In the vast sea of high-end gaming peripherals, it takes something special to set yourself apart from the crowd. This is especially true in mice. Here, not only do you have to source what you as a business feel are the best components for all users, without closing off some of your potential market, but you also need to bring forth a product that is hands down better than the rest in what is offered. Especially in the feature set, since no one really wants a two button mouse these days. Maybe the most important thing out of all is that when developing a new "gaming" mouse, the tracking and accuracy of the sensor are what will make or break any design in a matter of minutes using them.
Now Cooler Master has been doing quite well at this sort of strategy for years, and with the newer team at CM Storm, we have seen many products that show they are on point with what most of the people out there want. Here, we have the Recon and Havok we saw not too long ago; even when looking at both versions of the Sentinel mice, it was easy to see that they offered the components, features, aesthetics, and comfort that users desire. Best yet about these designs, is that not one of them has had any sort of a price point that would give any reason to pass these devices up when looking for a new mouse.
Cooler Master and the CM Storm team are back at it, offering another mouse to their lineup. What brings us here today is their new mix of metal, rubberized coatings, and a wider, flatter design that will allow any users to enjoy the grip afforded with this device. Stick around and have a look at their newest mouse, the Reaper, and see if they have come up with another success, or if this is just a well thought out design that against all odds, finds a way to somehow be less than what we expect.
There is a lot to cover with this new design, and it is about time to get into it, so let's do just that and see what the Reaper is truly about.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
Aesthetically, the Reaper is mostly matte black due to the rubberized coating used on the majority of the top surfaces. The left side of the mouse offers users three buttons. The top offers seven functions if you are including the scroll wheel. While the right side is free of buttons, it is designed for comfort and grip. A few new things are found in this design as well. There is a very large button to the left for DPI; it is mentioned as a Clutch button. There also is a metal palm plate on the reaper that is said to be customizable. While the plate could be painted, or could be 3D printed in other materials, the idea here is the contrast and passive cooling of the hand resting on top.
The Reaper also has a solid aluminum scroll wheel. This is diamond cut for grip, but other than the heft making selection a bit more purposeful, it is there more for looks and to go along with the palm plate. The last bit that may entice potential buyers is the fact that the Reaper offers LED backlighting. It is white only, but the Reaper also offers a pair of headlights as well as an off angled stripe over the top that separates the metal palm plate from the rubberized front half of the design.
On the inside, there is a mix of newer components that should help the Reaper be all it can be. Tracking is taken care of with an AVAGO ADNS9800 laser sensor; that is currently in all of the hottest selling laser mice. Then, to take on the majority of use, under the right and left click buttons, users are offered five million click Omron switches. For other controls, they are then backed with HC switches that feel very similar to the Omron's, but do not offer the same lifespan. There is also a Sonin MCU incorporated to enable a bit of onboard storage for Macros and profiles, as well as to take control of all communications and functionality of the Reaper.
After looking around for locations carrying the Reaper, inside of the USA, it seems a bit early for the Reaper. Although, there is an eBay listing for one at near $100. From what we can tell, the Reaper is available over the pond, and is being sold with the MSRP of just over $50. With some quick Google-fu, at the current exchange rate, we see that that would be a U.S. pricing of just over $80.
As with most devices to hit this side of the pond, it is usually more a pound to dollar straight conversion and has little to do with the actual value of said dollar. Without any word on defined U.S. pricing, we will be looking at this Reaper on the average of around $65 US dollars to be fair to all concerned, but it is now definitely time to see exactly what it is you are getting for the price.
CoolerMaster only offers a little over half of the view of the Reaper as it sits off to the right with purple tracers under it for a bit of flash. At the bottom it offers the Reaper name and says it is an aluminum gaming mouse with a laser sensor, programmable Clutch button, and it states that it is ergonomically built for right handed users.
It is obviously too small to read, so let us save you some eye strain. This side says, in twenty-one languages, that inside is a gaming mouse (the Reaper), and for more information to visit the site. At the bottom, next to the model number and bar codes to the right, are stickers for compatibility.
The back of the packaging is topped with an image of the Reaper with the DPI switch, LED lighting, Clutch button, and the design, all pointed out around it. The bottom offers feature lists covering seven things the Reaper offers and they are repeated in ten languages here.
The right side offers locations and addresses of the CoolerMaster offices along with an email address for each location for support.
What we have just looked at was all printed on a cardboard sleeve that lifts off of another black two part box. Here we have removed the top of that inner box to reveal the Reaper sitting inside of the molded plastic tray for a safe and secure ride to our labs.
Inside of the lid (and inside of a plastic bag), there is the paperwork offered for the Reaper. This is the only "extra" you get with the Reaper.
Inside of the first page of this guide, CoolerMaster covers the terms and conditions of the warranty. It shows what is covered and it also covers what they will look for as far as customer damages. At the very bottom, it states that the Reaper is covered for a period of two years.
Remember seeing the features list on the back of the box? Well this is why there wasn't much discussion as to what they were. Page two of the guide addresses them again, and they are much easier to read, but we did cover most of this in the specifications section anyway.
The back of this concludes things with a specifications chart, package contents, and office information again. I guess Cooler Master assumes that when you buy a mouse, you know how to plug them in and where to go to grab the software needed to take full control of the Reaper, since nothing is really covered in that aspect.
CMStorm Reaper Laser Gaming Mouse
Checking out the Reaper from the left side, the front starts with a rubberized coating that continues down the rest of this side. It is there, at the front, that there is a large Clutch button as well as page forward and page back buttons. These are all inside of a large indent and a bit of a rest at the bottom for your thumb.
At the back of the Reaper, the two black side sections come to a point at the bottom as they flank the "metal" palm plate. This is offered for style (with the logo engraved into it), but it is also cool to the touch and offers a passive cooling possibility for your right hand.
The right side is completely rubberized and offers no buttons, but along with being slightly concave from bottom to top, there is also a very thin ledge that will allow users just a bit more leverage to lift the Reaper easily.
The right and left click buttons pass the large aluminum scroll wheel in the center and they terminate pointed at each other slightly with a large gap at the front of the Reaper. This allows the USB cable to run easily, as well as offering style since they add two lights to the front sections that protrude forward.
Just behind the scroll wheel are two charcoal grey buttons. These are set as default for on-the-fly DPI selection through four levels offered in the software. Something to keep in mind is that all buttons on the Reaper are reprogrammable, and even have built-in options for multimedia and things of that nature.
The Reaper uses a configuration of three PTFE feet to support the mouse and offer friction resistance to allow it to glide around better. At the top there is a sticker around the laser eye, which is where the serial number is located. At the bottom there is a rubber plug, and if you want to customize the metal palm plate, there is a screw under the plug that needs removed to do so.
That braided USB 2.0 cable we saw coming from the front of the mouse is 1.8 meters in length once the wire tie is removed. There is a gold plated connection with a housing porting the CM Storm logo, but I would have liked to have seen a Velcro strap for wire retention for those who travel with their mice.
Inside the Reaper
This is the section of the review where we go ahead and void the warranty of the device. The top of the Reaper is made of three sections with a large PCB attached to it. As for the lower section, it almost looks bare and dysfunctional with such a tiny PCB installed there.
You will need a long skinny screwdriver to access the #2 screw for removal of this painted, pot metal, palm plate. At this point you could paint it, or with the use of a scanner, this could also be replicated with 3D printer parts where one could add their own personal touches.
Looking back at the PCB that was mounted inside of the top of the Reaper, it's apparent they have used it for LED lighting and placed the switches onto it. This is also where the MCU is located.
Gently persuading one of the LEDs out of our way, we find the Sonix SN8F2288FG. This is a 16-bit, 12MHz MCU that offers the 128kb of onboard memory to house various Macro and Profile settings. When that is full, you can save them on the PC and swap them in and out of memory.
While the DPI buttons are backed with smaller pad style switches, the page forward and page back buttons use white HC switches to take care of that functionality.
Under the left click buttons, Cooler Master offers the Omron D2FC-F-7N that delivers that solid feel we all like. It also delivers a long life of up to five million clicks.
Inside the Reaper Continued
To give the Clutch button operational function, another white HC switch has been added to the lower PCB just behind the Omron switch. These HC switches offer an audible click, medium actuation pressure, and are a good secondary choice to add to this design.
Just behind the scroll wheel is the Avago ADNS9800 laser sensor. We already know these can offer up to 8200 DPI, but the Reaper offers a slider control for this in the software that goes from 200 to 8200 DPI and allows for 100 DPI adjustments in between.
Since the PCB at the bottom is so short, this leaves plenty of room for them to add a couple of 20 gram metal weights. This is not an adjustable system since there is no real access to them and they are screwed in from the inside.
The last bit to cover of the internal components is the matching Omron switch placed under the right click button, again offering five million clicks.
Once back together, the Reaper is powered up and the illumination begins. While there aren't any other color options, the white headlights do give off a pleasing glow when the room is dimly lit.
The lighting is seen all the time; even with a hand on top, there is still just a bit of it to the left of the palm. This is bright, and with four LEDS backing it, it is a very even brightness along the entire insert unlike many others we have seen.
Once the software is installed, every time you want to load the configuration panel, there is this screen where you will have to wait almost thirty seconds or so for the software to get underway. If you accidentally close it, you have to wait for this screen again when it is reloaded.
Now that we are actually in the control panel, we are dropped onto the "main" tab where we are able to reconfigure any of the eight buttons on the mouse with various presets. It also offers four profiles along the bottom to keep in the mouse. You can even add an image for these profiles.
The "advanced" tab is where it gets serious. At the top are four levels of DPI to set with the current DPI displayed with the pink dot. To the right you can get X and Y control, as well as setting individual polling rates. The LED mode options run across the middle, and there is a slide to adjust the brightness. There are then controls for OS sensitivity, double click speed, and button response time (which we haven't seen before). Then, along with a test box at the right, there is a lock OS button as well as a button for angle snapping.
The "Macro" tab offers everything needed to deliver the best in Macro programmability. There are time delays, multiple key push options, a screen to show the Macro with editor features to fine tune them, and 128kb of room to house various Macros onboard the mouse.
There is room for four profiles on the Reaper as shown in the window at the right. That does not mean that you cannot set up a profile for every individual game owned. It will require room on the storage drive to house them, but in this tab, there is the ability to load and unload them to fit with what you are currently playing, or what games you will be playing with at a buddies, without access to your PCs extra profiles to pick from.
The "library" tab is similar to what we just saw, but instead of being for profiles, this is where the list will populate all of the Macros you have saved on the PC. To move them from a list at the left, click and highlight it, then to the right, you pick the button to use it and which profile it is to be used. There is also an Import feature that will allow you to search for and import Macros already made with other devices.
The "support" tab is where Cooler Master offers a brief statement noting that this is the way you access support or ask any questions about your new purchase. They deliver the standard address in print at the bottom, but the Online Support button will take you there without typing it. As for the Version Info button, it opens the smaller window displaying the software and firmware versions currently in use to reference against any updates that may be on the site.
At the end of it all I am left a bit torn. On the whole, the Reaper is a very nice mouse. It fits the hand well, the cool plate at the back does keep your hand cool longer, the styling is something anyone will love, and at the gaming level, the Reaper is hard to beat. The combination of higher-end components and the more than capable software will allow anyone to find their usable DPI levels. Over the four profiles, you can keep the basic seven functions on profile on, and with the Clutch button swapping profiles, you can have twenty-eight controls under your right hand; all within a couple of clicks to access them. While I tend to play more FPS titles, with the Macro abilities along with the multi-profile setup, one can do a lot of damage with the Reaper in MMOs and any game where "spamming commands" are the name of the game.
Where we did see some funny business was at the desktop level in productivity. While there is no noticeable jitter at the highest level of DPI, when using 3000 to 5000 DPI on the desktop in something like Photoshop, is where we had some issues. When moving slowly, the tracking will either not move much at all (as in you are moving too slowly for the Avago to even sense it), or it will overshoot the intended location. It was almost like the sensor has something set where it just cannot track finite movements. While in-game we tend to swing about and don't recall sniping being much of an issue; however, when trying to remove a tiny dot from an image where other lines are close and it required a bit of finesse and precision, I spent near triple the time editing photos with the Reaper than on any other mouse I have used.
For my needs, a mouse has to perform great at both levels. I know a lot of gamers out here will be very happy with the comfortable feel, the rich software package, and the Reapers ability to handle almost anything you throw at it and it will be a worthy purchase for them. For those that demand the best of the best, at all levels, I'm sorry to say it, but there are better options on the market for us. If only I wasn't spending so much time overshooting the finer details with the way this sensor is configured, I would fully recommend the Reaper.
The styling, addition of the aluminum wheel and cooling metal plate, and the full LED lighting scheme are something that should attract you to this device. I'm just hoping some form of a firmware update will fix this sort of issue, because then the CM Storm Reaper will truly be unstoppable; it's just that nice.
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