Before we get into my pick of the litter here, let's lay a few truths - all four of these mice are good choices, each of which could easily be the top choice for any given reader of this roundup. The mouse you use is a very personal thing - for me, it used to be a sign of a lack of respect for peripherals as I plodded along with a cheap hunk of crap.
All four mice are also obviously made by companies that know what they're doing. Between Logitech and Microsoft, you have two industry giants that probably make up something like 95% of the PC mouse market. And between Razer and SteelSeries, you have two somewhat similar gaming focused niche companies that rely on designing good gaming peripherals to survive. The reality is, all four of these offerings are top class, in some shared ways and in a few unique ways between the lot.
So, with that said, let's summarize the four contestants. The Logitech G9X is not perfect, but darn near close and has some amazing hardware customization abilities. The SteelSeries XAI is sleek and traditional, but with a really impressive gaming feature set when you scratch underneath the surface. The Razer Abyssus lacks spectacular appeal and doesn't really do anything the best in this roundup, but it's half the price of the rest. The Microsoft SideWinder X8 is the brawny and cliche gamer's choice, kind of like an Alienware is to the laptop market. The offerings are varied, but there can only be one for me.
And that title goes to the SteelSeries XAI. Yes, it is probably the most expensive of the bunch when it comes to real world prices, and while this 'most expensive' tag might be hard to grasp given the XAI really doesn't look all that special at first, we're not really talking a massive difference in price here unless it's the Abyssus we're comparing to. And with all due respect to Razer and the Abyssus, if the XAI wasn't my choice, the G9X or X8 probably would have been, because I'm a convert - when it comes to gaming and even just general PC use, the gaming mouse is worth the money, which seems to be around the $US 99.95 mark.
In many ways "gaming mouse" isn't even an overly suitable title, as what works well while gaming is going to work just as well browsing the net or using a graphics design program. If a mouse can excel in the heated, fast paced action of gaming hand movement, then it's going to do pretty well elsewhere, too. It is this fact which steers me towards the SteelSeries XAI - it looks the part of a classy every day mouse, but delivers on every level as a gaming mouse.