Review: SteelSeries Ikari laser mouse

The video’s a little longer than the others because I… I mean you love hearing my voice.
It’s another one! For our fourth mouse in the glorious Mouse Review Week here at CrunchGear, it’s the SteelSeries Ikari laser mouse. Sounds serious! We’ve already handled mice for the large-handed and small-handed — will this be the one for the rest of us? Let’s find out. Death from above, text from below! I mean video from above.

I’m using SteelSeries’ own pictures at the moment because I left my flash drive with the pictures at home. I’ll update it later with my own shots.

So — SteelSeries’ flagship mouse. SteelSeries likes to talk about their gear as if secrets of design have been passed down generation to generation. They certainly had the right idea with the 7G keyboard, but as we’ll see with the Ikari, it’s a mixed bag.

The mouse is well-put together, although it looks more tanklike than it really is. It’s in fact pretty light; I expected it to be of the same mold as the heavyset 7G keyboard, but it isn’t, for better or worse. It is however still of excellent build quality.

The shape of the mouse is such that it is meant to accommodate a hand at rest, which isn’t the way I grip my mouse but certainly is a legitimate grip once you get used to it. The thumb buttons are very well-placed, although the sensitivity button is a bit out of the way, probably intentionally. It’ll switch you between user-set high and low sensitivity settings, and you can change it in the mouse as well by holding down the button and then scrolling to adjust the DPI. A niche capability but a cool one.

Installing the mouse was incredibly fast and easy (no restart). Configuring is simple, although it would have been nice to just have a list of common functions (back, forward, double click) instead of just the macro option. I understand their target demographic is not people who need the easy way out, but it might be nice just for quick switches. There’s a spot for changing the amount the mouse smooths your motions (remember in the Avatar it did it too much) but from what I can tell it didn’t affect anything much, if at all. And that brings us to the Ikari’s biggest problem: its wonky tracking.

When doing large movements I found the Ikari to move naturally and go where I thought it would go — to the region of an icon or button or enemy, whatever. But any kind of medium-or-small-sized, controlled movements get messed up. You’ll end up where you want to be, but that cursor is going to take a few detours along the way. A little up, a little down, maybe a little zig or zag in there — I couldn’t make it go in a straight line to save my life. I double checked for competing mouse drivers, switched up native sensitivity, changed the DPI, changed the mouse pad to a SteelSeries one, nothing I did could make it stop wiggling. And then there was the telltale wobble of the cursor when at rest, continually appearing on screen during a movie that hides the mouse when not in use. Changing the DPI had no effect on the Ikari’s nervous jitter.

The Ikari is well-built, fits my hand well, has nicely-placed buttons and a few handy features. But when it came down to it, I couldn’t use the mouse for what I needed to do. Editing video review in Premiere was a battle against the mouse’s lack of precision during small movements where every pixel counts. I’m hoping this issue can be fixed because otherwise it’s a really great mouse. If they release a revision with a less finicky sensor, I’d recommend it without hesitation, but unless you feel a real affinity for this thing after trying it out, I’d caution you against getting one for now.