Review: Thermaltake Tt eSports Level 10 M Gaming Mouse
11/29/2012 by: Ryan Glovinsky
Unboxing and Specifications
Today we are taking a look at Thermaltake’s newest addition to their Level 10 line of products, which were designed in conjunction with BMW DesignworksUSA: the Tt eSports Level 10 M mouse.
The Level 10 M comes packaged in a box within a box, with the outer box touting many of the mouse’s features. The inner box has two flaps that open up when a Thermaltake sticker is peeled off, revealing the Level 10 M showcased inside. The mouse comes with a handy carrying pouch with a segmented section for tucking in the USB cable away from the main body of the mouse. It also comes with a folder that contains three postcards of the Level 10 M in white, black, and olive drab respectively as well as a warranty brochure and a driver/software CD.
Finally, the mouse comes with a hex key designed to adjust the mouse height and tilt.
The Level 10 M specs are below:
- Color Options: Diamond Black, Iron White, Military Green, Blazing Red
- DPI: 8200
- Sensor Type: Laser
- No. of Buttons: 7
- Memory Size: 128 KB
- No. of Macro Keys: 11
- No. of Game Profiles: 5
- Lighting Effect: Left Mouse Button, Mouse Wheel, and Thermaltake Logo
- Pause-Break Effect: Yes
- Color Options: 7
- USB cable: 1.8m Braided
- Weight-In Design: No
- Graphical UI: Yes
- Industrial Rubber-Coating: Yes
- Weight: 185g
- Gold-Plated USB: Yes
- Dimension: 147 x 67.5 x 38.8 mm
First Impressions and Experience
The Level 10 M has striking features which are very futuristic yet rugged. The mouse appears to be very durably built, an impression that is reinforced by the amount of metal in the mouse. The entire base and lower sides of the mouse are crafted out of aluminum, as well as the metal strip that runs along the top of the mouse.
It appears that the upper housing of the mouse on either side of the middle strip is also likely aluminum but it has a nonslip coating that makes it difficult to ascertain the material. The right and left mouse buttons appear to be made from a high quality plastic and both use the same nonslip coating applied to the upper housing of the mouse.
The scroll wheel feels very solid and scrolls cleanly. It ticks at each ridge on the wheel while scrolling, but is otherwise free of any grit, creating a feeling that would have the user believe that it is attached only by a ball bearing. The mouse has three lighting zones, one as a square on the left click button, the other is the scroll wheel, and the last one is a Thermaltake logo that sits below the upper housing of the mouse, just under the grating on the left side of the mouse.
It also has four lights on the right click of the mouse that signify the four possible DPI presets. The USB cable of the mouse is braided, adding to the high quality feel of the mouse, and has a velcro strip to wrap up the cable for travel. The USB end itself has a cap that is attached to the cable, and covers the USB end when the mouse is unplugged.
Upon first using the mouse, it feels somewhat elongated and wide compared to other mice, though in reality it is comparable in size to a variety of others. This feeling does not make it uncomfortable, but it takes a bit of getting used to. We believe this feeling can be attributed to how flat and low the mouse is at its default height setting. We used the included hex key to raise the mouse to its highest setting in order to give it a ‘fuller’ feel in the palm, which gave it a more natural feel. The tilt of the mouse can also be adjusted to the right or left, though we left it sitting comfortably at its default setting in the middle.
The mouse has a total of four programmable macro buttons, in addition to an analog stick type button with four directions that can be programmed to macros as well as a press inwards function that cycles through mouse profiles. We found that the positioning of these buttons took a bit of getting used to, but felt quite natural once we adjusted to them. However, one problem for us was that the left side large button is too easy to press accidentally, and considering the default profile for the mouse has that button programmed to go ‘Back’ in a web browser, we found ourselves unwillingly reliving our immediate internet history. Because of this, as well as occasional accidental button presses of the other mouse buttons, we opted to disable all the buttons in the default profile.
The mouse itself uses a high precision laser sensor, allowing up to 8200 DPI with a polling rate of 1000 Hz. We opted to take advantage of this by cranking up the DPI to 8200, up from the default DPI profiles of 800, 1600, 3200, and 5000. This author is used to using a mouse set to either 5700 or 6000 DPI, making 8200 quite the step up. We found this to be an excellent experience, with the extra high sensitivity allowing us to fly all over the screen with just the tiniest flick of the wrist. Considering how cramped our desk space is, being able to do anything and everything without having to move the mouse outward in any direction by more than half an inch is extremely convenient and a welcome feature. We have become accustomed to the 8200 DPI sensor, and find even 6000 DPI to be sluggish and require wasted movement in comparison.
Unfortunately, there is no perfect product, and as stylish the design of the mouse is and how much polish it has, the same cannot be said of the software required to fully take advantage of it. The firmware updater felt like it was still an alpha developer’s build, replete with Chinese text and poor English. The software suite itself feels clunky and dated. Thankfully, it provides most of the functionality one would want, though it is not as obvious to use as it could be.
Choosing the lighting is rather straightforward, but the light is always pulsing, and as far as we can tell, there is no way to keep it on. There is an option on each profile to switch from ‘Normal’ to ‘Battle’ mode, upon which the software informs you will cause the illumination effects to change based upon clicking frequency, providing no further detail. We found that the light continues to pulse as normal until you begin clicking repeatedly, causing the light to solidly stay on, though it begins changing color at will, and going into the color settings in order to change them proves ineffective, as apparently light settings changed in ‘Battle’ mode are not persistent.
There is apparently only one way to change profiles, which is by depressing the analog stick button, and cannot be assigned to any other button, nor can it be disabled, something we found to be mildly annoying. To assign any function to a button or to disable one, the user must be in the profile they want to affect, and then click on the specific button in order to reassign it with one of the options on the right side: T Key, Single Key, Default, Launch Program, Air Through, 3D Axis Movement. However, users will soon discover that only the first four options are legitimate, and clicking on ‘Air Through’ or ‘3D Axis Movement’ will just pop open a short Thermaltake video that briefly explains that feature (‘Air Through’ refers to their air vents on the mouse, and ‘3D Axis Movement’ refers to the adjustability of the mouse height and tilt). We are unsure why those would be put in the same place as the function assignments, as they only serve to confuse the user.
Changing the DPI on the mouse is relatively simple though momentarily confusing, it requires the user to click on the ‘Performance’ tab, and the user can choose one of the four preset DPI settings on the top right of the screen, or manually type in the DPI number they want to use on the bottom left side of the screen, a disconnect that makes it initially confusing.
The sole redeeming feature of the software is the macro creator, which does allow for moderately easy recording and editing of macro functions, allowing the user to use clicks, keypresses, a variety of functions, and assign delays as necessary.
Value and Conclusion
Overall, we found the Level 10 M to be exceptionally well built and designed from a hardware standpoint. The ergonomics can be adjusted to the user, and the feel and responsiveness is wonderful, though the button placement may not be for everyone. The futuristic, skeletonized aesthetic looks exceptional, and the choice of building components makes it extremely durable and solid, conveying a sense of pure quality. However, as mentioned above, the same cannot be said of the software that supports it. It feels dated, tacky, and confusing.
The mouse has an MSRP of $99.99, putting it near the top pricing tier for gaming mice. Whether that price tag is worth it is highly dependent on the needs of the user. If the user can overlook the software shortcomings and simply wants a mouse built with exceptional quality with an impressive design, then the Level 10 M is definitely worth it. To others, it may be more economical to check out some cheaper mice with similar features such as the Roccat Kone XTD or Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Advance II. Others yet may want to hold out for the possibility that Thermaltake will seriously upgrade the software to make it more capable and user friendly, at which point the Level 10 M would be worth every penny. In conclusion, we commend Thermaltake and BMW DesignworksUSA on the Level 10 M, but we wish they had spent just as much time and effort on the software as they did on the hardware.
After some deliberation, we have decided to award the Thermaltake Tt eSports Level 10 M gaming mouse with the Prosumer/Enthusiast Innovation Award for its unique and stylish design as well as their choice to craft the mouse almost entirely out of aluminum. Due to the shortcomings of the software, we felt it did not warrant an Editor's Choice Award, but we sincerely hope that Thermaltake continues to update the software to the point that it matches or exceeds the hardware in design and functionality.
thermaltake, level 10, level 10 m, bmw, designworks, designworksUSA, tt, esports, mouse, 8200, dpi, gaming, laser, 3d axis, air through, macro
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