Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
While the Cooler Master Storm Sentinel III is new to us at APH Networks, the design is very similar to the original Sentinel Advance and Sentinel Advance II. Thus we have an asymmetrical design, with the mouse intended for right-handed users only. Southpaw gamers will unfortunately have to look elsewhere. The entire body is covered with a smooth hard plastic. The top buttons have a bit of grittiness, which makes the buttons easier to press and grip, but otherwise the mouse is a smooth affair. The middle area is glossy and transparent to allow lights to pass through, as you will see soon enough, which unfortunately will show any fingerprints. The entire casing is a very dark gray, while the glossy parts are black. The two side buttons are also black in color. The overall shape encourages a palm-grip when utilizing it, but I will explain this later on. Design and aesthetics wise, Cooler Master has not changed much, and while it may not be the sleekest of mice, it definitely was designed more for comfort and feel in the hand. One thing I am surprised is the fact the Sentinel III is so smooth. Manufacturers would usually employ some sort of grip, if not creating more friction on the surface, to make the mouse easier to hold. We will see how all of these factors into the mouse when we put the Sentinel III through some tests later on.
As for dimensions, the CM Storm Sentinel III measures in at 135mm in length, 83.6mm in width, and 40mm in height. The highest point of the mouse is located in the middle, with a gradual slope downwards near the front, and a steeper curve off at the back. Again, this mouse is intended for a palm-grip, so this shape is understandable. As for mass, the Sentinel III tips the scales at 115g, not including the weight of the cable. However, with five 4.5g additional weights, this mouse can be made to weigh as much as 137.5g, thus providing flexibility to any type of gaming user. The permanently fixed cable measures in at a length of 180cm, which should be long enough for most users. The end of the plug is gold plated, which looks fancy, but will not change the performance of the mouse.
From this angle, you can see all of the Cooler Master Storm Sentinel III's buttons. Starting with the main buttons, we have the left and right buttons, with Omron switches inside. These switches are rated at twenty million clicks, which is quite a bit, but also standard for most Omron switches. A scroll wheel is located in between the two main buttons. The rubber grip on the wheel is easy to grip onto, with etched-in lines, making it easy to scroll. Unfortunately, there is no side scrolling on the wheel. I know some users do not even care about this feature, but it is definitely helpful in horizontally scrolling across wide webpages or spreadsheets. The wheel offers a notched tactile feedback, unlike the "frictionless" experience you might see on some Logitech mice. On top of the scroll wheel is a thin rectangular button, which is defaulted to being a profile switcher. Underneath there are two more buttons, with default settings of increasing and decreasing the DPI settings. On the left side of the mouse are two more buttons, with the default action being forward and backward. As with most mice nowadays, all of the button actions can be changed using Cooler Master's utility, as you will see soon enough. As for the layout, I found the two side buttons to be in a decent spot. Even though it is out of the way of the thumb area, requiring some thumb movement to reach them, I can still press them without changing the rest of my hand grip. This experience may vary from user to user, based on their hands and the placement, but personally I think these buttons are in a good spot.
The central glossy area hides a hexagonal pattern underneath, where RGB LEDs are located. This allows users to identify either their current DPI levels or profile, depending on what they choose the colors to represent. As these are RGB, 16.8 million colors are available for users to choose from. In addition, the central rectangular area houses an OLED screen, where various information such as the current DPI settings is displayed. A small 32x32 pixel area of the screen can be changed to show your own small image. Again, the picture displayed can be specified through the utility, as I will show later. The big thing with this OLED screen is the fact the mouse allows for some on the fly adjustment, similar to what we saw with the Gigabyte Aivia Uranium. The three tiny buttons in the middle and above the scroll wheel allows you to change various settings. The left button is for changing sensitivity, the right button for changing lift off distance, and the top is for calibrating the mouse to the surface underneath. All of these become active by holding down the respective button till the center area starts flashing colors. Users can then change the respective settings by using the scroll wheel. The sensitivity changing allows user increments of 50 dpi. The lift off distance adjustment allows users to cycle through five different levels. Finally, the surface calibration does exactly as it says, and calibrates the mouse to different surfaces. I think it is pretty neat to see this on-the-go adjustment, as it does not force users to use the included software to make quick changes.
Flipping the mouse over reveal some interesting things. For one, we get a look at four polytetrafluoroethylene, or PTFE, feet. This ensures the Sentinel III retains a smooth glide over most surfaces. At the top are two indented areas, which holds a plastic window in each. This allows the lights inside the mouse to escape, making for a pretty neat look. In the middle of the mouse, we have the opening for the optical sensor. Inside the Cooler Master Storm Sentinel III is the Avago 3988. This sensor is the same one found in the popular Razer DeathAdder 2013 and DeathAdder Chroma. This features a maximum sensitivity of 6400 DPI, with incremental steps of 50 DPI. Polling rates of up to 1000Hz is available with this mouse as well. Finally, at the back of the Sentinel III, we have an insert for additional weights. As I have mentioned already, this allows users to vary the total weight of the mouse. There is one problem with this implementation, and it is found in the placement of the additional masses. As they are located at the back of the mouse, it makes the mouse rather back heavy, which is more noticeable when lifting the mouse off the surface. I think Cooler Master could find a way to place the weights as close to the center of the mouse as possible, so it is evenly distributed.
Using Cooler Master's utility version 0.021 and firmware version 1.15, there are quite a few things to look at, so I will do a quick overview of each tab. The "Main Control" tab is split into five additional pages. The Key Assignment page is shown above, and this allows users to adjust almost every different mouse button, with the exception of the scrolling of the wheel. All of these buttons can become different commands, including media keys or recorded macro combinations, in addition to the standard mouse functions. All of the keys can also be disabled from here. The Storm TX page allows users to quickly make a secondary function for each key. This works by making the back button as a "Storm Tactix" button. You can press it in conjunction with another button to execute a different command. In theory, this is a pretty neat idea, as it allows you to have even more possible key combinations. The LED page allows users to vary the colors shown on the mouse. It also allows you to upload an image to the mouse, where it will be displayed on the OLED screen. The Sensor page changes the DPI settings in addition to the lift off distance and angle adjustments. You have an option to calibrate the mouse to the current surface for ideal performance. The OS Sensitivity page is used to change other settings, including double click speed, and polling rate.
As for the other large tabs, there is the Macro tab, used to record different macros, whether they are keyboard actuations, mouse commands, or a mix of both. The Library tab is used to import and export profiles. As you can see at the bottom of the screenshot, up to five different profiles can be on the mouse at one time. An internal 32-bit ARM processor with 512KB of onboard memory holds all of this information, so users can upload their different configurations and move the mouse around without needing to install the utility on another computer. Finally, the Support tab has links to online support, and for you to check the version of the software. Overall, the software is functional, and does what it says it can do, which is always good to see.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
3. Subjective Performance Tests