ProsOffers wireless mousing at a reasonable price; subtle RGB effects; lots of buttons
ConsErgonomics will put off some gamers; useless battery gauge; some wireless issues
We’ve tested a whole lot of mice over the years, publishing several major peripherals shootouts in 2015 and 2016 to ensure that we could give our readers the very best advice when it came to the right productivity and gaming peripherals. Since then, many mice have come and gone, and we've reviewed a number of them, but ever since September 2016, we’ve personally settled on a wireless solution from Logitech, first the G403 and more recently its close cousin the G703. In our review of the G403, we called it “The One,” as in the one mouse everyone had been waiting for, which would make all other mice obsolete. When Logitech added PowerPlay wireless charging with the release of G703 less than a year later, it was game over, folks.
Why do we mention all this in a review of the Corsair Ironclaw RGB Wireless? Simple: it's been over two and a half years since the Logitech G403 was released, and Corsair is without a doubt aiming straight at that mouse with the Ironclaw. And yes, that means it's playing catchup, but with a target firmly in its sights, Corsair may have a chance at leapfrogging that stalwart design.
Now, this isn't Corsair's first wireless rodeo, but alas, its was bucked off the bronco right at the starting gate with its last attempt, 2018's Dark Core mouse. Launched to much fanfare at CES 2018 with the slogan "unplug and play", the $90 Dark Core, complete with a pseudo-wireless charging system to counter Logitech's PowerPlay, was an unmitigated disaster. Nothing if not ambitious, it was a salvo shot straight across the bow of Logitech's battleship that went sailing off into the abyss rather than hitting its mark. The issue: a wireless system that just couldn't hang with fast-paced gaming. A more appropriate version of Corsair's 2018 slogan would have been "unplug and unplay"!
But Corsair takes PC gaming seriously, so just one year later, its big announcement for CES 2019 was... wireless gaming! Yes, it's as if Dark Core and the "unplug and play" party had just been a bad dream, and we were all stirred from our slumber with news that Corsair would be attacking the wireless gaming mouse market with its brand-new Slipstream wireless technology. While it all seemed like a bit of deja vu to this humble reporter, Corsair was dead serious that this was the real deal and was its first true attempt at taking on the wireless mouse market. OK, sure, we'll play along for a while. We did, however, ask Corsair's reps why the only mouse announced at CES 2019 was the cut-rate Harpoon Wireless, and they offered a reasonable explanation: Slipstream was worth announcing at CES 2019, but the only mouse that could be retrofitted with the new tech in time for the show was the $30 Harpoon. More wireless mice would hit the market as they became available in Corsair's pipeline, so we waited patiently, and today's the day we get to share with the world what Corsair has achieved with its "first" high-end wireless gaming mouse (remember, 2018's bad dream wasn't real!).
Special thanks to Corsair for providing a sample of its Ironclaw RGB Wireless Mouse for review.
Description and Features
The original wired Ironclaw was actually released just a few months ago, at CES 2019 in fact. As that was a brand-new, ground-up design, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the wireless version doesn't charge the formula in terms of size, shape, and features, other than adding wireless tech. It's still a "palm grip" design, and we'll talk about how that worked for us later in, but in short, it's meant to be held with the entire hand resting on it, rather than just with your fingertips. That means its large, unsurprisingly, at 5.1" long, 3.2" wide, and 1.8" tall. But it's also pretty heavy, at 132g on our scale. Our cutoff for reasonable mouse weight is around 135g, so the Ironclaw is pushing it in that regard. For comparison purposes, the wired Ironclaw is 105g.
While the Ironclaw may not be svelte, at least it puts its size and mass to good use. It pacts in an incredible 18,000dpi Pixart PMW3391 Optical sensor, the most powerful sensor ever to be featured in a wireless mouse. Whether gamers can use all 18,000 of those dots per inch is unclear, but it's certainly an achievement. You also of course get a built-in lithium-polymer rechargeable battery, along with both Corsair's proprietary sub-1ms 2.4GHz Slipstream wireless transmitter and a Bluetooth 4.2 LE transmitter. Yes indeed, that's a lot of tech packaged inside the Ironclaw!
The wireless mode is selected using the sliding switch underneath the mouse. Bluetooth to one side, Slipstream to the other. Keeping in mind that Bluetooth's strength is compatibility, not performance, we'd bet that most users will just as soon stick with Slipstream, so we're not sure why Corsair chose to include Bluetooth on a gaming mouse, but it's there. The one issue we have with including it is that it required a more complicated on/off switch; we would have much preferred a simple on/off toggle that could be easily pressed to turn the mouse on and off regularly to save battery power.
This being a Corsair gaming product, the Ironclaw of course has some pretty sweet RGB lighting effects, which you control using the Corsair iCUE software suite. By default, the mouse will cycle through the RGB spectrum until it detects a connection to iCUE, and this may annoy some users who would have preferred a default state of off, especially when moving the mouse around to other PCs where the software isn't installed. There are actually RGB lights in three zones: the rear logo, the scroll wheel, and the front "grille." Each can be programmed separately, and of course can be linked to other Corsair products, most notably keyboards, using the "Lighting Link" feature.
In the end, though, gamers will want to install iCUE, if for no other reason than to program the the Ironclaw's ten buttons. Oddly, by default the top two buttons just behind the scroll wheel are set to change profiles, rather than change DPI like they are on every other mouse. Profile switching is certainly a nice feature, but it's too bad that iCUE can't hook directly into game APIs to detect and set profiles automatically. We should also note that reprogramming buttons in iCUE is unnecessarily complicated, in part because the software was clearly written first and foremost for keyboards, which often use sophisticated macros. Sometimes more is less, and that's how we feel about iCUE's take on mouse customization.
Now that we've covered all the features, let's get into performance!