HyperX’s Pulsefire Surge RGB gaming mouse reviewed

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
Interface USB 2.0
Polling rate 1 KHz
Programmable buttons 6
Sensor Pixart PMW3389
Maximum resolution 16,000 DPI
Maximum tracking

speed/acceleration

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.

 

NGenious

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.

 

Conclusions

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.

Comments closed
    • synthtel2
    • 2 years ago

    By any chance have you tested how well the 3310, 3360/66, and 3389 track on odd surfaces? As far as gaming performance in the ideal case, 3310->3366 seems to have only had anything to improve at very high sensitivities, and there wouldn’t seem to be much of anything left to improve at all going 3366->3389. If newer optical sensors could take over from lasers in more cases, though, that would be great.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      I’ve been using 336x and 3389s since they came out, across a wacky array of surfaces, and the only things I’ve found them struggle with is clear or *very* reflective surfaces. Particularly glass and polished metal surfaces are both problematic. Everything else — shiny plastic, paper, matte plastic, fabric, wood, anodized metal — all seems fine. I haven’t used the 3310 that much, though.

        • synthtel2
        • 2 years ago

        Cool!

        The 3310 is marginally picky – matte surfaces are all good, but it doesn’t take much shine to make it feel wrong, and it ceases to work at all usably well before the glass / polished metal level. If the 336x/3389 are better, that’s one step closer to a sensor flawless for any use case.

        Glass and polished metal may never work well without coherent light, as there’s just so little detail to latch onto.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 2 years ago

          Interesting. I should note that shiny wood (an extremely polished desk) was good but not flawless while shinier-to-the-eye plastic (a new plastic clipboard) was fine. I can’t really explain why, it didn’t make much sense to me. Could’ve been something to do with the transparent layer of resin on the desk causing internal reflection I suppose.

            • synthtel2
            • 2 years ago

            The specular roughness / shape of the surface is the key variable, but doesn’t always match up perfectly with how much texture the human eye sees. If the wood had a lot of visible texture under a very shiny (flat) clear coat, it could still have had next to nothing for an optical sensor to work with. Variance in the color of the surface can theoretically help, but it’s a lot less likely to exist on the scale that matters, and the texture in the interface between wood and clear coat doesn’t reflect much compared to the clear coat <-> air boundary.

    • tanker27
    • 2 years ago

    But is it a 1:1 mouse?

    Jesus, how hard is it to say this upfront? Why must I go dig into other site’s reviews and the sensor manufactures site to find out this information?

    I like that you guys are doing these reviews but come’on and answer the most basic question.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      “1:1” has a lot more to do with your OS settings than the mouse itself. No decent gaming mouse sensor in the last 10 years has come with acceleration or prediction enabled in the firmware. You can reasonably assume any quality gaming mouse is capable of “1:1.” I wouldn’t have recommended it at the end if it wasn’t, because it would be a pile of plastic garbage.

      I also talk about this twice, once directly and once a bit less clearly:
      [quote<]To be clear, there's no prediction (or "angle snapping") or acceleration in use[/quote<] [quote<]Just like mice based on the PMW3360, it tracks flawlessly [...] 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.[/quote<] Thanks for reading and commenting.

        • synthtel2
        • 2 years ago

        Any halfway decent mouse doesn’t purposefully depart from 1:1 and this one is as good as it gets in every way, but laser sensors at low sensitivity ought to get the non-1:1 label, and are probably the most common cause of it now (aside from purposeful acceleration in software).

    • elites2012
    • 2 years ago

    with all this rgb stuff. soon their wont be any men to converse with.

    • hansmuff
    • 2 years ago

    I can get a Deathadder Elite for $53 on Amazon. It may not have the stupid rgb strip, but a really good sensor and Omron switches, paired with a subjectively awesome wheel. I think the Pulsefire is way overpriced.

    I know Razer isn’t known for build quality, but the Deathadder line has been around. I trust it’ll live for a while.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      Deathadder Elite [url=https://www.amazon.com/Razer-DeathAdder-Elite-Ergonomic-Comfortable/dp/B01LXC1QL0<]is $68.[/url<] It uses literally the exact same sensor as this mouse, and the exact same Omron D2FC-F-7N (China) switches with 50 million click lifetime. It's virtually the same mouse, except this one doesn't require an online login for the software. 🙂

        • hansmuff
        • 2 years ago

        Huh.. bought it for $53 from that same link about 2 weeks ago. Fair enough.

    • Chrispy_
    • 2 years ago

    When you consider that not long ago $70 would get you a refined, high-quality alloy-chassis mouse with LED lighting, adjustable weights, top-end sensor from several of the main players in the peripherals business, I can’t help but think that RGBLED is to blame for pushing all-plastic, fairly cheap-feeling mice that used to be $30-40 into a price bracket where they are absolutely not welcome.

    Without RGBLED, this would in no way be worth a second glance, even at under $50. RGBLED is just the latest kool-aid in the marketing department but vendors need to get a grip and realise that serious gaming mice also have to feel great and work flawlessly, before RGBLED is even a bonus feature worth considering….

      • RAGEPRO
      • 2 years ago

      I don’t think that’s particularly fair. This mouse has the finest mouse sensor in the world and Omron’s finest switches. What are you expecting at that point? No, it’s not particularly fancy but then that’s kind of the purpose of this mouse. HyperX produced a tool with which to play games, not a toy to play with.

      I find the “all-plastic” remark particularly confusing considering that almost every single IR LED mouse ever has been “all-plastic” save for some screws. Out of the more-than-two-dozen mice that I have laying around, the only mouse I have here with any metal on it at all is the Corsair Vengeance M95 with its aluminum baseplate, and even that is just an embellishment because it needs teflon pads to glide smoothly. Do you have examples of mice that make use of metal parts outside of aesthetic embellishments?

        • Chrispy_
        • 2 years ago

        I really liked the old R.A.T.S models, the Corsairs (as you mention) and Kingston themselves have produced alloy-framed mice.

        I don’t know if there’s really much of a real-world advantage to an alloy-framed mouse but it sure as hell [i<]feels[/i<] more premium. As for glide pads, don't all mice (regardless of chassis material) use teflon pads?

          • RAGEPRO
          • 2 years ago

          [url=https://techreport.com/review/33339/patriot-viper-v570-fps-mmo-hybrid-gaming-mouse-reviewed/1/<]This other mouse uses five nearly-unscratchable ceramic sliders.[/url<] It's arguable whether that's actually an advantage because it slides so easily on them that it can actually be an annoyance when you [i<]don't[/i<] want it to move. Haha.

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