Cougar 300M review

For a budget gaming mouse, the Cougar 300M pulls its weight

Cougar 300M hero

Cougar 300M

“For $40, the Cougar 300M is everything you need, and nothing you don’t.”
  • Great price
  • Grippy matte finish
  • Solid customization
  • Poor choice for a fingertip grip
  • Sticky scroll wheel
  • Limited buttons
MSRP $40.00

Whether you’re building a new computer or buying yourself a new gaming laptop, you might overlook the one peripheral every gamer needs until you sit down to play. But if you’re already a thousand bucks in the hole on a new graphics card, CPU, hard drive, and of course the LED strips for your case, you don’t want to spend another $100 or more on a mouse when there are so many budget options.

Enter the Cougar 300M. Residing comfortably between the mid-range and budget end of Cougar’s gaming mouse selection, the 300M offers seven programmable buttons, three configurable modes, and a sizable sensitivity range of 400 to 4,000 DPI range for just $40.

Available in black with orange, or yellow, for less than the cost of a new game, the Cougar 300M puts new style on an old silhouette, but will it be a hit with modern gamers?

Looks old, feels new

The Cougar 300M’s design smacks of an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” attitude. The shape and layout of the mouse isn’t original, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, the familiar narrow waist and wide backside on the 300M makes it a great fit for those who prefer the palm or claw grip. Those who keep their fingertips touching the mouse may find the back of the mouse bumping against the underside of their palm and interrupting motion.

Cougar 300M

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

The twist here is that Cougar opts for a soft touch, matte finish on the top and sides of the mouse, as well as on the wheel. It feels great in your hand, and keeps fingerprints away while making sure you don’t lose your grip when you pick up and move the mouse quickly.

Like a lot of gaming mice, the Cougar 300M is only usable through a USB connection.

The matte touch feels great, and your hand won’t slip off it.

That means input lag is virtually non-existent, and you don’t have to worry about batteries dying in the middle of an important match. The downside is one more cable running across your desk.

At least the 300M boasts an elegant black braided cable. It feels tough, but doesn’t snag or refuse to bend when it needs to. It’s only 1.8 meters long, because that’s how long every mouse cable is nowadays.

Buttons

When it comes to clickers, the 300M sticks with a classic no-nonsense configuration. Apart from the traditional left and right click buttons, which are built with durable and accurate OMROM switches, the 300M also features a clicking scroll wheel, back and forward buttons on the left side, and two configuration buttons, one on top and one on the bottom.

The left and right click offer strong tactile and audible feedback when pressed, and have a firm resistance to them. The scroll wheel’s matte coating keeps your finger in place, but the resistance in the scroll is a little too firm, so scrolling fast can be tough.

Cougar 300M

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Although you can change all of the buttons’ functions with the Cougar UIX app, by default the top configuration button switches between two DPI ratings, while the button on the underside of the mouse changes the profile.

These two buttons aren’t useful for anything besides occasional profile and DPI switching. The button on the top is too small to be hit quickly without taking a finger off the front of the mouse and pulling your hand back. The button on the bottom is, well, it’s on the bottom.

Software

Cougar UIX works differently than most peripheral configuration software. The settings for the mouse are actually saved to the device, so plugging it into another machine with use your existing configuration. That also means you’ll need to install a different version of UIX software for each Cougar device, which can be a (small) annoyance.

The software is well laid out, and the settings and even advanced configuration menus are clear and intuitive. It isn’t the quickest software in terms of responsiveness, but it does the job, and if you really love tuning your experience, it will definitely satisfy.

The 300M is built with Cougar’s multi-color programmable lighting, but it’s limited to two small lights right behind the DPI button on the top. Along with custom DPI and button configurations, you can set a color for each mode, so you never find yourself firing off a League of Legends macro while playing GTA V.

Performance

Despite the heavy clicking action on the main buttons, the 300M is a versatile mouse that provides a solid experience across even the most rapid games. Load up Terraria or Heroes of the Storm and you won’t find your fingers tiring before the match is over. It also provides a solid clicking action for shooters and action games where you need each shot to count.

Cougar 300M

Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

Even with the DPI turned up, whipping back and forth in shooters may not be the most satisfying motion for the 300M. That’s amplified slightly by the fact that such motion is the smoothest when holding the mouse with your fingertips, a grip style that the mouse doesn’t lend itself well to. Otherwise, the 300M is light enough to be picked up easily, and the huge DPI range means you can tune the sensitivity to meet your needs.

Conclusion

The DT Accessory Pack

Up your game and the get the most out of your gear with the following extras, hand-picked by our editors:

Razer DeathStalker Expert Gaming Keyboard ($62)

Finish your desktop peripheral set with a well-priced gaming keyboard.

SteelSeries QcK Gaming Mouse Pad ($8)

You may not realize how much of a difference a mousepad makes until you use one, but don’t spend too much.

Sentey Gaming Headset ($40)

These well-rated headphones are nothing special, but they’ll help keep you on the same page as your teammates.

Acer G226HQL Monitor ($100)

At just $100, this 1080p monitor is fit for gaming at any level.

The Cougar 300M proves your enjoyment of your gaming computer, and especially your mouse, isn’t based on how much you spend on it. For just $40, the Cougar 300M packs in the necessities for gaming, without too many buttons or a crazy shape. The mouse reimagines the evergreen mouse silhouette that’s been around forever, fitting it with a utilitarian matte finish and a color scheme that’s bright, but palatable to the modern PC gamer.

The competition in its price range is similar, with a couple of key design differences. The Logitech G300s also retails for $40, and has a similar software set with 9 programmable buttons, spread out behind the wheel and on the outside edge of the left and right clickers. Cooler Master has $40 gaming mouse too, the Recon Storm, with nine programmable buttons and a rubberized outer layer.

The Cougar has a wider DPI range than either of those mice, but is also two buttons behind – and the Logitech and Cooler Master are ambidextrous, something the 300M can’t claim. It’s also not well suited for those who hold their mice with their fingertips.

What it lacks in versatility, it makes up for with other qualities. The matte finish looks excellent and performs a valuable service, and the build quality and weight distribution are as top-notch as they are further up the Cougar line. The 300M is a solid choice for gamers who want a hardcore mouse on a softcore budget.

Highs

  • Great price
  • Grippy matte finish
  • Solid customization

Lows

  • Poor choice for a fingertip grip
  • Sticky scroll wheel
  • Limited buttons

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