February 15th, 2011

Saitek GM3200 Gaming mouse

Saitek GM3200 Mouse

Introduction

In the performance market, numbers mean everything. From MHZ to megabyte, the industry revolves around extremes. Today I have the Saitek GM3200 gamers mouse which promises the fairly unnecessary DPI of 3200. Will this be enough?

About Saitek

Founded in 1979, Saitek entered the gaming market in 1993 and since then has grown to become a major brand in gaming peripherals for the PC. All our products are designed by gamers for gamers, to help them get the best out of their favourite PC games.

Our 2004 range includes many exciting new products, as well as enhancements to our existing product range to improve their performance further. We’ve also refined our manuals and programming guides to make it even easier to install and customize Saitek controllers.

We pride ourselves on the quality of our products. All our controllers are produced in our wholly-owned factory to ensure that they perform to the highest standards today and for many years to come. Saitek PC Gaming – superb design; total control

Specs

The world’s 1st 3200 dpi laser mouse features superb ergonomics for hours of fatigue-free use; up to 3200 dpi for ultra high mouse speed
and accuracy. Speedglide® system – adjustable weights fine-tune mouse momentum;
interchangeable Teflon feet vary surface friction

Features

  • 4 stage (800/1600/2400/3200) dpi gives on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment to match mouse speed to game environment
  • 6 programmable buttons and dpi toggle with LED status indicator
  • Soft-touch mouse buttons and rubberized scroll wheel for total comfort and extreme performance
  • Gold plated, full speed USB connector
  • SST software programs mouse controls and saves settings as game-specific profiles
  • Instantly switch between 2 pre-configured profiles during games using the profile button
  • Super-cool, pulsating lighting effects
  • Lightweight, non-tangle 2.5m cable with Velcro tie

An extension of yourself

Saitek GM3200 Mouse
Saitek GM3200 Mouse

The retail box looks like the mouse was once a meteor that made a convenient impact into the front of the packaging. The box proudly shows that this is the world’s first 3200DPI mouse and goes on to list all of its essential statistics.

Saitek GM3200 Mouse

Once out of the box, you can see that the mouse is clad in a faux blue snakeskin getup (also available in red) with lots of buttons and lights. Surrounding the two main mouse buttons is a semi circular light rail with several indicating LED’s showing the current mode and DPI that the mouse is in. On the left hand side are two buttons, much like Razer mice which are silver in contrast to the rest of the mouse’s colour scheme. Behind the scroll wheel you find a DPI selector and mode switching button.

Saitek GM3200 Mouse

The GM3200 is hump backed to fit into your palm, and is designed for right-handed gamers. At the rear of the unit is a small Saitek logo making sure everyone knows what you are using.

All of the lights and switches are well labelled in a clean, futuristic font which reflects what this product is capable of.

Saitek GM3200 Mouse
Saitek GM3200 Mouse
Saitek GM3200 Mouse

The underside is also jam packed with features. The front and back panels are reversible, allowing you to customise the amount of friction that the most make between it and your mouse pad. Underneath these are foam pads which hide the weights. These weights can be positioned in several different areas, which make it easy to customise your preferred gaming style. With 2 at the front, and 5 at the back, this mouse can either be heavy or feather light.

Installation

While installation isn’t 100% necessary, you can let your PC know that you have installed the GM3200 rather than leaving it as a standard HID peripheral.

Also included in the install package, is the Saitek Programming Software. Don’t worry; you won’t have to buy a Dummies Guide to using it. It simply allows you to change the function of the third mouse button (scroll wheel click) and the two side buttons. These can either be their default values, or a macro of your decision.

Theory

In the area of gaming mice, DPI isn’t everything. A more important figure is its polling rate. This is number of times that Windows checks the USB port for changes. A lower polling rate will give you jerky mouse movements as Windows only detects movement when it polls the port.

Saitek GM3200 Mouse

The above diagram illustrates this. When you have a high DPI mouse, but low polling rate, the smooth curve that your hand draws will have sharp edges as Windows only checks for movement every so often.

The thick black line of the larger curve is your hand movement moving the mouse through a semi circle. The red dots are when Windows polls the USB port. The thin blue line shows the actual on screen movement of the cursor. As you can see, the curve isn’t that great as Windows isn’t polling the port often enough. The smaller black curve is the same hand movement, but at a lower DPI. In this case, the curve is smoother as there is less on screen movement, but still shows the sharp edges. Both black lines represent the same mouse movement in the same amount of time.

Below these are the lines that the curve drew on screen. The purple line shows a higher polling rate. As you can see, it’s smoother as there are more points recorded by Windows. If you have a high DPI mouse, but a low polling rate, then the speed of high DPI will not be matched by accuracy as Windows will struggle to record the movement. The higher the polling rate, the better the accuracy. The higher the DPI, the more speed you get.

You may think that setting your polling rate to 6 million will give you the best accuracy known to man, but unfortunately, increased polling results in increased CPU usage. Also, mice are limited by certain key components to their maximum polling rate.

The polling effect can mean the different between handing ass and waiting to respawn.

Testing

Before I proceed to the test, I found a program that measures the number of times that information is sent to the USB port. First of all you’ll have to modify your usbport.sys file to make it poll from the rather paltry 125Hz (8ms) – Windows default – to 1100Hz (<1ms). Then you run this program and go mental with the mouse. Soon you’ll get a figure that you can’t get any higher. This is maximum rate at which the mouse can send out information. The bottleneck can be due to either the data rate of the USB cable, or the chips used in the mouse.

Incidentally, the Saitek software doesn’t change the standard Windows polling rate from its humble 125Hz default. The hardware isn’t being exploited to its maximum unless you do a little tweaking.

To provide a reasonable comparison, I first tested a Razer Deathadder which managed 1047Hz or a check every 0.95ms. This not only means that there will be less lag when you first start moving, but the ‘curve’ will be much smoother. 1000Hz is a very good, accurate value for a gaming mouse.

Moving onto the Saitek GM3200, I could only get 579Hz or a check every 1.73ms. This pegs the Saitek as half as good as the Razer – in regards to polling rate – yet has double the DPI.

To put this into perspective of your standard mice, the MSI StarMouse only managed 127Hz (just higher than Windows default rate) or a check every 7.84ms.

The high polling rate of the Razer results in its unequalled smoothness and accuracy.

After boring myself with statistics, I decided to have a quick rampage on Battlefield 2142.

Much unlike the Razer, both the mode and DPI are completely mouse controlled, and don’t require the drivers to either tell the mouse to change DPI or mode. This results in instant change and less CPU cycles. The DPI button is actually bi-directional, and you push it forward to lower DPI and backwards for more intense settings.

Saitek GM3200 Mouse

The mode button allows two different profiles to be set up by the Saitek Configurator (it is really called that; check the 1337 dictionary) and switched between quickly. Its quite fun setting up some unnecessary flaming to be typed in instantly when someone kills you, having 3 programmable buttons and two profiles, you have 6 speed insults ready.

Once plugged in the mouse begins to shine. The light bar glows blue, the DPI indicator glow the same colour, the mode indicator shines red, and the rear Saitek logo pulses blue, green and red. If you lift the mouse off your gaming surface, it’ll let you know by flashing.

Saitek GM3200 Mouse

Testing cont.

In Battlefield, the accuracy was awesome. Grabbing a fighter, cranking the mouse up to 3200 DPI and then flying like an idiot was great fun. The increased sensitivity was a little over the top to begin with which ended with me flying upside down or turning too hard and crashing. It’s also quite cool to be able to fly normally at 800 DPI, then when attacking/being chased, turning the DPI to max. It’s almost like a turbo button. I spent the first few rounds playing with all of the mouse’s features before getting down to some serious battling.

The fun ends when you get back to earth for standard infantry combat. The extreme 3200 DPI makes you spin around with the slightest movement. I prefer a low DPI setting for accuracy and smoothness. The 800 DPI was the most comfortable for me when in infantry mode, with 1600 DPI being used at some points. When in a land turret, or a slow turning tank, the extra DPI allows you to turned quickly and target your enemy a lot easier.

Baring in mind that 3200 DPI allows you to traverse a 1600×1200 screen in half an inch, it’s fairly excessive. Currently, this accuracy isn’t needed, but once graphics hardware is good enough to support higher resolutions, these type mice will be very much sought after.

With the high DPI comes lowered accuracy as even the slightest movement will move the cursor by a large amount. Coupled with the average polling rate, you soon can see the difference between a Razer mouse and this one. That said, it’s only noticeable if you compare the two at the same time. If you’ve never used a Razer product, you’ll be blown away with the Saitek GM3200.

Other games, including Command and Conquer 3 and Supreme Commander don’t really benefit from the high DPI settings as speedy movements aren’t required as much, but allow you have a reasonable level of speed when playing at higher resolutions.

After an extended gaming session, the mouse’s shaped body kept comfort to a high level, I would even go as far to say that it’s slightly better than the Deathadder. Thumbs up in that department. The lights however are a little bit of a downfall. As they aren’t properly insulated, at night the red from the mode light shines through the semi circular light rail. Also, you can see the light through all of the holes in the mouse. It doesn’t look fantastic but is an interesting sight.

Saitek GM3200 Mouse

The weights and variable friction feet bring in increased user customisation but it’s quite difficult to get right. It’ll take you a good few days before you pick the right feet and right weight for your playing style, but your hard work will be rewarded with a mouse perfect for you.

Conclusion

The high DPI will be welcomed by high speed gamers, but the lower polling rate will be a disappointment to the accuracy gamers. This mouse is targeted at the speed gamers by design and will satisfy your cravings for swift onscreen movement.

The aesthetics aren’t going to win a Turner prize anytime soon but it’s still a good looking product. If Saitek improve the polling rate, there will be nothing to stop this mouse from receiving the Editors Choice award and stealing Razer’s crown as my favourite mouse.

Pros Cons
3200 DPI Polling rate
Very comfortable Looks a little tacky at night
Customisable

I’d like to thank Saitek for providing us with the mouse.

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