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ROCCAT KOVA AIMO Gaming Mouse Review

By Christopher Coke on May 11, 2019 | Hardware Reviews | Comments

ROCCAT KOVA AIMO Gaming Mouse Review

Over the years, we’ve reviewed quite a few pieces of gear from German peripheral maker, ROCCAT. It’s been quite a while since we’ve looked at one of their mice, so it’s about time we fixed that. In today’s review, we’re looking closely at the KOVA AIMO, a 12 button ambidextrous mouse that quickly doubles to 23 programmable buttons. Should this be your next MMO mouse? Let’s take a closer look!

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Specifications

  • Current Price: $49.99
  • Key Features:
    • Ambidextrous Design
    • AIMO Illumination
    • Quick-fire Top Buttons
    • Illuminated Titan Wheel
    • ROCCAT SWARM Compatible
  • Pro-Optic Sensor R6 with up to 7000 DPI
  • 1000Hz polling rate
  • 20G acceleration
  • 1ms response time
  • 12-bit data channel
  • 50MHz Turbo Core V2 32-bit Arm based MCU
  • 512kB onboard memory
  • Dimensions:
    • Height: 3.8 cm
    • Width: 6.6 cm
    • Length: 13.1 cm
    • Weight: 99 g

If you haven’t heard of ROCCAT before, it’s time to take notice. The company has been a mainstay in the peripheral business for years, if a bit quieter here stateside, but their recent purchase by Turtle Beach spells big things for ROCCAT’s line-up. As the lead hardware guy here at MMO, that excites me as the company has had far more hits than misses. The Leadr MMO Mouse, for example, was so far ahead of its time that even now, two years later, companies are still falling short of its high bar.

The KOVA is a different kind of beast. It’s a wired mouse, for one, and ambidextrous to boot. If you’re a lefty, you’ll be happy to hear that you have a new mouse with lots of inputs to consider, though it is set up with Easy-Shift[+] for righties at first and will need to be remapped. It’s also only on the edge of what I would consider a suitable mouse for action-bar MMOs because it lacks the usual number pad. This would, of course, have made an ambidextrous design impossible, so ROCCAT has found a suitable middle-ground that should provide enough inputs for all of your core skills and beyond.

The KOVA features a total of 10 buttons and 12 inputs with the scroll wheel factored in. By dedicating one of those buttons (by default, the Back button) to Easy-Shift[+], you can unlock a second layer of buttons as long as it’s held, bringing your input total to a whopping twenty-three. Removing the left and right click and up and down mouse scrolling from the main layer, you’re left with a nineteen easily programmable inputs without sacrificing any normal functionality. 

Pro-tip: map these to number buttons and buttons 13-19 to something like “alt+1,” “alt+2” etc. Then, in-game, map skills to each of these. When you run out, add another modifier, like Shift or CTRL. Now you’re able to map just under sixty abilities to this mouse alone just by holding a modifier with your pinky.

Accessing each of these additional buttons is easy and I never found myself stretching uncomfortably or hitting  any by accident. While I’ve loved my Razer Naga and Corsair Scimitar, that’s just not something I can say about them, especially when I’m playing something that’s not an MMO. Playing a game like Fortnite, anytime I’d encounter a baddy, I’d tense up an wind up swapping items by mistake. I’m a nervous shooter, what can I say.

Anyhow, getting back to this mouse, it feels quite good in the hand, though you might find it lacking if you use a palm grip. I didn’t find it quite long enough to use comfortably with my palm; the rear seems to stop short of offering enough support. With a claw or fingertip grip, it works quite well. At only 99g, it’s also fairly light so is easy to use with either of these grips and glides very smoothly. I had been using the Logitech G502 HERO and the skates are noticeably smoother.

The clicks are also very tactile and snappy. ROCCAT doesn’t disclose what switches they’re using, which I think should be clearly stated for all gaming mice, but these definitely feel good and were responsive and accurate in my few weeks of testing. The KOVA also features their “2D Titan Wheel” which could really use a better description. The best I could find was a press release from 2012 saying that it was specially made to better tracking and reliability over time. Even with that, I’m unclear on what exactly makes it any better than the scroll wheel on another mouse.

One of the interesting things to note about the KOVA AIMO is that it uses a Pro-Optic R6 optical sensor. Outside of the world of ROCCAT, I can’t find anything about this sensor, so it’s likely an in-house design or a better known sensor they’ve licensed and developed firmware for. Despite its somewhat mysterious nature, it’s scalable all the way up to 7000 DPI and features no acceleration or smoothing to interfere with your accuracy.

And yes, I know the temptation is to scoff and say, “psssh, other mice are now up to 16000 DPI!” Before you get in a tizzy about whether or not maxing out at 7000 or 16000 makes any difference at all, ask yourself, when was the last time you used more than 7000 DPI? Ever? Probably not, at least not without dropping your sensitivity in-game. Understand, 10000, 12000, 16000 DPI rates are marketing, pure and simple. No one uses them at that because that’s an unusable DPI that looks good on paper.

In real world terms, the sensor in the KOVA is perfectly fine. It’s pixel by pixel accurate, doesn’t spin out, go wonky when slammed or show any other bad tendencies. It does have less acceleration, topping out at 20Gs compared to the Leadr’s 50G, but again, will you ever accelerate that fast? The answer is no, even at 20G.

We could critique that the sensor here just isn’t as capable as those others. That would be a fair and true statement. But, it seems clear that one of the mission statements here was to hit the middle of the market in pricing. If it’s a difference between paying $149 for the latest HERO sensor from Logitech or even $75 for the latest TrueMove from Steelseries, that’s just going to price it out for a good chunk of gamers looking for a new mouse that don’t want to spend more than $50 on their rodent. To them, I’d say this has been a solid alternative in the few weeks I’ve had to game with it and the added programmability actually makes this quite the solid contender at this price point.

Of course, the mouse also has RGB and is a core part of the improvement coming in this AIMO version. AIMO is ROCCAT’s system for AI-powered lighting that reacts to what you’re doing in game. Here, the light around the mouse ring and around the heel of the mouse illuminate, the latter providing a stylish underglow. The AI effect is subtle. Subtle to the point where it’s hard to tell if it’s actually learning anything at all or if it’s all clever procedural generation. What I will say is that it definitely looks cool, especially if you have other AIMO devices.

Using ROCCAT’s software, you can easily sync your lighting effects (as well as program the buttons, add macros, etc - pretty much everything you would expect from a gaming mouse in 2019). The interesting thing with AIMO is that different pieces of the mouse change and flow in patterns that seem independent of one another but somehow linked at the same time. I also have the ROCCAT Vulcan 120 and watching the lights between the devices is a bit mesmerizing.

Final Thoughts

For $49, the KOVA AIMO is a solid mouse that offers a lot of programmability while remaining responsive and accurate. I wish I knew more about the switches and sensor they used, but it’s clear from the specs they’ve provided that they’ve kept things grounded to keep the price down. It doesn’t go up to astronomical sensitivities or acceleration levels but in the world of what normal humans will actually use, performs quite well. I was impressed at how programmable and usable it is for MMOs and other games with a lot of skills. Even outside of games, Easy-Shift[+] allows you to do neat things like put your PC volume right on your scroll wheel. At a mid-level mouse, it’s right that gamers would have fairly high expectations in such a competitive market. All-in-all, ROCCAT has done a good job of delivering where it matters most.

Pros

  • Lots of buttons (12)
  • Easy-Shift[+] doubles the amount of buttons
  • Can put media and Windows controls right on the mouse
  • Lightweight with smooth glide
  • Well priced for the features

Cons

  • Sensor is accurate and responsive but caps at 7000 DPI
  • Not good for palm-grip

The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purpose of review.

Christopher Coke / Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight