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The Logitech G9 may very well be the best gaming mouse on the market, simply said, its got a wealth of features, solid construction, and solid software to back up that claim. As the natural progression from the excellent G5 and cordless G7 the G9 is a great piece of technology and a must for any gamer, hardcore or casual.

The feature set of the G9 is its biggest drawing point. In previous reviews of gaming mice, we commented on the lack of weight cartridge and the great debate around it (some reviewers love them, some hate them) and while we won’t get into the flame war too heavily, we choose to side with the former in believing that a good, heavy mouse is the way to go over some of the lighter fare. The hidden cartridge has a spot for four weights which come in 4g and 7g varieties. Having used a G5 since its introduction matching the weight and grip shape was a must to feel comfortable.

The G9 also features removable grips, with two included in the retail package. The default is a wider grip, allowing for people with larger hands to rest their palm and fingers all the way around the device. It’s made of the same material as the recently reviewed IKARI Laser with a dry grip technology to wick moisture away from your hands during long gaming sessions. The second grip is made of a textured plastic, and is also smaller, but still provides a meaty grip and excellent finger placement.

The mouse has the standard five buttons (including the click wheel) with two placed near the thumb and the standard left and right buttons. Placed under the left button is a LED display (fully customizable in color via the SetPoint software) and allows you to adjust dpi settings on the fly without the use of any software.

An interesting addition is the wheel which has two modes. The standard (configured via a button on the underside of the mouse) provides the standard clicking resistance when scrolling through web pages or changing weapons. “Unlocking” the wheel removes all friction allowing it to freely spin on its bearing to the point where you can rev it up and let it sit, continuing to spin for a good 10-15 seconds after you let go. This only adds to the bevy of personal customization options available on the G9.

The gaming grade laser, up to 3200 dpi, is smooth at any setting providing excellent feedback. In our testing with games like Portal, Audiosurf, and World of Warcraft the mouse performed highly in all regards and the customizable macros only add to the infatuation we’ve already developed for the unit. Desktop applications too benefited from the smooth laser (as opposed to optical) in testing with software like Fireworks creating lines and making smooth movements with freehand tools was impressive.

The only qualms with the unit are small, and easily correctable due to the replaceable grips. The thumb buttons seem a bit too close together, and the back button is sometimes hard to get to depending on how you grip your mouse. The included grips themselves may not satisfy all games, we found the “precision” grip (the textured plastic one) to be a better fit rather than the dry grip coated “wide load” grip.

The Logitech SetPoint software is also very intuitive and easy to use. Booting it up shows you all available devices on your system, clicking on the device offers you half a dozen pages of customizable options all focused on tuning the mouse to your needs.

Hands down the G9 is the best gaming mouse on the market today and a benchmark for all other manufactures to catch. With touches like a weight cartridge, replaceable grips, unlockable wheel, braided cable, etc. the feature set alone pays for the price of the device. Performance is top notch and customization is key, all points which make fragging so much easier.

Previously we’ve only reviewed microphones and headsets from niche gaming hardware manufacturer SteelSeries and the quality has been unparalleled in the PC arena. Now SteelSeries has launched the IKARI line of gaming mice and we’ve had a chance to take the IKARI Laser Mouse for a spin. My everyday gaming mouse is the robust, well designed Logitech G5 which has been a mainstay on my gaming PC since it was released. One of the features I like, which has caused some debate amongst enthusiasts, is a weight cartridge allowing you to make your mouse as heavy (or light) as you see fit.

SteelSeries has never disappointed in the quality of their products with subtle touches that really highlight the fact you are paying for a premium experience. Not being a wireless mouse the common thing to do on higher end products is wrap the cord in a braid, something the IKARI continues ending with a gold plated USB connector.

The design of the mouse itself takes a little getting used to, but after extended use feels natural and comfortable in most situations. Having larger hands it’s usually harder for me to find a comfortable mouse to accommodate me. The IKARI Laser makes it so your entire open palm rests firmly on the sleek curves, even providing a grooved resting place for your ring and pinky fingers, something most manufacturers pass over. Index and middle fingers rest tightly on the left and right mouse buttons, respectively, and the thumb rests on a small outcropping on the left side of the mouse below the two programmable buttons.

Next to the thumb rest are two indicator lights, controlled by a small button below the scroll wheel on top. The lights are marked High and Low which allows you to configure samples per second, or how sensitive the mouse is to your movements.  On the top side are the aforementioned scroll wheel (which only clicks in, not left to right) and the SteelSeries logo on the palm rest. The underside has the laser port (obviously) and a small LCD screen displaying information about the current profile loaded.

The entire grey/black unit is coated in a “rubberized” plastic material that increases your grip when sweating, allowing you to maintain control of the mouse and now have it fling across the room like a Wiimote should you start playing Call of Duty 4 in the most extreme sense.

The SteelSeries IKARI software, although a bit simplistic, allows for some great customization of the unit, saving the settings directly to the mouse and allowing you to take them with you should you ever decide to leave your rig at home and use one at a LAN party or LAN center.

The five buttons (including the scroll wheel) can each be customized or assigned to different functions. For instance, if you prefer you left click to be on the right mouse button, you can do that, or if you prefer your scroll wheel to launch a macro, you can do that as well. Each of the buttons can be programmed with a macro (although common sense limits it to the two thumb buttons and the scroll wheel). Each macro allows you to record a set of keystrokes and customize the delay between them in milliseconds, so common tasks in both games and office applications have a great advantage. The software also allows you to set both a high and low CPI setting with deep customization in intervals of 1 CPI for each, allowing great control over the sensitivity of your most trusted gaming tool.

After setting up the mouse to your liking, you save the settings and apply them to the unit, saving them in the mouse’s internal memory and allowing you to use SteelSeries “driver-less” technology which is really just a way to take your settings with you without needing a PC with the IKARI software loaded. Unfortunately you can’t save multiple profiles to the mouse at any giving time, so to change profiles you’re going to need access to a driver enabled PC.

The mention of a weight cartridge at the beginning of this article was not without merit, after playing games with the G5 for years, I have grown accustom to a heavier, meatier mouse and switching to the IKARI at first was very daunting. The mouse is considerable lighter than I was used to, and the inability to customize the weight initially turned me off to the unit. It feels lighter than average, but not the point of, say, a Microsoft Intellimouse which is light and cheap. The IKARI is designed for long periods of gaming, and the decreased weight certainly would cut down on fatigue after a long session.

The deep CPI customization and the ergonomic feel of the mouse are two of the high points, as well as being able to save your profile to the unit and take it with you anywhere. Needing a PC equipped with the driver software, however, to change your profile is a bit of a disappointment, which sort of negates the “driver-less” marketing point of the unit. Those who have become reliant on heavier mice are sure to experience a lot of growing pains with the unit, simply because it doesn’t have that “feedback” feel that requires you to put more pressure to move it. After repeated and continuous use the mouse feels only natural. SteelSeries once again adds to its arsenal of gaming-grade goodness with the IKARI.