I’ve been anticipating finally being able to check out the Cougar 700M mouse since it was first announced alongside the 700K keyboard back in March. Both the keyboard and mouse feature a radical design philosophy that stands out. The question is, did Cougar give up much in usability to achieve this design?
Cougar 700M Mouse Review
We’ve seen crazy looking “gaming” mice before, but the 700M caught my attention immediately with its design that looks like it took some influence from the Lamborghini Veneno prototype. This kind of style is hit-or-miss for most people; you either love it or you hate it. What we want to find out is, for the people that like the look, is it a good product?
The first thing we look at are the specs. The Cougar 700M Mouse uses Pixart’s Avago ANDS 9800 laser sensor, designed from the ground up for the gaming market. What makes this a gaming sensor? We can’t say for sure, but it most likely has to do with the programmable resolution, which can be set up to 8200 CPI. Very few people (if any) will ever use such a high setting, but with adjustability in 50 CPI increments (including on-the-fly ability, which we’ll get to later), we know that the sensor is at least extremely versatile.
The ANDS 9800 received a lot of negative feedback when it was first used in gaming mice, due to the fact that it seemed to have built-in pointer acceleration that couldn’t be turned off. Firmware updates have since resolved that issue, and as far as I can tell, the Cougar 700M doesn’t suffer from this problem.
The main buttons’ micro switches are made by Omron, and the mouse wheel by ALPS – both highly regarded in the industry. All buttons are nicely tactile, without being too loud.
Cougar 700M Design
The design of the Cougar 700M will either appeal to you, or it won’t – there’s probably going to be no in-between. However, if you think the design is bad due to poor ergonomics, you’d be wrong. While it looks outlandish, the Cougar 700M fits in the hand perfectly well (as long as you’re using your right hand). If you weren’t looking at it, it would feel like any other ergonomically designed mouse, with indentations, grip textures, and buttons all in the right place.
In fact, the Cougar 700M’s design allows for one feature that may make it even more ergonomic than standard mice. The palm rest can be adjusted in height, using the thumb screw at the bottom. If you use a palm-rest grip, you should be able to find an optimal height for the palm rest.
For even more tunability, the Cougar 700M includes an extra palm rest that is smaller than the standard one. Dubbed “Sport Mode”, I think it would be even more suitable for claw grip and fingertip users. As a claw grip user myself, it ended up being my preferred setup.
In addition to the standard buttons, mouse wheel, and back/forward buttons, there are three extra buttons available, that are completely programmable in software. Below the mouse wheel is a button labelled “DPI” which is useful for functions that don’t need to be accessed often (its placement make it unsuitable for regular use, in my opinion). The default command is obviously to change between four available customizable CPI presets.
The “45 Sniper” button is used to temporarily alter the CPI setting to assist in aiming. Personally, I never found the use for this feature, and my sniping experience goes back to the original Team Fortress mod. In any case, this can be used to temporarily set the CPI to anything between 50 and 8200. I’ve tested other mice with this feature, and often run into the problem where having move the mouse while holding a button down with the thumb is awkward. However, the Cougar 700M sets it at a 45 degree angle, making it much more natural to press down with the thumb while moving the mouse around.
Finally, we have the “Fire” button, a fourth button that is easy to reach along with Mouse1, Mouse2, and Mouse3. This can be used in plenty of games where you want to have an alternate button to press other than Middle Click. Its placement is once again well thought-out, and easy to reach.
As for the structure itself, the Cougar M700 mouse uses a single aluminum frame (rather than a flat base), upon which all the extra components are installed. In its stock form, the Cougar M700 weighs 130 grams, but this can be adjusted with the four included 4.5g weights.
Cougar 700M Features
The Cougar 700M mouse comes with a robust software package dubbed “COUGAR UIX SYSTEM” that works with its ARM Cortex M0 processor. Within this software, all the features can be set, and saved to the mouse’s 512KB memory. This combination allows for quite a lot of tweaking options, which you can see here:
Most of the options are quite useful, including four individual CPI settings, with optional independent X/Y axis adjustments. Lift height, polling rate, and angle snapping are also available, along with the standard OS mouse settings like double click, scroll, and pointer speeds.
Custom button assignments are a must-have for any mouse with extra buttons. While I usually like to have more buttons than the 700M provides, it’s nice to at least be able to apply any setting I want to them. Settings are easily handled by dragging and dropping from the right side of the window. Everything from media functions, to program launching, to switching between 3 different mode settings. Some of these settings will be put to even more use when paired up with a Cougar keyboard (which is yet to be released).
Finally, we have the lighting settings. Along with the gorgeously orange DPI setting LED, there is a tri-colour LED mounted in the front that lights up the mouse-wheel well. This can be set using RGB numbers, and unlike many other multi colour LED products we’ve tested, is actually quite accurate. The only problematic colour is pure white – it requires all 3 LED colours to turn on, so you can see some green and blue in the light. Otherwise, any other colour you attempt to show will be quite accurate.
Cougar 700M Mouse Performance
After several weeks with this mouse, there are some good things and bad things to discuss. As mentioned earlier, the ergonomics are spot on. With the adjustable palm rest, it fits in the hand perfectly, no matter what style of grip you use (as long as you’re right-handed). The “Sport Mode” may be mostly a gimmick, but I think claw grip users will like it. It’s a rather small mouse though, so users with abnormally large hands may find it to be a bit too small.
The extra buttons are well placed, but I had an issue with the back/forward buttons. Several times, I found myself accidentally clicking them with my thumb, while moving the mouse to the right. This usually occurred when I had to pick the mouse up, or move it quickly to the right. This may simply be a case where I need to get used to the placement, but it happened at least once per day while testing it out.
The other issue I have is with durability. I’m a bit rough with my peripherals, so durability is quite important to me. You’ll notice that I spend quite a lot of time discussing this in our keyboard reviews, but it extends over to mice as well. The adjustable palm rest, while a useful feature, is quite fragile. The only thing holding the palm rest down is a single light thumb screw. All it took was one slam of the mouse onto the mat during an intense gaming session to break it. This isn’t excessive thrashing or a “torture test” but it is also not considered standard use.
It’s obviously not advisable to slam your mouse onto your desk, but sometimes our temper gets the best of us. And in most cases, a single-piece mouse will hold up to the abuse. I have had mice survive for years under rough use, but the Cougar 700M broke on me within a few weeks.
If you’re careful with your mouse, this will never be an issue for you. I just think it’s something worth mentioning, since the unique design of the Cougar 700M makes it somewhat fragile in one spot.
Other than those two issues, the device worked great. The UIX software is quite responsive when compared to most other gaming mouse utilities, although I ran into an issue where settings weren’t being saved for a while. This was eventually resolved with a new installation of the latest version.
If you’re in the market for a high end gaming mouse, the Cougar 700M should be on your list of considerations if you’re down with the unique design and the laser sensor. The ergonomics are suitable for just about every mouse grip method, and the extra buttons are within easy reach and are fully programmable. The only major issue I have is that it is somewhat fragile in one spot, so take that into consideration if you’re rough with your peripherals.