My love for the SteelSeries Xai mouse is well known. It is of a quality that is rarely found in peripherals, and its greatness ranges across both hardware and software. However, the new SteelSeries MMO mouse has the same specifications and is World of Warcraft branded. Coinciding with the launch of Cataclysm, SteelSeries released a new 14-button beast that had me frothing to try it. In all my years raiding, I thought to myself, “I could sure use more buttons on my mouse.” So how does it compare to the Xai?
The answer is… it depends. When I said this mouse is a beast, I meant that quite literally – it is quite large, especially when compared to the small and sleek Xai. It’s not nearly as big as the Razer Boomslang or the original Xbox controllers, but it is big. When I opened it, I joked about needing a diagram to figure out how to hold it. So that is definitely one factor when deciding whether to get this mouse. My fingers and hand are completely used to it now, but it did take about a week to get used to. Oddly enough, I do find it more comfortable now than the Xai.
Another difference between the Xai and the Cataclysm Mouse is that the Xai has better software. There are more configuration settings on the Xai, and the settings themselves are more granular, allowing for greater control over how your mouse moves and functions. The Cataclysm mouse is supposed to have a neat profile thing going for it in the configuration screen where you can set one of your WoW characters to each of your profiles, but at the moment it’s not functioning so I can’t tell you what it’s supposed to do. One neat thing about the Cataclysm Mouse software is that you can control the illumination, including the rate of the pulse and the colour.
The specifications on the mice are basically the same, with the exception of the whopping fourteen buttons that come with the Cataclysm Mouse, compared to the pitiful eight that comes with the Xai. Through some kind of magic, World of Warcraft actually supports all the buttons, but I have yet to find any other game or application that does. As with the Xai, you can macro any sequence of buttons to the extra buttons that most applications and games don’t support, and with ten profiles you can really use the buttons with any game. The button placement on the Cataclysm Mouse are mostly convenient, with two (one on the outside of each of the left and right buttons) that are slightly inconvenient. Which turned out to be okay, because I just used them to bring up my world map and my quest log, both of which I do frequently but I don’t want to accidentally press in combat.
My favourite new buttons by far are the two that flank the mousewheel. I’m using these two lifesaving buttons to… well, save lives. On every character I have these bound to survival skills, such as Vanish. When I get into trouble, it’s a mere 3 millimeter slide of my middle finger in order to throw down my ninja smoke bombs and escape. It takes some work, but eventually you can train yourself to use all the new buttons (I’m still not using one of them after using this mouse for over a month), so if you have a need to keybind all your skills like I do, then this mouse is a must.
The mouse looks great, too. It doesn’t factor much into this review, but I thought I should mention it. It just looks good on my desk, which I appreciate.
I really have no complaints about this mouse whatsoever. But you have lower grained control over it than the Xai and it’s $10 more, so it’s hard to recommend this over the Xai unless you play World of Warcraft or another fairly involved MMOs (as in one that has a lot of abilities). If you are a regular raider or Arena artist though, then go ahead and get this mouse. You won’t be disappointed.