I used to know a guy who hated Mercedes cars because they didn’t have names. Instead, Mercedes simply gives its vehicles identifiers like E300, SL550, or AMG GLE43. I imagine that guy probably wouldn’t like Cooler Master’s newest mouse, either. It’s simply called the MM531.
OK, technically it’s the MasterMouse MM531. You might think that MM stands for MasterMouse, but you’d apparently be as wrong as I was. Fortunately, Cooler Master refers to the mouse primarily as the MM531, so that’s what we’re going to use too.
You’ve probably already divined this from the picture above, but this is a by-the-numbers seven-button gaming mouse. It features RGB LED lighting, an ergonomic right-handed shape, and not much else. Like the Cooler Master CK552 keyboard that I just reviewed, there really aren’t any gimmicks here. We don’t get any adjustable weights or interchangeable side panels, or really anything beyond the essentials.
The shape of the MM531 isn’t unusual, which means my claw-gripping hands feel right at home. Likewise, palm-grip players will find much to love about the MM531’s wide back end. Fingertip grippers will need to have quite long fingers indeed, though. The geometrically-indented rubber pads on the sides aren’t as soft or sticky as those on the Steelseries Rival 310, but they also seem like they’ll be more durable.
Meanwhile, the MM531’s deep-set mouse wheel does a lot less to impede the shine of its vibrant RGB LED lighting than it did on Steelseries’ mouse. The whole wheel is formed from a translucent rubbery substance. However, the mouse wheel’s click has an extremely short throw to it, which isn’t the greatest feeling in the world. Best reassign mouse button 3 elsewhere.
The primary buttons are formed from PBT plastic to keep them from turning shiny. They’re nice and responsive with clear feedback and exactly the right amount of throw. Over on the side, the thumb buttons are easy to reach and perform well, too. PixArt’s PMW3360 optical sensor is as good as it usually is, which is to say that it’s pretty great. Set to the same 1600 DPI, the MM531 actually feels remarkably like the Rival 310.
I do have one design quibble with this mouse: the two top buttons behind the mouse wheel are puny and too proximate to one another. I don’t like buttons that sit behind the wheel on any mouse—I find them awkward to press—but on this mouse they are especially lamentable thanks to their size and spacing.
Mastering the MasterMouse
I was pretty down on the software for Cooler Master’s CK552 keyboard even though I quite liked the company’s hardware itself, and the situation is much the same here. There’s nothing wrong with the MM531 as a mouse, but the software could use a lot of polish.
The annoyances start right out of the gate with the installer. As with the CK552, you can’t simply download the MM531’s software. You have to download the Cooler Master Portal first, install that, then open it and use that to install the MM531’s app. However, where the CK552’s software can be launched directly, the MM531’s configuration app has to be launched from the Portal.
Once you’ve got your firmware updated and the software loaded, you’ll be greeted with Main Control, Macro, and Library tabs. The Macro tab is the macro editor, and the confusingly-named Library tab lets you select, import, export, and reset the MM531’s five profiles. Profiles include everything that you can configure on the first Main Control page.
That page is itself divided into five tabs: Key Assignment, TactiX, LED, Sensor, and OS Sensitivity. Most of these are fairly self-explanatory. TactiX refers to a second layer of inputs that you can define to be used while holding down the TactiX button. This isn’t a new feature—among others, Roccat’s Easy-Shift is basically the same thing—but not everyone has it and it’s nice to see.
Unfortunately, TactiX doesn’t actually seem to work properly. When you press the TactiX key, it also cycles your DPI setting. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled the software, reset the mouse to defaults, and used other profiles, but this behavior remains. This basically means the TactiX feature is useless unless you’re willing to set all four of your DPI presets to the same value. Cooler Master needs to address this bug, among others.
Speaking of DPI presets, you can’t disable any of the presets to reduce the number of values you have to cycle through. There’s also no way to set a momentary DPI toggle (a “sniper button”). There’s a “rapid fire” function in the key assignment dialog, but it doesn’t seem to work properly. I had to create and assign an autofire macro. This is kind of a running theme with Cooler Master’s software, and I shouldn’t have to resort to workarounds like this.
The macro editor is the same limited one from the CK552 keyboard I just reviewed. I can forgive the lack of some advanced features, like the ability to set up loops within a macro or define mouse motions, but this editor doesn’t even have the ability to manually insert delays or move recorded functions around. You have to delete them and re-record them. I’m pretty sure the macro editor on my original Razer Naga was better.
The entire manual.
I’d check the documentation to try and figure out what I may be doing wrong, but just like with the CK552, there isn’t any. What Cooler Master calls the “manual” is a two-page pamphlet that is about half warranty terms and conditions. It doesn’t contain any information about the software or how to use it, and what information it does have is opaque.
The software has the same lack of polish as the CK552’s, too. The 1366×768 resolution is immutable, and the app isn’t DPI-scaling-aware, so it’s absolutely tiny on scaled high-resolution screens. There are some interesting features, like the ability to adjust the degree of angle snapping, but most gamers would probably rather leave that turned off entirely in any case.
Sometimes when I sit down to review a product I have no idea what to expect. Other times I have a pretty good idea what I’m getting into. I thought this was going to be one of the latter cases, but as it turned out, the MasterMouse MM531 bucked my expectations—just not in a good way.
The MM531 hardware itself is completely fine. I’d even call it great. It’s comfortable to use, it clicks cleanly, it slides smoothly, and CM even includes an extra set of PTFE pads if you wear out the feet. The RGB LED lighting is beautifully bright, and the PMW3660 sensor is flawless as usual. I don’t care for the layout of the two buttons behind the mouse wheel, but that’s a minor concern.
The MM531’s annoyances really start with its software. No two ways about it: Cooler Master’s configuration utility drags this mouse down. Even if the utility wasn’t so trying to use, critical functions simply don’t work correctly at the moment. If you’re a person who (like me) prefers to program their mouse to taste, you should stay away from the MM531. Its core functions are fine, but once you step out of its preconfigured box, you’ll quickly become frustrated.
However, if you’re someone who just wants to plug in a mouse and play some games without ever doing any tuning, you could do a lot worse than the MM531. It’s only available at Best Buy in the United States, where it goes for $50. Cooler Master also sells this mouse with slightly different styling as the MM530, if you’d rather buy from Newegg or Amazon. If you’re not in love with the hardware, however, the $50-$60 gaming-mouse space is full of options that come with functional hardware and software alike.