Microsoft isn’t letting up these days with their resurrected SideWinder line offering more gaming peripherals lately. Their last mouse that I reviewed, the SideWinder Mouse, was a good attempt at a high end gaming mouse but I found it to be average for the price and features presented to you. The design wasn’t too bad though and I do use it as my everyday mouse. Today we have the Microsoft Sidewinder X5 mouse and it should look very familiar to you.
The SideWinder X5 gaming mouse is pretty much the same physically as the SideWinder mouse
but just a tad bit smaller and with some few changes. Let’s go with the basics first. There are five programmable buttons with two main mouse buttons on top, the scroll wheel button, and two side buttons. The two side buttons are stacked vertically instead of horizontally which I do like. It makes reaching for the thumb buttons a little easier by going up and down. Unlike the Sidewinder mouse, the X5’s scroll wheel and thumb buttons are rubber instead of metallic. By changing the wheel to be rubber, it felt more comfortable on the index finger when scrolling. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the tilt functionality that’s seen in a lot of mice today. There's still the Vista specific Game Explorer button that can't be changed though and I wish Microsoft would've let you change what that button can do for those on XP.
For the engine, the X5 uses the same 2000DPI laser as the SideWinder mouse. Performance wise, it’s same and it’s still pretty good. You get smooth accurate movement with quick or slow movements, from short to long glides. I never had a problem with how the mouse performed and the same can be said for the X5. I enjoy having my mouse settings at a very high sensitivity whereby I use very little movement to turn and the X5 had no issues at this setting.
Three buttons on top do change the sensitivity of the X5 so if you like to have it slow down or speed up in certain situations you can do so. Unlike the Logitech mouse G9 you can only alternate between three settings whereas the Logitech one can cycle through six with two buttons. The three buttons do let you exactly what speed you are at and you can jump from one extreme to another faster than say a two button cycle.
Microsoft wanted to offer the Sidewinder mouse at a lower cost and to do that they had to eliminate some features from the higher priced mouse. Gone is the weight system. It’s a nice little gimmick and I’m guessing it’s not something that a lot of people use anyways. I do like a little heavier mouse and the X5 feels lighter in my hand than the X5 with my current weight setup.
Also gone are the interchangeable feet. To be honest, I never used this feature of the SideWinder as I stuck with the Teflon coated plugs. They also had a history of coming off and falling to the bottom of my backpack when I would transfer the mouse to LAN parties. The X5 just comes with the Teflon coated variety and there are five of them to provide smooth movement.
With the weight system and the interchangeable feet gone, the need for the weighted container is also gone as well so that’s not included in the package. I tried using the weight container to keep my cord on the Sidewinder out of the way and while it did its job there are plenty of other options as well to accomplish this task without the container.
Finally, the LCD showing what DPI the mouse was operating at is also cut from the X5. While the LCD is a little useful in telling you what DPI you are operating it, you should be able to remember your settings and the lit up DPI buttons are a good indicator at what speed you are at making the LCD removal of little consequence. I don’t think I really looked at the LCD on the SideWinder mouse anyways so to me the LCD will not be missed.
The software to let you customize the mouse is pretty basic and offers most of what everyone should need. The three buttons to customize the DPI offer set values in 200, 400, 800, 1000, 1600, and 2000. I would have liked to have seen a way to adjust the DPI of each button to whatever setting you would like though instead of having preset values. Other than that, you can easily change what the buttons do with a nice interface that highlights the button on the mouse you are changing as well as what function you are setting it to. You can also enable program specific profiles which is a good feature.
Using the mouse both for gaming and everyday work, I found the X5 to be pretty comfortable and a little easier to hold with my smaller hands than the original SideWinder. Accuracy is pretty good as I set the sensitivity pretty high for all my FPS games and I was able to get smooth accurate tracking in both slow and quick movements as well as long or short mouse glides. Playing sniper on Team Fortress 2, I was able to garner a good deal of accurate shots with the mouse. Switching to soldier, I was able to accurately fire rockets where I wanted to go and maintained my kill to death ratio that I am used to with other high end mice.
With a few features gone, the price of the mouse drops to $50 which is more reasonable. Microsoft hasn’t done anything else though to improve on the last design which is a little disappointing. What we here is a repackaging of an older product with some cuts to make it a little more cost effective. It’s not a bad thing as there are times I wish there were some high end products that eliminated some superfluous features and lowered the cost so I could afford it. If you liked how the SideWinder felt but didn’t like the price, then the X5 is the mouse for you. It performs the same, has a little better feel in the thumb buttons and scroll wheel, and performs well. The software suite doesn’t stand up to the likes of Logitech though and the price at which this is sitting is comes at an awfully crowded area where there are other mice that offer more at the same price. There are some design decisions that like over other mice, specifically the position of the thumb buttons. Overall, a solid effort at a more affordable price from Microsoft.