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Microsoft SideWinder X3 - Laser Gaming Mouse - Microsoft SideWinder X3
While the scroll wheel isn't metal, at least its broad, flat and rubberised surface makes it comfortable to use. Feedback is good too, offering decent notched scrolling and an assured click. However, in a cut that's just a bit too much even for a peripheral this affordable, Microsoft has removed sideways scrolling, which the more affordable of its desktop mice (such as the Wireless BlueTrack Mouse 5000) have retained. This loses you side-scrolling in games which support it and two extra buttons in those that don't - not a good thing since buttons are not exactly abundant on the X3.
Microsoft's ambidextrous mouse only has five macro-programmable buttons, which doesn't compare that well with the usual gaming-mouse minimum of eight. To make matters worse, the silver 'thumb' buttons on either side don't fall easily into reach, though this will concern palm grip users more than finger grip ones. Once you do manage to press them they offer a positive click - as do the main left and right mouse buttons - and they're all easy to configure using Microsoft's excellent IntelliPoint software.
At least there are three dedicated buttons for changing the DPI on the fly, which each have a small red LED to indicate which setting you're using. The X3 uses a 2,000 DPI laser sensor; as expected BlueTrack is yet another casualty of the budget price. However, considering it's still what every other manufacturer uses for their gaming mice, that's hardly something to get upset about - especially since in our testing the X3 was perfectly responsive in even the most intense fire-fights.
A trio of DPI-switching buttons are set into a central row below the scroll wheel, which makes the top two very accessible yet the third one a bit of a stretch. Logitech's implementation on the G9, a very accessible rocker switch, is arguably easier to use, but this arrangement serves its purpose well enough. By default the buttons are set to switch between 400, 800 and the full 2,000 DPI, with these figures adjustable in 200 DPI increments using IntelliPoint. It would be useful were it possible to use one of the buttons for a different function should you prefer it, but there's no option for this.
Yet another concession to the low price is the absence of an adjustable weights cartridge. While some gamers argue the usefulness of such systems, if you find your mouse is either too light or too heavy, a weights system is genuinely useful - even if in most cases it will only be adjusted once. As for the X3, at 93 grams, it's quite light in the hand.