Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Microsoft SideWinder X8

Roundup Review: 9 Gaming Mice
By

Microsoft’s recent venture back into gaming hardware has not only introduced one of today’s best gaming and media keyboards, but has put forward a new take on wireless gaming mice that will appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers. Previously spurned because wireless technology suffers from lag (while wired mice offer near-instantaneous response time), Microsoft revealed the SideWinder X8 to change its less than stellar reputation.

The X8 more closely resembles the G9x in design since it is slim at the top and fat near the palm. But that’s where all similarities end, as the G9x looks like a mouse with its sleek shape. The X8 even looks like a robot or a Cylon from the sci-fi TV series "Battlestar Galactica." Black and dark gray cover the majority of the top while the underbelly features a prominent silver finish. All major color differentiation denotes important aspects of the mouse.

For example, the scroll wheel and thumb buttons are silver, the active DPI button glows red below the scroll wheel, and the LED display and laser shine a dull Cylon red. Even the feet, which are detachable plastic sheets, come in three distinct colors for different surfaces. No other mouse we’ve tested so succinctly expresses its functions.

Like the G500, the X8 has a scroll wheel that acts as a third mouse button and scrolls right and left. We especially like the contour of the scroll wheel, which makes it very easy to grip when scrolling in all directions. All other tested scroll wheels are textured for scrolling up and down, and thus aren’t as easy to use for side scrolling as the X8 is.

The next and instant winner for the X8 is the thumb buttons. Unlike most mice, the thumb buttons are placed above and below where the thumb rests, making it remarkably easy to press both without moving your thumb to conform to the button placement. It takes no time at all to adjust to, and is easily one of the best advancements we’ve seen in mouse technology. And it’s simple, so we hope to see other companies implement the same principles in future mice.

Besides the standard five buttons, the X8 has five additional buttons. Three are for adjusting pre-set sensitivity settings (low, medium, and high), which are easy enough to press, although they are clearly not as intuitive as those on the G9x. It also limits the mouse to one profile, so you won’t be able to save multiple settings.

The SideWinder button defaults by opening your PC's Games folder, but can be set to do just about anything. It’s placed below the sensitivity buttons where your middle knuckle should rest, so it isn’t a button you’ll use often. The final button is a macros key, just beyond the thumb buttons. This allows users to set any keystroke for a given mouse button, although it is mostly useless for a mouse.

As a wireless mouse, the X8 impresses with a long 30 hours of play per charge. A switch on the back turns the mouse on and off, and it goes into a standby mode should you forget to turn it off. Standby cuts off once you move the mouse, so if you walk away for 10 minutes or 10 hours and come back, it’ll be ready as soon as you are. There is also no noticeable lag, and we found no evidence that using the X8 made us play worse because it wasn’t directly connected to the computer.

Along with the six-foot USB cable on the transceiver is a three-foot mouse connector for recharging. This magnetized connector is expertly done—just attach it to the mouse and it recharges. The X8 will recharge whether it’s on or off, and works just fine when it’s plugged in. The transceiver also doubles as the charging cable and triples as a container for the mouse feet.

Like Microsoft’s Arc mouse, the X8 uses Microsoft’s patented BlueTrack technology, which works on most any surface. We were able to use the X8 without problem on glass, mirrors, walls, and just about everything, except on cloth. On cloth, which some gaming mousepads are made of, the X8 stutters and tracks poorly, while all other mice performed just fine on this surface.

For gaming, the X8 performs well. There is no noticeable lag commonly complained about with wireless mice. Changing between DPI settings was more cumbersome than we’d like. The thumb buttons are an excellent change to today’s standard mouse layout, and they’re easier to use in-game because it requires moving your thumb up or down instead of pressing a button with the top or bottom of the thumb.

The X8 is a 4,000 DPI mouse and is thus one of the least sensitive mice in the roundup. That didn’t stop it from performing well in our tests. The lighting system can be irritating, especially when it’s plugged in or requires a recharge, where the red lights will brighten and dim repeatedly. This is extremely annoying when gaming, especially in a dark environment.

Microsoft’s SideWinder X8 retails for $55 on Amazon and we’ve seen deals that go even lower. The SideWinder X5, a wired gaming mouse from Microsoft, has some of the same features but is much less sensitive (only delivers 2,000 DPI), bulkier and less comfortable. We do not recommend it over the X8. Razer also offers the Mamba, another wireless gaming mouse, although we did not have one available for this article. The Mamba retails for $130, although we’ve found deals for $110.

Gaming Performance: 5
Non-Gaming Performance: 4.5
Comfort: 4
Features: 5
Price: 4.5

Overall: 4.5/5

Display all 39 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 9 Hide
    grillz9909 , December 18, 2009 5:17 PM
    Blah... no deathadder?
  • 6 Hide
    prince_david , December 18, 2009 5:18 PM
    I really enjoy my classic death adder.
  • 5 Hide
    jamezrp , December 18, 2009 5:39 PM
    DeathAdder's a great mouse guys, but it's older, and we've already looked at it before. It went into our holiday guide as well, as one of our favorite mice.
  • -1 Hide
    damian86 , December 18, 2009 6:22 PM
    Too much useless buttons on the razer,i don't even use all the G's on my G15 kb+ too fat
  • -6 Hide
    Luscious , December 18, 2009 7:36 PM
    Mice are so yesterday - Trackballs FTW!
  • 0 Hide
    steiner666 , December 18, 2009 8:11 PM
    i wish razer would make a new version of the diamonback with better quality construction. I havent found a more comfortable mouse for my hands, but the left mouse button started to go bad on mine, and the cable started to short out where it connects to the front of the mouse. My G9 has buttons that feel like they will last much longer, the side buttons are nicer and easier to use, and the braided-material-covered cord feels like it will hold up better... but the things just too short and doesnt feel as good with my usual claw-ish grip...
  • 2 Hide
    chechak , December 18, 2009 9:15 PM
    i think Logitech G5 and Logitech G9 and Logitech G9x is better than any mic ,i'll chose one of them (difference in price )
  • 1 Hide
    AMW1011 , December 18, 2009 9:51 PM
    steiner666i wish razer would make a new version of the diamonback with better quality construction. I havent found a more comfortable mouse for my hands, but the left mouse button started to go bad on mine, and the cable started to short out where it connects to the front of the mouse. My G9 has buttons that feel like they will last much longer, the side buttons are nicer and easier to use, and the braided-material-covered cord feels like it will hold up better... but the things just too short and doesnt feel as good with my usual claw-ish grip...


    My wired diamondback has worked great for 3, going on 4 years now. I also carry it around a lot so it is abused a bit.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , December 18, 2009 10:44 PM
    What about the Razer Mamba?
  • -4 Hide
    dingumf , December 18, 2009 11:37 PM
    grillz9909Blah... no deathadder?


    DeathAdder is crap. Razer is crap. Mouse wheel and grips deteriorate after about a year.

    worse piece of crap I ever bought
  • 0 Hide
    prince_david , December 19, 2009 1:01 AM
    damian86Too much useless buttons on the razer,i don't even use all the G's on my G15 kb+ too fat

    If you play MMOs like World of Warcraft you do end up using all your buttons. Having extra instant cast attacks really helps in PVP combat.
  • 0 Hide
    overshocks2 , December 19, 2009 1:26 AM
    go to 7th page. 3rd paragraph. change LDC to LCD.
  • -1 Hide
    Elementgreen , December 19, 2009 2:26 AM
    dingumf, chill out. Just because your specific product might not have lasted doesn't justify that the whole Company is crap. Mass produced products doesn't guarantee that what you're getting is going to be perfectly produced (and this shouldn't even come to mind when buying anything considering the chances of actually getting a poorly built product)

    I've had my Deathadder for a couple of years now, and I've had 0 issues with it. None of the parts have worn down, and it plays just like new. There's no reason to shoot your mouth off like a child because you might have had an unsatisfactory experience with Razer.

    I'm going to say that I've never had a piece of Logitech equipment that has lasted me more than a couple of months. I've bought a few headsets, and mice from them, and none of them have lasted longer than 3 months, and the product wasn't all that good for me to begin with. It's just a preference, and I would have eventually gotten used to the mice, but I wasted a bit of cash investing in Logitech. After I got a Razer I've stuck to them, and even bought a Razer keyboard, and both have been performing fantastically.

    Guys, the Deathadder is an AMAZING MOUSE. For me, Razer has been a solid company, especially in comparison to Logitech. At least give them a shot.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 19, 2009 2:38 AM
    Man, I'd love to see this article expanded every now and then...specially with some older stuff and then newer stuff as it comes out. I will say though, that I felt the graph was tough to read, if you added the scores, then represented it as a stacked bar graph, it would be much easier to compare mice.
  • 2 Hide
    the associate , December 19, 2009 4:11 AM
    I know il get thumbs down for this but here goes...

    Wtf no wireless Logitech G7/sidewinder X8/Razer Mamba gaming mouse???
    I know what your gona say, batteries suck, but tell that to the sidewinder X8, or the Razer Mamba, you attach a cord to recharge...if you can't attach a cord to a mouse during the last 2 hours of the battery's life in which it flashes the entire time to warn you of your battery's condition, then you don't deserve a gaming mouse.... I own a G7 and X8 and all I do is game, the tracking is superb on the G7, and you can make 5 dpi settings, the X8 has a very open grip, doesn't leave your hand feeling squeezed, and id try the razer mamba but thats one pricy mouse.
    I wish someone made a hybrid of a sidewinder x8 and logitech g7, the hand comfort and functionality of the x8 with the strong build quality and excellent laser tracking of the g7...maybe it's the mamba, but im not desperate enough to spend 115 bucks on a mouse yet
  • 2 Hide
    the associate , December 19, 2009 4:12 AM
    Scratch the X8 part in my post... -.-
  • 1 Hide
    aethm , December 19, 2009 3:42 PM
    really like my G5. I've had it for several years now. It's the only mouse that seems to fit my hand comfortably. It has enough buttons and custom button mapping makes it very versatile. Haven't tried the G500 but it has the same shape so that's what I'll be buying when my G5 craps out. BTW.. I own several rather expensive peripherals and the G5 mouse is one of the best purchases I've ever made.
  • 2 Hide
    joshthor , December 19, 2009 10:06 PM
    dingumfDeathAdder is crap. Razer is crap. Mouse wheel and grips deteriorate after about a year. worse piece of crap I ever bought

    deathadder is an amazing mouse. its the only gaming mouse that has lasted me. i have had it for 2 years, the mouse feet are perfect and the wheel is perfect and everything works great.
  • 0 Hide
    jamezrp , December 19, 2009 11:56 PM
    Guys, as I said, the Deathadder is an older mouse so it didn't make the cut for this roundup. We did mention it as part of possible Razer mice you might be interested in.

    The Associate and GTQ: the Logitech G7 is also very old, so we didn't include it. The Mamba...we wanted to include it, but Razer was unable to get it in to us in time for this roundup. Though my research of the mouse, at least compared to the SideWinder X8, says that the X8 is a better mouse overall. I have not tested or used the G7 at all, though perhaps at CES Logitech will announce a new wireless gaming mouse. That would be quite exciting.
  • 2 Hide
    slayvus , December 20, 2009 12:03 AM
    I think you could've done better on the mouse selection.

    There are a lot more mice that you could've tested.

    For example

    Cooler Master Storm Sentinel
    OZone Gaming Smog Gaming Mouse
    Steel Series Ikari
    OCZ Behemoth
    OCZ Eclipse
    HP's Gaming Mouse with VooDooDNA
Display more comments
Tom’s guide in the world
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Ireland
  • UK
Follow Tom’s guide
Subscribe to our newsletter