Thermaltake Level 10 Mouse: A mouse by any other name is not so stylish
Thermaltake is not a name we associate with bashful, simple or plain, so the Level 10 Mouse came as no surprise. Take something as simple as a mouse, mix in Thermaltake and the folks at BMW Design Works and the Level 0 Mouse is what you get.
The box is actually kind of bare in design but it shows a nice side shot of the mouse and immediately makes it clear you are getting something different. Inside the box, we have the mouse, a nice carrying bag as well as the adjustment tool for the mouse. (more on this in a minute) The bag is, as with all the Thermaltake travel bags, a felt like material and is super high quality. The quick start guide has some information in it, but no actual software. You get the software from the Thermaltake site, this means when you load up your mouse you always have the latest software. Not putting the software in the box has an appeal to me as it forces you to be up to date but at the same time if you have internet issues and want to do a quick install it could be a pain. Considering the target audience of this mouse I think it is a safe assumption that they will have internet access.
The mouse itself is without a doubt a very unique design. The model we received for review is White, but the mouse can also be gotten in a military Green and a nice hotrod red. The cable on the mouse has a really well done braided material over it making it very strong and ends in a large USB connection. For travel, as added protection, there is a cap for the USB end.
The mouse is constructed around an aluminum base with some high quality plastic as well, all done in an excellent finish. The top of the mouse as two large buttons as well as the scroll wheel. The left button has a lit square, sort of a power light and the right button has lights to show which of up to 4 profiles is active. The LED colors can be altered to make it easy to notice what profile is in use at a glance. Behind the buttons is a honeycomb cutout area that is fed air by open frame design to allow ventilation to your hand. This is supposed to keep your hand cool and dry over long gaming sessions.
The right and left side of the mouse each sport two thumb buttons with the left side also having a hat-style controller. All of these buttons are mapable to give you a lot of flexibility in the use of various macro options. The on the fly DPI levels are adjusted using the hat switch by default. The downloadable software is what you use to map the various buttons as well as make color changes to the lighting to fit your own preferences.
While the first thing to catch your eye might be the way the mouse looks, it will not take long for the way it feels to be what you are obsessing over. The mouse has very very sleek and elongated shape that creates a very distinctive feel to this mouse. When I first started using this mouse it felt awkward and uncomfortable to me. Even after extended use the shape was not something I could get used to, I felt like my hand was being stretched out. My fingers did not hit the two main buttons at an angle I was comfortable with and the side buttons were a nightmare for me, even more so the hat button. In fact it’s position was so out of place for my grip that I was constantly switching sensitivity in daily use.
After further testing however I found the issue was not with the mouse design but the grip. You see when using a mouse there are actually three different recognized grips. first there is the palm grip which is were the user rests the whole and on the mouse, palming it and in essence making it an extension of their arm. This is the grip I sue and have used for as long as I have used a mouse, it feels natural to me. However what is natural to me might not be to you. The second grip is known as the claw grip, the user has the back of the mouse resting right against the back of the hand but the fingers are curled and the hand does not rest on the mouse. The third grip is the finger tip grip, in this grip only the fingers actually touch the mouse, the hand sits back off the mouse and the fingers do all the work.
Once I stopped using the Level 10 and gave it to Jason, our show engineer, it came alive under his fingertip grip. Thermaltake has never been bashful about designing a product for a set target audience and it appears they did this with the Level 10 M. In the hands of a fingertip mouse user the level 10 has amazing feel and the button placement is almost perfect, according to Jason. His assessment must be spot on because when I used the mouse I could not wait to get back to my old mouse, he on the other hand cannot stand the feel of his old mouse now.
If the fit is close for you but still a bit off the mouse comes with the ability to adjust the tail of the mouse to the left or right a few degrees as well as raise or lower the tail. This is useful for letting you tweak in the feel of the mouse as well as making adjustments to allow the mouse fit better for left handed users. The adjustment is done using a tool, included with the mouse on two different access points. The adjust system is tight and holds it’s adjustment once done. While not as adjustable as some on the market the subtle adjustment it does allow can make a difference in the way the mouse feels in your grip.
The open frame design might sound like a gimmick but I have to tell you that I did notice a small difference. I presumed it was a small fan like the Challenger pro but it is not, this is pure natural airflow achieved by the design. While it might not seem to make a difference at first you will notice it if you stop using it after prolonged use. It is a very subtle effect that you get used to without realizing you have noticed it.
From a pure look point of view this mouse is amazing, it is arguably the best looking mouse I have ever seen. The construction is outstanding, from the solid body construction, to the braided cable and the adjustment system that is tight and holds well. If I had any complaint I wish the software would have been up to the quality of the mouse. Were the mouse is almost a work of art not just in design but quality, the software feels like an after thought that was thrown together in 10 minutes. It is functional but really does so with no style and considering the effort that went into making the mouse have a distinct style, this is disappointing.
Available on NewEgg for around $80, this is an expensive mouse but that is the cost for high style, price seems to vary based on the color you choose and can be as high as $100. If you want a mouse that is specifically designed for a fingertip grip and has a style that is nothing short of beautiful then this is the mouse for you. This is an amazing mouse no doubt and worthy of the Level 10 name. This is a mouse that like the Level 10 GT case we reviewed a while back, is made for gamers with champaign wishes and caviar dreams!