Saitek GM3200 Laser Mouse Review

Propane - 2008-02-29 09:23:49 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: Propane   
Reviewed on: March 12, 2008
Price: $49.99

Introduction:

When it comes to playing a FPS game or taking advantage of the UI elements of your operating system and programs, a standard mouse is what most people use. They have been around forever and, to most people, are nothing special. However, to the enthusiasts and gamers, a mouse can mean a lot. Factors like DPI, number of buttons and the ability to customize it, are meaningful terms that can make the difference in your mouse choice. Although those are all important, companies that produce mice don't talk much about real world performance and comfort in a realistic way, and that is exactly what this review intends to do. Hopefully by reading this review, you will get a good idea of the real world performance that this mouse provides.

The Saitek GM3200 Laser Mouse is one of Saitek's new high end gaming mice. Saitek claims that this is the first 3200 DPI mouse - a very impressive feat. The GM3200 also sports many features along the lines of user customization; for example, the weight of the mouse can be changed by adding or removing small weights and the amount of friction can be changed by flipping the feet of the mouse over. These features sound pretty exciting and will be looked at in-depth over the next couple of pages.

 

Closer Look:

The packaging that the Saitek GM3200 Laser Mouse comes in is very similar to the packaging that their other mice come in. A simple cardboard box has some of the features on the front and back, while the mouse can be viewed though a plastic covering. Some of the features listed on the front of the box are the 3200 DPI resolution, the laser engine, the adjustable weight, and the adjustable friction. The back lists mostly the same features, but in several different languages.

 

 

 

 

 

The left side of the box talks about the adjustable weight and friction system. A cool diagram is included that shows you the basic idea of how this works. On the right side of the box, is a list of the specifications and a picture of the mouse.

 

 

Included in the package is a CD that has the software that we will install later in the review, as well as a few other things.

Closer Look:

Now, the box and CD is great, but if you are reading this I'd imagine you want to know more about the Saitek GM3200 itself. The mouse is ergonomic, so it isn't symmetric. However, this should aid the comfort factor for those of us who use our right hands. In the below picture, you can see that the mouse has two main mouse buttons, left and right, with a scroll wheel in the middle. This is pretty standard on mice, but you also probably noticed the two buttons below the scroll wheel which aren't standard on most mice. These buttons control the sensitivity of the mouse and mode of the mouse. The top button allows you to move up and down through four DPI settings (800/1600/2400/3200 DPI), while the bottom button allows you to switch in between two modes of operation which are configured in the included software. There is also a small LED strip on the left. The first four LEDs from the top tell you what DPI you are running at, with 800 DPI being the top option and 3200 DPI being the fourth LED down. The other two LEDs are to let you know which mode you are running in. Also, the mouse uses a gold plated USB connector, which reduces latency in between the mouse and the computer, meaning that it takes less time for the electrical signals from the mouse to reach the computer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The left side of the mouse also has two mouse buttons, forward and back. These are customizable and are located high enough, so that you won't accidentally press one with your thumb, but they are still easily accessible.

 

One of the coolest features of the GM3200 is its ability to adjust the weight and amount of friction between the mouse and mouse pad. On the bottom of the mouse are two doors. These doors can be taken off to reveal the weights which are set into a foam pad. It takes a little while to get the weights out, but it isn't impossible. There are five weights at the back of the mouse and two at the front, so there is a good amount of weight that you can either shift around, or take out of the mouse completely.

 

 

The doors that we took of to get to the weights, actually serve a second purpose besides securing the weights. They are the parts of the mouse that allow you to adjust the friction. To do this, the doors can be flipped over which reveals a larger contact pad for higher friction. Both this and the weights, are a matter of personal preference, but they are both very easy to change.

 

 

Let's take a look at the software that came with the GM3200!

Installation:

To install the Saitek GM3200 Laser Mouse, you can just plug it in to any USB port. No software is needed for the simple operation of the GM3200, however, the software shipped with the mouse is recommended, because it unlocks a lot of features that you might not otherwise have access to. To install the software, all you need to do is pop in the CD that comes with the GM3200. A window will pop up asking you what you want to do. You can do everything from viewing an HTML manual, which walks you through installing and configuring the software, to taking a product tour. We want to just install the software though, so that is what we are going to select. Doing so brings up another window that lets you know what the installer is going to do and how it is going to benefit you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next you will be presented with a window that has a disclaimer. This just keeps Saitek free of any liability and is similar to a software EULA. Just accept it and move on, there isn't much new there. The installer will then get to installing the drivers.

 

 

After that completes, you will be asked if you want to install the program that is used to program the mouse. It is optional and the mouse will work fine without it, however we are going to install it now. If you choose to not install it, you can insert the CD and run the installer again at any time, should you change your mind. If you do choose to install it now, several files will be copied to your hard drive.

 

 

After all the files have copied, additional drivers will be installed. During this process, several of the Windows "Found New Hardware" wizards will be launched. Just select the recommended option to make sure that everything will work smoothly with the configuring software. When this is finished, you will have a chance to register your software and GM3200 with Saitek. This is, of course, optional but recommended.

 

 

 

Configuration:

The configuration program that is bundled with the GM3200 allows you to change what each mouse button does and how both modes work. The program has three tabs and each one does something different. On the first tab you can change the what three buttons on the mouse do. The three buttons you can change are scroll wheel click, forwards, and backwards. These can be changed in both modes and can be set to perform a single action, or a set of actions.

 

The second tab allows you to change the sensitivity of the mouse. This can be helpful because the sensitivity you want in games might just make it too fast in normal desktop applications. In addition to setting the sensitivity, you can still change the DPI of the mouse on the fly.

 

The final tab is just a little bit about the software and includes a link to where it can be downloaded. I'm not really sure why they have a link to download what you are running, but they do.

 

Now that we have a good idea of the hardware and software, let's test it out.

Specifications:

 

Testing:

To test the Saitek GM3200 Laser Mouse, I will use a variety of different factors to test it against. For most users, there are four major factors that will determine whether they call it a good, or poor mouse. These factors are speed, comfort, precision, and the ability to customize it. I have used the GM3200 for several days, and have been thinking of these factors during my use. I feel now, that I have a pretty good idea of how well it works. Below, the mouse will be rated on a 0-100 point scale in these four categories.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Models

 

Mouse speed might not be exactly what you think. What it is, is a measure of how fast the cursor can move around. This can be limited if the mouse is run in a low resolution because the cursor will "bounce" back and forth. This means that, typically, the higher the DPI, the faster the mouse will be able to go. The speed of a mouse is a user preference and not a set in stone, as if "faster is better", so keep in mind that if you like mice that don't fly past what you are aiming for, you will want lower numbers in this graph. On the other hand, however, if you like a mouse cursor that you can move anywhere by moving your mouse merely an inch, you'll want to look for the higher numbers.

 

The next factor is comfort. An uncomfortable mouse, even if it is perfect in every other regard, will probably find its way to your nearest trash can. Something that you use as much as your mouse just can't be uncomfortable when you are using it. The Saitek GM3200, however, is very comfortable. The buttons are all placed out of the way of where your hand needs to be, yet close enough that you can have quick access to them. Also, the body of the mouse feels sturdy and the buttons have a soft feeling to them. All of these features combined, makes for a mouse that is very comfortable in the hand and easy to use.

 

We also want to look at precision. This is the ability of the mouse to pinpoint a certain target object on your monitor. To test this, I just played my favorite FPS, Counter Strike: Source. Using a FPS is a good way to test precision, because you have to hit a small target quickly, in order to do well. I also tested the precision on the desktop to make sure I could target small icons quickly and easily. Of course, this was difficult to manage at first, but as I used the GM3200, I became more and more used to how it worked and I was able to get more and more accurate. In this assessment, higher values are better.

 

The final factor we want to take a look at, is the GM3200's ability to be customized. This is important mostly to gamers, but can be used by the average user as well, to make repetitive tasks easier to perform. The software that came with the GM3200 is easy to use and easy to understand. It is also simple and not bloated with features, which is also a good thing. The one downside to the software, is that it dosen't come with much documentation. There is some, but it could be better. The reason there is a zero score for the "Old Logitech" (shown as no score in the graph below), is because there is no way to customize it outside of the operating system and game configuration panels. Below, higher is better.

 

 

Conclusion:

Mice, while not wholly necessary to use a computer, are very helpful to have and required if you want to play most video games on your PC. The most important factor with a device that you use directly every day is comfort and the Saitek GM3200 Laser Mouse is very comfortable. While comfort is very important, there are also other factors that can influence your decision. Among these are resolution, which can effect speed and precision, the software that comes with the mouse and any special features that the mouse has. The GM3200 has all of these. With up to 3200 DPI, you can make this mouse as sensitive as you want. The software that comes with the mouse is also simple to use and powerful, allowing you to set up two modes of operation you can switch your mouse between, at the touch of a button. Finally, the hardware itself has the ability to be customized by adding and removing weights and changing the friction pad. All these features come together to make a great mouse that I think I will be using for a long time.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: