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Software tweaking
Gaming peripheral software has only recently begun to move toward simple designs that prioritize ease of use, and G.Skill has yet to join the party. The MX780's software is festooned with needless cosmetic accents that prevent the user from easily and quickly changing the available settings. It took me quite a while to figure out the ins and outs of this software and some of its roundabout ways of changing simple settings. However, once I got acquainted with the software, I was able to change a wide variety of the MX780's settings.

The MX780 has eight programmable buttons, and users can save sets of customizations into five different onboard profiles. By default, the two left side buttons are set as forward and back buttons for web browsing or other tasks. A left-hand mode instantly switches the forward and back controls to the right-side buttons. The ambidextrous user can manually assign both pairs of side buttons to perform forward and back actions (or other functions) if needed.

Other baked-in functions include multimedia controls, macros, a Windows key emulation, a program launcher, and a sniper button mode. The sniper button mode changes the sensitivity to a configurable DPI while the button is held down, which is always useful while aiming down sights in first person shooters or performing precise edits on an image. Oddly, the mouse forgets what DPI the sniper button is set to whenever any settings are saved and resets it to 100 DPI.

The "setting" tab allows users to adjust the polling rate, scroll wheel speed, sensor lift-off distance, and DPI switcher button. The DPI switcher can cycle through five different stages. Each stage has a different accent color assigned to it, and the mouse's LEDs briefly flash the color of the corresponding stage.

The final tab reveals the LED controls. Users can choose from 24 different colors here, far short of the typical 16.8-million-color range of RGB LEDs. What's even more peculiar is that some of the colors in the color palette end up looking a bit muddled on the mouse. The green displayed when switching the DPI is a very pure green, but the greens available in the software's color palette are slightly bluish. This appears to be a deliberate choice on G.Skill's part, and it's rather annoying.

Not only are the colors themselves slightly off, the lighting effect controls are wonky as well. The background lighting setting simply displays a solid color, but the effect lighting and "sync with" system have issues. First off, the "sync with" setting doesn't seem to do anything at all. I thought that it might cause the LEDs to sync up with the LEDs on GSkill's accompanying keyboard, the KM780, but that wasn't the case.

On the other hand, the effect lighting works, but the clunky interface bogs it down. In order to edit the two available effects—breathe and cycle—one first has to open up the completely separate lighting profiles tab at the top. After that, it takes a few frustrating minutes to even figure out how the whole system works.

Overall, the software is a pain to work with. Its one saving grace is the onboard profile storage, which means the mouse will retain its settings even when it's moved to another computer. Hopefully G.Skill will clean up the UI and fix the various issues with the software at some point.

Taking it for a spin

In my time spent with the MX780, I played a large selection of games in order to get as many impressions as possible. I spent the most time in Civilization V, Dirty Bomb, and Star Wars Battlefront. Civilization V is perfect for testing the mouse for long periods, as sessions with that game tend to last for a while and require a lot of clicking and mouse movement. Dirty Bomb and Battlefront are both fast-paced games that require quick twitches of the mouse.

Here's the MX780 compared to Corsair's M65

One might think that the large crevices and angular shape of the MX780 would make it uncomfortable, but I didn't find that to be the case. In fact, one of my favorite mice, Corsair's M65, has an angular shape, and the MX780 is about as comfortable. I've used the MX780 as my main mouse for weeks, and I didn't find many issues with it. Thanks to the adjustable palm rest, it fit my hand almost perfectly. The mouse can become slightly uncomfortable when caked with sweat, but that's only a minor issue.

My daily-driver Corsair M95 has turned me into a side-button addict, so I found the MX780's four side buttons a bit limiting. To be fair, most people won't have an issue with the number of side buttons at hand on the G.Skill mouse. To compensate, I gave each side button its own function. To my surprise, using side buttons on both sides of the mouse wasn't that bad of an experience. It was a bit awkward at first, and I performed a few accidental presses here and there, but that setup became second nature once I got the hang of it.

The MX780 deserves an A+ for its button quality. The side buttons are incredibly clicky and just as loud as the two main buttons. Good button feedback assures the player that a button was indeed pressed. The DPI switch button is equally clicky and well-positioned. It's tall and close enough to the scroll wheel that it can be pressed easily without turning into an obstacle.

The scroll wheel is the source of my one complaint with the MX780. The rolling action feels solid and clicky, but the wheel itself is completely devoid of any treads or texture. I may be crazy, but the blank texture of the wheel bugs me. I got used to it with time, but any time I use another mouse, I'm reminded what the MX780 is missing.

Some people tend to make a big deal about laser sensors like the one in the MX780, but I'm not a professional CS:GO player. I didn't notice any acceleration or distortion of my mouse movement, and the sensor's tracking seemed just as smooth as any other gaming mouse I compared it to. G.Skill also chose a sensible lift-off distance for the sensor out of the box. I never noticed rogue tracking issues when I picked up the mouse to re-center it on my mouse pad. In fact, the MX780 revealed that my favorite Corsair M95 has a rather high lift-off distance by default. The M95 would sometimes move my cursor or view while it was in the air. A quick tweak in Corsair's software utility fixed that issue, but I'd never been forced to consider it before picking up the G.Skill mouse.

Conclusions

In a market dominated by mice for right-handers only, G.Skill's MX780 is a great choice for ambidextrous and left-handed users alike. In fact, because of its customizability, I'd recommend it to everybody. G.Skill's attention to detail when designing this mouse is evident in little things like the short default lift-off distance of the sensor, the sturdy metal base plate, and the high-quality plastic used throughout. I was also impressed with the MX780's comfort in use and its customization options.

The MX780 does have a couple downsides. Its software is unpolished, and the smooth scroll wheel felt weird under my fingers. The lack of scroll wheel treads isn't a huge deal, though. The mouse's software could be fixed in future updates, too, and it's possible that many MX780 owners won't even touch the included utility. Despite its minor flaws, the MX780 is a solid, comfortable mouse with useful customization features, all for an affordable price of $50. It's easy to call it TR Recommended.

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