I always enjoy getting to review products from a company that I’ve not worked with in the past. Today will be our first review of a CM Storm product. If you’re not familiar with CM Storm, it is the gaming brand that Cooler Master launched back in 2008. We’re going to be looking at their Sentinel Advance II mouse, which was released last year.
|Form Factor||Right Hand Ergonomic|
|Sensor||Avago ADNS-9800 Laser Sensor|
|Onboard Memory||128 KB|
|Polling Rate||1000 Hz /1 ms|
|Velocity||Up to 150 ips|
|Dimensions||83.6(L)x135(W)x40(H) mm3.3(L)x5.3(W)x1.6(H) inch|
|Weight||139 g / 0.31 lbs|
The Sentinel Advance II is a sleek-looking mouse with just the right amount of curves. The very top and very bottom of the mouse are black, while the sides are grey. There are two different LED-lit zones on the mouse. One is on the top, with the LED itself hidden underneath a black panel with holes in it. This creates an interesting effect, with dots of light, rather than just a large glowing panel. The other zone is on the front of the mouse, with a pair of LED headlights.
The entire mouse is made from plastic, with the only exceptions being the scrollwheel and the two thumb buttons. Cooler Master did decide to use a different type of plastic for the primary mouse buttons. The majority of the mouse is made of a very smooth plastic, while the primary buttons are slightly textured. This allows for a little extra grip on the buttons, without attracting fingerprints like a rubber coating usually does.
In addition to the two primary buttons and scrollwheel, there are five additional buttons to be found. Two of them are the commonly-found thumb buttons, one of which is labeled “TX”, which we’ll talk about later. Above the scrollwheel is a single button, which is set to cycle through one of the five profiles stored on the mouse. Below the scrollwheel are two buttons used to increase or decrease the DPI. On the left of these two buttons is a small bump, so that you can easily tell them apart. This is rather nice, as they are both rather small, and might be easily confused, otherwise.
The most interesting feature of the Sentinel Advance II is the presence of an LCD screen on the top of the mouse. It is positioned just behind the two buttons at the back of the scrollwheel, at roughly the exact middle of the mouse. The screen displays the DPI of both the X and Y axes (as they can be changed independently), and the CM Storm logo. The logo can actually be changed to one of your own creation in the software, which we’ll discuss later.
If you flip the mouse over, you’ll find four feet. Two long ones on either side, a small one at the back, and a tiny one at the front. The Avago ADNS-9800 sensor is located in the center, rather than off to one side, as we’ve seen in some other mice. Toward the back is cover that hides away five 4.5g removable weights. The last details of note are the braided USB cable and gold-plated connector.
The Sentinel II is designed to be a right-handed mouse. However, it is surprisingly easy to use with either hand. The only downside to the southpaw grip is that there are no extra buttons on the right side of the mouse.
When I’m using my computer for everyday use, I tend to be a palm grip kinda guy. However, when I game, I tend to be something of a hybrid of claw and fingertip grip, depending on the mouse. If you are either a palm or claw gripper, then you should enjoy the Sentinel II. Both felt comfortable and natural for extended periods. However, the fingertip grip didn’t seem to work well, due to the length of the mouse. If that’s your preferred style, you may want to consider a shorter mouse.
As I mentioned earlier, there are five extra programmable buttons to be found. The two most basic of these are your back/forward buttons by your thumb. Due to their somewhat standard nature (it’s hard to find many mice without them these days) and the ease of use, they get clicked more than anything, save my left button. I’m disappointed by where Cooler Master decided to put these particular buttons. In order to use them, I have to raise my thumb too high for my comfort. The buttons are located roughly 1.25” from the base. If you’re resting your thumb on the lip that’s provided, the middle of your thumb will sit at about 5/8”. That’s a pretty big move.
Part of the issue is how high the buttons are located, and the other part is how hard you have to press. The side buttons are rather stiff, so you have to make sure that your thumb is hitting them dead-center. Doing so is made even harder by the shape of the mouse. They molded out a spot specifically for your thumb to rest, which cuts into the side of the mouse a little. This creates a small ridge just below where the buttons sit. I found myself moving my thumb to that ridge, and pressing there, rather than on the buttons themselves.
The button at the top of the mouse is positioned too far away to be of any use during gaming. It is set to cycle through profiles by default, which is a pretty good use for it, since you generally won’t be switching profiles in the middle of combat. What disappointed me is that you can’t actually customize it to do anything other than switch profiles. The two buttons behind the scrollwheel are well-placed and easy to hit accurately. The raised bump on the left button makes sure that there is no confusion when you do decide to use one of them. By default, these are programmed to raise and lower your DPI. What I would have liked to do was set the top button to cycle through DPI settings, thus freeing up these two buttons for other uses.
Speaking of DPI settings, it’s time we touched on the OLED screen that shows those settings. In some ways I like the idea of having a screen on my mouse. However, I don’t think it’s executed particularly well in this case. Since your hand covers the screen, this has zero use during the middle of a game. You can’t quickly glance down at your mouse to double-check your settings. You have to also lift your hand off the mouse. What’s more, the screen is actually recessed about a quarter of an inch or so. This means that most of the time, even if my hand is off the mouse, I can only read a small portion of the screen. So to read it, I need to lift my hand off the mouse, move my body forward, and look down.
The software for the Sentinel Advance II is a whopping 112 MB. It’s a pretty hefty download, and just like the Gila mouse from GX Gaming that I recently reviewed, it doesn’t need to be. I’m not sure why manufacturer think that gamers want videos of the products that they buy, but this is a trend that I’m really not enjoying. Cooler Master decided that it was necessary to bundle a 91 MB video with their driver. (It only takes up around 45 MB when compressed, which is still makes up about 1/3 of the total download.)
So what is so important about the video? Well, if you open up the software, you’ll see an image of the mouse, with some whispy flame things behind it. In the top-right corner of that image you’ll see that it says “VIDEO OFF”. Should you click that, your nice, crisp image will be replaced with a low-resolution video. Normally, when you click on a numbered mouse button over on the left, a number will appear on the mouse in the image. If you’ve got the video enabled, this still happens, except it just loops a short portion of the video file, which has that number shown. In short, the video is completely pointless, and looks worse than the static image used by default. Should you decide to delete the file, the “VIDEO OFF” text won’t appear the next time you start the software.
The software isn’t terribly difficult to use. The front screen seems a little cluttered, as they cram a lot into it. Along the bottom are five different profiles, one of which is named CM STORM. This is the default profile, and cannot be fully customized. You can change everything except the button assignments. The only button you can customize in this profile is number 8, above the scrollwheel. There are only four options for this button : Next Profile, Profile Cycle [+], Profile Cycle [-], and disabled. I’m not sure why they restricted that button to only switching profiles, but I find it disappointing. It should also be noted that the CM STORM profile is the only one that can edit the function of that button. It is greyed out in all others.
Once you’ve selected your profile at the bottom, you can then select which button you would like to edit. There is a dropdown menu that provides a variety of options. There are several preset options, or you can choose to set it to a macro, or keyboard shortcut of your choice. On the right side of the window are your DPS, sensitivity, and double click speed settings.
The next window is for your color settings. Here, you can select one of eight colors for the two different light zones. You can also choose to have the lights stay on, pulse, activate on mouse clicks, or stay off. This is also where you can select an icon to be displayed on the OLED screen. You can use any 32×32 black and white .bmp file for this. I’ve tried a few, and a lot of simple logos look great. I’ve got different ones for each profile, which is a nice touch.
The Storm TX tab is an interesting one. Remember how the “back” thumb button has “TX” written on it? That’s what this tab is all about. The TX button is essentially a modifier for other buttons. When pressed, the rest of your buttons switch to different mappings. Now, rather than having 8 buttons at your disposal, you have 14 (plus you can even re-map the scroll up and down functions with the TX modifier). If you’re someone that needs a ton of extra buttons, then this is a great feature.
The Macros, Scripts, Library and Support tabs are all pretty basic. Setting these up is pretty easy, and found no real issues with doing so. The library is kind of nice, as it puts your macros and scripts in one area, and makes assigning them to the mouse pretty easy. Also, anything you save to the profiles on the mouse will stay there, thanks to the 128KB of on-board storage. This means if you take the mouse and use it on a different PC, all of your settings will come with you.
Overall, I enjoy CM Storm’s Sentinel Advance II. It’s comfortable, it performs well, and the software functions well. I do have some small beefs with it. For those that skipped to the end (yes, I’m talking to you), the main issues I have are that the thumb buttons are positioned too high, and the OLED screen is not very useful, due to the fact that the screen is recessed into the mouse, and your hand covers it the whole time.
For the $60 MSRP (you can find it for even less if you look around), I’d definitely say that this mouse is worth the money. Especially if you have larger hands, and prefer bigger mice.