I know my first mouse was a simple two-button, beige, loud clicking monster from days long ago. As time progressed from roller-balls to optical mice, things vastly improved, not only for movement, but no longer was the need to constantly remove hair from the roller ball. While optical sensing was a huge leap in mouse technology, Lasers sure stole the show. Along with all the internal technological advances, the exteriors have also come a long way from the square, beige mouse I had for my Commodore 64.
In steps Cooler Master are throwing their hat into the peripherals market and along with the new Storm line-up offers their best effort at mouse design. They've taken all the best features of mice already on the market and added a few never before seen technologies imbedded into their design. This sounds like a very promising package in my opinion.
Today we are looking at the Storm Sentinel Advance mouse and the CS-M FPS Tactics pad. Cooler Master not only took a leap and entered an unknown market, but they went all the way and made sure that the gaming surface is as accurate as the mouse. Let's get down to business, get some images and do a bit of testing to see just how well Cooler Master did with their new introductions.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
There have already been some high DPI mice introduced before; the 4000 DPI mouse from GIGABYTE comes to mind. But even here Cooler Master brings their "A game" to the table and offers you 5600 DPI with the Sentinel. The 5600 DPI is sensed by the Storm Tactical Twin Laser system and is backed with a 1.0ms polling time, 6.0 m/s tracking speed and a 50g acceleration limit, all aid to harness the nature of this beast.
All that DPI and great response time are housed in a black and grey ABS plastic that is rubberized outside for better grip. Even with all the tech Cooler Master packs inside this mouse, they got it all inside of 3.3" wide (thumb to pinky), 5.3" high (wrist to wire) and 1.6" deep (palm to table top). Not everything in the Sentinel is plastic, though; the inside bears a metal plate that the tech is mounted to and a five piece, 4.5g weighting system. This leaves the Sentinel weighing in at 161.5 grams. All this and we haven't yet looked at the "pretties". The Sentinel has LED's in both the body of the mouse, as well as "headlights", with two more flooding the desk in the front of the mouse. These LED's can also change to seven different colors and also off all together. Eight fully programmable buttons flank the front and left side of this right handed mouse, while just under your palm is an OLED display for DPI and a gamer tag.
Public launch of the Storm Sentinel Advance was on the 15th of this month and is expected to hit shelves everywhere you would find Cooler Master products very soon. It was a bit tough to locate via Google shopping, but I did locate a few, mostly EU shops, taking pre-orders for the Sentinel Advance currently. I was informed that retail pricing is expected to be just under $70 USD. This is a fair asking price in my opinion for what Cooler Master is promoting. Hopefully they hit shelves soon so the public at large can get their hands on one, too.
Black and red is an attractive colour combination and makes for an eye catching package setting on the shelf. With the clear plastic window, you know exactly what you are getting when purchasing the Storm Sentinel Advance. All around the front Cooler Master is showing off all the impressive specs of their new mouse.
I had to lay the package down to orient this side panel for easier viewing, but Cooler Master places their mission statement this way. They make no bones about it; the Sentinel is designed not only to search and destroy, but to provide complete control that leads to the domination of any game.
The rear of this package shows off eight key features, both with brief explanations of each and also there are corresponding images to help drive the points home.
Looking at the last side of the package, we can see this is where Cooler Master listed the specifications.
Sliding the plastic blister pack out of the box and turning it around, we can see they bundled the USB cable here and also sent an expansion slot bracket to tie the Sentinel to your PC.
Once I cut open the blister pack, I was greeted with my first unimpeded view of the Sentinel. Packed outside the plastic, inside of a paper envelope is the driver installation disc seen here.
Getting a closer look at the expansion slot bracket, we have a piece of steel with grooves on both edges and hooks on the inside. This is designed as a stress relief for the USB cable, but also can work as an added bit of security at a LAN event to help keep the mouse from "growing legs" and disappearing.
Running the wire through the bracket give you a much better idea how the strain relief works. All you need to do from here is slide the bracket in from the rear of the chassis and screw it into one of your open slots.
The Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Advance Mouse
Getting up close and personal! As I mentioned before, this mouse is covered in black ABS plastic and the rear, sides and front buttons are rubberized for improved grip of the Sentinel. The center houses the OLED surrounded by a round holed vented piece that allows the LED's to shine through. As I spin the Sentinel around, I will get into detail of the front and sides of this right hand only mouse.
We can't leave out the connection for this beauty; we get an almost six foot long, cloth braided cable with a gold plated USB 2.0 connection.
The Sentinel is designed ergonomically for the right handed gamers out there. The left side of the mouse houses the forward and back buttons for web surfing that can be programmed for any function your game will allow. This area for the thumb is very comfortable after long hours of use and the buttons are far enough forward to accommodate even the largest of hands.
Staring the Sentinel in the face, we have the typical large right and left click buttons, but in the front is also a button to swap from the five programmable user profiles. In the middle is the scroll wheel that goes forward and back, but doesn't feature tilt. Just behind the wheel are two buttons that either raise or lower the DPI on the fly and is displayed on the OLED for easy reference.
The right side is plastered with the "CM Storm" logo in grey matching all the other trim. Keeping with the ergo design, Cooler Master leaves a nicely shaped area to rest your ring finger and pinky during game play and everyday maneuvering, completing the overall great feeling shape.
Starting at the top, we have the dual channels; these are where Cooler Master has put the "headlights" of the Sentinel and these LED's are changeable as well. Moving to the middle, there is the sensor, or as Cooler Master shows it, the 5600 DPI Storm Tactical Sensor, comprised of twin lasers. At the bottom is the removable panel to access the weighting system.
Removing said panel shows that the Sentinel has five 4.5 gram weights housed in foam. While the foam is pre-cut for specific weight placement, it works very well to keep those weights in place and free from any shifting around during even the most intense game play.
Just for a better comparison of size, here is the CM Sentinel next to my previous "daily driver", the Logitech MX-518. They are very similar in all sizing with the Sentinel being just a bit longer. This made for a very easy transition to the Sentinel for me.
Colors and Software
Due to the lighting needed to get a presentable image, we lose the effect of a brilliant flood of light that is separately programmable from the top mounted LED's. Here we see the Sentinel as it boots up out of the box. Red is the starting color and out of the box the "headlights" do match the top as you cycle through.
Using the button in front of the scroll wheel, even without the drivers installed, you are able to select most of the LED's color choices. Here we have blue.
Keep clicking! Now we have green.
Violet or purple, depending on how you see it.
With the last click before we go back to red, we have teal or aqua. With the driver installation you gain a couple of colors and the ability to turn them off.
Once you go through a couple basic installation screens for the driver package and fire up the software, this is the screen you are greeted with. The Main Controls tab is where you can set all the basics for mouse functionality such as DPI, sensitivity, and have the ability to set up to five profiles worth of settings that get stored on the 64MB of onboard storage.
The Color Controls tab is pretty self explanatory. You will find the addition of white and yellow for LED options and as I said, the black, or LED off option as well. Again, and with every tab in this series, all settings can be saved for each individual profile.
If you have the desire to use Macro, this is where you get started.
You can even set scripts to the click of a mouse.
The Library tab allows for you to set up a bunch of scripts and change them as needed via software, versus having to rewrite the Macro or Scripts that you would want to use every time.
This software from Cooler Master also includes a download and update feature and support built right in. With one simple click the software is scanned and deemed up to date or not and allows for the download and update of those drivers. Clicking on the support button leads you to Cooler Master's forum where you may address any issues you might run into.
The CS-M FPS Tactics DC Mouse Pad
Keeping with the same theme as the Sentinel, Cooler Master's CS-M FPS Tactics DC pad comes packaged with all the icons familiar to the HUD's of your FPS gaming sessions. At the bottom left corner of the front there is a cut away hole to allow you to feel the gaming surface.
Rotating the package, the next side displays some in-house ratings of the ability of this gaming surface, followed on the right with a brief statement about the Tactics DC.
The rear of this package says this is a mouse pad and you should contact Cooler Master with any questions, in eighteen different languages.
The last side of the Tactics DC package shows the key features and the specifications.
Opening the top of the Tactics DC, we can see the pad has been rolled inside to accommodate for smaller packaging, also making shipping costs cheaper.
Here we get a look at the CS-M FPS Tactics DC pad as it would sit on your desk. Cooler Master has taken the liberty to paint this pad with a few of the more obvious "don'ts" of FPS gaming.
Getting very close to the surface the twin lasers are using to track off of, we see there is a very tight weave of fabric on the top which makes the Sentinel very accurate at 5600 DPI.
The underside is made of an anti-skid, rubberized surface to keep this large pad in place throughout hours of game play.
With many hours of use, both in FPS gaming like UT3 and average use at the desktop, I have found both the Sentinel and the Tactics DC pad a pleasure to use. Out of the box, the majority of the "eye candy" and functionality work even without the drivers installed. I do, however, recommend that you do utilize the included drivers as they do give access to all the functions of the mouse; things such as scripting or macro keys or even making the mouse "breathe" or flash when you click the mouse with the LED's. Daily use is on a 22" LCD and what I found very surprising was the fact that at 5600 DPI it only takes of an inch to move the mouse from the left side to the right and even less to clear from top to bottom. It did take me two days to get fully used to the finite movements, but found after time the 5600 DPI setting very acceptable for daily use.
After my long term testing I only found two issues. First is a personal thing really, but I found the sound level of the actual right or left click to be a bit loud. This is based on my use of the Logitech mice and their very low level of noise in this area. The second issue is that after you use the mouse for a bit and say run for a beverage, when I returned I found the mouse would tend to "wander", even if left untouched at the 5600 DPI setting. I did look for hair on the sensor and even blew it off with a can of compressed air, but I was never able to fully eradicate the issue. It does, however, go away after a few minutes of constant use.
Options galore and a great price is what Cooler Master brings to the table. As the image at the top shows, not only does the OLED show what the current DPI setting is, but allows via software to even add a 32 X 32 pixel image as a gamer tag, or in this case the TweakTown logo. With most of the functions a click away and with such an easy and user friendly driver package, I can't see where Cooler Master went wrong with this introduction. A proposed asking price of just under $70 is just icing on the cake. While the Tactics DC is in fact a very nice gaming surface, it isn't really needed as the Storm Sentinel Advance works well on any surface you happen to be using. For the complete package, I do recommend the DC pad, as I did find the Sentinel more accurate with it than with other surfaces I tried. I will say this, when my MX-518 dies I am replacing it for my second computer with another Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Advance mouse.
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