MMO mice have spoiled me. There is something sublime about having so many abilities right at your mousing hand. So far, we’ve mostly found ourselves limited to thumb grids. That’s what makes Roccat’s Leadr so refreshing. With 16 programmable buttons in a unique and easy to access configuration, it’s ready to take on your skill bars and most complex macros, and thanks to Roccat’s new Owl Eye optical sensor, you can count on precise tracking while you’re doing it. It promises 1-to-1 tracking up to 3000 DPI, wired or wirelessly, but is it worth the $139.99 MSRP? Read on to read our thoughts on Roccat’s new flagship mouse.
The New Flagship
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. The Leadr is an unconventional MMO mouse - and not in a negative way. It’s just that, viewed from the right angle, the Leadr can look more than a little predatory. With its two extra buttons on each of the left and right buttons, the shark-like DPI fin, and X-Celerator paddle on the left, all strapped onto a body that looks a touch like a snake’s head, and, well, you have a mouse that’s more than a little unique. By throwing out the tried and true thumb pad, Roccat has created something that stands out from all but its own Tyon.
Thankfully, it’s not all looks, as the mouse has proven itself to be incredibly capable over the last two weeks as my main driver. It’s going to stay my go-to too, officially pushing my Naga and Logitech G600 onto the bench. Even though it’s somewhat radical design required breaking years of ingrained muscle memory, the Leadr is simply a better mouse in virtually every way.
The Leadr succeeds 2014’s similarly styled Tyon. Taken by appearance, the two mice are virtually identical, but the Leadr offers a number of key improvements. The biggest is certainly the improved Owl Eye optical sensor, Roccat’s iteration on the PixArt 3360. The Owl Eye boosts DPI up to 12000, but because few if any gamers will actually use such a staggering sensitivity, the more meaningful claim here is 1-to-1 tracking on DPIs from 400-3000. FPS gamers will appreciate that, though I’ll admit to having trouble “feeling” it in the games I play. I am no competitive CS:GO player, though, so I’m not that audience that really would notice that. In every game I played, however, the mouse responded perfectly.
The other big addition here is the ability to use the Leadr with or without a wire. After plugging it in to install the initial firmware upgrades, the USB tether can be abandoned on the mouse itself. Instead, Roccat includes a vertical charging stand the mouse can hang from and charge when not in use. The stand is illuminated in Roccat blue and looks great on its own, but is disappointingly uncustomizable. The Leadr is rated for twenty hours of use, but I never came close to even 75% of a charge because it’s so easy to hang it up when your session is over.
Roccat’s product page touts the Leadr a “the wired mouse with no wires” and that certainly feels true. The mouse can fully utilize a 1000Hz polling rate when used wirelessly and transmits at 2.4GHz, which is which Roccat claims is faster than USB. Without diving into technical specifications, the real world result is that the Leadr feels exactly as responsive plugged in as wireless.
The Leadr is a large mouse, best suited for a palm grip. It’s wide with a slight lip on the left to rest your thumb. It’s body is also wholly molded plastic, so there’s no rubberized grips to worry about wearing down over time. It is fairly heavy, however, coming in at 134g. If you’re into RGB illumination, there are also two lighting zones, around the mouse wheel and on the palm rest with the Roccat angry-cat logo.
More Than Two Dozen Keybinds
Let’s talk about those buttons. Even outside of MMORPGs, I really prefer to have lots of buttons at my disposal. Once you get used to having abilities on your mousing hand, there is no going back. Here, Roccat has shifted more than half of its buttons to the top of the mouse. This concerned me, but I quickly found out that I only used the most easy to access parts of the thumb grid anyway.. The Leadr keeps five buttons on the left side, which was just enough to keep my most used abilities right where I expect them to be. By moving four more onto the left and right buttons, I actually find them easier to access than ever before.
Let’s break it down. On the top you have your standard left, right buttons, with the clickable scroll wheel. You have four additional buttons, angled for easy access, on the left and right. The DPI adjuster is actually a fin that can be mapped two ways for each side. On the left are two standard thumb buttons and a the X-Celerator paddle. This is where things get even more interesting, as that paddles allows for analog control, perfect for driving or flight games where you need sensitivity control. On the bottom edge is the Easy-Shift button, that essentially acts like a modifier key to access a whole second set of binds for each button. All told, you have 16 programmable buttons expandable to 31 with Easy-Shift.
All of these are easily programmable in Roccat’s Swarm software. Here the firm has really gone all out with programmability. You can record, edit, and assign macros very easily. You can create game specific profiles and tie them to executables so they automatically change over when you begin your game. You can set the LED color for the two illuminated zones and choose from a rather limited amount of effects, the most useful of which is a battery indicator. Here you can also set five stages of DPI, calibrate your X-Celerator, changing your polling rate, and more.
I’m the kind of gamer who appreciates lots of mouse buttons, but any mouse hoping to earn a permanent place on my desk has to meet a list of demands. First and foremost, it needs to be comfortable. I don’t like mice that are too small for a relaxed palm grip, and I like a little weight so it doesn’t feel chintzy. It needs to have a good amount of buttons, enough so where all of my key abilities are on my mouse hand, and expandability earns a lot of points for future-proofing toward games I may not have yet. Tracking and sensitivity have to be top notch. And, to put it bluntly, the whole things needs to feel worth the premium price these mice go for - and this mouse goes for a premium.
Is it worth $140? Right now, that feels like an awful lot for any mouse. When you factor in its unique features, however, you can begin to see where that price tag comes from. It is easily one of the best mice I’ve ever used. If you’re looking for a new kind of MMO mouse and have the budget to support it, the Leadr is one of the very best.
The product discussed in this article was provided by Public Relations for the purposes of review.