[Originally from my PC gaming column at Examiner.com]
The CM Storm Havoc doesn’t bring anything new to the table for gaming mice, but it’s comfortable, well-designed, and provides excellent performance for a very reasonable price.
CM Storm is the gaming brand for PC hardware manufacturer Coolermaster, probably best known for their PC cooling and power solutions and assorted peripherals. At just a little over fifty bucks, the CM Storm Havoc is a budget-priced gaming mouse with a high-end laser sensor and generous feature set.
The CM Storm Havoc boasts a fairly standard array of gaming mouse features—there isn’t anything ‘new’ here, but for the price it’s a pretty impressive feature set. The basic features are as follows:
- Body: Soft touch rubber (top), textured rubber (left side), plastic (right side)
- Sensor: Avago 9800 laser sensor up to 8200 DPI (dots per inch)
- 4 customizable DPI levels, adjustable in 100DPI increments
- Buttons: 8 total (5 programmable/extra)
- Memory: 128KB (Stores 4 profiles and their associated macros)
- Polling Rate: 1000 Hz /1 ms
- Velocity: Up to 150 ips (Inches per second)
- Acceleration: 30g
- Lighting: Single, customizable LED for the scroll wheel, top buttons and CM logo
- 4-stage red DPI indicator LED
[If you’d like to learn a little more about what some of these features mean (and some of my personal preferences for each of them), check out my Gaming Mouse Buyer’s Guide.]
Comfort & Design
The CM Storm Havoc sports a subtle right-handed ergonomic shape. The top is soft-touch rubber and the left-hand side is textured to make it a very grip-friendly mouse. The right-hand side of the mouse is covered in glossy, painted plastic—a regrettable choice in materials (glossy plastic lends itself to feeling ‘tacky’ and/or attracting smudges)—but on the whole it has minimal impact on the Havoc’s comfort.
The scroll wheel is a little wider than the average mouse scroll wheel and covered in smooth rubber. I personally tend to prefer a textured or notched scroll wheel, but the Havoc’s smooth-coated wheel provides perfectly comfortable, firm, and accurate scrolling (i.e. weapon switching).
The Havoc has a total of 5 extra, programmable buttons—2 behind the scroll wheel and 3 thumb buttons. The Macro recording software, like the mouse itself, offers all of the essentials—keystroke recording (with timed or no intervals) that can also be combined with mouse clicks.
Computer manufacturers with a ‘gaming arm’ like Coolermaster typically don’t offer software that is quite as polished or as powerful as the software provided by gaming-focused companies like SteelSeries, Razer, and Mad Catz.
That said, Coolermaster is among the best of them and generally provides software almost on par with the manufacturers mentioned above, and generally better than other PC hardware-focused companies such as Thermaltake (Tt eSports) and Corsair (Vengeance). The CM Storm Havoc’s software is intuitive, provides all the features you’d expect, and it’s devoid of any localization pitfalls (i.e. poorly translated or incomprehensible English).
These may seem like minor issues, but having confidence in the company behind your mouse is important. Quality driver software generally reflects the manufacturer’s dedication to ensuring a good user experience and that their product is well-supported.
Over the course of several weeks I put the Havoc through its paces for gaming (SMITE, Tribes: Ascend,Saint’s Row IV, and others) as well as work, and it performed predictably well. I appreciate that the Havoc is just a smidgen bigger than the average mouse, and its subtle, right-handed shape and “pinky shelf” provide a smooth, comfortable ride.
The biggest area for potential improvement is in the 3 thumb buttons. There’s nothing wrong with them, but I am increasingly convinced that sculpted, taller buttons are more effective and provide better usability than buttons designed to preserve the sleek, aerodynamic, sports-car like lines typical of most gaming mice. (Razer’s recently announced change to the keypad for the Naga 2014 Edition seems to agree with this notion.)
I did encounter an issue with the Havoc software running on one specific PC where trying to program a macro would crash the software; however, it was an isolated incident on a specific system. More likely the PC was the problem and not the Havoc software.
Overall: 4/5 stars
The CM Storm Havoc is a great gaming mouse at an even better price point. At just a little over $50, it’s on par with Razer’s DeathAdder 2013 edition, and offers a comparable feature set and a couple extra buttons.
The Havoc may not wow you with innovation or lots of features, but it has and does what it needs: provide a comfortable, flexible, and smooth ride for your gaming hand (if you’re right handed anyway).
CM Storm Havoc features and specifications (courtesy of Coolermaster)
- Available Color: Black
- Body Coating Material: Rubber paint
- Sensor: 8200 DPI Avago 9800 laser Sensor
- Programmable Buttons: 8
- Onboard Memory: 128KB
- Polling Rate: 1000 Hz /1 ms
- Velocity: Up to 150 ips
- Acceleration: 30 g
- Dimensions (WxHxD): 85 x 120 x 45 mm (3.3 x 4.6 x 1.7 inches)
- Weight: 140 g / 0.3 lbs
- Avago 9800 laser sensor with 100-8200 DPI
- Highest grade Japanese Omron micro switches
- Up to 5 million button clicks
- 8 programmable buttons
- Rubber side grip for stability and fast mouse swipes
- Build in memory for easy plug and use
- Smooth super grip rubber coasting
- 1.8 meter flexible and extremely durable mousecord
- Up to 4 profiles setting
- PC with USB port
- Windows® 8 / 7 / Windows Vista® / Windows® XP
- Internet connection (for driver installation)
- At least 35MB of hard disk space