With swaths of gaming mice on the market, it can be difficult to decide which way to turn. Some offer zillions of buttons, while others let you swap out every part for a completely personal experience. Mionix takes a different route with its most recent mouse. The Castor eschews fancy weights and hex key tweaking for a carefully tuned out-of-box experience, and one that’s simpler than others in its category.
The Mionix Castor is built with a focus on craftsmanship and quality. It features a 10,000 DPI optical sensor, five programmable buttons, a click-scroll wheel, and multi-color LED lighting. For specs, that’s just about in line with, if not better than, the rest of its field. Mionix also leaves off excessive branding and colors, opting instead for a simple matte black rubber finish.
Positioned in the very relevant $70 price point, the Castor is prepped to compete with the working man’s gaming mice. Can it keep up, or does its simplicity leave it in the dust?
There’s nothing offensive about the Castor. The design falls in line with most gaming devices, with a matte rubberized coating that’s now popular on many gaming mice. That being said, the mouse doesn’t feel particularly nice. The panels don’t bend, but there are noticeable gaps that aren’t quite even, especially along the bottom.
Mice often have these flaws, and they’re not a functional problem, but Mionix’s branding makes them more noticeable. The Castor’s box boasts “it’s all about the craftsmanship.” Yet this mouse falls behind leaders like Razer and, to a lesser extent, Logitech.
The Castor’s ergonomics are quite comfortable. My preferred style of grip is the fingertip, and the length of the mouse is short enough not to bump into my hand as I swivel back and forth. Palm grippers will also appreciate the gentle slope of the backside, but claw users my find their fingers a bit high up on the left and right click.
Keep in mind that it’s a right-handed mouse only, and while it wouldn’t be totally foreign to a southpaw, the side buttons would be located awkwardly.
Buttons and features
Instead of cramming buttons everywhere in sight, the Castor takes a minimalist approach with just a left click, right click, scroll wheel, and back and forward buttons on the left side. There’s one more too, right behind the scroll wheel, but its small enough that it’s best used only for occasional events such as switching profiles or changing the DPI.
The main click buttons have a light, dignified feel to them. Loud enough to be satisfying, but not so brazen as to annoy your coworkers. It doesn’t take much pressure to trigger them, and the required force scales nicely along the length of the buttons, so no portion feels weak.
While the scroll wheel has a nice set of black rubberized ridges that provide excellent grip, it may be a bit stiff for some users. That means you won’t overshoot when changing weapons, but when you’re just browsing the web you may find yourself returning to the scroll wheel a few times before you reach the bottom of the page.
As with most serious gaming mice, the Castor is USB only. It’s a standard length, 2-meter cable, with a braided exterior and a flexible PVC interior. There’s also a small rubber grommet where it attaches at the front of the mouse. This prevents the cable from wearing where it meets the plastic, but doesn’t impede movement.
The real question on your mind is likely how well it games, and the answer is a mixed response. The Castor’s light construction and snappy response will benefit fans of twitchy shooters and RTS games. The low resistance on the click buttons can help MOBA players, but the lack of extra buttons might be frustrating if you’ve come to rely on that.
It’s also a great mouse for long gaming sessions. The versatility of hand positions and again, and its light weight, means you can constantly adjust your wrist and finger position to prevent fatigue. It’s still not the most comfortable for those who curl their fingers and rest their palm on the back of the mouse, but it’s short enough you could plant the butt of your hand on the mousepad and achieve a similar effect.
The DPI range allows plenty of customization, which will help you fine tune for every game you play. That means if you want quicker response times in a shooter, you can have that, which may help some users in shooters keep the enemy’s head within the crosshairs. Again, MOBA users won’t find as much need for that sort of customization, and won’t benefit from a huge change in DPI.
The Castor management software isn’t necessary to use the mouse, but if you want to tune it, you’ll need to download the program from the site. It’s a portable executable, keeps down on overhead while you’re actually playing games, and includes a comprehensive set of features. But a few issues hold it back.
The Castor eschews fancy weights and hex key tweaking for a carefully tuned out-of-box experience.
Like most gaming software, you can change almost every facet of the mouse’s performance. That includes double click speed, scroll speed, and pointer acceleration, as well as reassigning every button on the mouse. You can choose from four polling rates, set the vertical and horizontal DPI individually, change the lift distance, and of course, change the colors of the LEDs with all sorts of patterns and color changing effects.
There’s also a neat tool that measures your gaming surface’s quality. Just for fun, we tried it on a few different surfaces. On the bare wooden desk, the mouse reports a 40 percent surface recognition rate. On top of an old, beat up mousepad, that number rose slightly to 50 percent. A brand-new mousepad made the figure jump to 70 percent.
The Castor software certainly does a lot, and lets you define up to five profiles. There are a couple minor annoyances that users may stumble across from time to time. Every so often, booting up the system with the Castor plugged in will cause it not to activate. The mouse will sit there, dull and lifeless, until you unplug it and plug it back in. The Castor software also doesn’t scale for higher-resolution monitors, so if you’re on a 4K screen, the letters and dials are tricky to read.
The warranty on the Castor varies a bit depending on where you are in the world. For European and Asian users, Mionix will replace a defective device for free for the first two years. In the United States, it’s just one year of free replacement.
The manufacturer is sure to mention that warranty only covers normal wear and tear. “If you should ‘accidentally’ throw the mouse into a brick wall after losing a game, [the] warrany will not cover damages to neither mouse nor wall.”
The well-equipped Mionix Castor certainly brings the features and configuration options, but is ultimately a victim of its own bravado. When a brand’s tagline is “It’s all about the craftsmanship,” and the price is set at an above-average $70, it sets a high standard for quality and construction that the Castor doesn’t quite stand up to.
It also places the mouse in the same price arena as some of the classic names in gaming mice. The Razer DeathAdder Chroma (which features a similar multi-color LED setup) also costs $70, and has the same 10,000 DPI optical sensor and low adjustable lift-off distance. Logitech’s G400S retails for $70, and though it has a lower DPI sensor, it also offers additional buttons. Cougar’s 700M is about $70, and is packed to the brim with features and customization options.
The Castor is well suited for quick-response titles like first person shooters or the odd RTS, but MMO and MOBA players should look elsewhere if they’re taking their gaming seriously. That doesn’t make it any less comfortable to hold, and anyone who normally finds themselves with a sore hand after a LAN party will appreciate the Castor.
- Fast response
- Wide DPI range
- Customizable software
- Lightweight, comfortable construction
- Few buttons
- Stiff scroll wheel
- Small panel gaps
- Not ideal for claw grip