Games that utilize a large roster of activatable skills, such as MMORPGs and MOBAs, are extremely popular and require serious time investments. Beyond providing comfort throughout gaming sessions, peripherals that lend themselves to quicker, more efficient casting and management have hit the industry, and we’ve scored the leading players such as the Razer Naga and the SteelSeries World of Warcraft lineup. We recently received the latest competitor to the scene, Logitech’s G600, just in time for a Pandas, Asuras, and a new season of Yordles. Let’s get in game!
Product Name: G600 MMO Gaming Mouse
Review Sample Provided by: Logitech
Review by: Adam
Pictures by: Wes
What’s in the box:
3-year Limited hardware warranty
The G600 is nestled diagonally in a windows package, showing off the major features of the mouse (i.e., the thumb key bank) as well as the shape. The tray holding the mouse removes from the rest of the package, and reveals a cove for the documentation folder.
The G600 uses the Logitech Gaming Software suite, which will auto-detect the hardware when plugged in. You’ll then have the option of switching between modes to program the G600 with: On-Board Memory or Automatic Game Detection. Though you may be familiar with the terms, they go a bit deeper in regards to the actions available to program with. Depending on how you want to use the mouse, on-board or with application-specific actions, you’ll have different options available to you as you navigate the rest of the software. To put it simply, Automatic Game Detection (AGD) mode will give you more options when assigning actions to buttons, since using this mode assumes you will have the application-specific commands available to you. On-board assumes you’ll be roaming to computers that may or may not have those applications installed, so they aren’t available. I’ll go into this a little more in depth, but for now an example is an action available in AGD mode for Ventrilo push-to-talk.
The first ‘tab’, which are switched between using icons in the buttons right half of the software, is used to customize buttons, and therefore where much of the meat is. In both modes, you’ll see a graphical representation of the thumb bank as well as an above shot of the G600, which text bubbles displaying the currently selected action. In the On-Board mode, you click on the desired button for a drop down list of available actions of Edit, Use Generic, or Unassign. The Edit option will allow you to assign the button with predefined mouse functions or keystrokes, or set your single keystroke. If you want to set a stroke with multiple keys, such as a macro, you’ll have to switch to AGD mode.
You can see two extra windows with the AGD version selected. Profiles is pretty self explanatory, with the ability to save and import up to six profiles. The Commands window has some default values created already, essentially commands that will have been set to the mouse by factory default: numeric keys, back and forward, left and right click, etc. Clicking on the plus symbol of the Command window will open the Command Editor, which will allow you to add variety of commands to the main Command bank. Most categories are straightforward, but a few to point out are the Text Block, Media, Hotkey, Shortcut, Function, and Ventrilo options. Once added to the Commands bank, you’ll be able to drag the action onto the desired key.
The next category, Pointer Settings, is pretty similar between both modes, though AGD does offer a little more customization. Both allow multiple levels of DPI sensitivity, four levels for on-board memory and five for AGD mode. Assigning the default and the shift values is as easy as toggling above the graph, which provides a graphical representation of the levels you choose. The report rate is also available, from 1000 to 125 for legacy support. AGD provides Advanced options such as Separating DPI X and Y axis and enhanced pointer precision.
The final category is lighting, which is identical between both modes. Here you can customize the G600’s RGB colors with 16 million possibilities via a color wheel, value slider, or a preset palette. The intensity of the glow can be adjusted, as well as the effect (cycle or pulse) and the rate at which it takes place. Another neat feature is the lighting sleep timer, which will turn off after a set time of inactivity.
While the G600 is designed for MMOs, the motives behind the features also apply to the multiplayer online battle arena genre, or MOBA. The leading feature of the G600 is of course the thumb panel, which features a bank of twelve customizable buttons that are intended to be within reach of the thumb for quick, and ideally accurate, casts. The twelve buttons are actually divided into two sets of six, two rows of three in each. It’s actually easier to distinguish the two sets by feel than look. Each set has a notched button to act as a landmark for the home row, much like F and J and the keyboard. Additionally, the six buttons of each set are inclined in toward the middle of each respective set, so the thumb naturally rests in the center of either one. If you switch from one set to the other, you’ll feel the peak as you pass over.
The right side of the mouse only has one button, but it is a nice one and by default, it’s set up to give you an additional 18 button assignments (though the G600 features 20 buttons, the left and and right click can only be customized to swap one another). Labeled as G-Shift, holding this button will shift the all the buttons to an alternative set, so you can run set one with 18 customized buttons and switch to another 18 unique customized buttons. If that’s not enough for you, Mode Switch is another available function, similar to G-Shift in that it allows another layer of programmable buttons, but unlike G-Shift it is toggled, instead of being active only while the button is held.
While the side of the G600 is where most of the programmable action is at, Logitech finishes out the 20 button roster with the left/right click (again, only swappable with one another), G7 and G8 which are in the traditional up/down area under the scroll wheel, scroll click and scroll wheel left and right. What the left and right click lack in customization, they make up for in durability. Each has passed a three clicks per second, twenty four hour a day test for a duration of about three months, to rate them for 20 million clicks.
The G600 has several other quality features, including a nice (and soft) cloth braided USB cable (sporting a 1 millisecond report rate), two low friction feet, and memory profiles equipped on board the mouse itself so customization such as button assignments and lighting will travel with you, even to a computer without the software installed.
Much of how Logitech has designed the G600 has been aimed at reducing fatigue, which is a great idea considering the target demographic. You don’t have to be a hardcore MMO player to appreciate long gaming sessions; anyone who has been to a weekend LAN knows the feeling. There are two key areas designed for this.
The first is the shape of the mouse, which I’m a huge fan of. Especially for the massively genres, it’s nice to have all of the hand in a comfortable position and be able to cast with more than two fingers. Logitech nailed the form of the G600; it feels great to hold.
The second is the buttons, and this is where I back tread on my previous statement a bit. While the mouse fits the the hand very well, maneuvering the mouse doesn’t come so natural. If you’re used to a solid thumb rest, retraining your pressure points is going to be difficult, as there isn’t anything but buttons under the thumb area. Regardless of your preference in the grip style theory, the majority of us use thumb and ring/pinky to actually guide the mouse. There is a nice textured area for the pinky to grip, but putting the same pressure on the thumb side of the mouse is likely to activate one of the buttons.
Thankfully, the thumb bank (G9 through G20) do have a bit of resistance, to help avoid accidental clicks and give you a little window of pressure, but it’s likely to take some retraining. So when Logitech says that “each button is tuned to reduce click fatigue”, it is not equal; the left and right mouse button actuate much easier than the thumb keys, for instance.
The scroll wheel left and right click is a great feature for gamers and casual users alike. It provides two very accessible activates, and again the actuation is done right. The G600 scroll wheel has a potential of five actions, but each takes the right amount of pressure to prevent accidents (clicking the wheel down when you want to click it right, for example). It’s a great productivity option as well to use as horizontal scroll, unfortunately there is no actual function built into the software for this. You’ll have to record left and right arrow key strokes as a work around.
The functionality is still there, and I was pretty surprised to see it amongst other non-gaming productivity features, such as the text block option, which could allow a receptionist to enter a mailing address from one click of the mouse. Each of the twelve thumb buttons could be commonly used addresses, almost like a speed dial!
The G-Shift and Mode shift are a great way to add more actions, but there is a documented problem with this system. ‘Shifting’ the buttons will send an ‘up’ signal to any keys that are currently pressed. An example: you’ve depressed the middle mouse button to run, chasing down your opponent in the arena. You want to cast a skill that is bound to a G-Shift button, so you press G-Shift to switch over. Even though you never release the middle mouse button, switching like this will tell the mouse that you did, you’ll stop running and your enemy gets away.
The software is otherwise a complement to the G600, which honestly can be a little overwhelming in the amount of customization available. It is a little disappointing that choosing to program the mouse for travel restricts many of the features, but the reasoning does make sense. If you want to take full advantage of the actions available with the G600, it’s best to pair it with your own system. Like the majority of software suites, the Logitech Gaming Software will rest idle in the taskbar, ready for quick launch when needed. There were a few times during testing that I found the software unresponsive or unusable, with a glitch that seems to replicate the top half of the screen to the bottom. All it took was a force close of the software and a relaunch to remedy this issue.
Logitech has included some really nice features in the software, such as the lighting sleep timer. The Ventrilo integration is much appreciated since LanOC hosts our own server, but I’ve used enough other voice communication solutions to be disappointed that it’s limited to just the one. I was hopeful that even though it says Ventrilo push-to-talk that other programs may recognize it as well, but after trying Mumble and Teamspeak, I can confirm that it unfortunately does not.
In theory, the idea is perfect: a plethora of commands within the reach of your fingers. In application, I had to relearn how I used my mouse, which was something I was more opposed to than I thought I would be. Even after using the G600 as my main mouse for several weeks, I don’t think I use it as completely intended. I started off slow, focusing on just the bottom six buttons of the thumb bank, which surprisingly well, especially for MOBAs that have exactly six item slots anyway. The buttons are arranged three by two, just as your inventory is on screen, so it’s easy to associate the bindings.
I even went as far as as disabling the G13 key to give my thumb somewhere to put pressure without activating anything. It worked great as I added the remaining buttons to my comfort zone, since they surrounded G13, my thumb’s home, I knew that I moved down for items and around for other activatables. In the end, I may have done myself more harm than good, as I’m having a hard time actually using G13 when assigned (and not accidently pressing it).
Finally, you may have already figure this one out, but the G600 is not lefty-friendly. You could, in theory, bulk your pinky up to be able to control those twelve keys and if you do, please send me a private message.
Overall and Final Verdict
We talked about the Mode Shift and G-Shift options, which allow unique layers of the twenty buttons to be reassigned when active, but we’ll omit the left and right click, since they can only be swapped. After some simple math, the remaining 18 physical buttons translate to 54 logically customizable buttons, all within the reach of five fingers. If you need more actions from your mouse hand, the G600 would be my first choice, especially at a price point on par with competitors while providing some great quality and luxury features. There are a few faults, most of which you can learn to avoid but I’d love to see the Ventrilo support expand to other services. If Logitech is taking software requests, I’d also love to see some live stream features in the future as well. I’d use the cliche icing on the cake, but honestly Logitech has that covered with plenty of other sweet extras.