The mainstream desktop computer mouse has evolved from the roller-ball, single-button affair on the original Macintosh to an entire genus of rodents with and without cables, studded with anywhere between one and a couple dozen buttons, and relying on input from several different varieties of sensors. High-performance hardware maker HyperX has been elbowing into new markets of late, starting with mechanical keyboards and gaming headsets.
The company is now branching into a new segment with the Pulsefire, its first mouse. The Pulsefire does not deviate from the mainstream gaming mouse formula, with six buttons, a scroll wheel with closely-spaced detents, and a non-ambidextrous body partially-clad in high-friction textured rubber.
That “if it ain’t broke” package is ideologically aligned with the Alloy FPS mechanical keyboard I reviewed recently. The Pulsefire doesn’t blaze new mouseprints with haptic feedback, interchangeable sensor components, or brutalist design like other mice that have crawled through the TR labs recently. This mouse doesn’t have the RGB LED lighting or optional weights that some competing rodents offer, either. The single-intensity red illumination and relatively willowy 3.35 oz. (95 g) weight are both one-size-fits-all in nature. The Pulsefire doesn’t even have utility software. This is a straightforward and purposeful device.
Simplicity in vision aside, the Pulsefire is a large mouse, measuring 5″ long by 2.8″ wide by 1.7″ tall (13 cm x 7.1 cm x 4.2 cm). I am 6’4″ tall and wear size 14 shoes, and I felt like the rodent’s dimensions were at the very edge of what I would consider comfortable. In particular, the mouse felt quite tall in my hand. My normal gaming mouse is a Logitech G302, and long sessions using the Pulsefire left my right hand feeling just a bit differently worked-out than my G302 does. Gamers with smaller hands should probably expect a period of adjustment when switching to such a large-bodied mouse.
HyperX says the two primary buttons are Omron units with a lifespan of up to 20 million clicks each. The source country of the Omron primary switches and the manufacturer of the remaining four switches were left unspecified. We imagine the non-primary button switches don’t have the same durability specifications as the left and right clickers.
On the subject of large objects, HyperX also sent me one of its Fury Pro Gaming Mouse Pads in the largest of its four available sizes along with the Pulsefire mouse for testing. I initially scoffed as I unrolled the 35.4″ x 16.5″ (90 cm x 42 cm) behemoth. It covered a full one-third of our kitchen table in its standard four-place configuration. Despite my initial disdain for this huge mouse mat, I quickly came to enjoy using this surface while testing the Pulsefire. More on that later.
The Pulsefire doesn’t have any exposed screws on its body, suggesting that its fasteners are buried beneath the large Teflon pads on the bottom of the mouse. Removal and replacement of the pads without damage seemed unlikely, so I was not able to take the Pulsefire apart. HyperX says the optical sensor inside this rodent is a Pixart PMW3310. The 3310 is a midrange part from Pixart’s lineup of gaming sensor modules. On paper, it has a maximum resolution of 5000 DPI and a maximum tracking rate of 130 inches per second (3.3 m/s).
As it’s implemented in the Pulsefire, however, the PMW3310 has a maximum resolution of 3200 DPI. I’m a little disappointed about not having access to every resolution setting the sensor offers, but what the 3310 offers here should be more than sufficient for most gamers. Some other manufacturers have gotten a bit carried away with ever-escalating DPI figures, and we’re glad to see that HyperX hasn’t followed that trend. The Pulsefire’s polling rate is fixed at 1000 Hz.
The mouse’s DPI setting is adjustable through the home-plate-shaped button behind the scroll wheel. Four different presets are offered: 400, 800, 1600, and 3200 DPI. The light inside the DPI button changes color to reflect the sensitivity: white (for 400 DPI), red (for 800 DPI), blue (for 1600 DPI), and yellow (for 3200 DPI) lights offer an at-a-glance look at the current DPI setting.
I found the 400 and 800 DPI settings to be far too slow for gaming or normal usage, and the the 3200 DPI preset was a bit too fast for my middling dexterity, so I stuck with 1600 DPI for regular use. Since the Pulsefire doesn’t have any accompanying utility software, HyperX provides no way to adjust the sensitivity outside of these four prebaked points. The various built-in adjustments in Windows and in game software are the only tools available to adjust the mouse to a gamer’s taste.
In this age of RGB LED illumination and programmable microcontrollers, I have to say I’m a little disappointed in the single-color, single-intensity red lighting baked into the Pulsefire, as well. Luddites and grownups can’t turn the lighting off, and buyers that insist on green or some other lighting color might be turned off by the primarily red color scheme. If nothing else, the four colors for the DPI setting should be programmable. For example, it would be nice to be able to associate the red LED color with the 1600 DPI setting so that the mouse is uniformly colored when set to my preferred sensitivity.
My daily-driver Logitech G302 bears the same suggested price as the Pulsefire. It’s built around a Pixart 3320 sensor with more modest DPI specs and a lower maximum tracking speed, but it at least offers fine-grained adjustment of DPI and illumination through the included Logitech Gaming Software. The mouse retains settings when the LGS software is not running and when the mouse is plugged into other PCs without the software. I am normally a harsh critic of hardware that requires proprietary software to unlock its full set of capabilities, but Logitech’s solution is particularly unobtrusive, and I prefer it to HyperX’s no-tweaking-software approach.
The good news is that the HyperX mouse doesn’t play any games with the optical tracker’s output. My artful testing in MS Paint suggests no built-in prediction or unwanted acceleration. I feel like I shouldn’t have to commend the maker of a gaming mouse for not tinkering with my hand movements, but apparently I have to.
Additional testing in MouseTester 1.5.3 indicated that the Pulsefire takes full advantage of the 3310’s advertised 130 ips (3.3 m/s) maximum speed. The graph below shows the x-velocity of the mouse as I whipped it back and forth as fast as my middle-aged forearms would allow. I did experience some unusual readings, including very erratic polling speed figures, when testing the Pulsefire with MouseTester on my laptop, but these issues disappeared on my desktop PC.
I would normally assume that the unexpected results were due to power-saving features in my laptop’s USB controller, but I did not experience the same anomalies when testing my Logitech mouse with my laptop. In any event, the weirdness was limited to MouseTester results, and I didn’t notice any sort of incompatibility or dropped tracking with either of my computers and the Pulsefire in actual usage.
A user’s choice of mouse is probably the one most influenced by personal taste. Pretty much any mouse can move the cursor around, but gamers and others who use their computer day in and day out can become very particular about the shape, button placement, and other aspects of their pointing device. In that light, it’s difficult for me to evaluate the $50 HyperX Pulsefire without including my Logitech G302 in the picture.
The Pulsefire has a fine Pixart optical sensor with specifications that look better on paper than in HyperX’s four-DPI-level implementation. The overall build quality of the two mice is nearly identical: both offer a mousing experience free from any creaking plastic joints, sharp edges, or unpleasant-feeling materials. Both manufacturers tout 20-million-click primary switches. The HyperX’s scroll wheel has tighter detents and less side-to-side play than my old Logitech, which is a reassuing feeling under the finger.
However, Logitech offers an unobtrusive software package that allows the type of tuning and tweaking that I think gamers and power users expect from an enthusiast peripheral these days. I normally appreciate the no-software approach, but I’ve come to expect some way to control basic things like integrated lighting through pre-defined button combinations or sequences.
By omitting any kind of utility software, HyperX provides no way to make fine adjustments to sensitivity or lighting effect or intensity. That’s a tradeoff that can work for a relatively straightforward peripheral like a keyboard, but it doesn’t translate as well to a more multi-purpose and multi-function device like a mouse.
Those complaints are mostly born from my personal preferences, however. For those who are fine with full-intensity red illumination and one of HyperX’s four pre-set sensitivity settings anyway, or who simply don’t care about that stuff enough to adjust it, the Pulsefire has a lot to like at a reasonable price point. It’s a solid first entry into the highly competitive world of gaming peripherals, and perhaps a more tweakable version that’s more to my liking will come along in the future.
As an aside, the Fury Pro Gaming mouse pad HyperX sent with the Pulsefire is a total winner. The base material HyperX chose is three to four millimeters thick, and it provides a good cushion when resting one’s wrists on a mousing surface. A keyboard can rest on the left side of the mouse pad, and one can move the mouse over this surface uninterrupted until it is touching the keyboard. The bottom of the pad is covered in a high-friction textured rubber that makes it almost impossible to move the pad laterally.
The Fury Pro’s $30 price tag seems high for something as simple as a mouse pad, but the materials seem to be high quality with a slick cloth top and embroidered edges. The original unit has earned a permanent place at my primary desktop system, and I will be buying a second unit for use with the laptop I use for writing away from my basement-bound main rig.