Cooler Master’s Mizar mouse reviewed

Covers can be hit or miss. Most, like Cake’s down-tempo take on Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive, bring a different perspective to beloved classics. A rare few, like Johnny Cash’s harrowing rendition of Nine Inch Nails’ Hurt, transcend the original and become even more broadly recognized. And then there are covers like Britney Spears’ painfully awful attempt to carry Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll—those make a good case for banning reinterpretations of beloved works altogether.

So, what about Cooler Master’s Mizar mouse? This fresh entry into the “gaming” arena is the peripheral equivalent of a cover track. The whole shape of the thing is unabashedly inspired by Microsoft’s IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0, which is one of the PC industry’s sacred classics.

More than a decade has passed since the Explorer’s debut, so the mouse is certainly due for a makeover. The question is whether the Mizar can deliver modern technology and convenience without dishonoring its inspiration.

At first glance, the Mizar looks like a carbon copy of the Explorer rubbed with actual carbon paper. Much of the exterior is covered in matte black plastic that gives off a decidedly more sinister vibe than the silver original. The soft-touch surfaces are smooth without being too slippery, and the dimpled rubber pads provide plenty of grip on the sides.

Despite aping the shape of the IntelliMouse, the Mizar is more compact. It’s 7 mm shorter, 2 mm narrower, and 2 mm lower, which adds up to a noticeable difference in my XL-sized hand. Unlike with the Explorer, which is practically a perfect fit, I can’t fully palm the Mizar without my fingertips hanging well over the front edge.

The smaller body will probably appeal to a broader range of consumers, including those who prefer to pinch their mice lightly rather than resting their palms on top of them. However, those who prized the IntelliMouse for its bootylicious curves may find that the Mizar falls short of a perfect handful.

Speaking of curves, the Mizar has slightly different contours than its forebear. The “hump” is closer to the center, and the buttons are parallel to the base, resulting in a flatter hand position than on the sloped IntelliMouse. The asymmetrical shape remains right-handed-only, just with a few degrees less rotation in the wrist.

Like the IntelliMouse, the Mizar is reasonably lightweight. It tips the scales at 4.3 oz (121 g), and the weight is distributed pretty evenly between the front and back of the body.

Thanks to slippery feet on its underside, the Mizar slides across smooth surfaces with barely any effort. The Teflon feet are smaller than one might expect from a mouse designed for gamers, though. All of the other rodents in the Benchmarking Sweatshop, including the Explorer 3.0 and contemporary competitors from SteelSeries and Corsair, have more surface area devoted to low-friction pads.

A laser-infused Avago ADNS-9800 sensor handles tracking. The model number suggests support for resolutions up to 9800 DPI, but the mouse actually tops out at 8200, which should still be more than enough for the vast majority of users. I didn’t need to come close to that maximum to comfortably navigate my multi-monitor desktop or to reel off headshots in Battlefield 4.

Even the old IntelliMouse feels fast and accurate to me, so more ninja-like reflexes may be required to notice any benefits from the Mizar’s newer sensor. That said, being able to tweak the sensitivity on the fly is great—not only for games, where a lower DPI can improve sniping accuracy, but also for desktop tasks like photo editing, where pixel-perfect precision is occasionally required. Two buttons behind the mouse wheel cycle through four configurable sensitivity settings with support for per-axis tuning in 200-DPI increments.

As it turns out, the default DPI buttons are probably more useful on the desktop than in games. Hitting those buttons involves pulling one’s finger way back from the wheel, a tricky maneuver to perform in the heat of battle. At least the awkward hand position provides a glimpse of the lighting on the palm rest, which glows briefly to confirm the newly selected sensitivity. Also, Cooler Master’s software allows DPI switching to be mapped to more readily accessible buttons.

On the Mizar, the list of available alternatives is relatively short. There are two thumb buttons in addition to the usual right, left, and center clickers. The buttons have a lighter touch, and the feel is consistent across all but the middle one. Actuating the wheel button requires a modicum of extra force, which combats against phantom clicks while scrolling.

Both side buttons protrude from the body, but the “forward” one is a tad too far forward for my liking. The same is true on the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0, so Microsoft is at least partially culpable. I also blame the genetic lottery that awarded me oversized palms with undersized digits.

The Mizar’s wheel is a notchy variant rather than a smooth scroller. The rolling action is a little on the stiff side, but it should loosen up over time. Too bad the low-profile rubber treads are also likely to wear down. They don’t provide a lot of traction to start, in part because they’re arranged in strips that run along the wheel rather than across it.

 

Configuration software

A 5.9′ (1.8 m) braided USB cable connects the Mizar to the host PC. The mouse is configured with a 1000Hz polling rate by default, and the update frequency can be scaled back via Cooler Master’s accompanying Mizar software. It’s possible to tune the button response time between 250 µs and 32 ms, as well, but the 2-ms default feels instantaneous to me.

The Mizar software also dictates the behavior of the integrated LEDs. Although the light under the wheel only glows white, the one behind the palm rest’s tribalesque tattoo can be set to shine to red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, or pink. Brightness and flashing settings apply to both LEDs, as does the “off” option that disables them. Unfortunately, the slow-pulsing “breathing” mode exhibits visible chunkiness when transitioning between different brightness levels. The mechanism seems to lack sufficient granularity for smooth gradients, making the effect look pretty low-rent.

Because hitting the “apply” button transfers the configuration settings to the Mizar’s internal storage, the software is necessary only for the initial setup and subsequent tweaking; it doesn’t have to be running all the time. The embedded storage is capacious enough for four profiles, each with independent DPI scaling, LED behavior, and button mapping. Changing the active profile requires firing up the software or mapping at least one of the mouse buttons to a profile-switching function.

Other button mapping choices include the usual mix of clicks, standard media controls, basic OS functions, arbitrary keystrokes, and various rapid-fire inputs. If you want to get fancy, programmable macros are also possible.

The macro engine records a stream of user inputs with the original or pre-defined timings. Those events can then be repositioned on the timeline and mixed with inserted delays, keystrokes, mouse clicks, and shortcuts to Windows commands. Once defined, macros can be saved to disk and shared with other users. The same goes for entire configuration profiles.

Conclusions

As a modern interpretation of the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0, the Mizar misses the mark somewhat. It certainly looks the part, but the compact dimensions and massaged curves provide a very different feel than the original. That difference is deeply disappointing to me, because I absolutely adore how the old Explorer fits my hand.

But I also prefer the oversized gamepad that shipped with the first Xbox, so what do I know? Everyone else seems to agree the downsized controllers that followed were a step in the right direction. If that sentiment is any indication, the Mizar’s smaller body will probably be a selling point rather than a detriment.

The real selling point, of course, is that the Mizar brings a wave of upgrades to the time-honored IntelliMouse shape. DPI switching is a welcome addition, as is the mix of matte and grippy surfaces. Also, the programming and profile support make the relatively limited number of extra buttons more versatile than one might expect.

At $59.99 online, the Mizar is firmly entrenched in mid-range territory, where it faces loads of competitors with comparable sensitivity, lighting, and programming options. Whether this classic reinterpretation is preferable to those alternatives very much depends on the size and shape of your hand—and your tolerance for the Mizar’s quirks.

Comments closed
    • itachi
    • 5 years ago

    Any word on the Alcor also ? is it just the same mouse with a laser instead ?

    • dashbarron
    • 5 years ago

    I’ve been using different Logitech ones because they seem to offer a good mix of features + competitive pricing. Last few years I have been using this and a few of my friends have bought one because of the versatility and feel to it: The G500.

    Addable weights, DPI switching on the fly, dual-scroll wheel (severely underrated feature in mice), and a few extra buttons. Am pretty satisfied with this mouse so far, and no visible mouse damage after long-term use either (had an old MX whose rubber coating would peel off).

    [url<]http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-G500-Programmable-Gaming-Mouse/dp/B002J9GDXI/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1414073569&sr=8-5&keywords=logitech+mouse+weighted[/url<]

    • Welch
    • 5 years ago

    IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 is a classic…? Is it just me or did anyone else miss the memo? My Logitech G5 is a true classic. You can tell when not fully working versions of the mouse are sold on ebay for $100+. Not to mention every single G series mouse from Logitech after that was compared to it and seemed to fail according to most.

    Ill say this, I had my hands on an IntelliMouse 1.0 and Windows Server 2008 R2 couldnt recognize it! A freaking basic usb mouse, not recognizable by MS own OS, crazy.

      • mnemonick
      • 5 years ago

      For Quake players waaay back in the day it was [i<]the[/i<] mouse to use, actually. Dennis "Thresh" Fong swore by it, as did many of the early pro gamers. I still miss mine... while I use and like the Logitech G500 I have now, it just doesn't fit my fat Irish mits as well.

      • morphine
      • 5 years ago

      You mean the same G5 that always broke, with the scroll wheel being the first thing? 🙂

      Between me and a few friends, four of them are dead.

    • Airmantharp
    • 5 years ago

    But those small teflon pads…

    • EndlessWaves
    • 5 years ago

    Am I the only one that preferred the original Intellimouse Explorer shape? (1.0/1.1) I did have a 3.0 but I never saw the attraction of it’s smaller size next to the original (and I don’t even have particularly large hands).

    • parasemic
    • 5 years ago

    Dissapointed after the introducion. Absolute best feature of IM, and why it was so popular among top tier players was the fact it had best optical sensor of all mice. I’d recommend looking at Zowie EC1 if you’re looking for a IM replacement mouse.

    Avago ADNS-9800 is commonly concidered as “bad” sensor by any reasonable criteria.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 5 years ago

      CM makes a version with the same shell (AFAIK) with a good optical sensor.

      • morphine
      • 5 years ago

      A “bad” sensor why?

        • MadManOriginal
        • 5 years ago

        Inherently flawed because of acceleration. It might not be noticed bu or affect some users, but when there are objectively perfect sensors, why buy a flawed one?

          • itachi
          • 5 years ago

          I heard of that issue before, can you enlight me as to which mouses doesn’t have this thing, also there is a way to remove acceleration on windows but I think it’s just the windows acceleration right ?

          BTW I got a steelseries sensei I like it, if i knew this mouse would come out I would probably have wait, or at least buy the cheaper than metal version as I saw later this existed.

          Also steelseries have a similar model than the Mizar I can’t remember the name but looked reeaaally ergonomic.. what I don’t like on the sensei is the total lack of ergonomics, that’s so dumb, “ambidextrous” sure yea but who the hell cares ??? and how many left handed do you know ?? I mean just make a left handed model available to order online and that’s it, how dumb is this really.

            • Flapdrol
            • 5 years ago

            Mice with the adns-3090 sensor, like the g400s, deathadder, zowie FK (or other variants) don’t have acceleration.

            If you use “raw input” in games you shouldn’t have any windows acceleration. If you play games that don’t have raw input you can remove it from windows with the markc tool, there’s also a 1000hz fix for windows 8.1 which doesn’t want to go over 200hz.

            • parasemic
            • 5 years ago

            Many people prefer mice that arent ergonomic. Personally I use Zowie FK because the sensor is top notch and the shape gives me full control of the mouse unlike ergonomic mice that force your hand in a certain shape around them minimizing usage of fingers while moving the mouse.

    • Captain Ned
    • 5 years ago

    [/opens the spares drawer and gazes on the 3 MSIE 3.0s waiting for their call to duty]

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 5 years ago

    Every M$ mouse and their replacements failed on me. I switched to Corsair and couldn’t be happier.

      • Captain Ned
      • 5 years ago

      Oh, how [i<]au courant[/i<].

      • EndlessWaves
      • 5 years ago

      Don’t expect a corsair mouse to last until the demise of USB.

      Frankly you’d be lucky to find a mouse that lasts even ten years. Sadly, there don’t seem to be any options available if you want a genuinely durable mouse rather than tat that has to be replaced every five years.

        • crazybus
        • 5 years ago

        I’m still using an Intellimouse Optical Special Edition that I purchased twelve years ago. I would replace it, but I haven’t found a mouse that I like yet. It’s too bad there’s no easy way to try out a variety of mice.

    • evilpaul
    • 5 years ago

    I picked up a replacement Intellimouse 3.0 after probably a decade using the old one. I’ll have to check back on this one sometime sooner than that (when I kill my new one).

    • Thrashdog
    • 5 years ago

    I agree that the first XBox controller was far and away superior for ergonomics (though perhaps I just have truckasaurus hands). Hail the Duke!

      • Waco
      • 5 years ago

      Agreed.

      Also, this mouse is surprisingly comfortable IMO. I use an EpicGear Meduza daily but the wife forced me to try out the Mizar when it came in – I wouldn’t switch (I <3 my mouse) but it’s pretty darn comfortable.

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