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Frontpage Slideshow | Copyright © 2006-2010 orks, a business unit of Nuevvo Webware Ltd.
Thursday, 17 September 2009 14:49

CM Sentinel Advance gaming mouse hits our lab

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: The mouse that puts the A in Advance

 


It's been a while since we've first laid eyes on the CM Storm Sentinel, and we must admit that we've been pretty skeptical at first. The initial photos suggested a “plasticky” cheap mouse which can’t quite compete, but we were proven wrong at Computex, as you can see here.

We’ve now received the CM Storm Sentinel Advance gaming mouse and decided to give it a detailed spin and see whether this mouse has what it takes to take on the competition. Of course, CoolerMaster is quite keen on making it on the gaming peripheral market, so let’s see whether the CM Storm Sentinel Advance is the right tool for the job.


Packaging


The CM Storm Sentinel Advance comes in a sleek box with a plastic window, which lets you see the mouse. The box is colored in black with red accents, and features various info with the emphasis on the Sentinel's Twin Tactical laser sensor with 5600DPI, LED octoshade lighting and the OLED monitor. The back of the box features technical characteristics, nothing out of the usual.

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Within the box you’ll find the mouse, the StormGuard and installation disc. Of course, this mouse is Plug‘n Play and you won’t have trouble using it without the drivers, but if you want to milk this device for all it’s worth, then you’ll have to use CM Storm Tactic AP software. Note that you can run this software from the installation disk, or just install it onto your computer.

The user manual is entirely in digital format and is created after you install the drivers. Below you’ll find the picture we took after starting driver installation.

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If you’re interested in the manual without having to install the program, you can visit the Sentinel Advance web portal and find out whatever you’re interested in, down to the details. We must say that this is one of the best portals we’ve seen made for any piece of hardware, and it’s well worth visiting it. We’ll discuss the CM Storm Tactic AP software later.


The StormGuard is a nice touch, and although we’ve never attended a LAN party where someone stole a mouse, we’re confident these things can happen and little caution never hurt no-one. The USB cable is standard – 18cm long, but it’s coated in some kind of fabric so it can take a lot of beating without getting damaged. The USB connector is as you can see gold plated.

 
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The Specs

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Due to its design, The CM Storm Sentinel is strictly a mouse for right handed people, as it’s somewhat long and curved. Despite looking a bit “plasticky”, this mouse is pretty tough and is made of different materials, including rubber, ASB plastic, mesh bezel and metal. We found it almost a perfect fit, but make sure you check for yourself as mouse-to-hand compatibility is something no-one can guarantee.
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The mouse is 13.5cm (5.3 inches) long, so your entire palm will rest on the mouse. We found this to be pretty comfortable, but if you’re used to smaller mice it might take some time to adjust. The mouse has 8 programmable keys, but the picture taken from the manual (below) says it much better.

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In order to improve the visual link between the owner and his “pet”, CoolerMaster implemented so called Octoshade LED Tech, which uses an eight color spectrum to show which profile we’re currently using. The Sentinel Advance has three LED lamps, one of them on top of the mouse and the other two on the front. We must say that the lights that look seriously mean make the logo “Designed to Search and Destroy” very appropriate.

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CoolerMaster made sure that the Sentinel has at least one ace up its sleeve more than the competition, and it’s the OLED monitor. This little screen shows the current DPI resolution and even allows for uploading logos. You can use any black-and-white picture in BMP format and 32x32 resolution and upload it via CM Storm Tactic’s Color Control tab. You can see the OLED screen on the picture below .

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The left and right buttons are pretty standard and run well. The DPI control keys are placed between the OLED screen and the mouse wheel, and you can use them in combination with the wheel and the two keys on the left. The profile switch key is placed in front of the mouse wheel, and this mouse will store up to 5 profiles. The mouse has its own 64kb of memory, allowing for saving profiles and using your mouse anywhere while still keeping your settings. Furthermore, you can use the internal memory to save macros as well as scripts and configuration files. Advanced Storm Tactic macro support enables the Sentinel’s intelligent firmware to save, repeat and time mouse actions which you might need while gaming or other.

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Unfortunately, we found the two keys on the left to be quite awkwardly placed as the distance between them is virtually non-existent and they require too much pressure to be applied. This side has space reserved for the thumb, but it’s a tad too low for comfortable use of the keys above, and we often found ourselves pushing the wrong one.

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The right side of the mouse is nicely curved for better comfort.

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The Sentinel Advance’s ticker is the twin tactical laser sensor, made out of two lasers of course and hiding on the bottom of the mouse.

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Thanks to laser-beam mixing using the Doppler Effect, CoolerMaster enhanced the precision allowing for comfortable use on many different materials. Furthermore, it enables independent X and Y axis settings.

On the bottom you’ll find a chamber holding the weights. The CM Storm Advance has five standard 4.5g weights, and it’s up to you to distribute them for that perfect feel.

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The CM Storm Tactic Software features many useful options – independent X and Y axis DPI setti ngs, game profiles, independent front and upper Octoshade LED Lighting controls, OLED logo, RapidFire, macros, scripts and much more.

The mouse comes with integrated memory and can store DPI settings entirely in hardware – so this feature will run regardless of the drivers. On the other hand, the CM Storm Tactic software brings a plethora of advanced options and customizations. 

In case you don’t want to install the software onto your drive, you can start the CM Storm Tactic software straight off of the CD. The interface consists of 6 tabs which when opened take up about 2/3 of the screen. The program is pretty intuitive and you won’t have trouble searching for options. 

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The first tab, which is opened by default, is Main Control, and it’s here where you handle button functions, DPI levels, sensitivity, double click speed, click response times or USB report rate.

You can use the DPI switch keys to alter the DPI, but in 25 DPI increments, so you can use the interface to fine tune the mouse even further.

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Using the DPI switch keys is a great thing for those on-the-fly changes, but it allows only for rough settings. Four pushes will get you from the lowest 1100 DPI setting, to 2600DPI, 3800DPI all the way to the maximum 5600DPI. In case you want to fine tune it without using the interface, it’s possible as well.  

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After holding the DPI switch key for longer than three seconds, the LED will start changing colors rapidly, which signals that the wheel can be used to increase/decrease DPI in 25 DPI increments. In case you need to adjust the X or Y axis, you’ll have to use the side keys to choose the X or Y axis and then use the wheel to adjust it the way you see fit.

The CM Sentinel Advance is one of the rare rodents which allow independent X and Y axis settings. This is a result of the Storm twin laser mechanism, which at the same time enhances stability and precise tracking over different surfaces.

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After finding our preferred DPI settings, a click on any of the two DPI control keys will save the settings in the current profile.

If you want to adjust the DPI in smaller increments, for instance 1 DPI, you’ll have to resort to software, but we believe that this is more than enough for most users.

Here’s how the Color Control Tab looks; you can use this tab to change LED colors as well as change the OLED logo.

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Testing and Conclusion

The CM Sentinel Advance is the first mouse from CoolerMaster’s CM Storm division for gaming hardware and accompanying software. The Sentinel Advance is a quality mouse which will surely get its fanbase as it brings the functionality, looks, ruggedness and innovation to the table. As far as we know, this is the first mouse to feature an OLED display, which although isn’t overly functional, it still has its use and many a gamer will find it to be cool. Besides checking the DPI settings on the chosen profile, you can use the OLED screen to display a custom logo.

Apart from the side keys, which we found awkwardly placed as we often ended up pushing the wrong one, the mouse was a perfect fit. It’s long and not too tall, and provides a nice support for your palm. The wheel is nicely designed and since it’s notched - it won’t let you overshoot a weapon for instance. Talking about weapons, RapidFire is also one of the options offered by the Sentinel Advance. 

The integrated memory is a great addition which allows users to use the Setinel Advance on any computer while still keeping their preferred settings. The integrated 64kb of memory will hold much more though, and there’s plenty of space for macros, scripts, etc. Dual-Laser technology allows for precision of up to 5600 DPI (dots per inch), which is more than we’re used to, and independent X and Y axis settings. Such high precision will surely fit professionals in the field of graphics and not just gamers.

You can use the keys to switch DPI settings, or even fine tune the DPI by using the keys only in 25 DPI increments. On the other hand, the excellent and extensive CM Storm Tactic interface is a jewel as well as it allows for customization and fine tuning of just about anything.

We tested the Sentinel Advance with HS-M Battle Pad SSD and CS-X Battle Pad DP. Both pads come from CM Storm’s offer, but their offer features many other gaming surfaces that will surely strike your chord.

The HS-M Battle Pad SSK (on the photo below) is a hard surface pad whereas the CS-X Battle Pad DP (on the last picture) is made of pure rubber and is huge. Both surfaces did the trick with the CM Sentinel Advance’s high DPI, as they’re built for smooth operation and high precision lasers, such as the one on the Sentinel Advance.

Both surfaces indeed provided ultra-smooth gliding, due to the smooth Duracloth Plus surface. The rubber base measures 444 x 355 x 5 mm and is made of pure natural rubber. Yours truly is more used to smaller surfaces but if you need more space, then the CS-X Battle Pad DP is a wise choice. You can find out more from the pictures and the specs below.

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CoolerMaster's hard surface, probably evident from the HS in the name.

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HS-M Battle Pad is a hybrid gaming surface especially good for uneven and bumpy surfaces. The surface layer is optimized to run up to 40% better with laser sensors. The glide is excellent, and the speed and precision are unhindered. 

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HS-M Battle Pad is features polypropylen and special alloy coating whereas the 100% rubber base will help the surface stay in place in those long battles. 

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The second test surface, the CS-X Battle Pad DP is a huge rubber-based surface. Both pads have proven to run great with the CM Sentinel Advance, as their surfaces have been specifically tailored for high precision lasers, such as the one on the Sentinel Advance. 

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The rubber surface measures 444 x 355 x 5 mm and is made of 100% natural rubbre with Duracloth Plus coating.

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The CS-X Battle Pad is made with e-sport professionals in mind, as they know to appreciate such minute instances and shades that do a lot in the gaming world. It is weaved to tight to provide optimum precision and highly responsive tracking. The CS-X Battle Pad is refined further through a special heat treatm, resulting in a smooth surface with ultra fine glide. With its aggressive non-slip 100% natural rubber base, the CS-X Battle Pad stays reliably in place on all large desktop surfaces.

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Yours truly happened to like the smaller, hard surface much better, but it's a simple mater of preference, and you might easily find it to be opposite in your case.

CoolerMaster’s Sentinel Advance gaming mouse is priced at about €60 but if you’re looking for a top quality mouse, then look no further as Sentinel Advance will surely be a perfect addition to your gaming arsenal. Our testing revealed that Sentinel Advance is truly one excellent piece of hardware, and we had no choice but to dub it a "Fudzilla Recommended" piece of equipment. We'd like to thank Cooler Master Balkan for providing our today's test sample. 

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Last modified on Friday, 18 September 2009 10:34
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