Steelseries offered two interesting mice for review, the Aerox 9 Wireless, aimed at MMO/MOBA players, and the Aerox 5, a wired mouse for multi-genre use. Both have a rather interesting lightweight lattice design quite unlike anything I’ve seen before.
Unless you are still living in the 1990s, computer mice have come a long way from the two-button (plus a scroll wheel, if you were fancy) beige lozenges. Microsoft got all silly for a bit with strange ergonomic devices before we settled on a comfortable shape that fits nicely in the palm of our right hands (left-handers still insisting on using their left hand for their mice are just being awkward- if I can use a mouse in my right hand, so can you).
Mouse reviews tend to be all about the buttons, fancy gestures, and DPI. Whilst the last mouse I reviewed was all about the virtues of a weighted mouse, Steelseries has gone the other way with its Aerox lightweight devices.
To complement the Aerox mice and to test-drive them, as it were, Steelseries also sent over one of their QcK EDGE XL cloth gaming mousepads. These 2mm thick mousepads have a stitched no-fraying edge and are available on medium (320mm x 270mm), large (450mm x 400mm), and XL (900mm x 300mm). The pad is nice and weighty, with a non-slip backing that’ll keep it in place on your desk.
The XL mat is big enough to accommodate both your mouse and keyboard, the material being soft and comfortable on your forearms when typing and your wrist when using the mouse. The smooth surface allows the lightweight Aerox mice to glide across it with minimal effort. The 300mm width of the XL-sized QcK EDGE mousepad offers a good depth of travel if you like a low DPI mouse setting giving you a bit of movement across the desk.
The only downside with the black mousepad is that it shows every scuff, bit of dust, and fluff, requiring a regular wipe down. The pad is washable, though, so you can easily keep it looking good.
But, let’s take a look at these extraordinary mice.
The Aerox 9 Wireless is, as per the name, a wireless optical mouse. It can be used via Bluetooth or the included USB Type-A 2.4GHz dongle. The pack also includes a USB cable for charging or for using as a weird mouse. There’s also a little caddy for the dongle that can be used with the charging cable, should your device only support USB Type-A connections. Whilst the Bluetooth connection does away with the need for the dongle, I prefer the no-nonsense wireless connection that the 2.4GHz dongle affords, without the need to perform pairing, etc.
The mouse has the standard two buttons plus a third scroll/button as well as a rocker switch for increasing or decreasing the movement sensitivity/DPI. The left side of the mouse has a 10-button keypad, presumably useful for MOBA/MMO players. The tiny keypad is interesting, but I’ve got to question if it’s actually going to be easier to use than just pressing a button on the keyboard. Certainly, I found it a bit tricky applying pressure to some of the buttons to the back of the keypad.
The adjustable sensitivity ranges from 100-18,000 CPI (counts per inch, formally DPI), adjustable in 100 CPI increments. The company quotes a tracking accuracy of up to 400 IPS (inches per second) using a SteelSeries QcK mouse mat. All-in-all that’s pretty fast and pretty accurate. As anyone that’s played a MOBA will testify, these are attributes that will come in handy in the battle arena.
All the buttons and functionality can be adjusted via the SteelSeries GG app. On installing the mouse, I was asked if I wanted to set up the SteelSeries app- which I can only assume is triggered by inserting the wireless dongle.
The Aerox 9 mouse lasts forever on a single charge, to the point that you tend to freak out wondering wants going on when the battery needs a boost. The included USB cable is long enough to just plug the mouse into your PC and charge as you go. According to Steelseries, a full battery charge lasts 150 hours and a 15-minute charge will give you around 40 hours of gaming.
The mouse’s lattice design not only makes the device very light, at only 89g, but also allows your hand to breathe, so there are no more sweaty palms. It’s also very comfortable, although if I lazily grabbed the mouse, there was a tendency to put the pads of my fingers on the lattice bit of the buttons which felt a bit off.
Coming from a solid chunky mouse, I thought that the mouse was going to feel flimsy, but it doesn’t at all. I quickly found that I’d sooner be pushing a breezy lightweight mouse about during a heavy gaming session. The design makes so much sense.
A surprising feature, considering I can see the mouse’s guts through the lattice, is that the device is IP54 rated, providing resistance to water, dust, and dirt. Looking closely, you can see a lacquer over the exposed components on the circuit boards. You are still not going to want to use it in a sandpit, but you needn’t fear a spill or a bit of dust getting in it.
The wired optical Aerox 5 mouse, which is also available wireless, has a more conventional layout with nine programmable buttons. There are four buttons by your thumb, all very easy to identify and press whilst in-game. As with the Aerox 9, there’s a rocker switch for adjusting the movement sensitivity just below the scroll wheel/button. Apart from the buttons on the side of the mouse, the chassis design of the Aerox 5 is identical to the Aerox 9, except that it is even lighter at only 66g.
Internally the Aerox 5 and Aerox 9 share the same sensors, the same switches, and the same RGB lighting. The Aerox 5 is also IP54 waterproof like the Aerox 9.
The Aerox mice feature a 3-zone RGB lighting setup than can be programmed within the GG app. As well as setting your mouse to pulsate in custom colours, the GG software allows users to adjust acceleration/deceleration curves, poling rates, the rocker switch CPI settings, and angle snapping (for smoothing out mouse movements). Unfortunately, the GG software is trying to be an all-in-one app and comes with all sorts of “added extras” that you’ll probably never use. It does have the option of setting up your Steelseries ecosystem of peripherals on a per-game basis which could be useful.
Of the two mice, my preference is the wired Aerox 5 as I found the more traditional button layout easier to use. The ten buttons on the side of the wireless Aerox 9 may be useful to some but are wasted on me. However, the long battery life of the cordless mouse does make it very appealing. The Qck Edge XL mousepad adds a bit of style to your desk and a smooth surface for the Aerox mice, although both mice worked fine on a conventional mouse mat.
The Steelseries Aerox 9 Wireless and Aerox 5 mice are both exceptional devices. The lattice design may not be to everyone’s taste but, this is function over form at its best. The lightweight mice fit nicely in the hand and glide effortlessly and accurately. The RGB lighting and visible innards add an extra bit of class. These to be the mice that I didn’t know I needed and, once you’ve tried them, you’ll probably feel the same.