Normally when I test mice I do them one per review, but today I though it would be even more fun to put three of them head-to-head to erm head. We’ve got three great low-to-mid budget gaming mice with us today that I’ll be putting to the test, the TteSports Saphira, the Ballista MK-1 and the CM Storm Mizar. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses and today I’ll be finding out just what they are, what kind of gaming their best suited for and of course what they’re like to use in general day to day situations.
All three mice have proven popular choices with PC gamers and if you’re on the market for a new mouse, then there is a good chance that you’re looking within a price range similar to that of these three products, with a similar feature set. My goal is to help you find the mouse that is right for you and show you just what you can get for your money. Is one of these mice greater than all of the others, or is one better suited to MMO while another suited to FPS? There is only one way to find out! So let’s take a closer look at each then crack on with some gaming tests to see what they can do.
First up we have the MK-1 which comes equipped with the popular Avago ADNS-9800 8200 DPI Laser Sensor, ten buttons, right hand ergonomics and a fixed 1.5mm lift-off.
Next up we have the Saphira, which comes equipped with a 3500 DPI optical sensor, five macro keys, an adjustable lift-off height and right handed ergonomics.
Finally the Mizar, which features the same Avago 9800 8200 DPI laser sensor that is found in the MK-1, 7 programmable buttons and an adjustable polling rate.
All four mice come in nicely designed packaging, each detailing the major features such as DPI, sensor, programmable buttons etc on the box.
Around the back you’ll find a more in-depth technical break down, which you can see on the spec charts above.
The MK-1 comes bundled with a user manual, CD-ROM with drivers and of course the mouse.
The Saphira comes with an instruction book, soft protective zip-up pouch and a CD-ROM for drivers.
The Mizar comes with an instruction booklet.
A Closer Look – Balista MK-1
The MK-1 is really nicely designed, with lots of buttons, lights and different textures around its body.
A large recess on the side with rubber grip makes for great ergonomics and allows your to really get a hold on the mouse. There are two side buttons, as well as a two way thumb-slider for toggling the DPI settings
More ergonomic bumps and curves on the right provide a good resting position for your fingers and there are two more programmable buttons on the front right edge.
The scroll wheel is four directional, clickable and features a grippy rubber coating for extra control. There are two more programmable buttons down the centre of the mouse.
The top of the mouse (the red part) is a soft touch rubber coating that offers loads of extra grip, great for those who suffer with sweaty hands while gaming.
The back of the mouse is quite narrow, which does leave you with a semi-claw style grip, may not be suitable for those with big hands who like a palm rest style of gameplay.
The sensor is located near the front left corner of the mouse, and you’ll find three good size Teflon slip-mats around the outer edges.
The cable is covered with a superb quality braiding in a stylish black and red, finished with a gold plated USB connector.
A Closer Look – Saphira
The Saphira is pretty sleek in terms of design, glossy whites assented with black fittings.
Down the left side you’ll find a tough rubber grip, two side buttons and four LED indicator lights for the DPI level.
Another grip down the right side.
The left and right buttons have a deep ergonomic scoop to them, providing a good resting position for your fingers.
The scroll wheel features a soft rubber grip coating and is clear to allow for LED lighting effects to illuminate it.
Around the back you’ll find a small TT dragon, and you can also see the mouse has a nice wide back that will work well for palm rest gameplay.
The cable is of a very nice quality, a good length braided cable, with a custom moulded, gold-plated USB connector.
There are four slipmats on the base of the Saphira, a profile toggle, func lock, DPI toggle and polling rate toggle, as well as an adjustable weight system. For a mouse that looks simple on the top, there is a lot going on down here that will no doubt appeal to the eSports crowd.
A Closer Look – Mizar
The Mizar is really nicely designed and features a slightly smaller body than the other two mice.
Down the left side you’ll find a firm rubber grip and two switches.
An even bigger rubber grip on the right side. This mouse will be great for those who play with a claw-grip.
There are two programmable buttons above the scroll wheel, the wheel its self is coated in grippy ruber and features a clear plastic internal wheel with LED back lighting.
The left and right mouse buttons are both separate moulds from the rest of the mouse, unlike the other two mice which feature a single piece top panel.
The back of the mouse is nice and wide and the right side extends further to provide a good finger resting position. The CM Storm logo at the back is clear and LED back-lit.
The cable features a high quality braiding and a gold plated USB connector.
There are four small slip mats on the base of the mouse and a small opening in the centre for the sensor.
First up, lets take a look at the sensor performance each tested at multiple DPI settings for jitter, angle snapping, prediction and accuracy. you can see quickly how much control each mouse offers at each setting, with jitter often becoming more of a problem at higher settings.
It’s worth nothing that all mice were tested for lift-off height and all clocked in from 1mm to 2mm, nice and low and perfect for those who use a lift-off technique at low-DPI settings.
All mice were tested for acceleration, the Saphira showed no sign of acceleration, but the Avago 9200 sensor does exhibit a slight amount, although it’s only slightly noticeable at higher DPI settings and really shouldn’t effect gameplay, even for serious FPS loving gamers. Now onto the more technical stuff.
Shogun Bros. Ballista MK-1
First test, smooth as silk no issues here.
A little twitchy, but still accurate results.
Another smooth run.
A little tricky to keep it steady, with some mild acceleration creeping in here making circles a difficult task.
A little bit of jitter creeping in here and I found there to be slightly more noticeable acceleration, especially when drawing straight lines.
The Saphira also faired very well at low DPI, although all mice should to be honest as this is the easy part.
Again a smooth as silk performance.
Another clean run at 1000 DPI.
Whoops, what happened here? A lot of jitter at 3000 DPI, this can be a mixture of surface quality, the setting being too high and more, but at these speeds its not really a big deal. Typically I’d only use a 3000 setting for making fast turns in tanks on Battlefield, then back down for aiming again.
Interestingly the max DPI of 3500 had less jitter than 3000, perhaps there are some software troubles further down the range and for a setting this high and I’m happy with the results.
CM Storm Mizar
The Mizar has the same sensor as the MK-1, but other software elements can throw in plenty of differences. First up we have a smooth run at 100 DPI.
400 was nice and steady.
Silky smooth again.
A little jitter creeping in here on the curves, but still very good.
Tricky, but even at 5000 the sensor was accurate, I’m confident any wobbles here are from my own hands.
8000 was fast, but this is far smoother than what I got on the MK-1.
I put all three mice through their paces on Skyrim, Battlefield 3 (I don’t like BF4 that much) and League of Legends. I also used each for a few hours of general web browsing, photo editing and working on my daily reviews and news content to test the various aspects each offers.
The Shogun Bros. Balista MK-1 comes packed with extra buttons and on-the-fly toggle features that make it very adept at gaming, dishing out macros in LoL while gaming and even in Photoshop while working was a joy. The button layout is pretty unique, but I found all buttons to be within easy reach without having to think too much about where they are, so fast switching of profiles, DPI settings and hitting macros when I needed them was a piece of cake. The DPI toggle is in a strange location, but it works surprisingly well as it means I don’t have to take my finger off the trigger to adjust my movement speed while playing Battlefield, a very welcome touch indeed. The grip on the side is practical and the ergonomics are comfortable. The scroll wheel is nice and fast, but still maintains accuracy and I’m very impressed with the overall sensor performance.
The Tt eSports Saphira is a hard comparison from the other two as it features completely different sensor technology, while there was some jitter a 3000 DPI, the sensor feels much more fluid and swift than the other two and I can certainly see this providing popular with FPS and MOBA gamers as I found it to be pretty accurate and easy to control while gaming. There are very few button on the top, so having lots of macros at your disposal isn’t really an option and the DPI toggle being on the underside means quick switching isn’t really an option. You can of course select your profile and settings on a per-game / per-round basis, and with everything out of the way you can really go crazy on the mouse and there is no fear that you’ll accidentally trigger a profile change or something else equally distracting which could cost you your lead. The ergonomics are really nice and rubber grips are vital given the glossy finish of the mouse.
The CM Storm Mizar certainly stands out in terms of sensor performance, it still retains the acceleration issues that the Avago 9200 sensor is known for, but it seems to do a better job of keeping it in check. The sensor performance was pin sharp even at very high DPI and for those that love to use a twitch style of gameplay in FPS titles, or just need crazy high speed accuracy, you’re going to love this mouse. My only gripe is that the mouse chassis is a little small, so my larger hands are forced to use a claw grip rather than the palm grip I am used to. This feels every bit a high-end gaming mouse, with tidier aesthetics that means it wouldn’t look out of place on your work desk, great for those that want high-performance both in and out of a gaming environment. The scroll wheel is snappy and fast, and the rubber grips are great.
All round, a great performance from each one, I was hoping for a more distinguished result here, but they’re all great across a wide range of games and daily tasks.
CM Storm Mizar
In terms of price each mouse isn’t what I would call cheap, but they do fall into a comfortable price catagory where you’re typical PC gamer would spend their money.
The MK-1 is the most expensive of the bunch, but it does come with the most features and hot keys, I also think it’s the best looking of the bunch with that soft-touch red rubber on the top panel. The Saphira and the Mizar are the same price and both offer their own unique selling points, most notably the different sensor technology. Overall they’re all great value for money.
So my intention today was to come out with a clear winner, something along the lines of “The X mouse is the best, buy that one” and that really didn’t happen. They each have their own pros and cons, but overall I just can’t pick a clear winner. So let’s break it down starting with the minor faults of each product and go from there.
The MK-1 has a little acceleration on the sensor that becomes more noticeable at high DPI settings. The Mizar is a little small to hold for my hands and also exhibits a little acceleration (inherent from the Avago 9200 sensor), and the Saphira has all the major buttons on the underside out of reach. That’s really about it, so what about the good things?
The MK-1 is likely an unfamiliar product to many of you, but it’s easily one of the best mid-budget gaming mice on the market. It’s good software, a good quality sensor, highly configurable DPI settings, plenty of programmable switches, great aesthetics and good ergonomics. It’s a very good mouse for MOBA and MMO gaming.
The Saphira is sleek and smooth to use and look at, for those who play in tournaments it’s no fuss design will certainly appeal. Of course that no fuss look is all a lie, because on the underside of the mouse you can toggle DPI, profiles, polling rate on-the-fly. There is a configurable weight system in the base too, helping you further fine tune the mouse to your liking.
The Mizar does well to tame the Avago 9200 sensor, minimising the acceleration and providing a very smooth readout even at high DPI settings, it’s software great for those who love to really fine tune the fine settings, it has the best rubber side grips and the tactile feel of the switches is great too.
So in conclusion, the Shogun Bros. Balista MK-1 is a great choice for those who want something a little unique looking with a good level of grip and great performance. The Saphira is for those who want all the advanced features needed for competitive gaming, but don’t want all the clutter, plus its optical sensor feels marvellous to use. The Mizar is for those who want fast and accurate performance, but it is generally more ideal for those with smaller hands (perfect for younger gamers) or those who play with a claw-grip style.
Maybe next time I do a head-to-head of products we’ll see a more definite leader in the results, but this time around it’s no bad thing to see a great performance from all three products and if you’re on the market for a new gaming mouse, you’ll find plenty to love about each of these products.