Review: Logitech G600 MMO gaming mouse
Gaming mice come in a ridiculous variety of forms, from relatively basic-but-high-performance models which stress comfort, DPI, and accuracy to completely over the top monstrosities sprouting wheels, toggles, buttons and touch-sensitive controls.
The G600 fits somewhere in the middle. It boasts plenty of gaming features, but does so in a relatively demure package which wouldn't look too out of place on a business desktop. Score one for quiet styling, at least until you turn on the multi-coloured LED backlights under its buttons.
Like most gaming mice, the button configuration is what makes it a 'gaming' mouse, rather than just an overgrown pointing device. And the G600 is specifically configured, Logitech says, for MMO (massively-multiplayer online) games like World of Warcraft (WoW). In fact, the configuration is probably just as good for first-person shooters or RTS games like StarCraft, but it's the WoW market Logitech is really aiming at here - some of the tweaks are specifically designed for Warcraft, instead of generic MMO environments.
First and foremost is the obvious addition of 12 function buttons on the left-hand side of the mouse, in a 4x3 grid, with each group of six slightly sunken so you can easily keep track of where your thumb is. The mouse features 20 buttons in total, but this side pad is the major selling point. Configuration is definitely for right-handed players only, like most gaming mice. Those 12 buttons are intended to replace the number row of your keyboard (ie: spells and abilities in WoW), meaning you can keep your left hand welded to movement keys to squeeze out the tiny response-time improvements that can make or break PvP combat or tough raid boss encounters.
In practice, it didn't really work in all scenarios. First, the grid of buttons is big enough that only the first few are easily accessible - contorting a thumb to reach the back row is as awkward as stretching for the equals sign on the keyboard, and if you have to look down to see which part of the mouse you're clicking, you've lost the main benefit. Second, any serious MMO gamer has their keyboard layout so firmly drilled into muscle memory that it's simply faster and more efficient to stick with what you know than to learn a new mouse button configuration.
Is it worth it?
However, it does work well enough that you'll find yourself using the first couple of extra buttons automatically after a short while, and gradually using the mouse more and more. Is that worth the effort? More specifically, is it worth the R2 000 local price? (And that's a heck of a premium over the $80 list price overseas.) Possibly not, but there's more - you stretch the mouse's capabilities in some interesting ways, which adds to its value.
That 12-button grid isn't the only feature on offer (we'll gloss over the weird little top-button that opens your backpacks in WoW - you'll probably want to remap that immediately). There's also a shift button which gives most of the buttons a second life, particular handy for a lot of custom configurations. In the default WoW-configuration, that equates to "1" vs "Ctrl-1" - your second power bar.
Without using Logitech's gaming software, you can cycle the mouse through three different profiles stored in the mouse. LED lights under the side buttons light up in different colours to remind you which profile you're using. Other buttons offer DPI-scaling, which is probably more useful to FPS gaming than MMO, but it's still nice to have, with the ability to switch quickly from fast panning to slow-mo precision aiming.
But with the software installed, you can stretch the mouse's capabilities much further. Logitech's control software allows for custom button mappings (or creative use of Blizzard's macro system, or both), and then suddenly the extra buttons put a host of inaccessible commands at your fingertips. I preferred to use Logitech's software, partly because I tend to break macros, but also because it allows for multiple profiles, tied to game executables, which fit very nicely alongside custom keyboard layouts. Load up WoW, and the buttons are firing off support spells and potions. Fire up StarCraft II, and I've got base-building hotkeys at my disposal. And why not set up hotkeys for code editing in Eclipse while I'm at it? Yes, it's more than just a gaming mouse.
This is a wired mouse - there's no wireless option. That makes sense: the power draw of the extra features would drain a battery in no time, and wireless mouse response rates are generally too poor for serious competitive gaming. The cable itself is braided with fabric to make it more durable and less tangle-prone. I don't know about that, but I do know it had less tendency to catch on the back edge of my desk compared to plain plastic cables.
Other features are pretty standard for gaming mice - fast response rate, DPI switching, comfy ergonomics...nothing you wouldn't take for granted. It's all there, and it all works.
Although the G600 is a very good mouse, the slightly awkward button layout and the high price would make me think twice. But I think that with continued use, I'd probably find myself liking it more and more, and finding new ways to put it to work. The biggest hurdle for Logitech here is inertia - do MMO gamers feel so hampered by their keyboards that they'll invest in a high-end mouse which requires them to relearn the game interface? Maybe.