SteelSeries Xai Laser Mouse Review (PC)

by December 3rd, 2009
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Yet again I am surprised by what a mouse can be!

Hot on the heels of our Ikari review comes our look at the latest release from SteelSeries, the Xai Laser. Almost more importantly, this is my 100th review since I started YARS, so I was hoping that the XAI would live up to this momentous moment! According to the sales blurb, the Xai has been developed as a result of many years research and development involving professional gamers and is designed to suit the needs of the demanding players, and breath.

Straight out of the box we have a mouse that appears to be the exact opposite of the beautiful Ikari mouse. Gone are the ergonomic bumps and curves, replaced instead with an ambidextrous design that has much more in common with the classic mouse shapes of old that we are more familiar with.

This is a stunning mouse that any hardcore gamer should want.

As well as the standard 3 buttons and scroll wheel there are 2 buttons on each side of the mouse, again emphasizing the ambidextrous design of the Xai. On the top of the mouse is a small LED and a mode button. This lets you switch between High and Low CPI settings for the current mouse profile.

The supplied software lets you create up to 5 different profiles to use on the Xai. Each one can have different High and Low CPI settings, ExactAim, FreeMove, Acceleration, Polling and a few other things.

You can find out more about these features from http://www.steelseries.com/int/products/mice/xai_laser/faq but in brief.

CPI, counts per inch. Rather than talking about dots per inch SteelSeries describe the mouse resolution in CPI. Essentially the higher the number the further the faster the cursor will move on the screen. High CPI settings are good for quickly moving about on the screen, where lower settings are good for slow accurate movements such as sniping.

FreeMove is a clever little filter that adjusts what the mouse sees as you trying to draw a straight line. It will correct through path of the cursor should you not have the steadiest hand.

Acceleration can be set, and unlike the settings in windows, this is handled by the mouse hardware. Most players will have this switched off, but it is handy to know it is there.

Polling speed helps to keep the mouse movements nice and smooth when set to compliment your monitor refresh rate and game frames per second.

SteelSeries Xai Laser MouseMost interestingly for me and the biggest update to the Ikari options is ExactAim. Just as FreeMove adjusts the path for straight lines, ExactAim adjusts for shake. So if, like me, your hand can be a bit unsteady when doing the essential headset, ExactAim will help to eliminate some of the shake. More importantly it works very well!

So lots of settings that can be handled by the software. But what makes the Xai so different is that all of the settings aren’t just saved in the software, they are saved to the mouse hardware itself. This means that you don’t have to have the software installed on the pc you are using to have all your profiles and settings, similar then to the Ikari. But and this is a huge JLo sized but, not only can you select which profile to use from the mouse itself, you can also adjust most of the settings for each profile on the mouse! Pressing and holding the mode switch will open up a menu that can be seen on a small LCD screen on the bottom of the mouse. From here you can switch profiles and as said edit almost all of the settings!

So amazing features, but what is it like in use. Well, I didn’t get it at first. Here is a mouse that for all intents and purpose looks like a Microsoft Intellisense optical mouse. It was not as ergonomic as the Ikari or as good looking and to perfectly honest, not as comfortable at first. But it turns out I was really missing the point, as proper in game use was to prove!

SteelSeries Xai Laser MouseThis is not a mouse designed for everyday use, in the same way Lewis Hamilton would not use his f1 car round drive to the shops, you would not use the Xai for day to day word and excel usage. It is a precision tool designed to excel at gaming. It is perfectly balanced so that when you lift it off the mat it comes back down flat, not bottom first. It is designed so that left and right handed players have the same experience.
It may not be as comfortable as my Ikari, but I doubt Chris Hoys Olympic bike is as comfortable as my soft seated mountain bike, but it is designed for a different, more specific job. And so it is with the Xai!

SteelSeries go on about how they design tools for esports and the Xai is a prime example. The average user will not be interested, but that is not who this is meant for.

Personally I now love the Xai for gaming. The features help my aim and accuracy no end. The ability to switch profiles on the mouse means that I can have different set ups for different classes that can be switched in game. The weight is pretty much perfect, removable weights would ruin the balance, and I am a sucker for removable weight system, but on the Xai that would just not make any sense!

This is a stunning mouse that any hardcore gamer should want. So if you play esports, not games and have an oversized insanely expensive gaming surface rather than a mouse mat then this is the mouse for you, and well deserving of the Diamond Y Award I am giving it!

Some tech specs

  • Frames per second: 12.000
  • Inches per second: 150+
  • Megapixels per second: 10.8
  • Counts per inch: 100
  • 5.001 (one CPI Steps)
  • Max. Acceleration: 30 G
  • Sensor data path: True 16 bit
  • Lift distance: ~1mm (auto-adjusting)
  • Buttons: 8
  • Cord: 2 m / 6,5 ft (braided to improve durability)
  • Polling: 125
  • 1000 Hz (1Hz increments)
  • Gold-plated USB connector
  • Measurements: 125,5 x 68,3 x 38,7 mm / 4,94 x 2,69 x 1,52 in
  • CPI high/low indicator
  • SteelSeries FreeMove Technology
  • SteelSeries ExactSens Technology
  • SteelSeries ExactRate Technology
  • SteelSeries ExactAim Technology
  • On mouse acceleration Technology
  • On mouse LCD display for tweaking above technologies thru menu system
  • Large pressure points that reduce friction for optimized glide
  • Driverless, plug-and-play feature for LAN gamers
  • Built-in memory for 5 profiles

Buy from e-buyer

The Scores

Build
Build - 10 out of 10 10
Diamond Y Award

Diamond Y Award
Value
Value - 9 out of 10 9
Features
=’http://www.yetanotherreviewsite.co.uk/images/10.gif’ alt=’Features – 10 out of 10′ /> 10
Overall
Overall - 10 out of 10 10
The Good: On board profile switching and editing. Ambidextrous design. Pretty much everything else.
The Bad: Not for everyone and takes some getting used to.


Like a Transformer, there is more than meets the eye here! Um.. a different angle? Theres 2 more of these buttons on the other side You gotta have a logo Theres a whole lot of menu on this little screen!


Diamond Y AwardDiamond Y Award
5 5 / 5
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Andrzej Marczewski

Owner of YARS
Well, lets start by saying that I run YARS. Gaming has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember! I felt there were just too few games review sites out there, so created YARS to fill that sorry looking gap....

About Andrzej Marczewski

Well, lets start by saying that I run YARS. Gaming has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember! I felt there were just too few games review sites out there, so created YARS to fill that sorry looking gap....