound up being exceedingly popular outside of the United States, specifically in South Korea, where competitive StarCraft is a serious sport. The original G100 served that market as an inexpensive but very efficient mouse for RTS play. Offered in the traditional shape with virtually the exact same surface treatment, it can seem kind of chintzy compared to its larger siblings, but looks can be deceiving.
The G100s has four buttons: left click, right click, middle click (under the scrollwheel), and a DPI switch that can be configured to be just about anything in the Logitech G Software. Unlike the other two mice in for review, the G100s has no onboard memory for storing configurations, but like the other two, it features an updated sensor and higher quality switches in the buttons. The G100s utilizes a specific optical sensor (as opposed to the lasers used in the G500s and G700s) that's supposedly extremely precise; I couldn't get any more details about it except that the product developer I spoke to was absolutely psyched about it and looking forward to deploying it in more products.
The idea behind the G100s design is that RTS players don't need a lot of extra buttons but do need to make a lot of quick, very precise motions. They tend to drive the mouse more with their fingertips than with a full grip, so a lighter mouse would be preferable for that style of play.
I opted to test their theory by playing rounds of StarCraft II and Civilization V (yes, I know Civilization V isn't actually an RTS, but it does share some of the motions), and I found that it was basically dead on. The mouse was underwhelming for playing anything super slow paced (the undemanding Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013 actually wasn't very enjoyable with this mouse, surprisingly), but I noticed that my mousing style changed and adapted to the two strategy games. I'm not entirely sure how useful the DPI switch is, but having a fourth mouse button available and basically out of the way didn't negatively affect my use of the mouse.
It's also tough to adequately articulate, but the G100s really did seem ideal for strategy gaming, more so than the other two mice, and the sensor had an incredibly fluid and smooth feel to it. Like the others, the G100s is a very responsive mouse, but the entire subjective feel in hand gradually made a believer out of me.
The Logitech G500s: For Action Games
I've been a very longtime advocate of Logitech's G500 as one of the most perfect gaming mice ever made. I never got much mileage out of changing the DPI of the sensor on the fly, and the default weight (no weights added) was perfectly fine; it was more about the coarse but breathable material used in its side grips, the toggleable freewheel, and the overall grip and response of the mouse.
I'm not really shedding tears about the G500s being basically a carbon copy of the G500 but with a higher quality laser and a less exciting paint job. The G500 had one annoying habit that should basically be fixed in the G500s: the switches in the mouse buttons would actually eventually wear out and begin holding inconsistently. It's my understanding this wasn't an uncommon problem, so the new switches in the G500s shouldd go a long way towards ameliorating it.
The G500s sports a total of eight buttons: left click, right click, mouse wheel, DPI up and down next to the left click, and then the back and forward buttons with a third button nestled under them. Beneath the wheel is a mechanical switch that toggles Logitech's secret sauce, the freewheel. You can choose to have the wheel click one step at a time the way mouse wheels typically do, or you can take the brakes off and use it as an analog mouse wheel, controlling scrolling speed with the speed of the wheel. I have a friend with a G500 who never used this, but I get a tremendous amount of mileage out of it.
For a brass tacks FPS mouse, the G500 and now the G500s are pretty solid, but unlike the G100s with its more timeless design, the G500s does have a little more room for improvement. A realtime DPI shift button is becoming increasingly common in gaming mice (Corsair called it their "Sniper button"), but that's not an available option in the G500s software unless you're using the software mode instead of the mouse's onboard memory. You can do DPI up or DPI down, but you can't hold one of the side buttons to temporarily lower or raise the sensitivity. That's a shame, because the functionality is available in the G600, and the G500s could really use it.
With the G500s available there's no reason to recommend the G500; the G500s sports higher quality switches in the buttons and received a slight increase in the top end of its laser's sensitivity (up to 8200 DPI.) At an MSRP of $69 it's a little pricey, but it has a fantastic grip if textures like those used on Razer's mice cause your skin to sweat, the adjustable weight is fantastic for some users, and the buttons are all in logical and easy to use places. The G500s is a workhorse if ever there were one.
The Logitech G700s: Convertible for the MMO Player
When Logitech showed me the G700s, I was actually pretty impressed by it and disappointed that I never saw the G700 in retail. Apparently I wasn't the only one; other gamers I know never saw the G700 floating around, either. Maybe it was too expensive, who can tell, but it wasn't an eyecatcher on the shelf (something the G500's ostentatious paint job undoubtedly helped.) That's kind of a shame, because if you're a fan of the G500 and G500s, this is basically a beefed up version of that mouse.
For starters, the switches, textures, and sensors used between the two mice are the same. Where the G700s diverges is that it's a slightly larger mouse without the potentially oversized grip the G600 had. If you need a gaming mouse with more buttons, but the G600 was too big, the G700s might actually be exactly the ticket.
The G700s features eleven configurable buttons, up from the eight on the G500s. Instead of the trio of buttons under the thumb, there are now four. The pair of DPI switch buttons have had a third added beneath them, and then below the mechanical freewheel switch is an additional configurable button. I like that almost all of these buttons are basically where your fingers are going to be anyhow, and they require very little searching. The buttons all have fairly sharp angles to them to make them readily identifiable, but those wedges can be uncomfortable at first and may take some getting used to.
Unlike the G500s, there's no LED on the mouse to tell you what speed it's running at, but where the G700s deviates the most wildly from the G500s is that it's a combination wired and wireless mouse. It comes with a single user replaceable AA rechargeable battery, a wireless sensor, and then a special micro-USB cable that locks into the mouse firmly. I had a few concerns when it came to the potential pitfalls of the convertible design of the G700s, since something like this can be bungled badly in the details.
My first concern was that the micro-USB connector (and you can use any micro-USB cable) would either wear out, or would be loose, but impressively, the cable that ships with the G700s is very secure. You can still use the mouse while it's charging as a conventional wired mouse, or you can take it off the mains and use the tiny wireless receiver. Note that this is not a unifying receiver similar to the ones used in Logitech's more consumer-oriented products; Logitech stated that the bandwidth required to reach their target 1ms latency meant using a dedicated receiver.
I switched back to corded mice after dealing with latency issues with two of my older wireless Logitech mice; they were great once they got rolling, and the MX Revolution remains a fantastic mouse if exceedingly hard to come by, but there was always a little bit of a hiccup when you started moving the mouse. The G700s doesn't have this problem; it has configurable wireless power levels, and the default one is actually imperceptible from a wired connection.
The G700s is almost flatly superior to the G500s, but I found the feedback on the thumb buttons to be a little too mushy, and the right click was actually too easy to accidentally hit and needed more resistance. If you're willing to make the tradeoffs, though, and are desperate to lose the cable without losing the sensitivity and responsiveness, I don't think you can really beat the G700s.
The Logitech G-Series Software
One thing peripheral vendors have been notoriously awful about has been software. I was never especially happy with the software Corsair uses, to say nothing of Thermaltake's and even Logitech's older software. The old G500 used the SetPoint software kit, separate from their gaming software, but with the new G series, all of the new mice and keyboards fall under a single unified software umbrella. This is immensely appreciated, as most vendors are using separate drivers and software for each of their products.
As it turns out, the G-series software is pretty good, too, and remarkably simple. Someone at Logitech seems to have decided that existing software was too clunky or not functional enough, because this software is lightweight and incredibly easy to use.
Strangely, the G100s is the only one of the three mice tested that has more than one configuration page; one page handles the DPI levels while the second handles the limited button configuration. It seems really bizarre that they would take that approach with this mouse, as it's unnecessarily involved. Nonetheless, the software is very simple and intuitive, something that will be consistent across these three products.
When you get to the G500s, you see most of the same functions as the G100s but lose some granularity in the sensor; the "Advanced" settings are all gone. The first window actually lets you choose between storing your settings in the mouse's on-board memory or storing them in software; from there it takes you to the single configuration window. Changing a button's setting is as easy as clicking on that button in the window, where a dropbox lets you choose between using the default or going to a page that lets you assign a macro, key, or basic mouse function (including multimedia controls.)
Finally, the G700s ups the ante one more time by allowing you to store and toggle between up to five different profiles, but other than that it's essentially identical to the configuration options for the G500s. It does add the ability to choose a power mode, and I found the Max Gaming mode was enough to make the wireless connection undetectable; under the other two, there's just a little bit of perceptible lag even with the mouse right next to the receiver.
This is really clean, well made software and a major step forward for Logitech. If it loses anything, it's that it's not as robust as the ridiculously configurable Kone mice from ROCCAT. Those mice use illumination to identify different profiles, and they're frankly still going to be almost ideal for users who want to get as much utility out of their mice as humanly possible.
Conclusion: Three Mice for Three Users
I think what I may very well like best about the Logitech G100s, G500s, and G700s is that they're not one-size-fits-all mice. Undoubtedly I've been glowing throughout this review, but honestly I'd be happy using any one of these three mice, and if you've been keeping up with my peripheral reviews you'd know I tend to be fairly picky. Everybody should be; the mouse, keyboard, and display are the ways you interact with the computer and thus should be as enjoyable to use and even as seamless as possible. As far as I'm concerned, that should be the overarching mentality of virtually any vendor making technology products: people should enjoy using these devices, and the devices should not get in the way of what people want to do with them.
Starting at $39, I think the G100s is actually a little bit of a tough sell, at least superficially. This looks like a garden variety mouse, and it does feel a little cheap, but those wind up being the prices you pay for what the mouse is intended for. As an RTS mouse I suspect it's going to be a very popular and effective weapon, and the optical sensor is actually the most fluid and enjoyable to use of the three mice tested here. There's no reason to think this mouse won't go on sale at some point, and at $29 it'd be an absolute steal.
At $69 the G500s continues the G500's reign as the elder statesman workhouse mouse. If you loved the G500, you'll love the G500s, because all Logitech has done is fix their software, upgrade the laser slightly, and make the buttons more durable. I'm madly in love with the coarse texture used on the grips, personally, as well as the toggleable freewheel. Some users will undoubtedly appreciate the configurable weight, too. I wouldn't recommend actually paying sticker price for this mouse; Logitech mice go on sale all the time, and the G500s really belongs at $59.
By now you probably already know whether or not you want the Logitech G700s. In many ways it's like the G500s but better, though I do prefer the lighter weight of the G500s in the hand. If you want to be able to switch between onboard profiles on the fly, though, it's pretty tough to beat. I just wish there were some kind of LED indicator on the mouse for both the active profile and the active DPI setting (similar to the G500s), and the weight kind of comes with the territory of a wireless gaming mouse. Finally, at $79 it's a very hard sell, but there isn't much out there that's quite like it.
I can easily and cheerfully recommend any of these mice, and I would urge users to seriously consider what they're getting for their money. Can you make do with a cheap $20 mouse and keyboard? Sure, absolutely. But you spend extra money for what honestly can be a substantially better experience; I've tested a lot of these peripherals on friends who were used to using basic, chintzy consumer kit and found their reactions often come just short of outright epiphany. The prices on some of these are high (excepting the G100s, which is actually a pretty straightforward deal), but peripherals are very particular from user to user, and the good stuff can really make all the difference.