In a crowded, intensely competitive field of consumer products—let’s say gaming mice, for example—standing out from the rest is vital. Craftsmanship and elegance can take your brand so far, but to fight off your many rivals, you have to speak loudly and claim boldly. Before long, everybody in the known universe is shouting, “The highest resolution! The most accurate sensor response! The best shape/buttons/layout/lighting!”
There’s an inherent danger in doing this—that the hype may become so overwhelming that it sparks buyer cynicism. Call it the Apartment Naming Law: if an apartment complex is named Oak Grove, people assume there’s no actual grove there. And the corollary is that an Oak Grove complex within an actual oak grove doesn’t get any credit for it. That’s why the best marketing walks a fine line between undersell and overkill.
Which brings us to the Cougar Revenger S.
Where there’s definitely overkill in the marketing message (and sorry fellas, the just silly name), you also get a truly solid FPS mouse for your $49.99. This is what you’ll see out of the box…
It sports a modified wasp waist, pulling in towards the center on both sides, and bulging slightly on the bottom right for a tighter fit in the palm. Though black, it’s not quite as matte as many mice we’ve seen here at Computer Shopper, which gives it a gunmetal gray sheen under a light. Sizewise, it runs close to average: 5.1 inches long by 2.6 inches wide by 1.7 inches high. That’s just a little larger than the similarly shaped Cooler Master MasterMouse MM530Thermaltake Tt eSports Ventus X…
We slightly prefer the latter because they sculpt the buttons to fit the balls of the fingers better, easing tension. It’s admittedly a miniscule difference, however.
You can’t see it in that image, but the Revenger S’s scroll wheel actually has no floor. Beneath the wheel is the traveling surface. It has a reasonably good tread, albeit with a surprisingly loud bass click. South of it is a single button, set by default to DPI Cycle. For our tastes, we prefer a pair of DPI Up and Down buttons, such as the Roccat Kone AIMORazer Deathadder EliteMad Catz RAT 6. One-way cycling uses time you may not have to move from a higher DPI setting to a lower one. (We also like Sniper Mode for that same reason: jumping rapidly between two DPI settings at the press of a button, which the Cougar UIX System software supports.)
There’s not much to see on the right side, this being a right-handed mouse…
The only feature of note is a rubberized side grip. You’ll be glad to have it when a Royal Guard Charger does his thing in Far Cry 4, and your hands start to sweat.
The left side furnishes two buttons…
They’re flat, shallow, and close to the mouse surface. It’s difficult to discriminate between the two (or even a button and the surface itself) without using your thumb tip; and that’s awkward. Typically, we prefer sharp edges and buttons with more depth, such as the Corsair Glaive RGB. The other side is just a grippy pad…
The only other point of interest on the Revenger S is the mouse’s rubber-coated, 71.5-inch cord. We prefer braided cable coverings because they protect the wiring better. Still, if you’re pushing the speed angle with a low-weight mouse, as is the case here, a rubber coat means less pull on the unit. You’ll just have to protect that cord from cuts and severe bending over time.
Setup is relatively painless with the Revenger S. You download the UIX System software from the product webpage and install it. We were briefly thrown when a pop-up appeared on our screen stating, “The software and the firmware are not compatible with each other for the time being. Yes/No.” This took us by surprise, as we weren’t aware that mouse setup now included multiple-choice tests. Fortunately, “Yes” appeared to be the correct answer, because another pop-up appeared to show installation progress on a firmware update.
This is Performance, the first screen you’ll see…
It’s easy to read, which is more than can be said for many other peripheral configuration utilities, where dark gray on black is considered an appropriate lifestyle choice. Four DPI settings can be stored. Also note the checkbox separating the X and Y axes. This can be very helpful if you have a widescreen monitor, or play some games where your enemies come at you only from the sides, rather than above or below.
The DPI range for settings in the UIX System is 100dpi to 12,000dpi, though it’s not as if anyone can play a game effectively above a 4,000-to-5,000dpi setting. However, Cougar’s advertising for the Revenger S justifies its high DPI end by stating, “Over-marketed as it may be, DPI are still relevant when it comes to defining a gaming mouse’s accuracy.” Only, they really aren’t. This is one of those claims that doesn’t quite bear up under investigation.
An optical sensor isn’t like a camera’s CMOS sensor. Resolution on a camera becomes more accurate in good part by reading a larger number of pixels simultaneously in a given area, so a higher setting means better accuracy. With mice, you’re looking at a single pixel’s size, and the resolution increases by reading what are in effect a greater number of slices of that pixel. The more slices of it you have, the more of them you can place in a single inch, and the higher the DPI—but it only affects speed, not accuracy. What’s more, as the DPI increase, the slices get ever smaller, like dividing a pie into more pieces. You in turn weaken the strength of the signal that the sensor records—until finally, the signal becomes more and more influenced by what’s called the noise floor. The sensor begins reporting a mix of signal and increasingly spurious content, which actually compromises accuracy. This explanation is very generalized, to be sure, and there are many additional factors to consider, but bottom line: extremely high DPI isn’t a factor in achieving greater accuracy on a mouse.
The UIX System’s Polling Rate is interesting, too, because instead of topping out at the expected 1,000Hz, the Revenger S offers 2,000Hz as well…
There’s another inaccuracy: MSI’s Clutch GM60 and GM70 both offer a polling rate of 3,000Hz, so 2,000Hz isn’t the highest available. That said, this all makes us wonder: If a polling rate of 2,000Hz or higher is so much better than 1,000Hz, why hasn’t it been supplied to great fanfare in the configuration software provided by the other big guns in the gaming peripherals business, such as Corsair, Razer, Roccat, or Logitech?” The answer: While it might make cursor travel marginally smoother, it also increases the CPU load and might make the mouse stutter. What’s more, any improvement is trivial at that level of polling due to diminishing returns.
Angle snapping is also offered on the Revenger S, though as an on/off switch rather than Mionix’s more nuanced presentation in the Mionix CastorAvior 7000, a linear slider with 15 gradients. It’s still good to have, regardless. Better still is Surface Calibration, a lift distance wizard that not only offers five preconfigured choices, but saves as many new calibrations as you want. This can be especially useful if you move regularly between two or three different surfaces, and don’t want to recalibrate every time you switch.
Sniper DPI is very nice to have, as well, though by default it’s not assigned to any button. We think of it as a way of short-circuiting the usual DPI cycle, jumping from, for example, your fourth stored DPI setting to your first. That can come in handy in a game like Crusader Kings II, where one second you’re shooting across vast distances between the Mongolian steppe and England’s green and pleasant land, while the next you’re delving into deeply nested, tightly presented construction menus. Admittedly, the Revenger S only comes with six buttons, and just two you’ll probably want to configure—those on the left side—but it’s a great option to have available.
Lift Height, though available in the three flavors of low, medium and high, didn’t do anything for us. It’s supposed to prevent cursor movement if you lift the mouse off a surface, but the mouse hardly moved when lifted at any of the settings.
The basic design of the Key Assignment screen is one we’ve liked for several years…
It involves dragging and dropping large, easily identified icons over various buttons. The selection of advanced options is pretty good: DPIs, Sniper DPI, Mode/Profile Switching, Launch Program, and Media.
Macro options are decent, too…
The icons across the top of the screen are a bit opaque, but not impossible to figure out. The first instructs the UIX System to run the macro once; the second executes it a user-determined number of times; the third repeats the macro as long as the button is pressed; and the fourth repeats the macro until that button is pressed a second time. You can change delay times, and decide whether to record the mouse’s movements, its absolute coordinates, or its coordinates relative to its last position. This is one of the better macro editors out there, even if it lacks some of the complexities of the Corsair Utility Engine or the Swiftpoint Z Mouse.
Here’s the Lighting screen…
We admittedly find lighting on a mouse worthless, since your hand will cover the Revenger S when it’s in use—and if you try to sneak a peek while gaming to admire all the pretty colors, your avatar will die in comical fashion. Regardless, you can select from among the expected 16.8 million shades, choose speed and brightness, and apply one of three effects. Note that the UIX System allows you to apply different lighting on its zones for each DPI setting you’ve stored. With that noted, we found the lighting very buggy: Switching between DPI settings while on the Lighting screen often left us with white or black squares that were supposed to show our current colored zone settings. In addition, when we chose effects—such as Breathing—the lighting would sometimes revert to Swift (the UIX System’s version of Cycling), and vice versa. Sometimes a request to change effects on both zones only took place on one zone, as well. We checked around, and found that quite a few other owners of the Revenger S have been experiencing similar problems.
Finally, the controls on the upper left side of the screen can be a bit confusing. You add profiles from the Game Profile Management button, which also lets you link any profile to up to three different games. Each of these can, in turn, be accessed under the giant cat logo, where it says Current Game Profile. Those three Mode buttons, above that same cat? Think of them as sub-profiles, which you can swap among if you set one of the buttons to Insert Mode Switch from the Key Reassignment screen. That’s great for when you’re playing a game with mini-games that have different key and rule sets.
Two points remain to be mentioned under Features. First, Cougar has given its new mouse Omron switches rated for a lifetime of 50 million uses, and a PixArt 3360 optical sensor. We truly like the switches, but view the numbers with skepticism, since users in forum discussions regularly rate their quality by the manufacturing nation and lot rather than by the lifetime claim. By contrast, the 3360 is one of very few optical sensors that gets almost universal approval. It’s the current one to beat, and nobody’s doing that just yet.
Performance Testing Conclusion
Excellent optical sensor and switches, low weight and cord drag: the Revenger S clearly targets players of fast-paced, real-time games, and we’d know that even if wasn’t advertised as such. (More about that, in a bit.) We tested it on three titles: Far Cry 4, DOTA 2, and Skyrim. The mouse proved quick, with very little drag; and it went where we wanted it to go, regardless of the speed of our movements. It basically became an effortless extension of our hand, which is exactly what these games call for.
We did find its pair of side buttons too flat, however. It was difficult to differentiate between them, or even between one of the buttons and the surrounding surface, using the thumb ball. The answer is to use the thumb tip, but that stresses the surrounding tendons and its metacarpophalangeal joint—that’s the big one at the base of the thumb. Repeated stressing of this area over time isn’t a good idea, unless you want to personally check out the marvels of modern hand surgery. (We have, so we know whereof we speak.)
The Revenger S’s ergonomics were otherwise sound. It possesses good horizontal and vertical arches to provide excellent support for the hand. We don’t like rubber-coated cords because of the ease with which they and their wire contents are damaged, but on the positive side here, they pull less on the mouse.
We’ve already considered a couple of claims about this mouse’s DPI and polling rates. A third, that it’s “the ultimate FPS mouse,” is essentially unprovable. What makes a great FPS mouse? A topnotch optical sensor, sensible ergonomics, or light-on-its-toes movement? Is it that the mouse does whatever you need it to do in FPS titles and other action games at every moment while you play? Not only does this hold true equally for the Cougar and a number of competitors, but several boast the same elements that distinguish the Revenger S: a PixArt 3360 optical sensor, for instance, and well-rated Omron switches. If anything, we can gripe that the so-called ultimate FPS mouse needs more clearly distinguishable side buttons—not that we count this a major issue at all.
But if we ignore the hype and concentrate on the facts, then there’s no doubt that the Revenger S is a first-rate FPS mouse. Of course, the same could be said of the Razer Deathadder Elite, the Logitech G303 Daedalus Apex, and at least a few other gaming mice touted for their FPS credentials. Each has its drawbacks which supporters consider minor, and each jumps all the important hurdles. In the end, preferences here come down to a matter of personal taste. Check out our reviews, go to a store, or visit some friends who have these mice and see how each feels—and plays. You can’t go far wrong with any of the lot, and that certainly holds true for the Revenger S.
Set the claims of expert polling and greater accuracy aside, and the Cougar Revenger S proves itself an excellent FPS mouse at a reasonable price.
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