Have you ever had one of those instances in life where you were great friends with someone and for some reason over the years you had lost touch with them? After a bit of time goes by, let's say a couple of years and you happen to run into your old friend, so you invite them over so you can catch up and see what is new in their life. Then there is that magical moment amongst good friends where you realize it is as if you never lost touch, you just picked up the pieces and happily continue the friendship right where it had left off. This is the experience I have been having over the past few weeks as I have tinkered with the latest mouse to hit my desk for testing.
A couple of years ago I was given a mouse, sort of out of the blue and asked if I would like to review it. Of course I jumped on the chance as the mouse seemed to have everything the latest technology of that day had to offer, like 6500 DPI, which was a huge number then, a great feel in the hand, a cool lighting arrangement and had a programmable OLED screen that you could change the stock logo to any .bmp image that fit the size requirements. For someone who was used to the usual mouse with a couple of buttons and a scroll wheel, this mouse was a crash course in what I was missing all that time. If it weren't for the issue of the laser after time went on, there really wasn't anything to complain about and an RMA got me a revised version that no longer produced the "walking" of the pointer as the old mouse showed.
Then I heard that my old friend was going through a revision and I was asked to have a look at it once again in its new form. This time we will be looking at the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II High Performance gaming mouse. This is where I saw the opportunity to get reacquainted with my old friend and see what the new changes in features and software can offer the more advanced gamers out there who loved the Sentinel Advanced feel, but went to mice with more options.
For me it took no time at all to get used to this mouse and catch up with it and I will tell you I like what I see in the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II mouse and I think you should continue reading to see why you should put this mouse on the short list of ones to buy.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Cooler Master CM Storm Sentinel Advance II is grey with black trim, made of plastic and offers a thumb rest and an ergonomic area for your ring and pinky fingers. It has nine buttons consisting of the forward and back page buttons on the left, the right and left click buttons on top with two DPI buttons and a profile button on either side of the scroll wheel. There is also lighting in front of the mouse as well as the top which can be controlled separately with the included software. Nestled in the middle of everything on top of the mouse is a little OLED screen that denoted the X and Y DPI levels as well as a CM Storm logo. Even the logo can be personalized within the software package.
Things that have changed are mainly on the inside. The old laser sensor was replaced with an Avago ADNS-9800 laser sensor capable of registering movement at 150 inches per second with forces near 30 Gs as it delivers precision with its maximum of 8200 DPI. For the right and left click buttons, they are backed with Zhij switches while small Omron switches are placed under the smaller buttons around the mouse. The Sentinel Advance II offers nine buttons or functions out of the box, eight of which are programmable and the one that isn't offers a Tactics (TX) button, much like the EasyShift+ button from ROCCAT. This new mouse offers 128KB of onboard storage to house profiles, macros, scripts; just about anything you would want your mouse to be able to do anywhere you take it, even if not on your own machine or one with the software installed. I am also still a fan of the little programmable OLED that the Sentinel Advance had and is again present in the second version. I used to have the "TT" logo for TweakTown on my old Sentinel.
Without actually showing you, most of the other features and perks of owning the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II laser gaming mouse are just words at this point, so why not get down to what this mouse is going to cost to arrive at your door. With a bit of investigation I can find only five locations in the US with listings. Since this mouse is new to the market as I am typing this that isn't really a surprise and I am sure shelves everywhere will have this mouse stacked on them soon. Only two of the listings I would actually consider and both are reasonable priced at right around $57 and that is to your door pricing.
Considering all of the features, the added benefits of the software, onboard storage and one of the fastest laser sensors I have used to date, I think staying under $60 is a great move in pricing for Cooler Master and should keep these mice flying off the shelves.
As with all of the CM Storm packaging, we see the Sentinel Advance II front and center above some cool looking flames. Around the image there are things like high performance gaming mouse and the Avago sensor getting mentioned.
The front panel opens to offer eight key features with images around the Sentinel Advance II image with descriptions of them listed at the bottom. On the right you now can get a pretty full view of the mouse inside the box.
The right side of the packaging offers the Storm Tactics and in this instance the tactics that are greatly at play are the strength and control, not so much the security.
The back offers a full list of specifications about the Sentinel Advance II and has regional site information along with addresses and phone numbers if you should need them for any reason.
This is the panel that tells people in 21 languages that this is a gaming mouse called the Sentinel Advance II and for more information to visit the CM Storm website.
Containing the sentinel and making sure it doesn't move around in transit, as well as keeping it inside the box when the front door is opened, a layer of plastic has been molded to the shape of the mouse and the sides are raised to take first impact if this was to get dropped on the way to your door.
CM Storm Sentinel Advance II
Here we can see the Sentinel Advance II without the glare of the plastic. You can see the gun metal grey with black trim used with this version. The main thing that separates the two mice right off the top is the addition of the TX on the back page button. The rest of the mouse looks very similar to the original.
On the left there is a large indent and a bit of a wing to support your thumb while using this mouse. Easy to get to forward and back page buttons are rubberized and the back page will also function as the Tactics button for the programmable buttons feature I will show you later.
The back of the mouse has a very gentle slope to the mat under the palm of your hand and the crest of the egg shape is placed correctly for my grip on this mouse. Even if you prefer a claw grip, the top of the mouse offers a great feel when your palm is much further forward.
On the right there is a curved line for style with the CM Storm painted above it near the back of the mouse. The front is contoured in such a way that your ring and pinky finger are resting snugly as the pinky drags on the mat.
In the front there is the right click and left click buttons on both sides of the USB cable end. Between those you will find the profile button in front of the scroll wheel, with the DPI buttons out of focus near the top.
Speaking of the top, here we have a much better look at it. At the left is a mesh area that is LED backlit surrounding the OLED screen that displays the CM Storm logo and current DPI. Just to the right of the screen in this image are again the up and down DPI selector buttons.
CM Storm Sentinel Advance II Continued
Under the mouse you see the tunnels at the top that are backed with LEDs to help illuminate the desktop. There are four TPFE feet used to glide upon, with the laser just above the product sticker.
At the bottom is a removable cover that will allow you to remove weight as needed. This allows any combination from 4.5 grams of additional weight to be used on up to 22.5 grams as shown here.
Removing a few screws allows the mouse to easily open up into two sections. Here I just wanted to show off the Zhij switches used for the right and left click buttons on the Advance II.
This shot shows the PCB that contains the Avago laser sensor, the 128KB of onboard memory and that it is the control center that all of the PCBs and lighting systems are attached to.
This is where the LED for the back of the Sentinel is and it also houses the Omron switches used in the DPI selectors. The PCB on the right also contains Omron switches found in the side buttons just like the one seen under the scroll wheel in our first image inside of this mouse.
Once reassembled, I powered up the Sentinel Advance II, I was stared down with a pair of red LEDs glowing out the front of the mouse. Keep in mind this is just the default color scheme, the software offers plenty of color options to match any theme.
For a better idea of the looks of the OLED and the lighting on the back half of the Sentinel Advance II, I turned the lights off and allowed the glow of the DPI and CM storm logo along with the red glow to stand out all by themselves.
Accessories, Documentation and Extras
Along with the mouse you get these two bits of paperwork. On the left is the notice that there isn't an included disc for the software, but in the move to save on resources, you can go to CM's website and get all of the downloads you need for the Sentinel Advance II. On the right is the warranty information and explains the limitations of the two year warranty.
Included with the mouse is an extra set of PTFE feet for the mouse. Not that I suggest you void your warranty to prove me right, but even peeling the feet that are on the mouse to open things up, the stuck right back down and it will be some time before I need to replace them, either way I like the fact that they are provided.
Included along with my mouse, but needs to be purchased separately, is the CM Storm Speed-RXL. The mat was originally designed for optical sensors, but has been found to work great with high performance lasers as well.
The back says that this is a gaming mouse pad, while the other side has a sample of the material along with the specs of the mat with a list of five features displayed to cover the information available for the Speed-RXL.
The mat uses dense foam that is textured on the back to grip almost any surface while the top used weaved cloth as the gaming surface. When the mat is cut to shape it seals the cloth edges to prevent roll over with use of the mat. There is also a large logo and CM Storm by Cooler Master that has been screened on in grey and white paint.
This was more just to show the immense size of the large version of the Speed-RX mats. As you can see, once this gaming surface is employed you won't need to worry about the Sentinel Advance II and its 1.5mm LOD, as you will never really need to lift your mouse.
Once the software is installed, you have to search for it and open it up. Once there you are greeted with the Main Control tab. This allows you to see the default layout, DPI settings, polling rate, click speeds, response time and offers you the use of four other profiles besides the stock one shown here. You can change some of the default layout, but I suggest starting a new profile for full control.
The color controls are pretty simple. All you do is click on the light you want to change and set it to one of the seven colors or off. On the right there are modes to the lighting you can change and under the lighting options is the ability to upload a BMP image to use on the OLED.
If you want access to some of your favorite programs, photo editing shortcuts or even media player keys at the touch of the mouse, the Storm TX page is where you can set the multi function of the other buttons on the mouse, even the scroll wheel. Pressing the TX button on the mouse will allow each of the other keys to have a second use.
For those of you who game or work with macros a lot, this is where you would want to go to set up what macros go with what profile and allows you to record them simply and save and label them with ease.
If you want to write scripts to automate procedures in Photoshop, or even make benchmarks easier to test, the limit is your imagination. In the Scripts panel it is as intuitive to use as one can expect.
Since there is limited amount of onboard memory Cooler Master offers a place to store all of your unused macros and scripts in here. This allows you to drag and drop whatever you may need into a profile and then unplug the mouse and take it with you functioning just like it did on your PC.
The last tab is for support of the mouse. Here you can check your version of the firmware and software against the latest offered and if you want to get some online support, simply click on the left button and you are delivered to their support section to ask whatever it is you need information on.
As I mentioned, the look and feel of the Sentinel Advance Ii is just like the original and it's as if I went right back to the enjoyable hours of gaming I had with that mouse. The upgraded sensor is nice and I actually found myself using the 8200 DPI at desktop level quite a bit, but there is no way I could be accurate in an FPS at that high of a setting. I still found myself gaming at around 3200-3600 DPI only dropping DPI occasionally if I had a rifle or was driving or flying.
I don't remember the original version having the script or macro capabilities and I know it did not include the TX button that allows multi-functionality of all but one button on the mouse. This combined with a sleek and sexy, aesthetically appealing design and the cool lighting and slightly programmable OLED screen again I don't see how you can go wrong with the Sentinel Advance II.
Stepping back a minute to ponder other mice that have similar offerings I am immediately brought to ROCCAT due to the similarity in the Storm TX and EasyShift+ systems and as far as software goes, they even battle head to head there. Where I think the CM Storm pulls ahead with me is that it pulls at my memories of hours and hours of games gone by. I mean it really is down to personal taste with that comparison. Even if I were to put it against the Corsair models, the CM Storm has better software and Corsair doesn't offer multi-functionality of its buttons. We haven't even got to the point that the Corsair is more expensive to get a similarly featured product.
If you had the chance to experience the original I have to say you need to experience the latest incarnation of this mouse. Even if you haven't had a Cooler Master mouse in your life, I think it is time to give them a chance. There really isn't anything they missed with the Sentinel Advance II High Performance laser gaming mouse. It has cool lights, the fastest laser sensor money can buy at the time of writing, a pretty serious software package, the TX capabilities, removable weight and it has an OLED screen. Even if slightly over the top, it is still something I have yet to see from anyone else.
All of this technology, software and more is bundled in a mouse that just feels right the first time and every time it is in your hands. For $57, shipped to your door, I don't see how you cannot consider the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II as your next choice.
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