A mouse is undoubtedly the most important weapon in any PC-gamer's arsenal. Whether you're playing a First Person Shooter (FPS) or Real Time Strategy game (RTS), your mouse is the difference between domination and defeat. If you're on a budget though, finding a current-generation gaming mouse from a trusted brand is not that easy, especially not if you're left-handed into the bargain. Enter Microsoft's SideWinder X3, an ambidextrous gaming rodent available for just £27.
At this kind of price it's obvious a few corners will have been cut. Starting off with the design, this is the plainest SideWinder mouse since Microsoft resurrected its PC gaming peripheral brand. Visually it's a significant step back: there are no cool lighting effects, no fancy LCD screen, no glossy highlights or accents and no impressive metal scroll wheel.
An unremarkable combination of matte silver and black completes the top of the mouse, with a very cheap-looking plain red underside, the rear of which can be seen from a lip at the X3's back. Its sides are matte black plastic rather than the soft-touch coating on Microsoft's X8, the original SideWinder Mouse or pretty much any other gaming mouse around, for that matter.
Ergonomics have also changed significantly to accommodate ambidexterity. Strangely enough, despite being right-handed where mice are concerned, I actually found the X3 more comfortable than the specially sculpted X8. This is mainly because you can position your ring and little fingers where you wish, rather than them being forced into preset positions by a sharp-edged angle as on the X8.
In fact, for either finger or palm grip users, this mouse is quite comfortable. While the former will definitely prefer the somewhat stubby Logitech G9, the X3's length (12cm) and shape lends itself better to a palm grip.