It’s the middle of June, and with Computex wrapping, we’re now smack in the middle of the Electronics Entertainment Expo. Microsoft announced Halo Infinite, 4A Games announced Metro Exodus, and Bethesda teased the next Elder Scrolls game. All of the above are coming to the PC, too, along with a ton of other tantalizing titles.
You’ll want the appropriate gear if you intend to pick up and play any of these games. A fancy keyboard is a good start, but that’s a lot more important for a typist. I’d argue that for a gamer, a nice mouse is critical. You need a solid sensor, responsive buttons, and preferably, programmable functions. The HyperX Pulsefire Surge has all that and some RGB LED lighting to top it off. Check out the full specs of HyperX Gaming’s new flagship mouse:
|HyperX Pulsefire Surge|
|Polling rate||1 KHz|
|Maximum resolution||16,000 DPI|
|450 ips/50 G|
|Built-in lighting||33-zone RGB LED|
|Weight (without cable)||100 g|
|Cable length||≈6 ft (1.8 m)|
This isn’t HyperX’s first rodent. The original Pulsefire FPS mouse was a similar design with six buttons and textured side grips. Its LED lighting accents were red-only, though, and it used a capable-but-still-inferior PMW3310 sensor. Furthermore, it didn’t have the programmability of the Pulsefire Surge. It made (and still makes) a fair entry-level gaming mouse, but HyperX’s new offering is aimed directly at serious competitors.
As I noted above, the sensor on this mouse is the Pixart PMW3389. People who pay attention to this sort of thing will probably have already deduced that this sensor is an evolution of the PMW3360. It’s the next in Pixart’s high-end gaming series. The PMW3360 and its variants have graced many great mice, like Logitech’s G502 Proteus Core, Corsair’s M65 Pro, most of the recent Steelseries Rival mice, and Epicgear’s Morpha X. I was really eager to find out if the PMW3389 carried on it predecessor’s legacy.
The shape of pointing
As soon as the Pulsefire Surge came in, I plugged it in and proceeded to fool around. Out of the box, it came with three DPI presets: 800, 1600, and 3200. The 1600-DPI preset felt immediately familiar, which wasn’t really surprising. That’s the DPI setting I use on my Steelseries Rival 500. The close relation between the sensors no doubt played a major part in the similar feel of the pointer propellers.
If you’re comfortable with the feel of one of Pixart’s recent IR LED mouse sensors, you’ll feel right at home with this mouse. Just like mice based on the PMW3360, it tracks flawlessly no matter how rapidly you move your hands. I could present a page of Mousetester charts proving it, but I don’t really feel like this sensor has anything to prove, even though this is the first mouse we’ve tested with it. It’s flawless, and HyperX’s engineers didn’t try to fix what wasn’t broken, so kudos to them for that.
A mouse is more than a sensor, though. The body of the Pulsefire Surge is a simple symmetrical design that recalls basic OEM mice. While this sort of shape isn’t likely to rustle any feathers, it also isn’t especially interesting or ergonomic. I like a more sculpted form, but some people—including many competitive gamers—prefer this kind of shape. If you’ve held a mouse in the last 10 years, you know what this thing feels like. It fits in my hand well enough, and glides freely on its oversized PTFE-coated feet.
I’ve brought this up before, but I have small hands for a guy my size. I found the Pulsefire Surge to be just a smidgen too large for my hands. That means for most that are reading this, it will probably be perfect or even a bit small. The buttons are placed in exactly the spots you expect when holding it, and they’re all extremely easy to press. That can be an upside or a downside depending on how heavily you like to rest your fingers on the mouse. I didn’t have many accidental clicks, but certainly more than with my Rival 500.
I’d usually take this moment to call special attention to some aspect of the mouse’s performance or shape that stuck out to me, but there’s really nothing to say. This is a decidedly basic mouse with a top-tier sensor. Its 100-gram weight is on the lighter side, which again caters to competitive gamers. For folks who don’t want a lot of fuss and simply want to plug in and play, this mouse has an extremely flat learning curve and highly compatible shape. Let’s check out the HyperX NGenuity software real fast.
Where the mouse itself is beautifully basic, the NGenuity software is so simple I feel it’s actually a little lacking. Furthermore, despite that simplicity it’s rather unintuitive. When you first open the app, you’ll be greeted by the somewhat opaque screen below. The saving grace of this interface is that when you hover over the icons you’ll get tooltips telling you what they are. The HyperX logo icons simply change lighting modes. You’ll have to select a profile to actually change anything.
Select a profile and click Customize to modify the mouse’s lighting, sensor performance, and to edit macros. Confusingly, basic key assignment is under the macros tab. Under the performance tab you can create up to five DPI presets, but there’s no way to cycle them unless you leave the DPI button at its default setting. Rebinding another button to “DPI change” instead gives you a type of “sniper button” functionality, reducing the mouse’s sensitivity to a custom value while the button is held. That’s a welcome feature, but confusing at first as there is no button on the mouse that does that by default.
Also perplexing is that there’s no way to configure the lift-off distance, prediction mode, acceleration, or polling rate. To be clear, there’s no prediction (or “angle snapping”) or acceleration in use, and the mouse defaults to a 1-KHz polling rate. Those are certainly the settings most gamers would prefer, but for preference and compatibility it might be nice to have those options exposed for users to twiddle. One nice thing I will note about NGenuity is that both whole profiles and individual macros can be exported and imported. That’s a great feature when you want to move them to another PC or Windows install.
There’s not much to be said about the macro editor. Like the rest of the app, it’s a little impenetrable at first. However, it’s also full-featured and powerful. It’s not as powerful as the macro editor in Patriot’s Viper Gaming software, but NGenuity compares well with other apps like Roccat’s Swarm or Razer’s Synapse—and it doesn’t require an online login. Just be advised that if you’re going to be making a lot of macros, you should expect to spend a good while learning NGenuity’s nuances.
I want to take a moment to talk about the lighting editor. There’s a basic mode that matches what most other companies offer, and it’s what I would recommend most users stick to. The advanced mode lets you customize the lighting to a degree I have not seen in any other software. If you are someone who really wants to individually program all 33 RGB LED clusters in the Pulsefire Surge, the app will let you do that. I cannot even imagine who would want to do this, but I still think it’s cool that the feature is there.
So many gaming mice that I see focus on some kind of gimmick. Epicgear’s Morpha X had interchangeable switches and sensors. The Roccat Kone Aimo had “AI-powered” RGB LED lighting. The Pulsefire Surge has none of that, and I think it’s a better mouse for it. Because of its basic, inoffensive design, the only real complaints I can levy against the thing are that it doesn’t have many buttons and that the software is a bit unintuitive.
The former complaint mostly comes down to personal preference. I’m an evangelist of multi-button mice for gamers. Having extra inputs under your right hand means less time moving your left hand away from the movement controls. That said, some games simply don’t need that many inputs. Even in games that can make use of the additional buttons, some people simply prefer to use the keyboard, and that’s fine.
The other complaint is more objective. The NGenuity software is as basic as it comes. I don’t really feel that the adjustments it’s lacking are critical, but I also think their absence makes the app feel a little bare. Combined with the icon-driven interface, it all takes a while to get used to. Still, every necessary function is exposed, and the macro editor is powerful enough—even if there’s a dearth of buttons to assign.
So the mouse is great and its software is serviceable. Our last criterion for consideration is the price. The original HyperX Pulsefire can be found right now on Amazon for just $40 with a mousepad included. That’s pretty good for a capable entry-level gaming mouse. The Pulsefire Surge isn’t available from Amazon yet, and it’s listed on Newegg as a pre-release without a price. Meanwhile, you can walk into a Best Buy store and buy one for $70.
Regardless of its price, the Pulsefire Surge is a solid performer. It sports responsive buttons, the latest sensor technology, and extremely-configurable RGB LED lighting. However, HyperX is up against stiff competition from bigger names in the peripheral space at the Surge’s $70 price point. Right now, I think the sticker just a shade too rich for what it offers. That’s a shame, because it really is a quality mouse for competitive gamers with nifty RGB LEDs. If the Pulsefire Surge gets blessed by the discount winds a bit in the future, it’ll be a great value and one I’ll eagerly endorse.