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Hands on: Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum

A wireless mouse that's faster than wired? The G900 could be a game changer

logitech g  chaos spectrum hands on
Gabe Carey/Digital Trends

Logitech’s flagship gaming mouse is impressive, but may fall short of converting wired fanatics.

Last week at the 2016 Game Developers Conference, we sat down with Logitech senior product manager Chris Pate, who gave us a hands-on demonstration of the company’s upcoming G900 Chaos Spectrum professional-grade wireless gaming mouse.

Being a wireless mouse in a community dominated by wired peripherals, the G900 carries an enormous weight. Not only does it have to prove itself against competing mice of its kind, but it has to exemplify that it’s just as capable as Logitech’s popular wired peripherals.

Pate started off by iterating on what a lot of PC gamers are already familiar with — the reason behind their reluctance to embrace wireless, or even to consider it as an option. He described latency, battery life, and weight as the reasons for the gaming community’s attitudes towards wireless peripherals, particularly mice.

Typically, wireless mice aren’t as quick to respond as their wired counterparts, and the latter two aspects — battery life and weight — are inherently related. Due to the lack of a mandated cable connector, there’s nothing keeping the device persistently charged, hence the need for an internal battery. Unfortunately, that additional component often equates to both a heavier mouse.

But that’s not the case with Logitech’s G900 Chaos Spectrum.

Down to the millisecond

“Not only is it outperforming our competitor’s wireless mice,” Pate told me in an interview, “we actually have tested it terms of reactiveness of the sensor and the switches against our competitor’s wired mice, and we are delivering response times that are even faster than wired.”

The “competitor” Logitech refers to is more than likely Razer, whose Mamba wireless gaming mouse boasts a 1 millisecond response time. The G900 appears to offer the same specification, though Logitech did not quote a response time.

Reduction in latency is only possible because of its proprietary USB wireless adapter, a tiny dongle that plugs directly into your PC’s USB jack. Alternatively, you can take advantage of the included 6-foot braided fiber extension cable, requiring the dongle to be suited by an adapter that is then connected via Micro USB to yet another USB connector.

Of course the USB cable connector, absent the dongle and its adapter, doubles as a wired solution for the G900, while simultaneously charging the device during use. In our own experience, the latency difference between the wired and wireless modes were negligible — assuming the receiver is positioned nearby.

Related: Logitech’s G610 keyboards answer the gamer’s call for Cherry MX switches

That’s the catch. While Logitech says that the maximum range is 10 meters, Pate also told us the receiver should be “as close as possible” to the mouse in competitive scenarios. That is, in fact, the reason why an extension cable is included with the mouse – so the receiver can be positioned closer than if it were attached directly to the desktop. Some gamers will wonder if that defeats the point.

Built for endurance

Battery life, of course, is a tremendous factor for competitive gamers to consider. There’s nothing like getting involved in a heated round of DOTA 2, only to realize that you need to plug in your mouse in order to continue using it.

Total battery life is expected to hit 32 hours, with LED lighting turned off.

“Out of the box, you get about 24 hours of battery life run-to-die,” Pate explained in our discussion, “which means that if you put it on a turntable and you let it spin for 24 straight hours then the battery will go away.”

That 24-hour figure ignores the substantial amount of energy you can save with the Logitech Gaming Software, which gives users control over numerous hardware settings, including button assignments, lighting settings, and DPI sensitivity. Turning all the lighting presets off will purportedly grant you an additional eight hours, bringing the total battery life expectancy to a combined 32 hour limit.

That may sound awesome, or short, depending on your perspective. Logitech’s quotes exceed Razer’s Mamba, which claims 20 hours of life. But the G900 does not last as long as wireless mice that don’t target the gaming market, like Logitech’s Master MX, which quotes 240 hours of endurance.

Making up for lost weight

Chris Pate’s third and final point was about weight, which as we mentioned earlier, correlates rather directly with its battery life.

“We’ve been able to get this mouse down to 107 grams, which for a wireless gaming mouse, is very light,” he pointed out. “It’s actually lighter than the G402 mouse, which is one of our wired mice.”

Gabe Carey/Digital Trends

And it is, in fact, an absurdly lightweight mouse that puts even an Apple Magic Mouse to shame.

Pate mentioned that the G900’s low density was accomplished by sacrificing a 31-gram battery in favor of a 15-gram version, as well as removing material from the free-spin wheel used for scrolling, opting for bicycle-like spokes rather than the standard solid wheel.

Flexibility over everything else

The Logitech G900 doesn’t feel like a high-end gaming utility despite its appearances. As a matter of fact, there are some instances where it could come in handy for more than just ensuring all “noobs” are “rekt” accordingly.

It’s impressive to see a mouse so customizable as to bundle the parts necessary to make it work for left-handed players — and a wireless one that adds imperceptible weight to your luggage as well.

Price remains an issue. $150 is a lot for a mouse.

But will it really convert wired users to wireless? That’s a difficult task, and we’re not sure the G900 will accomplish it. While it is light, seems to offer great latency, and has decent battery life, concerns of wireless reliability and charge status remain.

And price remains the issue. The Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum will go on sale next month in both the United States and Europe for $150. That’s the same as Razer’s wireless Mamba, but it’s a lot more than the typical mid-range gaming mouse, which sells for $40 to $60.

We’re doubtful the G900 is the mouse that will make wired fans recant, but it does seem a capable device that will give gamers an alternative to the Mamba, which is the current champion of ultra-premium wireless gaming hardware. We were head-over-heels for the Mamba when we reviewed it last year, but if any company can give Razer a challenge, it’s Logitech.

Highs

  • Distinctive design with plenty of buttons
  • Software interface is robust
  • Long battery life (for a gaming mouse)
  • Very light

Lows

  • Expensive
  • Battery lasts about one week
  • Wireless receiver must be nearby for best reception