Thermaltake Level 10 Mouse ReviewBluePanda - January 22, 2013
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Starting off with some basic top and bottom shots allows you to get an idea of what this mouse really looks like. It is a near symmetrical mouse with a clear-coated aluminum strip down the middle. The left side dominates a little giving a little more clicking surface for your main fire button. There are twelve octagonal, honeycomb shaped holes cut out for ventilation. However, placing my hand on the mouse, this actually seems to be the one place where my hand doesn't actually touch the mouse. Bigger hands don't make the difference on this either; I borrowed a friend and his hand didn't rest there either. It is certainly an odd ventilation location, but the design/look is pretty neat nonetheless. The black surface is a rubbery finish that seems to be common on the market these days. It provides a nice texture without making your hands sweat like hard plastics. Two aluminum fins rise up along the left and right of the mouse from the base holding your side buttons (I'll show you these a little later). There's a lot here – we'll talk more in depth on some features ahead.
The base of the mouse is one piece of aluminum that wraps up and around both the left and right sides, as previously mentioned. It's very smooth and has four gliding feet to slide effortlessly across any mouse pad. The laser sensor is located near the center of the mouse and has a sticker with the serial number and common invisible laser warnings.
Taking a profile view shows off the overall shape of the mouse as well as how the buttons sit. In both shots you can see the left click and right click buttons are actually raised towards the back and are not flush with the rest of the mouse. I'm not sure there is any added functionality from this design or if it was just part of the aesthetics. However, it isn't in the way and does not cause any issues, so other than noticing it there's really no pro or con. The right side of the mouse has larger and smaller buttons marked D and C respectively. I generally don't use excess mouse buttons, but having them once in a while is beneficial. However, the C and D are both a little awkward to reach when holding the mouse normally. No one finger reaches both buttons comfortably, and the smaller C button definitely requires a shift of my grip to reach it. For the occasional use, I don't really find their positions too much a problem, as they protrude enough for you to blindly poke and find.
The left side of the mouse follows a similar setup with an additional hat knob and an added logo image. This side has the smaller and larger buttons marked A and B respectively, which act as your forward an back buttons by default. The larger hat style button moves in four directions with the forward and back responding with changing the DPI setting and up and down for profile settings indicated both on the mouse and with an on-screen display from the mouse software. The hat button sticks out about a button width further than the A and B buttons and has been a constant "oops" button press in everyday use. I've learned to take a wider grip to circumvent it, but I wouldn't say it's a natural fit for anyone (unless maybe you have really long thumbs?).
As you look at the front of the mouse, you can see the stylish design piece that makes the front of the mouse a bit longer. It's almost like a built in cable bungee but really is just a design piece, not a "listed" feature. Be sure you take a look at it in the next pictures to get a feel of what it really is. While we are here you can see the difference in size between the buttons emphasized by this angle. The scroll wheel between them appears tiny, and in fact it is a bit small. It feels very narrow and shallow but has a decent scroll and click to it. The clear plastic around it does light up with the color of your choice, which is a feature you'll get to see later.
From the back of the mouse you can really see the depth of the hat button on the left as well as the depth of the C and D buttons on the right (the A and B buttons have the same depth – you just cannot see them behind the hat). It starts to give you an idea of how it might be a little in the way, but true testing shall be the deciding factor. The hole in the palm of the mouse provides a place for adjustment as well as the metal knob sticking out at the right of the 5 degree mark on the right. We'll look at these adjustments in a moment. There's nothing too exciting from this angle other than the actual width of the mouse taken on by the hat button.
The following set of pictures really just provide some additional angles of the Level 10 M to give you an idea of what it looks like from every angle. The key things to really look for are the placement of buttons, location of adjustment knobs, and the extension off the front of the mouse. Otherwise you can just spend a few minutes getting a real good look at what the mouse looks like.
A lot of what I found to be difficult in the mouse was the hat button on the left side of the mouse. It's the button designed to adjust DPI and your profile on the fly. With the software installed there is even a neat overlay that pops up to show you've made the change. The overlay is great because if you are like me, you will be seeing it frequently. The hat button protrudes significantly, and with the weight of your thumb you can easily cycle through the options with no intention of doing so. It's easy to select the options, but unfortunately the hat is easy to bump unintentionally. I think the concept is neat, and I was able to adapt to using the mouse without hitting it as often. I wouldn't say that this feature puts an end to the mouse by any means. However, I do believe it would be better served in another location.
Overall the mouse itself is definitely a different style than what is currently on the market. It has a longer body, with a slightly narrowed width that is widened again with the raised aluminum base. It is a bit awkward in the hand at first, and dialing in the adjustments (which I will show you ahead) still did not allow me to get a solid "fit" that was very comfortable. It was something I adjusted to, and I had one of those moments where I felt like I've never used a mouse in my life. In these last few shots, I just want to share some of the nice touches the Level 10 M comes with, as well as the actual adjustment of the mouse and how it works.
For the price, this "elite" mouse definitely needs to impress at every angle. Thermaltake does a fair job with the upgrade from the basics. The USB end looks much like a thumb drive with a cap and everything. The cap is on a dongle of its own and can't be lost when plugged into the computer. As for most of you, it will be plugged in the majority of the time, but if you are always on the go, it has the ability to keep dirt and crumbs from your bag out of the contacts. It's a neat feature that adds to the elite-ness of the design. At this point the braided cable is an essential feature of most peripheral items, and this one comes with a nice Tt Velcro cable tie for portability as well.
Now that you have a good grasp of the looks of the mouse we can take a look at exactly how it adjusts. The mouse has two adjustable points, with one on top of the mouse. The included tool can be used to turn the screw clockwise to move the mouse down or counterclockwise to move the mouse up. And in case you need a small adjustment and can't remember the direction – it's written on the mouse itself (though it's hard to say how long the writing will last under hours of gaming). The adjustment moves a little at a time and is easy in the middle range. The tighter (lower) you want the mouse, the more force is required since it is just a spring under compression.
I ended up liking the mouse nearly all the way down at the bottom of its height range. The two shots below show the mouse all the way down as well as all the way up. There's quite a bit of height to play with so there's no grounds for complaint on the mouse sitting too low or too high.
The other adjustment on the mouse is a tilt to the left or right (associated with the five degree marks on the back end of the mouse). The adjustment for it is located under the back right side of the mouse behind the D button. Writing inscribed here also indicates the direction to turn for a shift right or a shift left. The tool (basically an allen wrench) fits right in and is easy to turn either way. Center is only found again by visual inspection of the mouse itself. The adjustment seems to move too easily and although it doesn't seem like it is doing much, it often is. You'll be surprised to see just how much five degrees really affects your hand placement.
The angle adjustment is definitely something that is more easily felt than seen. The pictures below show all the way left and then all the way right. It sure doesn't look like much of a difference if you can even see one at all. However, your hand has a lot more to say about it than you can see. It would be neat to see a little more range of adjustment, but having an adjustment at all is a step in the right direction for a product that can satisfy a diverse population.
The lighting is nice and subtle instead of being blinding like some illuminated products out there. The rectangle on the left click button, the wheel, the indicators for the DPI settings, and a glowing logo underneath the honeycomb vents are all illuminated. The indicators are permanently red in color but the wheel and rectangle can be set individually with the selection of one of seven colors in the software settings. Take a look at the next page for some software screenshots that let you know how you can customize this mouse once you've got it fit to your hand.