Roccat Kone XTD review – Roccat gives us another winner

[Originally featured in my PC gaming column for Examiner.com]

Roccat packs their best tech into the Kone XTD gaming mouse to make it as powerful on the inside as it as colorful as it is on the outside. And the Kone XTD isn’t just pretty—it has brains too.

Features

The Kone XTD is another “smart mouse” in that it’s equipped with a built-in 72 MHz Arm-based CPU—similar to the SteelSeries Sensei which also has a built-in processor. Whether or not those smarts actually help anygaming mouse accomplish anything noticeable above and beyond a “dumb mouse” is pretty questionable.

Here’s a basic rundown of the Roccat Kone XTD’s specs and features:

  • Up to 8200DPI, adjustable in 200DPI increments. Stores up to 5 settings.
  • Arm-based CPU at 72MHz
  • Adjustable lift distance
  • 576k onboard memory for storing settings & profiles
  • 4 customizable, multicolor LEDs
  • 8 total mouse buttons: Left, Right, Scroll Wheel, 2 thumb buttons, 3 on top of the mouse.
  • Adjustable weights (4x5g)
  • 125Hz/250Hz/500Hz/1000Hz polling rate
  • 30G acceleration
  • 1.8m braided USB cable
The Roccat Kone XTD boasts all the features you'd expect in a high-end gaming mouse plus a few of Roccat's own innovations.
The Roccat Kone XTD boasts all the features you’d expect in a high-end gaming mouse plus a few of Roccat’s own innovations.
Photo credit:
Roccat

Like other Roccat products, the Kone XTD drivers also include an achievement system. It’s a completely useless but admittedly somewhat amusing feature. You can unlock exciting achievements such as Movin’ Up, which is awarded for achieving 10,000 inches of mouse movement, and there are 12 other equally useless achievements.

And when you earn an achievement, the Kone XTD will tell you so through the ‘voice of Roccat’—a raspy-voiced but excited gentlemen that tells you when you’ve earned achievements and when you do things like change DPI levels. This is actually pretty useful feedback; you don’t have to look at your mouse at an LED indicator or divert your eyes from the action to another area of the screen at an OSD (on screen display, which some gaming mice use) for confirmation of an action.

I feel pretty

The Kone XTD’s customizable lighting system is a stand-out among gaming mice in terms of the options it provides. The Kone XTD’s 4 quadrants can each be configured with a different color, or you can create a gradient effect along each side of the mouse—starting at yellow and ending at green for example. You can also adjust the pulsing effect and brightness of the LEDs.

The Kone XTD also supports Roccat’s TalkFX, which enables the Kone XTD to change colors in reaction to in-game events (turning green if you get poisoned, for example.) This might be a neat feature if any games other than World of Tanks adopt direct support for it, but until then it’s of little use—though you probably won’t miss it either. Your hand will be covering the mouse and the lights anyway, so any feedback from the Kone XTD would be at best difficult to see and functionally useless.

Shift into gear
More useful, however, is the Kone XTD’s support for Roccat’s Easy Shift technology—basically a ‘shift key’ to enable your macro buttons to store alternate macros. And if you use another Roccat product like the Roccat IskuFX gaming keyboard—the equally colorful keyboard counterpart to the Kone XTD—the Shift key on one peripheral will work on the other.

It’s a pretty cool way to enable you to use more macros per key without having to take your hand off of (or move it far from) the primary W-A-S-D key cluster. Or you can press the Easy Shift button on the mouse (whichever button you’ve assigned it to) to enable the ‘E’ key on the keyboard to perform a macro or other action, for example.

Ergonomics & Design

The Kone XTD sports a subtle but comfortable right-handed design. It’s covered in soft-touch material and generally well-suited to all but the smallest hands.

The buttons are generally well-placed with the exception of the one in front of the scroll wheel, which is too hard to reach to be particularly useful for much of anything—unless you have very large hands or long fingers.

The DPI up and down buttons and the thumb buttons are all large and easy to access however, making them perfect candidates for macros and the like. Like other Roccat products, the Kone XTD can record and store complex multi-keystroke actions, with or without preset or recorded delays.

Roccat is particularly proud of their ‘Titan’ scroll wheel. It’s a ridged, highly tactile design that is very precise and perfect for gaming. It’s also stiff enough that the ‘tilt’ feature of the scroll wheel (the left-right button presses) are more reliable and usable than on other mice I’ve used. I still wouldn’t assign them combat/action-critical functions, but it’s not a bad place to assign the DPI or volume up/down functions, for example).

I typically avoid using the tilt scroll wheel buttons for fear of mis-clicking in the heat of battle, but the Kone XTD’s proved stiff enough to abate my fears. The Titan wheel is a little less friendly for scrolling (Web surfing, etc.) because of its stiffness, but that’s a minor quibble at best. On the whole it’s an excellent wheel, and you can always adjust the speed/scroll rate of the wheel in the Kone XTD’s drivers.

Performance

Over a period of weeks the Roccat Kone XTD worked and played like a champ, and continues the current Roccat tradition of impressing me with its overall quality and general design and technical excellence. I used the Kone XTD predominantly for Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, someTribes Ascend, and some Bioshock Infinite. I also took it to work (the day job) where it got a pretty vigorous non-gaming workout.

About the only minor complaint I have about the Roccat Kone XTD concerns its driver. The UI is good but a bit cluttered; but the real complaint is that applying new settings to the Kone XTD takes a good 10-15 seconds to complete while the changes are written to its onboard memory. It’s a minor issue.

Overall

Chalk up another fine product from the folks at Roccat. I’ve been very impressed with virtually every product I’ve seen from them so far (including the Savu gaming mouse and Isku keyboards) and the Kone XTD is no exception. I may have to ask Roccat to ship me a crappy product just so I can write a bad review and stop looking look like a Roccat fan boy—but until then, the Roccat Kone XTD is yet another 5-star product from a 5-star company. Rock on, Roccat.

The Roccat Kone XTD has an MSRP of $89.99 and can be found at online retailers like Amazonand Newegg.

Suggested by the author [Examiner.com links]:
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