A cheap mouse isn’t a bargain if it’s terrible.
Wireless gaming mice are expensive. You can often pay $50 more for a wireless gaming mouse than for the equivalent wired model—and those usually aren’t cheap either. Then we discovered this wireless mouse from “Easterntimes Tech.” (See it on Amazon). It’s all of $14 and has a four-star average on Amazon from about 900 ratings. How can this be? Can a wireless gaming mouse that costs as little as a cheap, wired, non-gaming mouse actually be this good? Can you really buy a decent wireless gaming mouse for less than $20?
Plenty of places evaluate the latest and hottest from Corsair, Razer, and Logitech – but what happens when you put a cheap, no-name piece of hardware through the same battery of tests? We decided to find out.
Design and Features
The actual branding on this mouse can be a little confusing. It is sold under the Zhi Zhu brand. It is also sold for a couple bucks less under the Pictek brand. There’s a version with blue lights sold under the Habor brand. None of these brands exist on the box or the product itself.
It appears to be made by “Easterntimes Tech” in China and then resold by other brands, without modification. The skimpy multi-language instructions sheet is full of tortured English gibberish like, “LED switch button is on bottom of mouse, there are three option ON, OFF,ON/light ,put it at ON/light , the LED with be lighting up.” That is a verbatim transcription of how the text appears, misplaced commas and all.
The mouse is lightweight with a cheap plasticy feel and the sort of poor tolerances, with wide seams and gaps. It kind of reminds me of the chintzy batteries-not-included toys of my youth. Speaking of batteries, there is no integrated rechargeable battery; just a slot for a single AA, which adds considerably heft toward the back of the mouse, screwing up the balance. There is no place to plug in a cable for wired operation should you run out of juice and have no AA battery available. The bottom also contains a small slot to hold the USB wireless dongle for transport.
This is a mid-to-low profile mouse suitable for claw-style grip, but the heavy rear weight from the AA battery makes it hard to keep the mouse straight with just your fingertips. The shape is comfortable enough, but there’s no getting over the cheap plastic feel of the sides.
Its design is almost symmetrical, in that the left and right side have the same shape, but the thumb buttons are only on the left side, making it a right-handed mouse. The sides have clear cutouts to let the bright red LED shine through—you can flip off the lights using a switch on the bottom, but there are no brightness levels and no programmable lighting functions. The mouse is either lit up bright red, or it’s not.
Along the top of the mouse is a big wide rubbery scroll wheel (which clicks, but does not rock left and right as some mice do) and a pair of sensitivity adjustment buttons.
You can choose from five DPI settings which cannot be customized. You simply tap the buttons beneath the scroll wheel to switch between 800, 1200, 1600, 2000, and 2400 DPI. You can toggle the polling rate of the wireless transmitter between 125 and 250Hz by holding down the right mouse button and scroll wheel button for a couple seconds. Most top quality gaming mice top out at 1000Hz, which is four times this polling rate. Those who demand the most instantaneous response might find a big difference between a 4ms polling rate and 1ms, but most of my gripes come from all the other ways in which this mouse feels terrible.
There is no software associated with this mouse at all: You can’t set up macros, reassign buttons, change acceleration rate, or change the five DPI settings. This is a basic, dumb mouse for which you will only use the standard Windows mouse drivers and settings.
I tried to give this mouse a decent chance. I really did. But before I even had time to get into a game, I hated it. The movement is inconsistent and inaccurate enough that I had trouble properly selecting the beginnings and ends of words when selecting text in Word and Gmail. I felt like the natural grip for this mouse is to primarily use my fingertips in “claw” position, but the heavy AA battery in the back end of the mouse kept causing it to turn in my hand.
The main left and right mouse buttons feel like mush. They’re absolutely silent, which could be a neat feature if you care about making too much noise, but they have the rubbery and sluggish feel of the cheapest rubber-dome chiclet keyboard you’ve ever used. Gaming with this mouse is a disaster. My accuracy went to hell in Battlefield 1 and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. I kept misclicking small interface elements in Civilization VI. I misplaced walls and doors in RimWorld. Playing a mouse-heavy game like Diablo III felt like I was trying to play with my non-dominant hand.
You know how you would go play video games at your friend’s house as a kid, and he would let you be player 2 with his second crummy, off-brand, doesn’t-work-right controller? When you lost, you’d complain that it was all the controller’s fault, and half the time you’d be right. This mouse is a like that. There is a place for cheap equipment intended for low-precision day-to-day work. A $15 mouse doesn’t need to perform like a $150 mouse. But it still needs to get the job done. And Easterntimes Tech’s offering here fails at that.
This mouse is available in a few different forms on Amazon for the price of $15. Yes, just $15:
• See the Easterntime Tech X-08 on Amazon