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Manufacturer: Saitek
Min OS X: Any Version    Requires: USB Port

Saitek GM3200 Gaming Mouse
April 14, 2008 | Bryan Clodfelter

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Gaming mice are a fairly known quantity these days. When you buy a mouse with the word, "gaming" printed somewhere on the packaging, you can expect certain things, like a five-button design, on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment, and a high resolution optical sensor. While these concepts are fairly easy to grasp; a great product for gaming requires more than long laundry list of bells and whistles printed on the side of a box.

Anatomy of a Gaming Mouse Look-Alike
As the title suggests, the Saitek GM3200 looks like a gaming mouse. In fact, it looks like a great one. With a 3200 dpi laser sensor, hardware on-the-fly controls, swappable weights, recordable macros, the ability to switch between two pre-configured profiles, and even adjustable friction pads, the GM3200 has more gaming-specific features than any other mouse on the market. It is also offered in three different colors: red, blue, and black. For this review, we were sent the black, "carbon-fiber" model that lacks the superfluous strip lighting (good) and printed descriptions beneath the sensitivity indicator lights (not so good) that come with the blue "oceanic" and red "cracked earth" variants.

In terms of physical layout, the GM3200 feels like a flattened baked potato. With such a large, boxy profile, the mouse turns out to be a solid "glide" mouse, but a terrible "flick" one. Button placement and performance are slightly above average: for starters, the left and right triggers are notched, rubberized, and perform extremely well. Not only are they quiet and comfortable, they're extremely fast. However, the positive qualities of the primary triggers are largely blunted by the minor quirks inherent to rest of the controls. While the thumb buttons are fairly well-placed, they have trouble rebounding quickly after being pressed, and the scroll wheel button requires far too much force to trigger. The hardware sensitivity adjustment is actually a rocker switch, not a button, which is an unconventional yet clever design choice. As you rock the switch back and forth, a series of four green LEDs on the left side of the mouse indicate the current DPI setting. With only four DPI selections (800, 1600, 2400, and 3200 DPI), these settings are not very useful because the granularity of the selections is so large. Behind those LEDs reside two blue LEDs that indicate the active profile (a Windows-only feature). Using the somewhat clunky, Windows-only software, the GM3200 can be programmed with up to two different application-specific profiles that can include detailed keystroke and time-specific macros.

Advanced Tuning Features and Performance
As previously mentioned, the GM3200 includes a set of swappable weight cartridges and a way to adjust the frictional coefficient of the bottom of the mouse. Frankly, both features are rather gimmicky. When you flip the GM3200 over, you'll find two large, reversible doors on either end of the mouse that have small PTFE (Teflon) feet on one side and enormous PTFE pads on the other. Regardless of which side you choose, the mouse feels approximately because Teflon is already so slick; changing its surface area has a very minor effect on overall friction. In a similar vein, the seven weight cartridges (found beneath the reversible doors) appear to be a useful tuning tool, but since the GM3200 is already so massive, their overall effect is too small to swing the mouse's performance one way or another. Personally, after toggling between a few combinations of weight and friction, I had a hard time telling them apart, and I suspect that if someone completely reversed my configuration in my absence, I wouldn't notice the difference.

When we initially heard about the GM3200's "amazing" new 3200 dpi laser sensor last year, we were a bit skeptical. Razer has been on the bleeding edge of this business for years, and the likelihood that the relatively inexperienced Saitek would be able to deliver a technical slap to the face seemed highly unlikely. As it turns out, we were on to something. With the GM3200 cranked up to 3200 dpi, the sensor has serious tracking problems. During diagonal movements, we watched in dismay as our smooth input was translated into a series of jerky, up and down movements that indicate that this "3200 dpi" claim was achieved through interpolation. With our initial suspicions confirmed, we dug a bit deeper into the sensor, using Coding Horror's Direct Input Mouse Rate tool (Windows only) to suck polling rate data directly from the USB ports. This uncovered the fact that Saitek's sensor tops out at just under 585 Hz--just over half of the 1000 Hz "gaming" standard. We discovered the final nail in the GM3200's coffin when we determined that the sensor's "lift-off" distance was over double what it should be. While you may or may not have noticed it in the past, we all perform the same "tilt and slide" motion that allows us to keep our mice in a comfortable spot on our desks. With a short lift-off distance, these motions interrupt mouse input and do not disturb the location of the cursor significantly. In the case of the GM3200, however, the lift-off distance is so high that you can actually hover the mouse above your desk and still control the cursor. As a result, the cursor becomes unwieldy during those "tilt and slide" motions--a fatal flaw in a gaming mouse.

To illustrate this point, we performed a simple set of tests in the Call of Duty 4 multiplayer map, "Countdown." At a distance of about 25 yards, we took aim at the center of a vehicle's wheel (left image). Then, we tilted our Razer DeathAdder and Saitek GM3200 to the right while keeping each mouse stationary relative to the desk. The results were eye-popping: the DeathAdder (center image), with its very short lift-off distance, moved the targeting reticle off target by about a foot. The GM3200 (right image) skewed the reticle off course by 5-10 yards, meaning that we were more likely to hit a friendly combatant than our target. In summary, when you combine this fatal blunder with the sensor's interpolation issues and subpar polling rate, we have more than enough reason to try to dissuade all gamers, irrespective of ability or preferred game type, from purchasing this product.

Saitek almost had us on this one. The Saitek GM3200 appears to be a great mouse. With a long list of features and an interesting design, this mouse could have been a viable option for gamers that tend to prefer the "glide" style of mousing. However, the debilitating effect that the GM3200's laser sensor has on the overall product obliterates any chance that gamers will find it an acceptable offering. All of the positive characteristics of this mouse--the excellent primary triggers, interesting (but somewhat gimmicky) tuning options, and programmable profiles--simply pale in comparison to the magnitude of this flaw. As a result, until Saitek improves their sensor technology, look elsewhere.

• Enormous feature set
• Interesting on-the-fly control scheme

• Poor tracking performance
• Clunky, Windows-only drivers

Saitek GM3200 Gaming Mouse
Manufacturer: Saitek

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