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Some gaming mice are out to shake up the entire market, and others exist just to provide a good peripheral at a reasonable price. The CM Storm Recon ($39) falls into the latter category. This all-purpose gaming mouse is suitable for just about everyone, regardless of handedness, grip style or preferred genre, and doesn't cost very much.
If you want a mouse that will work with your playing style right out of the box, without breaking the bank, the Recon works well. If you have more specific needs, you'll probably need a more nuanced mouse.
The CM Storm Recon is a fairly simple mouse, but not an uncomfortable one. With an ambidextrous, symmetrical design and a conservative number of buttons, the Recon is a device that's equally suited to palm- and claw-grip players as well as righties and lefties.
Users have a total of nine buttons to play with, but in reality, they'll probably only use seven. The Recon has a left button, a right button, a clickable scroll wheel, two DPI (dots-per-inch) adjustment buttons right beneath the scroll wheel, and four thumb buttons (two on each side of the mouse).
Since the mouse is ambidextrous, most users will want to disable the thumb buttons on their nondominant side. Otherwise, the buttons are too easy to click by accident.
MORE: Best Gaming Mice
The buttons themselves are large and offer a satisfying amount of resistance. Their placement is occasionally a little off, though. One thumb button is much easier to reach than the other, and the DPI buttons are scrunched up so close to the scroll wheel that clicking them at a pivotal moment could prove dodgy.
Beyond that, there's not much to say about the Recon's look and feel. There are more comfortable mice on the market, especially for righties, but it's a perfectly functional, attractive design that won't tax your hand over long periods of play.
Unlike the Recon's smaller cousin, the CM Storm Xornet, the Recon has its own dedicated software. Compared to the industry-leading Razer Synapse and Logitech Gaming software, the program is a bit clunky, but it gets the job done, especially if you're willing to tinker a bit.
The Recon software supports five different profiles, although the default profile is unalterable. In each new profile, you can customize the function of each button as well as the four available DPI levels, button sensitivities and the color of the mouse's illumination.
The DPI ranges from 800 to 4,000. While this is a narrower range than what's found on higher-end gaming mice, it's the exact range in which most gamers feel comfortable.
The software is fairly comprehensive, but it's also a bit convoluted. The default profile, for example, switches colors as it switches DPI levels, but this useful feature is totally absent from user-created profiles. It's impossible to tell the mouse's DPI setting on user-created profiles except by feel.
If you want to keep the DPI setting limited to a single value, you need to set all four markers to the same point; you can't simply limit the selection. The mouse illumination colors are generally not very bright; blues and greens, and reds and pinks, tend to get muddled together. You can't link games to profiles, and if you want to switch profiles by using buttons on the mouse, you'll need to custom-program every profile.
These problems are by no means deal breakers, but they do demonstrate a lack of polish. While the Recon software will get the job done, you'll have to spend at least a few minutes grappling with it before you play your favorite game, and no peripheral should make your gaming experience less fun.
The Recon played well when we ran it through our standard battery of games: "BioShock Infinite," "StarCraft II," "Batman: Arkham City" and "World of Warcraft." In terms of responsiveness, precision and accuracy, the mouse performs as well as any other dedicated gaming mouse — at least when it's on the right kind of surface.
Interestingly, the Recon is the first mouse we have ever tested that did not play well with our rigid mouse pad. On a soft mouse pad or an office desk, it worked fine. On surfaces without much resistance, the mouse had a significant tendency to drift toward the right. This made some games (like the fast-paced "BioShock Infinite") more difficult than others.
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Otherwise, the Recon gave us very little trouble. The extra buttons were helpful for keeping our most frequently used commands at our fingertips. Firing off spells in "World of Warcraft," picking up items in "BioShock Infinite," selecting groups of soldiers in "StarCraft II" or crouching to sneak up behind enemies in "Arkham City" were all useful skills to have assigned to thumb buttons.
However, the set of thumb buttons on our nondominant side were often liabilities. Depending on how your ring finger and pinky rest against the mouse, clicking the dominant thumb buttons could trigger the nondominant thumb buttons as well, which was often the case for us. We found it was better to assign these buttons no function and let them stay out of the way.
While the Recon does not have any appreciable liftoff range, it does have some of the best Z-axis tracking of any mouse we've reviewed. Picking up the mouse and putting it down again barely caused any cursor movement at all.
The Recon is not likely to be a darling of the PC gaming world, but it balances every annoyance with something useful. Its software is a little obtuse, its ambidextrous design makes two buttons essentially superfluous and it can be tetchy on very smooth surfaces. On the other hand, the Recon is attractive, comfortable, functional and inexpensive. For the price, you could do much worse.
Laser Depth: 2 mm
DPI: 800 - 4,000
Size: 108 x 57 x 38 mm
Weight: 155 g
Grip Type: Palm/Claw
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Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.