X

Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0 review: Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0

Microsoft's updated IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 brings a few gamer-friendly tweaks to the design of the venerable mouse. We don't expect that it will win over the hard-core gamer, but for everyone else, the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 is a fine mouse with only a few minor issues.

img-1204
Rich Brown
img-1204

Rich Brown

Executive Editor / Reviews - Home and Wellness

Rich moved his family from Brooklyn to Louisville, Kentucky, in 2013 to start CNET's Appliances and Smart Home review team, which includes the CNET Smart Home, the CNET Smart Apartment, and the Appliances Review lab. Before moving to Louisville, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D-printed guns to Z-Wave smart locks.

See full bio
3 min read

The IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 is a wired, USB mouse with an optical sensor. It has left and right buttons, a scrollwheel, and two thumb side buttons, all of which are customizable through Microsoft's Intellipoint software. The physical design of the mouse is roughly the same as the earlier version, with a few changes. Microsoft widened the base slightly, giving more support to your wrist, and it added silicon feet to the bottom of the mouse, which helps smooth out movement. Installation is straightforward, and the software is simple enough to use that you should be able to customize your buttons, your cursor speed, and your gaming profiles in no time.

6.7

Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0

The Good

Precision Booster feature lets you customize sensitivity settings; affordable; customization software is easy to use; wider base gives more wrist support.

The Bad

Thumb side buttons need more tactile response; you'll sacrifice a button for the Precision Booster.

The Bottom Line

Microsoft's updated IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 brings a few gamer-friendly tweaks to the design of the venerable mouse. We don't expect that it will win over the hard-core gamer, but for everyone else, the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 is a fine mouse with only a few minor issues.
Microsoft's IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 is technically a remake of an older product. The original debuted in 2003, but this version comes with a more gaming-oriented push. We've never been that impressed by Microsoft's mice, especially in contrast to Logitech's, which have dominated the field for the past few years. It feels like Microsoft is reintroducing this mouse not because it is a hot new product, but more to bolster the company's own Games for Windows campaign, which will ramp up as the holiday shopping season and the arrival of Windows Vista get closer. Regardless of the motivation, the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 is a decent $40 mouse. Its design has some of the shortcomings of the original model, but on the whole, if you're not looking to spend $50 or more on one of Logitech's tricked-out, laser gaming mice, the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 gives you the basics for less.

Instead of the laser sensor that seems to be a universal component of Logitech and Razer's higher-end gaming mice, such as Logitech's G5 and Razer's Copperhead, the IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 uses a souped-up optical sensor, set to 9,000 frames per second (fps). In mice, FPS essentially means the number of pictures the sensor takes when you move it. The more pictures, the more accurate reading of your movements. The IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 tracked well in Quake 4 and F.E.A.R.; unless you're very particular about mouse settings, most gamers will be more than happy.

Do not confuse FPS with dots per inch (DPI), which is the rating laser mice use to determine how sensitive the cursor is to your movement. Laser mice usually range between 400 and 2,000 DPI, and many let you set three or more different settings to swap among on the fly. A higher DPI setting will move the cursor a greater distance when you move the mouse. Variable sensitivity could be useful in a shooter when you switch between a sniper rifle and an assault weapon, for instance. The IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 has a standard sensitivity setting of 450 DPI, but a new feature called Precision Booster lets you set a button to switch between 10 and 90 percent of the speed. You can also set this button to press-and-hold or to toggle the Precision Booster on and off when you want to switch your sensitivity. It's a cool feature, but we don't like that you have to lose one of the five buttons in order to enable it. We'd rather a dedicated button for speed-switching like on Logitech's mice, but that would likely add to the cost.

Another gripe we have is with the two thumb buttons. They don't have a great tactile response when you press them, and the rear one feels especially mushy. The feeling doesn't really affect the functionality, but we like to feel a bit of resistance when we push a button to let us know that we have indeed pushed it. This was a problem with the original IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0, and it's too bad that it has persisted to the new "for gaming" design. That said, this is still a solid basic mouse, and all but the more hard-core gamers out there will find that it works well for their needs, in-game or otherwise.

6.7

Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0

Score Breakdown

Setup 7Features 6Support 6