Playing first-person shooters (FPS) at a competitive level requires quick reflexes, the ability to think on one's feet and a responsive mouse. While the Corsair Vengeance M65 ($69.99) will not help with the first two qualifications, FPS fans will find this affordable gaming mouse to be a very powerful ally. The Vengeance M65 is a supremely comfortable peripheral with robust FPS optimizations. Yes, Corsair's software is somewhat obtuse, but otherwise, this gaming mouse is about as good as they get.
MORE: Best Gaming Mice
The Vengeance M65 marries form with function. Since hardcore FPS players need relatively few buttons to succeed (move, shoot, switch weapons, crouch, jump), the mouse offers eight buttons, only two of which most players will really want to reprogram.
The conservative number of buttons gives the Vengeance M65 lots of breathing room. The mouse is large and comfortable for both palm and claw grips. The textured pads on either side provide comfortable resting spots for the thumb and the two outermost fingers, and the mouse's considerable girth allows the whole palm to lay or arch across it. The design especially suits gamers with big hands.
Each button is also big, distinct and well placed. A large, ridged scroll wheel sits between the left and right mouse buttons; all provide just enough resistance for a satisfying click. Below that, two more buttons control the dots-per-inch (DPI) sensitivity.
On the thumb side, the Vengeance M65 boasts three buttons: two simple rectangular ones and a large square one with crosshairs on it. The two small buttons are the ones most players will want to customize. By default, the square button activates sniper mode.
MORE: How To Select The Perfect Gaming Mouse (Infographic)
Sniper mode slows down the mouse tracking by reducing DPI as long as the player presses down the button — a feature that can be useful when aiming through iron sights or using a sniper rifle. The button is large, easy to press and fit our thumb perfectly.
Add in three detachable weights to customize the mouse's mass, and the Vengeance M65 is just about as well designed as gaming mice come. The only downside is that it's available only in a right-handed conformation.
The Corsair software is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows users to customize almost everything about the mouse, including each of the eight buttons, the three DPI settings for each profile (and an extra one for the sniper mode) and as many individual profiles as desired.
In exchange, the software demands patience, and lots of it. There are no real instructions on how to program the mouse, so before you ever launch "Call of Duty" or "Battlefield," you'll have to play the old classic "trial and error." The quick-start sheet that accompanies the mouse actually leads you to the wrong website, which means you'll have to track down the software manually.
If you can figure out the obtuse user interface, it's hard to think of a feature Corsair's software lacks. You can assign individual keystrokes or functions to any button, program complex macros, set sensitivity to between 50 and 8,200 DPI, test the quality of your surface or even program liftoff height tolerances.
Of particular interest is the Independent X-Y DPI, which lets you set individual DPI levels for horizontal and vertical movement. This feature is simply brilliant, especially for FPS, and we're surprised that more gaming mice don't offer similar functionality.
Creating profiles and linking them with games is generally very simple, even if assigning buttons and macros presents a steep learning curve. You can also save profiles to the mouse itself, although retrieving them is not intuitive. It's generally much easier to export and import profiles.
The Vengeance M65 promises a peripheral that excels at one genre, and it delivers on its claim. The device is easily one of the most responsive and precise FPS mice on the market, but what's surprising is that it's also a perfectly good mouse for most other genres, from real-time strategy to action/adventure.
MORE: 15 Best Windows 8 Games
We spent the most time testing the Vengeance M65 with "BioShock Infinite" in order to test its FPS-specific features. The sniper button was extremely useful, whether we were picking off enemies with precise rifles or simply surveying a faraway area for adversaries. It was easy to adjust DPI on the fly, and programming the extra buttons freed up our keyboard hands to focus on movement.
Aiming and shooting were also enjoyable, thanks to excellent tracking and accurate positioning. Whether mowing down foes with machine guns, striking them with melee attacks from a skyhook or lighting them aflame with Vigors, our attacks found their mark.
We also tested the Vengeance M65 with "StarCraft II," "World of Warcraft" and "Batman: Arkham City." The mouse did not offer special functionality for these genres, but it gave us more than enough buttons to play with. The sniper button is reprogrammable, meaning that players can use it to build a barracks, open a quest log or fire a grappling hook just as easily in non-FPS games.
The player determines liftoff range and Z-axis tracking. In our tests, we found that the Low setting on the Corsair was rather unforgiving about lifting or tilting the mouse even slightly, while the High setting let us lift the mouse a few millimeters in any direction without loss of control. The Z-axis tracking was faithful in all cases, moving the cursor very little when we lifted the Vengeance M65 and set it down again.
With its inspired design, deep software and stunning accuracy, the Vengeance M65 is our favorite FPS mouse yet. If you invest in this peripheral, know that the software may throw you for a loop. However, hardcore FPS fans should not let that deter them from this otherwise-excellent mouse.
Laser Depth: 1.5 mm
DPI: 50 – 8,200
Size: 114 x 83 x 32 mm
Weight: 164 grams (Adjustable)
Grip Type: Palm/Claw