Cooler Master, more specifically the CM Storm line of gaming peripherals, have been on a steady march to supremacy and domination of the market with what seems like one or two new products being released every couple of months. It really seems like every month I am either looking at one of the various mechanical keyboard offerings that seem to do very well in sales for Cooler Master, otherwise I am looking at one of their various mice, mouse pads or some other form of accessories. Today is no different, but this month I have two products from them, one a keyboard that we will be looking at very soon, and this new laser gaming mouse I am discussing in this review.
Previous mice we have seen like the Sentinel Advanced II was almost like a trial run. While offering some really nice features and the use of a high-end laser sensor, there were lower grade switches used on the inside that were a carry-over from the previous Sentinel design (ZHIJ switches), and is something CM Storm has since moved away from. Then we had a look at the Recon. This wan an Avago Optical sensor based mouse, again with a great feel, and it worked very well, but it was here that I first saw the introduction of the Omron switches that most gamers hunt for in a mouse, as they are the preferred switch type to have inside the mouse.
With this latest submission, we get the best of both worlds. You are given a high-end laser sensor for tracking, but you are also given Omron switches in the mouse. So, not only should the wide range of DPI suit any user, it should have some longevity as well.
Today we are going to be looking at the next evolution from CM Storm with the Havoc. This mouse has it all as far as what most users' desire. You are getting the most versatile laser sensor, Omron switches, a rubberized coating, LEDs, onboard memory, Macros, and the list goes on. After a couple of weeks toying around, gaming, photo editing and general usage, it is now time that I deliver my verdict on the CM Storm Havoc and you the reader will know by the end of this if Cooler Master and the CM Storm line is as on point with their mice as they have been with their keyboards as of late.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The SGM-4002-KLLN1 as CM Storm designates the Havoc comes black with a mix of rubberized coatings and shiny black plastic to mix things up. The Havoc offers eight programmable buttons, but you cannot program the mouse wheels forward and back motions, and this is a right hander's mouse, not ambidextrous in design. The rest of the outside of the mouse offers things like the scroll wheel center hub, the DPI buttons, and the CM Storm logo is illuminated with the option of seven color choices. The four stage DPI indicator lights are found on the left click buttons left edge, but will always be lit with a red LED. The last important bit about the outside of the Havoc is the 1.8 meters of cloth sleeved cabling with a gold plated USB 2.0 connection on the end to connect the mouse to the PC.
inside the dimensions of 85mm wide, 120mm long and 45mm in height - CM Storm packs a lot inside of this 140 gram package. There is an Avago ADNS9800 laser sensor to track all of your movements, and offers a DPI scale of 100 to 8200 DPI in 100 DPI increments. This laser is also capable of tracking movements up to 150 inches per second and can handle 30g's of acceleration. You also get Omron D2FC-F-7N switches for the right and left click functions that offer five million clicks before they are expected to wear out or stop working all together.
There is 128KB of onboard memory for storing up to four profiles, as well as keeping some Macros onboard the mouse so that you don't need your PC to use them. You just need to apply the profiles/Macros needed and unplug and go with the Havoc. Of course this is for PC, and you will need a free USB port and any OS since Windows XP. You will need to download the software as there is no disc included, and the drivers only require 35MB of space, that is until you start keeping more profiles and Macros than the mouse can store within itself. This is because it will use the driver folder to store all of your unloaded setups.
While there are quite a few companies out there that would easily feel good about charging near $80 for a device offering such features as we just listed, but CM Storm are selling these at a great price, and will make their return on investment with the shear volumes of these that they will sell. As I looked around, I found the Havoc at Newegg for $54.99 and an additional $9.99 in shipping to get it to your home. I also found a listing on Amazon where the price is $50.99 and only requires $5.43 to get the Havoc dropped at your door. I am sure as time goes by, more e-tailers will pick up this mouse and offer it at similar pricing, but as I always say, be on your game when shopping, so that you can get the best overall deal.
For around $56 to $65, I think the Havoc is well worth the money, and by the time you finish reading, I think you will be hard pressed to disagree with that statement.
If there were a design award for packaging, CM Storm would get it for this panel. I mean, what is cooler than a mouse on fire? I am sure this will get your attention on the shelf. Both Cooler Master and CM Storm, along with the Havoc name and DPI abilities are all placed around an image of the Havoc from the top down, and the rest of the panel is flat black for high contrast.
The front panel is held on with Velcro, and once opened will show you features about the Havoc on the left. On the right side you get a clear view of the mouse you are buying, and again you can see the bit about this being a professional gaming mouse and the DPI scale.
The right side of the packaging continues to carry part of the red and grey logo from the front. Off to the left of it though you will find the Storm Tactics of Strength, Security and Control.
On the back there is another splash of red and grey, but the majority of this panel is dedicated to the features, and a brief description is given along with each of the features listed. At the bottom is regional information for addressed and site information for those in need of support.
The last panel of the packaging repeats the same information down the panel in 21 languages, before it shows the Windows support and various OS's that this will run with at the bottom.
Getting much closer to see just what Cooler Master was explaining in the last image, you can see that they inform buyers that this is a gaming mouse, the Havoc, and where to go for more information about the Havoc before purchasing one.
The inner packaging is a two piece plastic shell. There is one for the top that also adds the side supports that are taller than the mouse to take any impacts first and protect the mouse in the middle. The lower section fits into the bottom and has a bit of room for the cord. The red color in the middle is just a paper board insert to give the product some flash and hide the wiring and paperwork from view.
CM Storm Havoc Professional Gaming Laser Mouse
The left side of the Havoc has quite a bit going on. At the top left side of the mouse there are four DPI level lights, and as you move to the back, you find the page forward, page back and the profile selector buttons. The rest of this side is taken up with a ribbed rubber insert to assure the securest grip with your thumb in any conditions.
The heel of the mouse is comprised of three sections. There is the top section that stops and curves across the top. There is the shiny bit of plastic off on the right side too, but the main section of rubberized plastic that makes up the heel has a logo cut in behind it that we will illuminate shortly.
The right side of the Havoc has the rubberized bit at the top as the right click button comes slightly over the top to the edge. The rest of this side is made up of shiny plastic that does wonders for the aesthetics, but is a little tough to grip securely.
Looking at the Havoc from the front, you can see the camber of the top of the mouse much clearer than you can from the back, as the mouse leans off to its right to feel better on your wrist. You also can see that the mouse is wired, and the USB cord is wired right in the middle.
Between the left click and the right click buttons, you find another shiny section of plastic. In this section of the Havoc you are given the DPI up and down buttons and the rubberized scroll wheel with a white hub for easy LED illumination.
Under the Havoc, you see CM Storm opted for a three foot design here. With the use of two long feet on either side, and the smaller foot at the rear of the Havoc, it makes for an easy to slide, and is the most I have seen covered in quite some time. Between the feet you will find a sticker with the model and serial numbers, just below the opening for the laser sensor.
The Havoc also comes with 1.8 meters of USB 2.0 cable. Only this rubber cable is sleeved in a black, braided, cloth covering to look good, and help keep the inner wire from damages. At the USB 2.0 connection you can see the CM Storm logo printed on the connection, as well as the fact that it is gold plated for anti-oxidation purposes.
Accessories and Documentation
There isn't any hardware or accessories shipped with the mouse, but aside from a carrying pouch, or maybe a driver disc or some stickers, I can't really think of much more that a mouse needs. What you do see is the warranty information insert on the left, and the smaller grey-scale Havoc user's guide.
Even though Cooler Master sends along the warranty pamphlet, inside the user's guide, the first page delivers all of the information on the two year warranty. They go over what is covered, what isn't covered, as well as provide you with information for the site to gain support, or the option to use the telephone with the number provided. Over on the right page, you are given the features list of nine, and they are repeated in various languages.
The last page only offers a specifications list, package contents list, again there is site addresses for help, some odd looking chart, and then all of the regional office addresses are placed at the bottom.
Inside the Havoc
Under the top there is a PCB with pad type switches for the DPI adjustment buttons, and that signal is sent through the ribbon cable to the lower PCB. As for the profile, forward page, and the back page buttons, they are on another PCB to the right and use a 4-wire cable to communicate with the micro processor.
This is the lower section of the mouse with the main PCB now exposed. I had to remove both cables to allow me to get this far, as with then connected, it makes things rather tough to get to.
Under the left click button there is an Omron D2FC-F-7N. This specific version of the switch is rated at five million clicks before failure. This helps pricing too, but keep in mind, there are 10 and 20 million click offerings in other mice, and helps explain why this isn't an $80+ offering.
The right click button also uses the same Omron switch, but for the click of the scroll wheel, it is backed with a red ZHIJ switch. Nothing wrong with this choice as the scroll wheel gets used much less than the other two.
In this image you will see the 128KB memory IC on the left with the red and yellow paint dobs on it. Then there is the Sonin 32-bit microprocessor that is in control of making sense of all the signals and information to and from the PC.
Just behind the scroll wheel is where you will find the Avago ADNS9800 laser sensor. It is directly soldered to the underside of this PCB, but for added stability, CM Storm also glue the pegs it set on to the PCB to make sure it doesn't vibrate inside.
After some reassembly, and of course plugging the mouse into a PC, it fully illuminates and is ready to go. The center of the scroll wheel and the DPI lights are changeable, but the DPI lights closest to us are always red, no matter the color setting in the software.
The heel of the mouse is now illuminated. I bet if you go back and look at the first image like this you can more easily make out that logo, but once illuminated, there is no doubt of the maker of the mouse on your desk.
This is one last glamour shot, with the LEDs active, but I wanted to get a better angle to show off the matte finish of the majority of the mouse as it plays against the shiny section that runs down the right side.
Once you visit the CM Storm website and grab the software and install it, you then open it to find this. On this page, the main page, you are given a view of the Havoc with all of the programmable buttons numbered at the left. On the right there is the default function that is assigned to the CM Storm profile at the bottom. That is just an example of the images you can upload and how to name one of the four profiles.
The menu on the right side also offers a dropdown box menu of optional commands to use. In there you can change it to any other mouse function, as well as assigning Macros, using keyboard functions and multimedia - it really has it all. I moved to Profile 1 as the CM Storm profile is locked as the default.
Under the advanced tab you get to sort through the functionality of the sensor. Here you can set the four DLI levels where ever you want between 100 and 8200 DPI, and also get X and Y axis control, with the polling rate being offered for each setting. The LED mode is in the middle for lighting effects and choice of the seven colors. At the bottom you are offered sensitivity settings, double click speed, button response time, an OS lock, and angle snapping for those that jitter too much at high DPI settings.
The Macro panel is easy to use. Click on new, name the Macro, and it then appears at the left. Highlight it, click on record, perform the macro, and then click on the stop button. It really is that easy. You can set them with a repeat, and the time interval, and you can also insert and remove lines of a broken Macro relatively easy.
Under the profiles tab, this is where you can swap files, if you will. On the left would be a list of as many profiles as you can think of, all named by you, and currently stored in a folder on your PC. Then on the right, you have the option to change one of the three other than the default profile. You simply click on the left file, click import, pick which slot, and it is now stored on the Havoc.
The library tab effectively does what the profiles tab offered for profiles; just this tab does it for Macros. Again, you can store as many on the PC as you wish inside of the folder, but in order to swap them around to a mouse function, you can find what you need on the left side and import it to the right so the mouse can use it.
The support tab allows you to read a brief summary of what you are getting into if you click on the online support that takes you to the main site where you will locate the support section or the download section depending on your needs. If you click on the version button, it shows the software and firmware that is currently in control of the Havoc.
Out of the box, I did try the insanity of trying to control the 8200 DPI offered in the Havoc, but I found myself overshooting what I needed, and just the jiggle of the hand trying to double click to open an application was near impossible. That isn't to say there aren't people out there who cannot control this sort of DPI setting; it just says that I am one who cannot. Once I lowered the DPI to under the 5200 DPI level, I found it much more enjoyable to use personally. I do like that the scale goes full range and allows you to drop all the way down to 100 DPI for those where the most finite movements are very important to the project you are working on.
The rubberized coating works very well where it is applied, and the extra grip under the thumb is handy in helping the grip. The LEDs are bright, and they are done well where there is limited bleeding, and you only see what Cooler Master designed you to see in the dark. Just overall it fit my hand very well with my relaxed grip, but will also perform for claw grip users, and lastly, I just really like the aesthetics of the whole Havoc design once it is illuminated and in use.
There were very few things that I can find fault with concerning the Havoc. I guess one could complain that there aren't adjustable weights, but even here I found the mouse to be a bit on the heavy side, but the large feet on the bottom takes away a ton of friction making it easy to swing around. I found the shiny plastic on the right to look very nice, but even with a clean and dry hand, the right side of the mouse will allow your fingers to slide a fair bit, before you can actually lift the Havoc. This may not get you killed, but when things heat up, it only gets worse. I found myself really compensating with my thumb a lot just to get the mouse to lift without the cursor wandering too. I guess you could say that you could raise the DPI and not need to lift, but again, that doesn't work for me personally. The last thing I found issue with is the software. Not anything to do with how to set things or the various tabs in the software, but when I load the software in Windows, it shows the application and you change settings or close the window. With the software running on the toolbar at the bottom, I had issue with the 'configure mouse" option even opening the software. I had to close it and restart things when I wanted to change settings.
Relatively speaking, for a mouse offering an Avago ADNS 9800 sensor, onboard memory, Macro control, keyboard control, optional colored LEDs with a dimmer and effects, profiles, simple to use software (when you can get it open), all in a mouse that looks great and it also feels great in your hand, and add in the fact that you get all of this for right around $55 US dollars, there is a bargain in mouse technology to be had here. Even with my personal issues, I still think the Havoc is reasonably priced, and offers the most software control of the sensor as any $100 offering out there, of course lending to its professional gaming moniker.
If you don't tend to lift your mouse, and don't need to be in the software panel all the time, I strongly urge you to get to the store and try one out. If you do game a lot, where grip and the ability to lift are important, I would maybe look elsewhere. If this mouse were released with a full rubberized finish, even with the small glitch in software that can easily be remedied, I would have been fully supporting this and giving it an Editor's Choice award. But as it sits currently, it is the features and the pricing that sticks out amongst the awards for something so close to being perfect.
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