The TR staff is composed of gamers and PC enthusiasts, so most of the mice we review are usually gaming-oriented devices festooned with RGB LEDs and programmable buttons. Gamers obviously aren’t the only people who use mice, though. Logitech’s top-of-the-line mice for regular folks, the MX series, make big waves whenever they’re updated. The MX Master and MX Anywhere 2 represent the most recent round of refinements to the formula. I’ve spent plenty of quality time with these mice over the last few weeks to see how they measure up.
One can tell at first glance that the MX Master and the Anywhere 2 are meant for two distinctly different habitats. The Master is a big mouse that could fit in a bag in a pinch, but it’ll probably be happiest living on a desk. The Anywhere 2’s smaller, flatter body is clearly meant to thrive in the wilds of Starbucks, airports, and laptop bags.
Both mice are wireless, and they each come with one of Logitech’s tiny Unifying USB wireless recievers. The dongle isn’t necessary for those with Bluetooth Smart-equipped PCs (better known as Bluetooth 4.0), though: each mouse can connect via Unifying and Bluetooth Smart.
What’s more, both mice have three onboard pairing profiles, each of which can be assigned to a Unifying reciever or a Bluetooth connection. That makes it easy to move the mice between PCs with Bluetooth Smart and others with Unifying dongles with nothing more than a button press.
Wireless mice run on batteries by necessity, and the power cells in the Master and Anywhere 2 are pretty fancy. Logitech uses non-removable lithium-polymer batteries in each mouse, good for up to 40 days of use in the Master and up to two months for the Anywhere 2. An included micro-USB cable plugs into the nose of each mouse to charge the battery, and it allows you to use the Master or Anywhere 2 as a wired mouse in the meantime—albeit on a short leash.
Logitech’s Options software handles the setup and customization of the Master and Anywhere 2. Unlike the gaming mice that we typically review, these clickers don’t offer on-the-fly DPI switching or multiple custom profiles. DPI can be adjusted in Options, and limited macro functionality is available through the program’s “keystroke assignment” custom function, but the lack of profile support is questionable. There’s a lot of potential value in setting up separate profiles for creative applications like Photoshop and Office apps like Excel, for example, and being able to trigger common keyboard shortcuts with a macro is really handy.
As matters stand, anyone who wants to customize these MX mice on a per-application basis has to go through Options and change each button function one at a time—and they’d have to maintain a list of settings somewhere for each app. That’s impractically clunky. At least profiles could be implemented in software, so Logitech might be able to add support for them in anupdate if it was so inclined. We’ll examine this utility a little more later in the review.
Here are each mouse’s specs in tabular form, for easy reference:
|MX Anywhere 2||MX Master|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||3.9″ x 2.4″ x 1.4″
(100.3 x 61.6 x 34.4 mm)
|5″ x 3.4″ x 2″
(126 x 85.7 x 48.4 mm)
|Weight||3.7 oz (106 g)||5.1 oz (145 g)|
|DPI settings||400-1600 DPI (in 200-DPI increments)||400-1600 DPI (in 200-DPI increments)|
|Sensor type||Laser (Logitech Darkfield)||Laser (Logitech Darkfield)|
|DPI switching levels||N/A||N/A|
|Shape||Ambidextrous (back/forward buttons RH only)||Right-hand only|
|Wireless protocols||Logitech Unifying, Bluetooth Smart||Logitech Unifying, Bluetooth Smart|
|Battery life||Up to two months||Up to 40 days|
As the halo mice in Logitech’s productivity-mouse lineup, the MX Master and MX Anywhere 2 are priced accordingly. The MX Master is $100 on Newegg right now, while the MX Anywhere 2 will set you back $80. Let’s take a tour of each mouse and see what that money buys you.
Mastering the Master
Before we look at the MX Master and MX Anywhere 2, a couple of notes: everybody’s hands are different, and my impressions may not match your own. It’s probably a good idea to go get some hand time with these mice before buying, or to buy them from an online retailer with a solid return policy. Indeed, my impressions of these mice changed over time, and for the better.
The big, rounded shape of the Master invites a palm grip, though I also found that claw and fingertip-style grips work well. At least for my mitts, it wasn’t difficult to find a comfortable hand position with this mouse.
One unexpected discovery was a sharp, unfinished edge or corner between the rubberized palm grip and the gold plastic right behind the thumb buttons, which caught and abraded the webbing between my thumb and palm when I gripped the mouse. This might be a fit-and-finish issue with my particular Master, and the edge did seem to dull with time, but it wasn’t the kind of feeling that I was expecting from the Master’s generally rounded and inviting shape.
The Master has a lighter, less ratchety scroll wheel than I’m used to. The clicky mode feels more like a rattly continuous spin unless you use a light touch. Some might prefer this lighter feel, but I’d happily transplant the stiffer, more clicky wheel from my G502 into the Master given the option.
The much-touted automatic switching between free-spinning and clicky mode does work beautifully, though. Being able to switch between the clicky and free-spinning modes on demand starts to feel like some kind of telepathic wizard magic after a while, and I hope Logitech adds this feature to more mice in the future. If the automatic scrolling isn’t to your taste, you can switch between modes with the button behind the wheel at any time.
The thumb scroll wheel is another feature that I might not be able to live without. Its scrolling is click-free and mildly damped. It was amazingly useful to be able to scroll on both axes without moving my hand from the mouse or chasing scrollbars while I was editing photos for my Fractal Design Define S review, and I also found it handy when working with wide Excel sheets.
The Master’s back and forward buttons are well-integrated with the design of the rest of the mouse, but they’re somewhat strange-feeling and indistinct under the thumb. The thin edge of the buttons is all that comes into contact with the thumb, and it’s hard to tell them apart by feel due to their similar edges and cramped positioning. The forward button also feels a little too small. This button layout is one area where it seems like form may have triumphed over function in the design phase.
Under the thumb rest lies another button, which Logitech configures as a “gesture button” by default. In Windows, holding down this button while moving the mouse left or right triggers Aero Snap. Moving the mouse up maximizes or minimizes the current window, while moving it down shows the desktop. Clicking it mimics Alt+Tab window switching. Logitech includes a number of pre-built gesture profiles for tasks like window management and media playback. Sadly, only one fully customizable gesture profile is available in the Options software—it would be nice to have multiple custom profiles for different apps.
The gesture button is a nice idea in theory, but holding down the button and moving the mouse doesn’t always trigger the desired action. I sometimes brought up the Alt+Tab switcher when I meant to do something else, apparently because the mouse or software didn’t sense my movement. Maximizing and restoring windows by moving the mouse up was an especially hit-or-miss gesture for some reason. Mac gestures like desktop switching also didn’t work reliably. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s an idea that needs refinement.
Out and about with the MX Anywhere 2
As its name implies, the MX Anywhere 2 is a mobile mouse, and everything about its design supports that mission. Its small, flattish body can slip into a laptop or camera bag without issue. Aside from its Master-like styling, the Anywhere 2 has a pretty standard control layout: back and forward buttons, left- and right-click buttons, a dual-mode scroll wheel with tilt buttons, and a single customizable button behind the wheel.
A mouse this tiny is really too small to be comfortable for my man hands. Since there’s so little mouse to grab, I usually ended up holding the Anywhere 2 in my fingertips. The texturized rubber sides do feel good under the fingers, as do the main mouse buttons. The scroll wheel is a little notchier than the one on the Master, although I would still prefer more notchiness yet.
My biggest complaint about the MX Anywhere 2 is the lack of a middle button under the scroll wheel. Pressing down on this mouse’s wheel switches between clicky scrolling and free-spinning modes. That may be fine for some, but I don’t switch scrolling modes nearly as often as I middle-click to scroll through web pages and open or close browser tabs. Middle-click can be mapped to the button behind the scroll wheel or either of the scroll wheel’s tilt buttons, but none of these options feel anywhere near as natural as regular middle-clicking.
That aside, the MX Anywhere 2 is a perfectly competent mouse—it’s just not as fancy as its bigger brother. I would happily pay $20 more for the Master just to have the dual scroll wheels and the auto-switching middle wheel, but others will want the Anywhere 2’s smaller body for on-the-go use.
You’ve got Options
Logitech’s Options software utility handles several critical features of these mice, including custom button programming, pairing with a Unifying reciver, and DPI settings (called “pointer speed” in Options lingo). Aside from the lack of profile support and its limited macro functionality, Options is quite polished and simple to use. It even handles pairing multiple Logitech wireless mice with aplomb, and it doesn’t complain about being installed alongside the company’s separate gaming utility.
Customization in Options is as simple as clicking the green dot over the desired button on the mouse and choosing from an extensive list of predefined functions. If the thing you want to do isn’t present in the predefined list, the “Keystroke assignment” custom function might help, so long as your desired task can be expressed in a keyboard shortcut.
Overall, Options is a well-polished and useful utility that could use a bit more functionality (profiles). Logitech did a good job of taking the potential complexity that comes with customization features and wrapping it up in an accessible package.
The setup experience
Since the MX Master and MX Anywhere 2 are wireless mice, getting them up and running isn’t quite as simple as plugging a cord into a USB port—but it’s close. To start the pairing process, you choose one of the three onboard profiles by pressing the rearmost button on the base of each mouse, at which point the connection LED begins blinking rapidly.
To use the included Unifying receiver, one first has to set up Options and plug in the dongle. After choosing an unused profile on the mouse, clicking the “add device” button in Options prompts you to turn the mouse off and on again, which completes the pairing process. I paired the mouse with Unifying recievers several times, and it worked without a hitch.
Connecting via Bluetooth is an equally smooth and simple process, at least on devices with Bluetooth Smart support like my MacBook Pro. After I selected an unused profile on the mice, each one showed up in the Bluetooth pane in OS X’s System Preferences. I then clicked “pair,” and I was done.
Computers running Windows 7 like my ancient Lenovo ThinkPad W500 can’t pair with either mouse using Bluetooth, since the operating system lacks support for the Bluetooth Smart standard. The Unifying reciever is the only way to pair either mouse with Windows 7 PCs. This isn’t a big deal, but it’s something to be aware of, especially on laptops where USB ports might be scarce.
After pairing, moving each mouse between my Mac with Bluetooth and the Unifying receiver on my PC was a seamless experience. Each computer picked up the mouse immediately at a touch of the profile button. To overwrite a pairing profile using either connection method, I only had to choose the profile I wanted to change and press the “Connect” button. Overall, I’m pleased with how easy it is to set up each mouse, and how simple it is to move them between computers. Logitech nailed this potentially complicated aspect of the ownership experience.
Getting some game on
With limited DPI adjustments, and no profile or macro support, the MX Master and MX Anywhere 2 don’t seem to have much gaming DNA at first glance. Even so, people will doubtless want to use these mice for play as well as work, so I fired up Counter-Strike: Global Offensive‘s weapons course and ran through its timed challenge a few dozen times to get a feel for these mice’s gaming prowess. I also brought in two dedicated gaming mice—Logitech’s own G502 Proteus Core and EVGA’s Torq X5—for comparison purposes. As with my EVGA Torq review, I turned off any software acceleration settings that I could find, so my results are as much a reflection of the mice’s hardware as I can possibly make it.
After using the MX mice back-to-back with dedicated gaming hardware, it’s evident that they have some kind of internal pointer acceleration curve or compensation going on. I often found myself trying to compensate for this acceleration during my weapons course runs: when I aimed at enemies, I would overshoot the target, which required some extra work to bring the aiming reticule back into position. This overshoot happened consistently, so I’m confident it’s not just my weekend-warrior aiming skills at work.
It’s probably a testament to human adaptability that I was able to adjust to this nonlinearity and turn in weapons course times similar to those I produced with dedicated gaming mice, but moving back to that gaming hardware required an adjustment period for me to unlearn that same muscle memory. Logitech’s own G502 and Torq X5 have no such internal acceleration—at least, not that I could notice. Those mice put the aiming reticle exactly where I expected it to appear based on my inputs.
I asked Logitech about this perceived acceleration to confirm whether my hunch was correct, and the company provided us with the following statement:
The Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse and Logitech MX Anywhere 2 Wireless Mobile Mouse aren’t optimized for gaming. These premium mice are intended for use across multiple screens, devices, operating systems. The sensors in these mice are actually specialized to track on anything for professionals who could be working from a coffee shop, airplane or even their sofa.
That’s not the yes-or-no answer I was hoping for. It’s not much of an answer at all, in fact, but it’s rather telling that Logitech considers these mice “not optimized for gaming.” We don’t think that categorization shields these mice from criticism.
Marketing aside, this degree of mouse acceleration is unusual in an age where many are demanding less adulterated tracking behavior from their mice—at least in enthusiast circles. The Darkfield laser sensor in these mice may be optimized for tracking on any surface, not for gaming, but we find it strange that this all-terrain performance comes at the expense of linearity in other applications. Mouse makers would probably prefer that we keep two mice around—one for “productivity,” one for gaming—but we imagine most people would simply prefer one mouse that can do it all.
As for non-gaming use with the MX Master and MX Anywhere 2, the kinds of jobs that these mice are supposedly more ideal for, I never had any issues with tracking or precision in apps like Photoshop, where I spend a great deal of time refining review photos and the like. I also didn’t notice any jumpiness or lag from the wireless connection, whether with Bluetooth or the Unifying reciever.
Logitech’s MX Master and MX Anywhere 2 are a pair of stylish, comfortable productivity mice with eyes on the executive suite—and they have prices to match. Are they worth it?
As a PC enthusiast and gamer, I couldn’t possibly write a review of these mice without putting them through some gaming tests. Unfortunately, neither MX mouse is well-suited to the kind of pointer-precise gaming that I enjoy, due to their noticeable acceleration curves. It’s true that they can track well on a variety of surfaces, but the idea of a mouse that’s not “optimized for gaming” doesn’t sit well with the TR staff, given the high asking prices. Many of us with day jobs are gamers, too. We’re not sure it’s reasonable to expect people to keep separate mice for gaming and productivity when one used to do just fine.
Other downsides for some may include the lack of middle click support on the MX Anywhere 2, the oddly-shaped and indistinct back and forward thumb buttons on the MX Master, and the lack of profile and macro support in Logitech’s Options software. The gesture button on the MX Master could stand to work more reliably, and I would prefer clickier scroll wheels on both mice.
Those complaints aside, both of these mice were good performers for day-to-day work. The three onboard pairing profiles for Bluetooth and Logitech’s own Unifying recievers work seamlessly on both mice, and moving between computers with different wireless protocols and operating systems always went without a hitch.
The MX Master’s telepathic auto-switching scroll wheel is something I sorely miss on my G502 daily driver, and the thumb wheel is something I find myself pining for, as well. Though I didn’t have time to fully test either mouse’s battery life, that’s a compliment: owners shouldn’t have to charge either mouse’s battery often. Both mice worked perfectly on a variety of surfaces, and Logitech’s Options software is well-polished and easy to use, even with multiple mice linked to the same computer.
Judged separately, I think the MX Master is the more compelling mouse of this duo. Even for $100, its thumb wheel and magical main scroll wheel generally make work quicker and easier. The large, comfortable body is also a winner. If you can live with the always-on built-in acceleration, this is a fine mouse.
The MX Anywhere 2 is also a nice mouse, make no mistake, but it faces some stiff competition even from Logitech’s own product line-up. Unless you really need Bluetooth Smart and Logitech Unifying support, the multiple onboard pairing profiles, or the black-and-gold styling, $80 feels like a lot to ask for a mouse that’s pretty similar to many of Logitech’s other compact mice. Still, nothing else in Logitech’s lineup combines all of these features into one package, and if you can live with the lack of middle-click, there’s probably not a nicer mobile mouse on the market than the Anywhere 2.