As e-sports continues to steal eyeballs from field sports (and everything else), its participants and fans alike are paying more and more attention to the peripherals used in tournaments. New mice are being produced with an emphasis on lightness, ergonomics, and sensor precision.
That’s not to say a heavier mouse should be discounted for pause-play RPGs or turn-based strategy titles. But those aren’t the genres that test perception and agility at tournaments. First-person shooter (FPS), real-time strategy (RTS), and MOBA games require mice that move swiftly to where you expect them to go, all the while providing firm support for the hand. If you see a mouse marketed as an “e-sports” mouse, you can bet safely that its marketing is aimed at buyers who enjoy fast-paced, often competitive gameplay.
This is what Thermaltake, the Taiwan-based manufacturer of PC cases, power supplies, and gamer gear galore, provides under its “Tt eSports” brand. It had been a while since we’d reviewed Thermaltake’s mice in our pages—since late 2014, to be exact, with an e-sports-minded mouse called the SaphiraThermaltake Tt eSports Black FP Gaming Mouse, and stay tuned for a review of the Ventus X Plus Smart Mouse.)
Here, we’re taking up with the Ventus X Optical RGB. This $49.99-MSRP model is a gaming-oriented unit with a host of check-box features: RGB lighting in the body and wheel, side buttons, removable weights, a profile-switcher button south of the scroll wheel. Where it stands apart is in the unusual heel portion, which is perforated to keep your hand cool, and in the quality of the optical sensor included. Let’s take a look.
So, to begin: Here’s a top-down look at this new mouse…
Like the SteelSeries Rival 310Razer Lancehead: 5.1 inches long, by 2.8 inches wide, by 1.7 inches at its peak. It’s a generally reasonable fit for a medium-size to large right hand, holding it in a palm grip.
There’s little to see on the right edge, though it does give a good indication of the rough-textured rubber grip…
The left side has a couple of notable features. First, the two side buttons come with a curious indented notch between them, rather than a clean break, as you can make out here…
That lower surface is actually part of the rear button, and moves with it. Given its breadth and both buttons’ sharp edges, it’s highly unlikely you’ll ever select the wrong one while gaming.
Close to the palm, on the bottom left (and right, too), are inconspicuous vents…
These feed through to the honeycomb-patterned holes on the top, providing a degree of air exposure to your palm as you game. A while back, Computer Shopper’s David Eitelbach wrote in his review of the Thermaltake Level 10 M Hybrid Mouse that the mouse allowed for air flow directly through the holes, since the upper frame of the mouse was literally lifted off the body. As the Ventus X Optical RGB employs a more traditional enclosed-frame design, the air vents feed the holes under your palm.
The underside of this mouse also has its points of interest…
Here, for example, we can see the alien mothership beaming up thousands of humans to act as experimental subjects…oh, sorry! That’s the optical sensor, which we’ll discuss at greater length later in this review. Take note, though, of that badge-like section towards the Ventus X Optical RGB’s heel. It easily pulls off, revealing three small, pill-like metal weights…
Fresh out of the box, the mouse weighs 4.1 ounces, minus its cord, which gives it a good, solid feel. However, when we’re kiting in DOTA 2, we want something lighter, faster on its feet, and more responsive. The weights lift out with ease, reducing the mouse to 3.5 ounces.
We typically prefer our mouse cords detachable and braided—detachable, because that makes for easier storage (and the option for replacement, if necessary), and braided because they’re far sturdier than rubber-coated cords. The cord on the Ventus X Optical RGB is built into the mouse, but it’s thin and flexible, with a braided outside. It’s 70.9 inches long, with next-to-no pull on the unit itself. (It comes with a Velcro tie, too, to gather up the slack.)
Installation involves loading the Tt eSports Command Center (CC) utility, available towards the bottom of the Ventus X Optical RGB’s Web page on Thermaltake’s site.
There’s no registration requirement, and the download takes less than a minute in our experience. Once you launch the utility, this is what you see…
It’s a bit stark, and it doesn’t adapt properly to the full screen. Also, non-functional screen elements hedge it in on all sides, while links to the software’s subsidiary screens (Performance, Light Option, Statistics, and Macro setting) aren’t standardized along a top strip, but available from three different locations on the main screen. We’re not keen on the organization, but at least the legends are large enough and easy to read.
We’re also confused why five out of the six menu tabs at the top of the configuration utility are for profiles, while the sixth is for Statistics. Those five stored profiles are, in fact, the limit you’re allowed in CC. It’s true that some gamers focus on playing just a few titles, but others prefer to purchase and play a wide range of games, and the Ventus X Optical RGB can’t accommodate their customization needs. This compares poorly with the unlimited profile storage seen in configuration utilities such as Logitech Gaming System (LGS) and Corsair Utility Engine 2 (CUE2). On the other hand, CC does support program links, as you can see from the check box on the right side of the above screen. You can launch a game, and have a specific profile load along with it.
You get only six buttons on the Ventus X Optical RGB. CC, though, displays two more, because it breaks down the scroll wheel into three actions: the scroll-wheel-downclick-as-button, scroll up, and scroll down. Clicking on any button next to the mouse’s image brings up the key assignment screen…
There are several categories of things you can assign here to a button, though some of these are oddly grouped or named. “Single key,” for instance, subsumes both standard mouse buttons and media keys, while “T key,” for arcane reasons we can’t grasp, involves assigning a macro to the button. The curiously named “Rotate +” and “Rotate –” under Sensitivity are what other configuration utilities would call “DPI up” and DPI down,” while “Temporary” is our old friend, sniper mode: click and hold, and the mouse switches to whatever DPI setting you’ve set there. Let go, and it switches back. Nice, but not clearly named.
You’re probably wondering what the “Normal” and “Battle” buttons are for, above the mouse. Normal shifts the LED lighting in the mouse’s two color zones—its logo and scroll wheel—to reflect, in tandem, changes in your DPI settings, and also has them blink them accordingly: once in red for the first setting, twice in yellow for the second setting, and so on. The Battle button, meanwhile, is less informative: It just changes the color zones based on how swiftly you click the mouse buttons. This would probably be aesthetically pleasing to someone who can keep one eyeball on the screen while gaming, while embedding the other eyeball in the palm of his or her right hand to see the lighting changes. Otherwise, it doesn’t appear to offer much value.
Clicking the Performance button on the right pops up this small screen…
Its design is counterintuitive but functional. To customize the tracking resolution/DPI settings, you click on one of the DPI setting tabs (called Levels) then adjust the linear slider, which runs from 100dpi to an unusable 12,000dpi. There’s also an option to separately allocate the DPI for the X and Y axes, which can be useful on an extra-wide monitor or a game with much more lateral than vertical movement. Below that is what appears to be a linear slider for angle snapping, but is actually an on/off switch, and a lift-distance control with three settings. Not to pooh-pooh what Thermaltake supplies, but we prefer a wizard such as those Logitech and Mionix offer. They’re more exact tools. Whether you’re in a tournament or just playing a fast-paced action title for a little relaxation after a day spent engaging in brain surgery (actual or metaphorical), you don’t want a mouse sensor that coughs in the middle of battle.
The Ventus X Optical RGB’s macro editor has little to offer beyond the basics…
You can delete and insert entries, though with the black background being the same color as an entry you highlight, it’s not easy here. Nor can you edit an entry, much less use macros to launch programs or other macros, in the way that CUE2 allows you to.
Under the Light Option button, you get a screen with the standard 16.8 million colors on offer…
The color zones are under your hand (inside the mouse’s heel) and in the scroll wheel. You get a choice of three effects: Static, Pulse, and Spectrum Running, as well as brightness controls and—an unusual but welcome inclusion—a sleep mode.
Whatever our issues with the garish CC, the Ventus X Optical RGB cannot be faulted for its sensor. Thermaltake employs a PixArt 3360, a high-end standard known for its accuracy throughout the playable DPI range. (Forget everything from 4,000dpi up into the stratosphere. That’s a numbers game being played by all the major mouse manufacturers; most gamers will ignore resolutions that high.)
Finally, Thermaltake employs Omron switches with medium-grade silver springs, rated for 20 million clicks—though we wouldn’t suggest putting too much emphasis on the number, since once you’re actually into millions of odometer clicks on your mouse, you’re likely ready for a mouse change, or other bits are worn. These switches remain, however, a well-regarded choice.
Performance Testing Conclusion
DOTA 2 was a natural first game to play with the Ventus X Optical RGB, given its combination of light weight (only 3.5 ounces, with three metal weight chips removed) and PixArt’s well-regarded 3360 optical sensor. We had some initial issues with stuttering, deliberately triggered by moving from a hardwood desktop to one of several mouse pads. The lift-distance control in the CC utility has only three settings, and the pad we chose just wasn’t a perfect fit at any of them for the sensor’s reading of surface density. Our second mouse pad worked without issue, however. Welcome as this mouse’s lift-distance control is, a wizard would be more so.
We also felt ambivalent about the unit’s Omron switches. They feel stiff to us, similar to the Omrons employed in the Corsair Glaive RGBLogitech G303 Daedalus Apex, which features superior configuration software but a less ergonomic, ambidextrous design. Despite the heavy switches, this is a fast, accurate mouse, well fitted to most hand sizes, and very well suited to manic games.
Thermaltake Tt eSports Ventus X Optical RGB
Its software could be better and the buttons less stiff, but the lightweight Ventus X Optical RGB mouse is a decent value, packing a top-shelf sensor, an adjustable weight system, and a palm-cooling design.
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