A Gaming Mouse for Design?

So I’m going to do something a little odd this week and review a gaming mouse. At first glance this seems way off topic, but I assure you it’s not. For the last few years I’ve been using Apple’s Magic Mouse, but while it’s a very nice mouse with a lot of wonderful features that take advantage of the multi-touch capabilities of the Mac it isn’t that great for design work. For a while I’ve been doing research on a good mouse for design work and I came across gaming mice, which I had no idea was even a thing. 

Gaming mice are designed for comfort and precision, both features would make them ideal tools for design. The only issue is that many of them are quite ugly, and would serve to embarrass any designer caught using them. There are a few well-designed ones out there but none of them match the elegance of the Magic Mouse sadly.

After much research I came across a mouse that is both functional and fairly attractive. The Steelseries Sensei is the one I ended up going with and I’ve had the last few weeks to play around with it and start using it in my daily work. 

Hardware

As I mentioned, the mouse itself isn’t extremely pretty, but it sports a pretty clean design. The scroll wheel and logo do glow when in use which will either look awesome or dreadful depending on your tastes, but that can be adjusted or turned off in software (which I’ll talk about later). The bottom side is pretty ugly but it’s not a huge deal since you won’t really be looking at that side much, but it’s a sharp contrast to the otherwise simple design of the mouse.

Sadly, the mouse is wired so it will take up a USB port on your machine which can be a downside for laptop users. However, the wire is not the standard rubber cord you find on most wired mice, but a very flexible yet durable braided nylon, which also helps prevent tangling for those people who take their mouse around with them. When actually using the mouse the cord never gets in the way, in fact it feels like it’s not even there, which is a huge plus for doing precision work. I will say though the cord would look a lot nicer without the segmented white line that spirals around it, but if I had to guess that’s more of a safety feature for people like me who have black desks. 

Overall it looks like a typical mouse, it’s got a scroll wheel that clicks down, as well as buttons for right and left click. In addition the mouse has 2 buttons on either side and one positioned right under the scroll wheel. The great thing is all these extra mouse buttons are recognized by OS X and can either be used at their default settings or programmed to do almost anything. The only downside is that the 2 side buttons that are opposite your thumb can be hard to click without contorting your hand slightly.

Software

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While this mouse works out of the box with OS X, I would highly recommend installing the official software from Steelseries.com as it will allow you to program the mouse however you’d like, as well as give you fine controls over precision and movement speed. The software isn’t that intuitive, and not very pretty at all but it does its job.

It’s fairly simple to program basic functionality, the software gives you a list of keyboard buttons you can assign to one of your mouse buttons. If you want to get more advanced though you can create macros which allows you to program in a key combo or pattern. You can then save your settings into what the software calls “configurations”. You can have multiple “configurations”, and you can even assign them to individual apps. So for example you can have the mouse buttons activate your most-used tools in Photoshop, the switch to Safari and use the mouse buttons to navigate the web.

Verdict

For under $60 this mouse is a pretty good value. It’s comfortable and built with very high quality standards. Because it’s designed for gaming which has some pretty high demands from customers, it’s actually an ideal tool for design. If you’re doing page layout or web design perhaps you won’t find much benefit over the Magic Mouse. However, if you’re doing any vector or photo work you should find a mouse like the Sensei.

The Sensei, as I’ve said, is one of the more attractive gaming mice out there. It comes in a small selection of colors as well. I personally went with rubberized black which has a very nice matte finish, and is the best looking in my opinion but it all comes down to taste.