The first thing you see with any product is the box it comes in. The CoolerMaster Spawn box is black with very eye catching glossy red accents and white trim. The interior is also red which is a very nice touch. The flip out face gives allows you to view the Spawn, and a cut out at the bottom so you can get a feel for it before purchase. If as much thought in the box design goes into the mouse, we may have something special. Let's find out!
Important Specs and Features
- Right Hand Ergonomic-Claw
- 3500 DPI (maximum) Optical Sensor
- On-the-fly DPI switching (800, 1800, 3500 DPI)
- Onboard Sentinel-X memory (32 Kb)
- Rubberized Anti-slip Grip
- Maximum 1000 Hz USB Poling Rate
- Maximum Tracking Speed of 60 IPS
- 7 Fully Programmable Buttons
- Teflon Feet
- 2 Meter long cable (approx. 6 feet)
- Light weight Steel Construction
- Omron Micro Switches (rated for 5 million clicks)
The CM Spawn has a well crafted feel and striking looks. I personally love the black and red color scheme, but it would be nice to have more color options. My PC is 99% black, so the semi-glossy red is a beautiful accent.
The drivers and mouse button assignments are stored in the 32 Kb Sentinel X memory, so there is no need to hunt down drivers. Once Windows 7 booted, the mouse installs the drivers for you (but not the Spawn software). This was especially useful in Ubuntu 10.10. In Ubuntu, the Spawn not only works, but maintains all its functions without the need to install drivers or modify configuration files. Every button assignment was exactly the way I set it in Windows 7.
How Does It Feel?
The three most important things to me in a mouse are comfort, functionality, and flexibility. I am 6'4" tall with large hands and I naturally use a palm style mouse grip. Even though I was using the palm style grip instead of the claw style, the CM Spawn is still very comfortable to hold despite its short length.
The Spawn handles very well with day to day tasks. The buttons can easily be assigned to common tasks such as double click, keyboard shortcuts, or even a macro of keyboard inputs (up to ten inputs per macro) to make general use easier. This is when comfort is most important and I never once experienced hand fatigue or comfort issues while using the Spawn.
I also spent some time playing a variety of games ranging from Battlefield Bad Company 2 (I am Gysgt_Highway) to Magicka with the CoolerMaster Spawn. While I don't need to do this, I can change any button on the mouse to fit any task. If you need an extra button for a game, I recommend changing one of the default DPI buttons to the Cycle DPI[+] option. This lets you keep DPI on-the-fly changing while gaining an extra button.
Layout, Controls, and Configuration
All mouse buttons are not equal. There are mice with additional buttons that only register an On or Off state. The CM Spawn buttons, like high-end gaming mice, also register a Hold state. This increases the options for button assignments as you would not be able to use digital buttons for these features. I cannot use the additional buttons on my MX Revolution to cook grenades, but I can with the Spawn.
There are a few limitations to the CM Spawn that become very clear once you install the Spawn software. The macros can only have 10 events programmed with "press" and "release" being recorded as two separate events. The 5 input macros will be plenty for most uses, but this may not be enough for MMORPGs, RTS games, or professional applications.
The Spawn seems to have 800, 1800, and 3500 DPI as fixed resolutions, yet there is a menu to change them. There are no other options to choose from beyond these three. More options may be added in a future update; otherwise, I think this section of the software should just be removed.
MegaTechie Fragger or MegaTechie Frogger?
The CM Spawn is an entry level gaming mouse, but the MSRP of $49.99 will put it in the ring with the Logitech G500 and Razr DeathAdder. While it would hold its own in style, comfort, and build quality, both the G500 and DeathAdder offer more robust software packages. If the price of the Spawn was $7 to $10 cheaper, it would be a much better buy.
Overall, the Cooler Master Spawn is a great buy for Linux gamers, first time gaming mouse buyers, and those who want a great daily use mouse. Even with some shortcomings in its software, it clearly outclasses any mouse below the $40 mark. I can recommend this mouse to anyone who has smaller hands or wants a gaming mouse that doesn't require days of reading to fully customize.
- Design and Build Quality
- Clean Intuitive Software
- Onboard Memory
- Comfortable with Either Claw or Palm Grip
- Linux Friendly
- Some Software Features Limited or Pointless
- Too Short for Large Hands