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Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Z3R0 G Mouse Review

Author: AkG
Date: December 27, 2011
Product Name: Storm Sentinel Z3RO G
Part Number: Z3RO-G
Warranty: 1 Year
 
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With its gaming centric software and advanced features, Cooler Masterís first attempt at creating a true gaming mouse - the Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Advance - was almost a complete success. The only critical area it fell flat in was its reliance on the Philips Twin Eye sensor, a failure prone unit that featured less than optimal tracking performance. The newer second generation Storm Sentinel Z3R0 G hopes to correct any perceived limitations of the Sentinel line without removing what made the original unique.

A Closer Look

Much like the Storm Spawn before it, the Storm Sentinel Z3R0 Gís shipping container has received the deluxe treatment. While the difference between the previous Advance and Z3R0 Gís boils down to an additional front flap, the amount of information covering this box is substantial. It even allows for a prospective buyer to properly hold the mouse without removing it from the box. When it comes to the accessories which accompany this model, the list has also received a significant change. While you lose the PCI anti-theft device, a free copy of the game Shattered Horizon is included along with a second set of replacement low friction feet.

Unlike the original Storm Sentinel, this new model uses a silver and black motif to help distinguish it from the previous versionís all black design. With the exception of this minor difference the new Z3RO G has the exact same right hand only ergonomics (lefties need not apply), weight system, overall dimensions, 2 distinct LED zones and even the same OLED screen as its predecessor. Even the number of buttons (8), their placement and their default settings are the same. If you like the feel and grip of the original, this new reversion will feel familiar, thatís for sure.

While almost all the components are the same as the original, this new model has two distinct upgrades, the first of which is the amount of on-board memory. The Zero-Gís onboard memory capacity has been doubled from the originalís 64KB to 128KB. In practical terms, this means you will be able to store more custom macros and scripts than ever before. Sadly, the Zero-G comes with the same number of profiles as the original so the same limitations are still in place

The second and more critical upgrade is in regards to the sensor suite. While the Z3RO G does indeed still use the Twin Eye sensor Ė capable of up to 5600 DPI and independent X & Y axis configuration Ė it has been tweaked in such a way that Cooler Master claims there should be none of the potential side effects which marred the original modelís stellar reputation. While we never had any problems with the Sentinel Advance, some consumers did run into major issues with regards to lift off and severe tracking problems. Both issues apparently couldnít be completely fixed via firmware updates, thus justifying a new model.






Software


So far our Z3RO G experience has been all about cosmetic changes and the software doesnít change that perception in any way. With the exception of the pages being rendered in black with cerulean blue instead of a red and black color scheme, the Z3R0 Gís software is the exact same as what accompanies the Advance.

The Z3RO Gís software package is extremely complete and all encompassing in its breathe and scope even though it doesnít add anything over the one found with its predecessor. Everything from customization of the onboard OLED display (great for showing clan logos and such), to the color of the LEDs, to the custom macros is readily available and eminently customizable.

We especially like the built in script editor. It allows this mouse to carry out complex commands which are usually the sole domain of keyboards. In practical terms this means you can create simple Ė or complex Ė taunts for trash talking you opponents online and bind them to a mouse button or you can create simple or complex keyboard commands to help give you an edge in your favorite MMO or RTS. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.






First Impressions


With its 35mm X 83.5mm X 40 mm dimensions, the Storm Sentinel Z3RO G isnít by any stretch of the imagination a small mouse. While the built-in weight system is showing its age and lacks the fine adjustment capabilities we crave, the ability to change this mouseís weight from a moderate 139 grams to a heavy 161.5 grams via the five 4.5g weights is more than adequate for most users needs. In fact, it is rather large and hand filling with a grip style all its own. We personally prefer a large mouse for most real world tasks and many gaming scenarios, so Cooler Master covers off this niche very well.

As with the Sentinel Advance we found this new model to be a slightly less than optimal finger grip mouse, especially when it came to thumb button location and layout. We found ourselves searching for them when we should have been activating them. This is something which didnít happen when used with a either a classic finger or palm grip. If you are a claw grip gamer, then take a long, hard look at Storm Spawn since it will likely best suite your unique needs and requirements.

For most occasions the doubling of onboard memory capacity simply wonít be noticed but for those that rely heavily on this mouseís ability to create rather complex and detailed scripts - which usually require a keyboard to implement Ė then it will indeed be a boon. For everyone else, this small addition wonít justify upgrading from the Storm Sentinel Advance to the new Z3R0 G. This is a shame as Cooler Master should have taken the time to upgrade the number of onboard profiles above the standard five both Sentinels come equipped with. Such a tweak would have instantly made the additional memory useable for most consumers and actually quite handy. It also would have gone a long way to justifying this new modelís existence and maybe even swayed some satisfied Sentinel Advance users towards upgrading.

The same can be said of the upgraded optics. While it does indeed allow the Z3RO G to perform admirably well, unless you have run into issues with the previous model there is once again no overwhelming reason to upgrade. While 5600 DPI may be extremely high and more than what most consumers will ever need, Cooler Master should not have simply opted for a revised version of the same Twin Eye sensor suite. Rather, they should have opted for an entirely new optics package with even more abilities. There are many choices out there which would have served Cooler Master just as well Ė if not better Ėthan the Twin Eye sensor with its tarnished reputation. Doing so would have accomplished the same task of removing the perceive limitations associated with the Sentinel line, while giving content Sentinel Advance owners a tangible reason to upgrade.






Conclusion


The Z3RO G really does feel like nothing more than a Sentinel Advance with a fancy new skin and slightly improved features. Even the software has not been changed in any significant way. This is not to say that the Storm Sentinel Z3RO G is not a bad mouse per say; rather it simply represents a missed opportunity. With the exception of the different color scheme it literally looks, feels and acts just like its predecessor did. This is the risk companies run when they are too conservative with their design refresh and updating. While the designers certainly kept all of the features which made the original a hit, they just didít add any features to make this new model a success in its own right.

These limitations are rather disappointing as Cooler Master has shown they are innovators and leaders who usually do not rest on their laurels. Yet that is exactly what the Z3RO G feels like: a minor color change with minor tweaking, which does not conclusively justify its existence. If you own the Sentinel Advance and have not run into any issues there is no really persuasive argument to be made in favor of upgrading to this model.

However, if you do not own the original and are looking for a large mouse that has numerous features sure to satisfy even the most hardcore of gamers, the Z3RO G would be a good choice. There is no reason to look at the original, as the tweaks and additional features may be small improvements over the Sentinel Advance, but they are nonetheless still tangible improvements.
 
 

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