So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Microsoft Sidewinder X3 gaming mouse
An entry-level Microsoft gaming mouse for left- and right-handed users
- Precise and speedy performance, ambidextrous design, programmable controls, affordable price
- Lacking in 'wow' factor, DPI sensitivity could be higher, 'budget gaming mouse' is a bit of an oxymoron
The Microsoft Sidewinder X3 is a stripped-down alternative to the Sidewinder X5. While a few bells-and-whistles are gone, its performance is on par with its sibling. It will mainly appeal to cash-strapped and/or left-handed gamers (in fact, feel free to add half a star if you fall into either camp).
Price$ 59.95 (AUD)
The Sidewinder X3 is a new entry-level addition to Microsoft’s range of dedicated gaming mice. It joins the Microsoft Sidewinder, Microsoft Sidewinder X5 and Microsoft Sidewinder X8 in the company’s current line-up.
Designed for both left- and right-handed gamers, the Sidewinder X3 offers fast and reliable performance at a readily affordable price. Though it lacks some of the features found on its costlier allies, it remains a precise and accurate gaming mouse that will assist in the pursuit of qwnage... Or is it pwnage? Whatever.
With its scant feature set and affordable price tag, the Sidewinder X3 is something of an anomaly. It’s essentially a gaming mouse for budget shoppers; a market that we’re not entirely sure exists. Let’s face it, anyone who is serious enough about gaming to buy a dedicated peripheral will probably want the best that money can buy. Everyone else, meanwhile, will be happy to make do with their run-of-the-mill mouse. We’re consequently unsure who the Sidewinder X3 is supposed to appeal to — economically ruined gamers, perhaps? In any event, the Sidewinder X5 retails for just $30 more than the X3, which is hardly a bank-breaking proposition.
Like the other mice in the Sidewinder series, the x3 boasts a 2000 DPI laser sensor for heightened speed and precision. This is essential for first-person shooters and their action-packed ilk, which require fast and accurate reaction times during heated firefights. While 2000dpi will be perfectly acceptable for most users, it’s worth noting that some mice offer a maximum sensitivity of 4000dpi or more.
A trio of buttons allow you to switch the DPI setting instantaneously, with a choice between 2000dpi, 800dpi and 400dpi by default (each setting can be adjusted for personal taste). In other words, you don't need to pause the game and access the hardware settings when you require a lower DPI setting — simply click the desired button. This can come in handy when you need to use a scoped firearm or negotiate tricky terrain; especially in online matches where pausing the game isn’t always possible.
Other features on the Sidewinder X3 include five programmable buttons, inbuilt software for customised macros, an imaging processing speed of 7080 frames per second (fps), an enlarged scroll wheel and a recessed side-button on each side of the mouse. Once again, Microsoft has bunged a Quick Launch button on top of the mouse which brings up the Windows Games menu in Vista. It remains as superfluous as ever.
More useful is the inbuilt Intellipoint software, which allows you to assign macros to the mouse buttons and scroll wheel. If you’re an RPG fan, this is a helpful tool for frequently used hotkeys, though with only a few buttons at your disposal you’ll still need to use your keyboard for some functions. The Sidewinder X8 is also an excellent choice for left-handed gamers — the button layout is mirrored on either side.
The Sidewinder x3 is significantly smaller than its brick-sized stablemates. In fact, it could pass for a regular mouse. Gone are the LED lights and removable weights that characterised the original Sidewinder — a mouse that was so large it had more in common with an elephant. By contrast, the Sidewinder x3 is small, light and fits comfortably into the palm. The main mouse buttons are camouflaged within the casing, which gives the device an extra smooth appearance. If we had to sum up the design in one word, we'd go with 'subtle'. It won’t get you noticed at LAN parties, but that's the price a penny-pincher pays.
Thankfully, the Sidewinder X3 doesn’t skimp when it comes to performance. We found the device to be highly accurate on a variety of surfaces (well, two mouse mats and a desk). All buttons remained responsive and tactile throughout testing, including the rubberised scroll wheel.
All up, the Sidewinder X3 is an impressive gaming mouse for the asking price, especially if you happen to be left-handed. On the other hand, hardcore gamers with cash to burn will be better off with the Sidewinder X5 or X8 — for bragging rights, if nothing else.
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