- Logitech G410 Atlas Spectrum (thank you to Logitech for providing this review sample) - $130 as or our publication date
- Razer BlackWidow Ultimate Stealth Edition - $120 as or our publication date
- Corsair Strafe MX Red - (thank you to Newegg for providing this review sample) - $110 as or our publication date
- G.Skill Ripjaws KM780 MX Brown - $120 as or our publication date
It was important to us that all of our keyboards were within the same price range, which as you can see above, they most definitely are. It was also important to get a range of mechanical switches, and we were lucky enough to find four different keyboards with four different switch types: Logitech's Romer-G, Razer's Orange/Silent switches, Corsair's MX Red, and G.Skill's MX Brown. Note that while the MX line, by the German company Cherry, is the most well-known mechanical switch brand, there is in fact a pretty limited supply of these switches, which is why two of the biggest keyboard manufacturers (Logitech and Razer) have "switched" away from them (pun intended!). Yes, there will be claims made in marketing material about how the replacements are superior, but frankly, we don't think that was the impetus for the change.
We discussed the situation with Cherry extensively at CES 2016 in Las Vegas, and they were very upfront about their recent attempts to invest in additional manufacturing capacity. They know they lost some big-time contracts because of it, but they have plenty of partners left. As of early 2016, Cherry's largest customer by far in the U.S. market is Corsair, and it's likely for that reason that Cherry's newest products (e.g., its "Silent" line of switches) often debut in Corsair keyboards.
- Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum (thank you to Logitech for providing this review sample) - $80 as or our publication date
- Logitech G602 Wireless Gaming Mouse - $60 as or our publication date
- Razer Deathadder Chroma - $54 as of our publication date
- Corsair Raptor M45 - $60 as or our publication date
- EVGA Torq X5 Optical - $45 as of our publication date
In terms of our mouse selection, we again tried to aim for a similar price range, although in this case it ended up being pushed out a bit by Logitech's brand-new version of the G502, which is only available at the full retail price. The original G502 Proteus Core has been discontinued, but was previously available near the $60 pricepoint. Logitech asked us to include its newer version, although we also have the original, and you can read all about it in our hands-on review. The G502 Proteus Spectrum adds just one feature: full RGB lighting for the "G" symbol and DPI setting indicators. Yes, that's really it! We've also included Logitech's G602 Wireless Gaming Mouse as a counter-point to the full range of wired mice, to see if it can give gamers looking for a little more freedom a similar gaming experience.
From Razer, we have the incredibly-popular Deathadder, now in its up-teenth iteration, featuring the new Chroma full-RGB lighting. Yes, you're beginning to see a trend here! As Corsair wasn't able to get us one of its newer mice in time for this roundup, we went with its older M45. We specifically chose the M45 because it has an optical sensor, while the similar-looking Corsair Gaming M65 uses a laser sensor. We wanted to keep things consistent, as all of the other models we tested also used optical sensors, and they tended to group neatly in terms of price. Alas, in the end, we wish we'd gone with the M65 instead, just to see if we could pick up on any differences stemming from the use of a laser sensor (some purists believe it adds a bit of unintended acceleration). Finally, we have EVGA's Torq model, again featuring full-RGB lighting. This is the only ambidextrous mouse of the bunch, and we were curious whether this would lead to a perceived difference in feel versus ergonomic mice designed for right-handers.
To get the most objective take on the contenders, we brought together two testers to try all of the products back-to-back, in the very same game: Battlefield 4. All you RTS and MMO gamers out there might end up finding different mice that work best for your games, but for FPS games like BF4, the lineup we have is pretty much the cream of the crop.
Ari, TBG's founder, used the following system:
- CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K Quad-Core (overclocked to 4.4GHz)
- Motherboard: Asus Maximus V Gene Z77
- Memory: Corsair 4x4GB Vengeance DDR3-1866
- Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 980 4GB
- Solid-State Drive: Crucial MX200 1TB
- Monitor: Acer XB270HU 2560x1440 144Hz G-Sync
- Mousepad: Steelseries 4HD Plastic
Alex, TBG's lead web developer, used the following system:
- CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K Quad-Core (overclocked to 4.2GHz)
- Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V Pro/Gen3
- Memory: Corsair 4x4GB Vengeance DDR3-1600
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 290 4GB Tri-X
- Solid-State Drive: Crucial MX100 256GB
- Monitor: Asus VG248QE 1920x1080 144Hz
- Mousepad: Steelseries QcK Cloth
Note that neither of these systems is brand-new or absolutely over-the-top, but that's kind of the point. The average gamer is using an average system, and we wanted to see how these peripherals performed on them. Two caveats, though: both systems used high-quality mousepads and high-refresh-rate monitors. In our opinion, if you're considering a gaming mouse, you really must buy a gaming mousepad - they really are a whole lot better. We recommend either a low-cost cloth model like the Steelseries Qck that Alex used or the mid-priced Steelseries 4HD that Ari used, with the 4HD being a bit lower friction. And if you're playing fast-paced games and still using a 60Hz monitor, stop what you're doing right now and save up for a 144Hz model. In fact, in our opinion you'll never get the most out of any of the gaming mice we tested unless you have a high-refresh-rate monitor. They start around $250, and in our opinion, they're the best investment you can make in a gaming PC, bar none! You can learn more about our favorite models in our Monitor Buyer's Guide, updated quarterly.
Back on topic, Ari and Alex spent about four hours playing in the same online multiplayer matches, switching off peripherals after each round. On the next page, we'll provide you more details on each of the contenders.