If you haven’t noticed, Gigabyte has been flexing its gaming peripheral muscles as of late, producing some truly great products that can easily match offerings from the likes of Razer and such. We had received their first attempts, the Aivia K8100 gaming keyboard
, and later on two mid-range mices, the Gigabyte M6900
, for review and came out really impressed. The products packed a healthy feature set, great ergonomics, decent styling and more importantly, carried a price tag that was much below from that of competing products.
Today we take a look at another Aivia product, the M8600 wireless gaming mouse. With it, Gigabyte has gone slightly out of mold, and has slapped it with a...for a lack of a better word, ‘normal’ price tag, that, for its specs, puts it directly against the likes of Razer Mamba and Cyborg C.A.T 9. Thankfully, Gigabyte justifies the price tag by ticking almost every bullet point that one looks for in a wireless gaming mouse - styling, onboard memory, dual-mode capacity, crazy DPI sensor and a gamut of buttons. However, the biggest feature point that will mostly grab your attention is the promise of 100 hours of continuous wireless battery performance, a claim none of the other wireless gaming mouses can boast of. We will talk more about that in the sections below.
Packaging and Design
I don’t usually factor-in in a product’s packaging into my review, nor does it affect how the product will be scored. But Gigabyte has forced me to at least mention it with the M8600. The mouse came packaged in possibly the most unique box design that I have seen. Had you seen it on a retail shelve, you could have easily mistaken it for something else.
Unlike the the usual square plastic-and-cardboard that most mices come in, the M8600 comes in a long cylindrical box, wrapped in a dazzling combination of bold graphics and snazzy styling. If this does not scream “enthusiasts” then I am not sure what does. The tube breaks away into two compartments, each holding different parts of the device. One compartment is reserved for the mouse, which sits heads up without any foam or plastic covering it, not that its rock solid casing needs any protection. The bottom one contains a cloth bag which carries the 2 USB cables, the wireless station and the extra battery.
Coming to the actual device, my first impression instantly garnered it a “wow, that looks sweet”. In fact, most of us at the office bobbed our heads impressed. And there is no denying, the M8600 is one aggressively styled mouse. Somehow, the overly curvaceous top, edgy angles and the slightly protruding thumb rest reminds me of those BMW concept cars that we have been drooling at for years.
As with the 6900 series mouse, the DPI changers are centrally located on the M8600. This time around however, they have placed them besides the LED lights. The LEDs are embedded on the only piece of glossy plastic on the mouse. There are four of them, with the bottom one, which is shaped like the Covenant Sword from Halo, indicating the profile color. The lights can display upto 27 different customizable colors, so if you don’t like the default pink and purple, you can have changed it to a more...err, manly color.
Unlike the Mamba and the C.A.T 9, the M8600 is a ambidextrous mouse and as such you will find two additional side kickers on the right (or if you are a lefty, left) side of the mouse as well. Unfortunately, like most ambidextrous mices, these extra buttons are hard to reach, oddly placed and are pretty much useless. You may find some use on Windows, but in games, during high octane multiplayer clashes, you will be killed before you fumble your way out of them.
Most of the mouse is covered in smooth matte plastic, however the thumb rest on both the sides feature a sandpaper pattern. I generally sweat a lot while playing games so this is a great addition for me. It adds a layer of grip and allows me to continue holding the mouse for extended periods of time before I feel the need to, well, take a break
On the front of the mouse, just below the tyre-patterned scroll wheel, is an opening to convert the mouse into a wired one. And it is possibly the most useless feature of the mouse. Because you see, Gigabyte actually delivers on the battery life claim. Well most of it anyway, and certainly greater than what other wireless mices can muster. On a single charge, I have used the mouse for upto 15 hours now and out of the three LED indicators, it has only managed to chip off one of them. You do the math.
And then you have the extra battery as well. Once the main battery runs out, you can swap it with the extra one and keep the main battery on charge directly through the wireless receiver, much like the C.A.T 9. With upto, at least, 80 hours of combined battery life and the capacity to charge the batteries as you use, you will pretty much never run out of juice ever. The same could be said of the C.A.T 9, of course, but the time between battery changes on the M8600 is much, much longer.
The M8600 comes packaged with Gigabyte Ghost engine. The overly flashy software (literally, it’s Flash based) opens up the mouse for the usual set of tweaks and tunes. You can set up Macros, profile colors, sensitivity levels, scrolling speeds, etc. The software presents you with a preset list of keyboard keys the M8600’s button can be assigned to. Unfortunately, you can not create custom keystrokes which I found to be quite limiting.
Another annoying factor of the software is that the mouse has to be connected via the USB cable to be able to assign buttons. It wouldn’t be so annoying had fitting the cable back to the receiver wasn’t so painfully hard. In fact, the opening for the USB cable on the receiver is so small, you would think Gigabyte shipped in the wrong set of wires. The trick is to slant it upwards and fit the cable through the tiny slits on the side of the opening. Yeah, not the most convenient way. Ease of use over style, Gigabyte, please.
Despite its long and large form factor, and
despite the itch caused by the ‘V’ formed at the belly, the M8600 is pretty darn comfortable. It is in fact the only mouse that I have used where I can reach both of the side buttons without moving my thumb too much. Also, the sandpaper-fused thumb rest adds fantastic grip to the mouse.
But that’s where most of the dandy ends. Due to its long form, my fingers only reach up to where the DPI changers are, and that’s not good. Many a times, while working or playing a game, I would find the sensor jump to higher speed for no apparent reason. Then I noticed that I was accidentally clicking the DPI button without even realizing that I was! I would have prefered the DPI changers on the top side of the mouse, like that on the Mamba, or on top of the LEDs like Gigabyte’s own 6900 mices. However stylish they look on the sides of the middle strip, they are not very conveniently placed at all. Not everyone are blessed with giant fingers!
The next issue, and the most serious one, is the weight. It is just too heavy. Coming from the Mamba, the M8600 felt like a large rock in my hand. With no weight management system, there is absolutely no way around it as well. In my test with Crysis 2 and Bulletstorm, I found myself ‘dragging’ the mouse. I struggled with my aim and was mostly off in close quarter combat and anything that would require quick reflexes. Of course, gradually I adjusted to the weight and started responding much better but I was never as good as I can be with the Mamba.
Gigabyte M8600’s biggest strength is its 80+ hours of combined battery performance. There is no rival to it. However, I found the mouse faltering where it mattered the most - accuracy. You may eventually adjust to the heaviness of the mouse, but there will always be that unfulfilled gap of improvement. Priced at AED 395, it certainly comes at the higher-end of the spectrum. Then, would I recommend it over the Mamba? Maybe. Would I recommend it over the C.A.T 9? Certainly not. Cyborg’s mouse is all that what M8600 aims to be and then some. Yes, the battery may not last as long but you can swap them just as well. At that price then, I would skip M8600 over others in the market.