Review: Microsoft Sidewinder X5 mouse

The hot new Sidewinder Microsoft gaming gear has hit. You’ll see a review of the freaky X6 keyboard next week, but as it is Mouse Review Week (at least where I am), I’m just going to be covering the enormous X5 gaming mouse. It’s big. I felt like I was Jack trying out the Giant’s mouse in his castle at the top of the beanstalk. Read on for more, or touch the movie above for exciting full-motion video.

So! Do you have big hands? Then I think I can decisively say that this mouse is your best bet from this week’s roundup. It’s the first of two Sidewinder mice coming out from Microsoft, the second of which is the X8, which may actually be bigger, if that’s possible. The numbering also implies an X7 keyboard but I haven’t seen that yet (or I’m ignorant). At any rate the X5 is here, and I’ve had my little paws all over it.

Let’s be honest, now. This is one ugly mouse. It has a certain charm, of course, the way a Panzer tank has charm, but all in all I think it’s a deliberately offensive design. Fortunately, that means they didn’t try to sacrifice usability to the altar of shiny chrome and uninterrupted curves, like with their Wireless Laser Desktop 7000. Although as you may see in the picture, they’ve designed it right out of reach for those of us with medium-sized hands. I managed to use it all right, but I could tell that while the tracking was good, it felt clumsy in my normal-person grip. I wasn’t moving the part of the mouse that was meant to be moved to provide optimal tracking.

The buttons are big and solid; the design was obviously tending towards big, chunky features and not sleek, hidden buttons. The thumb buttons are in a good position, although it seemed weird at first that they were in a straight line. The sensitivity buttons on top can’t be reassigned, but they’re easily configurable in the control panel to correspond to whatever DPIs you like. The scroll wheel felt fat and inexact, like the notches were miles apart, but that just may be another Jack and the Beanstalk thing.

The configuration software is functional and integrates with your mouse control panel; you can set profiles and macros and all that kind of thing pretty easily. Nothing special there.

Basically, this is a good mouse. It’s not some ultimate master mouse, but it’s nice and solid. As you’ve heard me say again and again, though: it’s big. Unless you’ve got some huge mitts this thing won’t feel right in your hand. That said, it’s responsive and the buttons feel good. At $60 it’s not a luxury so if you’re feeling that your mouse is just a little too small, this might be the upgrade for you.