There are so many gaming mice available that the variety can make your head spin. Want a wireless mouse with an insane sensor? No problem. How about a MOBA-focused mouse with more buttons than a double-breasted peacoat? You can get one. The quality and value of these mice vary wildly, of course, from too expensive to consider to too cheap to be worth it. It’s strange, then, that Cougar seems to have created a gaming mouse that’s in the exact center of that wide spectrum.
The Cougar 450M is adequate. That single word extends to the entire design of the mouse, and the experience of using it. It’s serviceable as a shooter or strategy mouse. It’s comfortable enough, but not luxurious. It has most of the features that you’d expect for the price, and none you wouldn’t. While it’s not bad, there’s nothing about the 450M that sets it apart — which is a problem given dozens of similarly priced competitors.
Paint-by-numbers mouse design
The 450M is a shooter-style mouse — that is, its secondary thumb buttons are big, and there are only two of them on each side. It goes for a rather safe ambidextrous shape, unlike some of Cougar’s other gaming mice, but the gentle curves and grippy thumb plates mean that it’s no worse for wear in either hand. In addition to the standard left, right, and middle (wheel) buttons, there’s a single dedicated DPI switch above the wheel, and the aforementioned two thumb buttons on either side, for a total of eight assignable buttons.
The design of the mouse wheel deserves some attention, as it’s the 450M’s only interesting feature. The bottom of the plastic body is open beneath the grooved rubbery wheel, save for a necessary “thong” protrusion that allows the cord to be centered. You can look down through the wheel housing directly to the mousepad. This feature should make the wheel itself easy to clean, and prevent dust and dirt from falling into the mouse body.
Plastic is the material of choice here. It’s smooth and glossy on the top, textured on the sides, and matte on the thumb buttons. The mouse cable is corded for toughness, and at 1.8 meters (a bit less than 6 feet) it probably won’t need an extension even with elaborate cable management.
The mouse comes in black or white/grey models, both with “gamer” green trim on the edges and bottom; adjustable RGB LEDs shine beneath the DPI button and the logo on the palm area. The sensor is a 5,000-DPI optical sensor with a 1,000Hz polling rate. These stats are, again, mediocre. Logitech’s G700s, for example, offers sensitivity up to 8,200 DPI at the same polling rate.
Middle of the leaderboard
The 450M’s safe design choices translate to acceptable in-game performance. Both claw and palm grips are useful, though the mouse is a bit big and tall for the grip style. The best design traits include thumb rests on either side and the comfy mouse wheel, which has an unusually deep groove pattern.
The skinny plastic rails on the 450M are not to my taste.
The mouse is light, even for a gaming design. Using it may take some adjustment if you’re used to a heftier competitor, especially if you’re coming from a wireless model. Many gamers prefer lighter mice, however, and the Cougar glides smoothly across most surfaces.
I prefer big, fat thumb buttons for my big, fat thumbs, especially in intense shooters, and the skinny plastic rails on the 450M are not to my taste. That said, they’re stiff enough that you’re unlikely to hit the buttons on the opposite side accidentally.
The DPI switch button is odd, because it’s a single switch. Though it’s shaped like a diamond with a heavy ridge in the middle, there’s not a rocker as you might expect, so it simply cycles through pre-set values, circling round when you hit the highest. It’s fast and responsive, and shouldn’t present any difficulty to anyone used to quickly switching values in-game, but I feel like there’s a missed opportunity here.
Some of Cougar’s more expensive mice are bombastic, with wild color choices, huge decals, and multi-segmented bodies. In contrast, the 450M is downright sedate, at least by the exuberant standards of gaming accessories. The main body’s glossy plastic is off-putting, as it gathers fingerprints whenever in use. I reviewed the black model — I doubt the white version would have the same issue.
The 450M offers RGB lights on the palm that also extend to the “DPI” decal on the applicable button. You can assign a separate color to each of the three DPI settings, so you know which is active without opening Cougar’s PC software. Unfortunately, that link doesn’t extend to the palm light, to which you can only assign a single color at a time. Both lights can shine constantly, or they can “breathe” in and out (or you can simply turn ’em off).
The mouse is extremely light, particularly for one built to game.
You can store settings in the mouse’s on-board memory, which has 512K of capacity, and you don’t need to log in to an online service to make changes. Three master profiles can be set up, or you can bind a specific profile to a specific game. In the key assignment section each mouse button can be bound to a specific function or a macro, including DPI switching or cycling between profiles.
Unfortunately, the “performance” section is a bit wanting. While the steps in DPI can be set to a precision of 50 at each tick, including X and Y axis variables, there are only three of them, plus a “sniper” mode. If you have more varied tastes for DPI in different games, you’ll need to dive into different modes and apply them as necessary.
The 450M comes with a typical one-year warranty against manufacturer defects.
While Cougar’s 450M will serve any PC gamer with no serious complaints, there are other options in the same $50 price range that are better. Cougar’s own 550M is going for just $5 more at the moment, and it offers a better finish and more comfortable mouse buttons.
Looking to other companies, I’d go with Roccat’s Kova, which is more versatile at the same cost. The Genius Gila GX has a more outlandish gamer style and a much better sensor. Another strong option is the Logitech G500s, which has adjustable weight tuning and more buttons.
There’s nothing wrong with the Cougar 450M, but there’s nothing right either. Heck, there are better options in Cougar’s own product line for the same price. Aside from the novel design of the mouse wheel, a minor point, there’s nothing about this mouse that might earn it a recommendation.