Thermaltake Level 10 Mouse Review

BluePanda - 2012-11-26 09:07:18 in Input Devices
Category: Input Devices
Reviewed by: BluePanda   
Reviewed on: January 22, 2013
Price: $99.99

Introduction:

Most of you have heard of the fascinating mouse from Thermaltake with inspiration from the BMW subsidiary DesignworksUSA: the Level 10 M mouse. It's been a big name through the holidays and has shown up on quite a few forum contest threads including here at OCC, and now it's about time we dig into the hype. Let us start with the concept. The Level 10 chassis was a hit among gamers looking for expensive and top performance professional gaming equipment. By taking the success of the Level 10 chassis and moving it to gaming peripherals, the Level 10 M Gaming Mouse was born. It is the first of the Level 10 gaming peripheral product line aimed to extend the Level 10 experience with direct interaction of users. From the start, Thermaltake wanted a design partner standing for the same innovative thinking and revolutionary approach in design and thus partnered with DesignworksUSA, a BMW subsidiary. This partnership is the reason you may have heard it deemed the "BMW" mouse. DesignworksUSA will continue to provide support as the eSports Level 10 product range expands, so be prepared to see more Level 10 peripherals out this year (or maybe at CES?).

With the concepts and business out of the way, we can dive into what we're really here to discuss: the Level 10 M Gaming Mouse itself. It is available in four colors to fit your fancy, and with seven color lighting options you can really make this mouse yours. Following a somewhat minimal styling of the Cyborg RAT mice, the Level 10 M has two adjustment points to set the mouse to you, rather than the other way around. The mouse can move vertically in the rear and also tilt left and right (5 degrees each way). I've never had a RAT or an adjustable mouse, so my experience should be an interesting one. I'm excited to see what all the hype is about, and without further ado, let's get on with the review.

 

Closer Look:

The box in its entirety expresses high class and expense. It's like an actual BMW itself – you get what you pay for. Hopefully, the quality inside the box is just as good as the box itself, because a lot of work went into designing this packaging. The front sports the mouse on end in almost a glamor pose, as if it were a pretty lady or a sexy man modeling a new outfit. "Level 10 M Gaming Mouse" is written on the box with great emphasis on the M, followed by the bold words "Born to be seen". This phrase is a bit cocky in my opinion, but perhaps they are just words of confidence.

Spinning the box around to the back side you can read about six of the main features of the mouse including ventilation, dynamic coloring, laser sensor, 3D steering, and the aluminum base. Some close up images are in place to represent each feature followed by the true mission statement of the Level 10 Mouse. The sides of the box are used to further tell the story of the mouse and rationalize the design concept.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulling away the outer sleeve of the box is like opening a rather expensive gift. The inside has flaps sealed with a sticker as an exclusive package. You really feel like you are opening something special. The sticker is pulled away without damage and the inside reveals a little more. At this point I would usually tell you to keep reading to even get to see the mouse, but I couldn't wait – you get a sneak peek this time.

BAM! Open up the box and the mouse is right in your face. It's held tightly in place with some zip-ties so you'll have to break out the scissors to fully unleash the beast. It reminds me much of Christmas as a kid where all the best toys were bound tightly to their cardboard packaging and having to nag dad to break it free with his knife. Even in the box, the mouse looks pretty hardcore. Now, while I find the scissors to open it up, you can read ahead without me.

 

 

 

There's quite a bit more stuff hiding in the box, visible once the mouse is removed. Inside I found a nice little carry bag, what appears to be an overgrown thumb screw (which is actually the tool to adjust the mouse), and a little quick start guide. The mouse has a nice Velcro tie holding the braided cable together, and the end is capped with a nice rubber-coated USB capped end. The level of "First Class" on the plane has been satisfied with the additional garnishes beyond the tiny cup of coke and warm cookie is the steak and potatoes – the Level 10 M.

Closer Look:

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.

Closer Look:

The software is often either very useful for the use of a mouse or something dumb used to simply change the color of the mouse. Thermaltake spent a little more time on designing the Level 10 M mouse software GUI, though there are still areas that can be improved. The software is available from the Level 10 M webpage as a download, so you will need internet to take full advantage of this mouse (though fortunately it comes programmed with the standard buttons). Starting up the software it looks pretty much like a standard mouse package. You can click on buttons to set functions for each, and there are some tabs to make adjustments to the profiles, performance, macros, and lighting options (these took me a little longer to notice/find).

Once you click on a button you wish to set an assignment to, you can then move to the right side to select either T key, single key, default, launch program, air through, or 3D Axis movement. The last two are just embedded videos to show off the mouse. They have no real purpose and apply no functions to your mouse, so you can ignore them. The others are pretty straightforward. Clicking on single key provides you with a drop-down selection for a standard command for that button.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The profile management option provides a pop-up window to name and keep track of your profiles. I created a couple profiles just for fun. You even have the ability to save them and import your friend's profiles to use, which seems to be a common feature in both mice and keyboard software packages nowadays.

 

The performance tab allows you to set the four on-the-fly DPI settings. Each of the four can be whatever you desire from the scale on the left. You can adjust your double-click speed, cursor speed, and scroll settings here rather than in your OS. You can also adjust your lift off settings to your needs here as well as poling rate. The reset to default button is always available if you've messed with the settings too much.

 

The macro key pop-up provides some usefulness for the C and D buttons on the right side of the mouse. You can record you own commands for a game and even adjust the delay time between each click. You can also save different ones for different games or purposes. There's lots of fun to be had here.

 

 

The lighting pop-up is probably everyone's favorite tab. You can adjust the color of the left click rectangle and the breathing logo beneath the ventilation cutouts. You can pick from the seven colors displayed and set each LED to its own color; I chose green for the rectangle and blue for the breathing dragon and wheel. Like I mentioned before, the DPI settings remain red as they are built into the mouse.

 

Specifications:

Color:
Diamond Black
Iron White
Military Green
Blazing Red
DPI:
8200
Sensor Type:
Laser
No. of Buttons:
7
No. of Macro Keys:
11
No. of Game Profiles:
5
Lighting Effect:
Yes
Pause-Break Effect:
Yes
Color Options:
7
USB Cable Length:
1.8 m
Weight-In Design:
No
Graphical UI:
Yes
Industrial Rubber Coating:
Yes
Weight:
185g
Gold-Plated USB:
Yes
Dimensions:
147 x 67.5 x 38.8 mm

 

 

 

 

Features:

 

 

All information provided by: http://usa.ttesports.com/products/product.aspx?g=ftr&p=39


Testing:

Thermaltake's Level 10 M gaming mouse was subjected to over a week of use and testing. During this time it was used for everyday applications, surfing the internet, photoshopping and of course gaming. As a mouse is personal to each and every individual, how it responds in these various tasks is important in different ways to everyone. This rather subjective review is best to provide you the feedback from use rather than assigning made up numbers trying to compare one mouse to another. It's easy to distinguish the likes and dislikes of a mouse through words rather than leaving it to you to decide what a 7 or 8 really means. No guessing game this time; here's what I liked, and here's what I hated.

Testing Setup:

 

Everyday Use:

A mouse is the key connection between you and your computer in everyday use. It gets you to the internet, your mail, your programs etc. The point is a mouse is an essential link for functionality. The Level 10 M provides nice day-to-day usability and the settings make it easy to attain the perfect speed, movement, and clicking. It's fairly easy to navigate through day-to-day work without any major issues. One thing I did seem to have a small issue with was the slight elevation change beneath my mouse pad. I have an L-shaped desk so there is a slight change in height from one piece to the next. The mouse likes allowing this slight change to cause my cursor to jump around the screen. The Level 10 M is probably the first mouse that has been sensitive to this change and is a little odd. It doesn't it always do it, and could easily be fixed by me placing something perfectly flat under the pad.  However, I thought it was unique in the sense that I haven't had trouble with any other mice. Either this sensor is super sensitive or just crazy. I'll go with sensitive.

Overall for everyday use, it's not bad. Perhaps it's a little overkill but it gets the job done. The comfort is really the only thing that one would have to get used to, because even with all the adjustments the mouse just seems "weird" under your hand and not "normal" or natural. With that being said, you can adjust to about anything as far as mice and keyboards go.

 

Gaming:

Gaming with the Level 10 M wasn't bad at all. As always, being able to change DPI on the fly makes it nice to adjust to the in game settings that often make a mouse jumpy or drag compared to the usual OS settings. The different profiles allow you to set up the mouse for both your OS and specific games, so you don't have to make changes other than a profile change, giving you more killing time!

The hat button does add a little challenge to game play with it being so easy to bump by accident. You often end up cycling between DPI settings and profile settings unintentionally which may prevent you from a headshot, but trust me when I say you will learn to avoid it – it just takes time. I'm not sure I enjoyed learning, nor do my combat buddies, but it'll do.

 

Working:

Working with the Level 10 M was a bit frustrating. I didn't find the same control over the mouse as I do with my usual M60 mouse from Corsair. I'm not sure if it was because I was not able to find the right setup or just the lack of comfort with the mouse. I felt I couldn't do the same working tasks quite as fast as normal. I blame part of that to the simple adjustment to the mouse. In the end, it really shouldn't have that much of a learning curve in my opinion. I should be able to use a mouse, change a couple settings to perfect it and go. There is no need for more adjustments.

 

Summary:

Overall the mouse is alright. It didn't live up to the expectations I may have had with all the hype I'd read and seen about it. The hat button probably made it the most awkward and difficult to use. Comfort was never really nailed down even with the adjustments. Shifting the angle left and right almost made it worse from time to time. From the settings in the software to the adjustments on the mouse itself, there is a lot to play with here. With a lot of time and patience I think this mouse could be great. It's just not the mouse for me. The sensitivity to my little bump in the desk and the constant unintentional button pressing turn this mouse off for me. However, that doesn't mean it can't be right for you (I'm sure you have more patience than I do).

Conclusion:

In the end, the Level 10 M is a mouse geared towards high dollar elite gamers. Like the saying goes, "You get what you pay for." Spend a little more and you often get a little higher quality. The Level 10 M is definitely a high quality mouse. It has a stellar build quality that matches up to the price and doesn't leave too much to be desired. The design of the mouse itself is what ended up being the ultimate flaw for me. Like I've mentioned a few times already, I never did find comfort with this mouse. Although I have so many points to change to make the mouse fit my hand, it just never did. It felt awkward out of the box and even a couple weeks later I'm still not feeling the mouse. The hat button was the one returning issue that I almost kicked the habit of bumping. It sits out just a bit too far, but resting your thumb on the aluminum extrusion prevents the accidents a bit.

The mouse is not a fail, don't get me wrong. There are a few things that I found annoying, and I've shared those thoughts with you. You and I find comfort in different ways and like and hate different products; so don't take what I have to say as a sole judgment to buy or not buy this mouse. The real ticket to getting what you want is to try out the product. After reviewing so many products, it's hard for me to think of buying a keyboard or mouse without playing with it first. A lot of times you can't try them, which is why I'm here: to tell you my opinion of the mouse. That's also why you should feel free to ask me questions I may not have covered. Overall, the Level 10 wasn't my steak and potatoes on the plane ride, but it was definitely a chicken sandwich compared to the sip of coke and cookie in economy class.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: