April 2014 (updates are added below the original article)
If you work on a computer all day and use your mouse more than your keyboard (as is the case with MSC Apex), you may be interested in buying a mouse that has what it takes.
In this review I compared three high end gaming mice for use in the office. OK, you may ask why I am on a mouse-trap mission?
It is simple: I want to make the roll-out of MSC Apex to our clients extra special in a physical way by means of a gift to every end user. A gift they will use every day (and with MSC Apex) and show off to their colleagues. If a colleague asks, "Where did you get this?", the answer should be simple: " It came with Apex".
A mouse is a critical tool when using MSC Apex (or any other CAE tool (e.g. CAD or FEA), for that matter). Without a mouse, there is not much you can do, and wrist fatigue is a real threat. So in the end, the mouse and Apex becomes one.
So I went forth on my search for an Apex* mouse.
*Apex means "the tip", or "uppermost". It is synonymous with "the best there is".
My selection criteria (in order of importance) were:
- The mouse must have an Apex persona, i.e. it should look like a predator! It should grab your attention.
- The mouse must work as good (or better) than it looks, with Apex - there is no use for extra paper weights in the office.
- It should be comfortable in hand. Fatigue must be avoided at all cost.
- Additional programmable buttons will be a value-add to transfer some of the handy 54 Apex keyboard shortcuts to the mouse to improve productivity even further.
So I ventured forth and searched for mice based on criteria such as "predator", "aggressive", "awesome" etc. and from the pictures I found, narrowed the search down to 3 possible rodents (after reading many customer and magazine reviews etc.).
Then I also found the Logitech G700s to be a contender in the "not-so-out-there" class but with a more professional look and many programmable buttons (but not too many - some offerings are really mad with mice looking more like keyboards...):
and then finally a mouse that one reviewer branded an Apex Predator(!), the Razer Ouroboros (named after a vicious snake):
I arranged for the three mice to be caught at a local store (ComputerHouse) for a hands on evaluation using them with Apex and got to work.
The Logitech G700s looked and sounded like the perfect professional looking mouse of them all with good ergonomics and many buttons (with even more not visible in the pictures) but it has a rough surface that irritated my griping fingers and after only half an hour's use, my right hand ring finger felt raw (and so for the rest of the day), so it was off my list, unfortunately, since I still think it could have been the best option with all those well placed buttons and ergonomic shape. Oh and neither I, nor the store assistant, could get the software installed on either of our computers to test those extra buttons. I would hope that that would be a solvable problem but in any case, I will not use it.
The Razer Ouroboros had the best reviews all round (from what I read), was perfectly labelled (as an Apex Predator), but apart from being the most expensive of the three, in real life it looked and felt the cheapest, by far (and not in a good way). Having no knowledge of mice, you would probably match it with mice costing a mere 10% of its list price. So, although it worked well and was comfortable to use with Apex, it really did not have the true Apex look or feel. It did not stand out as an expensive mouse at all and would really defeat the whole purpose of the exercise.
And then, I took the R.A.T.7 under my palm. Due to a thorough review I read on Amazon, I was a bit weary of it but it felt very good from the start. It has a tough and solid built (you can probably defend yourself with it if needs be) and it really feels as different as it looks compared to other mice.
It has added weights you can remove to bring its weight down - I am not a gamer so I have no idea why you would want that and could really not say which weight was better or worse from just shunting the mouse back and forth, so let's just say that is not important.What made a big difference for me personally was the ability to widen the mouse by adjusting the thumb rest. With my large hands I could feel I need less of a grip to hold the mouse and I really liked the flap panels that enable your fingers to ride along, rather than slide along the desk surface (I don't use a mouse pad).
Apart from having three different palm rests you can use, they can adjust in and out to change the length of the mouse (sorry, rat) for support but again I suspect you will only find the best option after many hours of use and I soon realized that my palm normally rests on the table rather than on the mouse so this is not so important for me either.
What is important though is all those functions you will use all day, like button clicks (need I say that?). The RAT doesn't have all the extra buttons of the G700s (I am still disappointed about that one) and their positions aren't extremely comfortable but not unusable. I think using them will take getting use to (to get that little extra productivity gain from not having to reach for the keyboard) but I must say the software you use to program those extra buttons is brilliant. Not only can you link keyboard keys to a mouse button, you can even link sequences of keys to it.
For Apex, I will consider linking F, H & ESC to easy to reach buttons since I use them often, as well as copy and paste for everyday use.
The R.A.T.7 is a wired mouse and the R.A.T.9 is wireless (and costs more) but both have the same physical features. The R.A.T. 5 is also wired and cheaper but its thumb rest can't adjust outward so I will stick to the R.A.T 7 which comes in various colours with Matt Black being my favourite.
“Dynamic, quality, unique, interestingly build and looks like a fighter jet on steroids!!!!!”
“First impression: A gaming mouse would be ideal for the applications we use most often - the programmable buttons would be especially useful in most of the modelling software we use. I haven't tested any of the gaming mice yet to have any favourites.”
“Great - I should have one!”
“It gives impression that one is really in control over his PC”
“It has a outrageous and futuristic look, like something from a science-fiction movie, but still impressive. I like the customisability and the adjustments available as well as the additional programmable buttons. The only thing that I do not like based on first impressions is the fact that it is not wireless, since I prefer a wireless mouse.”
“It look like a modern space ship.”
“It supports the functionality one would like to have when on the hunt for a good looking mouse. Not only does it blow all other rodents out of its way, it is quick and has great manoeuvrability, reducing the risk of getting caught in any trap. This is one great companion when entering the cyber space, I wouldn't dare anyone to enter the cyber realm, without such a sophisticated and enhanced team member. Although many other team members exist, I truly believe this one to be at the top of its class.”
“It is a SICK (GREAT) gadget!!!!! I love the thumb rest since a typical mouse doesn't have a thumb rest. And the aggressive look just makes it worth looking at :)”
“Looks complex and heavy - but I have not used it. My impression is purely of what I can see on my screen.”
“Looks interesting. Wonders how comfortable it is.”
"Must say that looks very pretty impressive. I like how you have the motivation on the mouse and decided there is not really a better option I can think of, unless perhaps to have something like a 3D mouse. In my case, something like the R.A.T. 7 will however be more functional. I, however, do not work all day long with CAD / FEM data. "
“My first impression about this R.A.T.7 I was like WOW!! And the question I asked myself was 'is this real?' I think this mouse is perfect.”
“My first thought was "It looks like you can fly a plane with that thing!"
I've never really given much thought to what type of performance mouse would be applicable to FEM productivity, but I'm always incredibly jealous when I see the CAD guys rocking out with one of these: http://blog.grabcad.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/spacepilot-pro.png
I always look at that and think how cool it would be just to have a *few* more accessible buttons! Did I mention that it looks like you can fly a plane with the R.A.T. 7 ?!??”
“My knowledge of R.A.T.7 is what I read in your valuable publication, on which I also commented. This looks great and we will definitely explore this further. This has triggered a new thinking in our minds towards optimal use of hardware with your software!”
“The customizing options are certainly appealing along with the array of buttons and controls. Certainly seems like a good mouse for engineering applications such as CAD and FEA that will make working these programs more efficient.”
“This is a bad-ass mouse. Unmatched in terms of how it looks! As a game enthusiast and from what I read it looks like I will love the customization, making long gaming sessions less stressful for my hands. The raised palm piece will make a big difference with me.”
“This mouse is only a right hand mouse, one that is ambidextrous will be better.”
“This one looks adjustable for hand size”