By: Kenneth Kwok
March 22, 2013
About a month ago, I referenced a Japanese visual novel by the name of Rewrite by Key/Visual Arts in my Gigabyte Force M7 Thor review. It took me a good week of my break to complete the game back in February, and hit 100% completion (Yes, I am really into hitting 100% completion in games). Now that I have finished the game, I took some time to discuss with some friends on Skype about the game as a whole. One particular point of discussion was the story, considering how visual novels are driven by the plot and the choices you make. In one of our discussions, we talked about the 'power' of the writer, or the ability of the writer to influence the reader. One person had an opinion, in one of the arcs in the story, there was a major shift in the viewpoint of the main character, and it was heavily reflected in his speech patterns and actions. However, I took a slightly different stance, and saw it as more of an upside rather than a downside. The thing with the views given in the arc, or as my friend claimed from the author, was a welcome addition to the game in general, as it made that part of the story unique. It was interesting how one can look at the word 'power' and attribute it to a writer who is possibly trying to convey some sort of message to the reader through their works. If anything, having the 'power' to write something that can have such an impact in and of itself is worthy of praise; a lot of people would seek to have some sort of 'power', be it the ability to coerce someone, or just to demonstrate some sort of ability they believe they are capable of. Speaking of 'power', this week, we have yet another product from Cooler Master, known for their ‘power’ supplies and gaming peripherals. It is called the Cooler Master Storm ‘Power’-RX. Let’s see how much power it really has as we take a deeper look into it.
Our review sample of the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX came in a big brown corrugated cardboard box from Cooler Master's America office in California, USA with UPS Standard being the shipping method. The box itself was quite large, and a lot bulkier than expected, although there were three products inside. This includes the Cooler Master Storm Recon and Cooler Master Storm QuickFire TK Blue in addition to the Power-RX, which we will look at a few weeks from now. In my opinion, the box was still twice as large as it needed to be. Brown wrapping paper was stuffed inside to fill the rest of the space in order to prevent the products from moving around too much and getting damaged during transportation -- meaning our products came in safe and sound at the cost of additional trees.
The retail packaging of the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX is actually quite nice, and comes in a cylindrical tube -- cool. Cardboard is used to make the tube itself, while the cap and base of the tube is made of black polished aluminum, which looks quite slick and detailed. Two small ropes are attached near the top of the tube to be used as carrying handles; one of them has a small piece of material attached to it which is actually a small cutout of the mousepad material. The rest of the design fits quite nicely with a gaming product with the standard red and black Cooler Master Storm design. A giant CM Storm logo, and the word ‘Power-RX’, is plastered onto what appears to be a black background with splotches of red and outlines of soldiers. On the right side is a small picture of the gaming surface, above that are some listed features. The back has the usual multiple language translations and certifications.
Speaking of specifications, let's take a look at them before moving on, as obtained from Cooler Master's website:
- Model: SGS-8000-KRSL1
- Material: Rubber coated weave with medium Silicon base
- Thickness: 2.5mm
- Size: 450 x 350mm
- Surface Color: Black
- Base Color: Storm Red (Pantone 1797C)
- Warranty: 2 years
- UPC Code: 884102018855
- Excellent tracking, aiming, gliding performance
- Medium soft – less wrist strain
- Durable Fusion bonding process
- Rounded clamped down edge lining
- Anti-slip silicon base
- Works great with Laser and Optical
- Extra large surface area
- Durable and easy to clean (water repellent)
Sliding out the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX from the cylindrical tube, we are greeted with just the mousepad alone and nothing else -- although I can't say I would have expected anything else to be inside anyways. Regardless, the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX measures in at 450mm x 350mm, which can be considered to be a fairly large gaming surface. It may not be the biggest one we've seen, but the size is more than adequate to fill most desks -- to put it into perspective, the Power-RX took up about half of the width of my slide-out keyboard tray (People still use slide-out keyboard trays? – Editor). Thickness wise, the Power-RX comes in at 2.5mm, which is easily one of the thinner mousepads we have reviewed here at APH Networks. Of course there are both advantages and disadvantages to having such a thin product. The foremost problem is that there will be issues if the residing surface is uneven. On the flip side, a thin product makes it easier to spread out, and provides a more down to earth feel when using the product, which leads to more comfort in the long run with less strain on your wrist.
Unlike the Thermaltake Tt eSPORTS Ladon, which was a fully cloth based mousepad, the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX is a cloth mousepad weaved and coated with a rubber coating. In this sense, you get the best of both worlds; the comfort of a cloth mousepad is combined with the glide performance of a rubber mousepad -- at least in ideal situations. Flexibility is a big draw of the Power-RX, as this combination can prove to be worthy, being able to provide an overall smooth texture and excellent performance as well.
As aforementioned, the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX is a hybrid mousepad that meshes both cloth and rubber for a uniform surface, taking on a balanced approach. The top layer of the mousepad consists of weaved fabric that can be clearly seen above. A slightly rugged rubber coating is applied on it, but still makes for an overall smooth surface. The benefits of a cloth mousepad still holds, because it makes the product bendable, soft, and smooth, while the rubber coating on top allows for more precision and overall durability compared to simple cloth mousepads. Of course, the rubber coating does make the Power-RX slightly harder to the touch, but since it was only a medium coating, the rubber itself isn't very hard, and can be similar to some forms of rubber. It is soft enough to the touch due to the cloth underneath. The biggest benefit is that the coating on top is water resistant, meaning sweat and whatever other fluids you may get on the Power-RX can easily be cleaned.
The base of the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX is entirely covered in dark red silicone, which is quite different compared to standard rubber that seems to always be used on most mousepads. The biggest thing I noticed with the silicone base is how well it grips to any surface, so much so that dust and other particles can collect quite easily in some cases. That in itself isn't that big of a deal, considering the base of the mousepad isn't something one looks at too often anyway, especially with how well the material grips to any surface. I can say without a doubt this mousepad has excellent traction due to its base, and it shows in the overall build quality too, consider the base comes up the sides of the mousepad -- making sure the top surface does not fray. This is especially important, considering the use of rounded corners. Yes, it is still possible to move the mousepad and to slide it on most surfaces, but it takes a quite a bit of effort, and definitely does not move around when being used normally.
Unfortunately, testing of a mousepad is quite subjective in nature, since there are no truly objective benchmarks that spits out quantitative numbers to compare results when done. In order to make this subjective analysis a little more objective, I will be using a Logitech G500 mouse, and tests will be completed in both standard productivity and gaming scenarios. This is to ensure that the quality of the mousepad is not limited to the mouse itself, and these are areas where a good mouse in conjunction with a good mousepad makes a difference. We will then break it down to the details, and rate our mousepad based on the following categories:
Glide - For quick and effortless mouse movements across the mousing surface.
Control - For precise and accurate cursor/crosshair handling.
Grip - The mousepad's ability to stay in the same position on the desk without undesirably relocating itself.
Noise - Will this mousepad generate noise when the mouse is being used?
I must say after a period of testing of the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX, I was nothing but impressed. The glide was incredible to say the least, due to its rubber coating. It took minimal effort to get the mouse moving from one end of the screen to the other. This became incredibly obvious in gaming sessions such as with Counter-Strike or League of Legends, where being able to move the mouse quickly is important. Surprisingly, even with the great glide performance, control was equally as good, since most have to give up one or the other -- perfect product is impossible in that sense. There was no 'oil slick' effect to be found, meaning that movements were both quick and accurate without ever getting a sense of losing control of the mouse cursor. This is something I have not seen in quite some time for something that provides this level of glide. When it comes down to desk traction, as we have mentioned earlier, the silicone grip really is something. There were absolutely no problems with it moving or shifting while being in use. Only one part comes up as a small downside and that would be noise; there is a barely audible sound made when moving the mouse due to its rubber surface, but this is certainly not a real issue at all.
Pulling up all our testing software which included daily productivity such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and other day to day Windows operations, I found this mousepad to be quite impressive. When needing to move across my dual monitor setup, I have had absolutely no problems. I barely had to use any effort to move the mouse; its glide and control became a big factor in operating my mouse in the long term. The comfort level was also up there, surprisingly due to the thinness of the Power-RX -- allowing for better long term usage, and little strain on my hand in general. When it came to gaming, it was where I was most captivated by the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX, as it performed brilliantly in all games I threw against it. Whether it is a FPS, where I needed more glide and higher dpi settings to get my mouse cursor to move as much as possible, or RTS games that required slightly lower dpi and more precision at times, the CM Storm is bound to impress. There was really nothing that I could throw at the Power-RX I thought made it lack in one aspect or the other.
Color me impressed, the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX met and exceeded each and every one of my expectations. To put it bluntly, this is by far the best mousepad I have ever used -- the unique combination of cloth and rubber switched me over to a hybrid gaming surface user almost instantly. I have always been fond of cloth pads for high performance gaming due to comfort and control, but the Power-RX blew that out of the water easily. From the top surface where a good mix of rubber coating and weaved fabric is present, to the base grip where high quality silicone providing excellent grip is holding, there really isn't too much not to like here. Add on the fact that this mousepad is only 2.5mm thick that allows for prolonged usage with little strain on the wrist, this makes it very comfortable for day to day use, and not just gaming. Build quality is also solid with rounded corners and sealed edges to prevent fraying. From what I can see, Cooler Master’s Storm Power-RX will surely last a long time. This is not to mention its water resistant surface, making it even more durable and easy to clean in the long run. There really is no reason not to take a look at the Cooler Master Storm Power-RX with an MSRP of around $25 USD and press time. This mousepad is very much as powerful as it is advertised to be.
Cooler Master provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH Recommended Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
9/10 means Excellent product with very minor drawbacks that does not affect the overall product.
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 8.2/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
Excellent performance compounded by excellent build quality. What more can I say? The Cooler Master Storm Power-RX is a well rounded hybrid mousepad.
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