The two main competitors in high-end gaming mice have both come within a hair of earning a CNET Editors' Choice award, but both missed the mark. We held back on Razer's recent DeathAdder a few weeks ago because its on-the-fly sensitivity switching is so convoluted. The 2005 Logitech G5 Laser Mouse lost out because it had only one thumb-side button. We're pleased to announce that we finally have an award winner. Logitech's new $60 G5 Laser Mouse (same name as the original) finally has two thumb buttons, as well as an updated laser sensor. It's still not perfect, but it's close enough that we'd recommend it to any serious PC gamer.
Aside from the added button, the core design of the G5 hasn't changed much. Like the original, the mouse has two distinct features. The first is a bundled weight kit. A small plastic tray slides out from the bottom of the mouse and lets you add any combination of 8, 1.7 gram, and 4.5 gram metal weights. Any extra weights can go in the included tin designed to carry them. The idea is that the weights let you tailor the feel of the mouse to your preference. Other mice, like Creative's Fata1ty 1010, have similar customized weighting systems, but none are as easy to use and flexible as the G5's.
The other feature we love about the G5 is its sensitivity adjustment buttons. Depending on your screen resolution and your style of play, you may want to adjust the sensor of the mouse so that the cursor moves with appropriate speed across your screen. Both the original G5 and the 2007 model feature a pair of buttons just under the scroll wheel that let you switch between sensitivity settings on the fly. Three small LEDs just above the thumb buttons indicate your current setting. The preset sensitivities scale from 2000-800-400dpi, but Logitech's easy-to-use SetPoint software lets you customize the defaults. You can also insert two more custom sensitivities, for a total of five (the indicator pairs two LEDs together to show that you're on steps two and four). This system is vastly superior to Razer's DeathAdder, which has no visual indicator and requires that you either turn the mouse over to get at the dedicated button on the bottom, or sacrifice one of the main buttons to act as a one-way toggle.
Logitech also keeps up with Razer in terms of sheer settings flexibility. Like the DeathAdder, you can tailor the G5's dpi settings to the X and Y axes individually, as well as tweak the mouse's report rate, or the accuracy with which it reads the mousing surface. The G5's software lets you scale between 150 and 1,000MHz reporting, letting you balance accuracy with system performance. We'll also add that the G5 works fine in Windows Vista, while Razer's DeathAdder Vista drivers are still currently in beta.
That brings us to the buttons. As we've mentioned, the Logitech G5 now has two thumb-side buttons. Whether you're browsing the Web or need to assign an extra macro, it's easy to appreciate the value of an extra button, especially one located in a convenient spot. The G5's thin buttons aren't as springy as the DeathAdder's. They're also small, and a bigger, calloused thumb might have a hard time differentiating them. So in the war of dual thumb button design, we prefer Razer's large, sculpted design to Logitech's thin and trim one. That issue isn't enough to really put us off the G5, though, and we're willing to forgive the extra button's minor issues for the added flexibility it brings over the original G5.
Finally, we can't help but mention the G5's electric-blue, cracked-earth design on the buttons and palm surface. Logitech has never been shy about giving its gaming mice personality, and while it's not patently offensive, the new G5 does feel like it's been given a touch of the "extreme," at least as Logitech's marketing department understands the term. Razer's staid, all-black DeathAdder might not be the best alternative, but our hope is that one day we'll see a fully featured gaming mouse that won't give up all of those closet gamers out there by its appearance.