Quantcast
 


Cooler Master Spawn Gaming Mouse Review

Author: AkG
Date: April 6, 2011
Product Name: Cooler Master Storm Spawn
Part Number: SGM-2000-MLON1
Warranty: 1 Year
 
Share |

The world of gaming peripherals is filled with an abundance of choice for potential consumers but weeding through the marketing mumbo jumbo associated with many products is a daunting proposition. While there are plenty of products out there for people who wouldn’t consider themselves competitive gamers, many other keyboards, mice and even headphones cater to very specific portions of the gaming market.

For many, the age old adage of “to be the best, you need use the best” is written in stone but everyone isn’t alike in what they consider “best”. Everything from hand size to overall gripping comfort can influence decisions when it comes to gaming mice in particular. As such, manufacturers have long been building niche-specific mice which cater to specific subsets of users.

Some people prefer to hold the mouse in the palm of their hand and the SteelSeries Xai we reviewed a while ago catered very well to them. Meanwhile, others prefer to us a slightly more claw-like grip for gaming and this is niche which Cooler Master is targeting with their new Spawn mouse. It may not be the right peripheral for everyone (nor is it marketed as such) but considering its affordable $45 price, the Spawn could be just what certain gamers have been looking for.


Packaging & Software

Like many other gaming-grade products, Cooler Master has decided to market their Spawn mouse within their Storm family which includes cases and other peripherals.

The surprisingly small box packs a surprising amount of information onto its condensed form and even allows for a perspective buyer to properly hold the mouse without removing it. Meanwhile, the accessory list is nonexistent but that’s to be expected from a budget friendly wired gaming mouse.

The software needed to get the most from the Spawn has undergone a makeover when compared to the version shipping with other Cooler Master mice, but it wasn’t for the best. Some of the basics are there and you still have an easy to navigate layout consisting of four tabs, but a lot of the Storm Sentinel software’s heart is missing from this iteration. This version may look very similar – albeit slightly simplified – but it is not even close to being as good.

We have numerous gripes with this software but there are some standout issues among the pack. Much as we complained about the lack of default options with the SteelSeries Xai Laser, the Cooler Master Spawn’s default options are extremely limited in their scope. If the ubiquitous “off” mode is counted as an option there are only thirteen preset commands available from the dropdown box.

This lack of options was tolerable on the SteelSeries Xai Laser since anything missing from the standard drop down list could easily be added via a custom macro. Sadly, this isn’t the case with Cooler Master’s Spawn software. Why? Because the “Advanced” macro editor included with the Spawn is quite limited in its scope and capabilities. In grand total you can make a custom macro that is 10 input commands in length.

This would be all perfectly fine for most gaming mice but every button you press (for example the “A” button) is counted as two commands: one for the key being depressed and a second for the release. The result is every macro being limited to only 5 button inputs in length and that just won’t be acceptable for most gamers. Even though this is far from the worst macro editor we have seen, it is just too limited to be of use in most cases.

With the exception of a macro editor and the short list of default options, the other features of Cooler Master’s software are rather well implemented and masterfully executed. For example you can change the polling rate of the Spawn and can turn off or on “angle shaping” with the press of a button. This last feature can occasionally come in handy for non gaming needs since it allows you to draw a straight line even if you are off by a couple degrees in your movement. However, by the same token this feature can make for a very frustrating FPS experience.

All in all, we were less than impressed with the software which Cooler Master has included with the Spawn. Many improvements which should have been made over past iterations of the Sentinel software just haven’t been done and in many ways we have seen one step forward and two back.





Our Experiences with the Spawn


While the software really did leave us less than impressed, the same can’t be said about the Spawn itself. To be honest, this is easily one of the best claw-grip gaming mice we have ever used. At times it seemed to be an extension of the hand rather than an inanimate plastic and rubber accessory. Achieving headshots on moving enemies and quick reaction kills to enemies who would pop up was down right easy and almost became too easy.

This ease of use is thanks in no small part to the Spawn’s absolutely excellent design. Everything from the subtle curves to the main body’s overall length is absolutely spot on regardless of a user’s hand size. However, having a world-class claw-grip design also means the Spawn is a mediocre finger grip mouse and will be downright terrible for anyone who wants to use a palm.



A less than optimal experience for all uses is to be expected since in order to make it “perfect” for claw grip gamers, Cooler Master had to make several ergonomic concessions to the Spawn. The most extreme of these concessions of these is the physical size of the mouse which ends up being short yet very wide. The typical mid arch “peak” found in a typical mouse is also MIA while the left and right buttons have unique angles that actually feel odd when not used with the intended grip. The same can be said of the two thumb buttons which are positioned incorrectly for anything besides a claw grip and are also smaller than those found on a typical gaming mouse. If you do manage to hold its odd shape in a palm grip, only the front thumb button will be useable whereas in a finger grip only the rearmost one will be within easy reach.

With those limitations in mind, when held correctly phrases like “second skin” and “fits like a glove” don’t sound like overstatements when describing the Spawn. Those left and right mouse buttons are both easily depressed, yet do not require anything more than a minimum of input from your fingertips. The same can be said of the thumb buttons as their small size is perfect for being triggered by the tip of your thumb. Even the oddly shaped DPI up and down buttons go from being “odd” to being “perfect”.

Believe it or not we were left wanting even more from this mouse. Cooler Master could have easily included an additional button for the ring finger which would have allowed for multiple profiles to be initiated on the fly. As it stands the Spawn only has one "profile" loaded at a time for the buttons and to change it the software must be used. The rubberized cable also gave us some headaches when compared to the braided affairs that other mice in this category come with. To be blunt this cable may be made out of soft rubber but is far too stiff for our liking and tends to encroach upon slower tasks every now and then. It also becomes a dust magnet in short order and needs cleaning far too often.

Due to its size, the Spawn is also extremely light and Cooler Master hasn’t included a way to increase its weight. For most buyers this won’t be an issue since claw gripping is all about speed but at least some weight customization would have been a perfect inclusion. Without any additional weight, this mouse is great for FPS and other twitch gaming scenarios but it isn’t well suited for work that requires finesse such as editing photographs.

On the positive side, the rubber grips for both the thumb and pinkie fingers combined with the sculpted groove for the ring finger makes for one hell of a sure grip surface.

Also on the positive side, is while the laser sensor is “only” good for 3500DPI it doesn’t use the same Twin Eye sensor as its big bother the Storm Sentinel does. We purposely tried to confuse the Spawn by repeatedly lifting and then setting it down on different surface types (and different heights) and not once did it lose tracking. It knew precisely when to stop trying to track things as we lifted it up and when to start again.


Conclusion


Pleasing every gamer with a peripheral is next to impossible and thankfully, Cooler Master never intended the Spawn to be marketed as a kind of gaming Swiss Army knife. Rather, it is a claw-grip mouse that doesn’t try to be anything else. This lack of compromise is why we like the Cooler Master Spawn so much. It is purpose built and for its intended audience, there really is no better choice as this price point. As long as you are aware of its limitations and fully understand your preferred grip style, this could very well be the perfect mouse.

While there are a few areas that we could see that are in desperate need of improvement, in the end we think the Cooler Master Spawn is marvelous piece of engineering. The buttons are well placed, its size will be comfortable for almost any hand size and the choice of materials is absolutely top notch. The lack of a braided cord does come back to haunt the Spawn every now and then but this really is a minor wrinkle in an overall great experience.

We can learn to live with the sub-par macro editor, the lack of additional buttons and the lack of profile options. We can even come to terms with the fact that the Cooler Master didn’t include any weight customization features. The reason we can neatly avoid these hot topic items is the fact that the Spawn itself is so good at what it is what designed to be: a claw grip mouse.

For this uncompromising approach to ergonomics we award it our Dam Innovative award. Since it is not only innovative but also carries a killer price of about $50 we also feel comfortable in also awarding the Spawn our Dam Good Value award.


 
 

Latest Reviews in Peripherals
July 18, 2014
Netgear's R7000 Nighthawk router may be one of the most talked about wireless AC devices around since it's one of the most affordable. Pair it up with the EX6200 range extender and you have a potent ...
July 9, 2014
The Linksys WRT1900AC router is considered a 802.11AC-based spiritual successor to the wildly popular WRT54G so there are some very high expectations riding on it....
June 13, 2014
The TORQ X10 may be EVGA's first gaming mouse but its design, feature set and excellent build quality competes with some of the best peripherals available today....