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I’m particularly glad to see COUGAR plying its trade this side of the Atlantic. Although the market is rather saturated with peripheral companies all outdoing each other on seemingly insignificant details, in the end, price and value will always win out on features. The more the merrier too — you can never quite suggest that competition in the industry is a bad thing.
Available to the public since December, the COUGAR 700M gaming mouse is the latest product aimed at enthusiast gamers. And judging by this mouse’s exterior, it means business.
Sitting below the R1000 (US$80) mark, its affordable, but it isn’t exactly cheap for the casual gamer either. Additionally, it faces some stiff competition from the likes of Logitech, Razer, SteelSeries and Corsair, among others that offer more subtle options.
So does the COUGAR 700M’s growl match its price tag? Let’s have at it.
I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed unboxing a product as much as this, partly because the box is so strange. COUGAR has taken great care to wrap this thing up properly, which gives the consumer confidence in the manufacturer’s products — an often unmentioned bonus.
Once the cardboard and plastic armour around is removed, there’s a fair deal of extras for a mouse under a grand. COUGAR packs the 700M with four tiny circular weights, each weighing in at around four grams each — these can be added or removed to the centre stack of the mouse. Also included is a smaller palm-rest for the pixie-handed shrouded in high density foam. The foam is also something that can be used again to keep replaced parts, so its a nice touch by COUGAR.
Although I did love the box, its a bit of an illogical lust — consumers prefer companies to pack the cash into the actual product and not the box design.
Once the mouse is finally out of its box, it seems like COUGAR got help from an architect (or an armadillo enthusiast) whilst designing this thing. Clearly drawing inspiration from the R.A.T. range’s modular design, the 700M reminds me of a slightly toned down version of the Mad Catz R.A.T. 7.
With that said, it’s an attractive piece of kit and should look good next to any machine of any hue. The LED that light up the front of the mouse can also be changed to suit the machine, or to notify the user of the mouse profile — functional and funky. I found that it didn’t quite work as well as I expected though. It’s subtle, but a bit too subtle for me. Still, it works nicely in a pitch black room.
Black is pretty much the general theme here too. The so-called “Black Edition” is shrouded in charred plastic and rubber grips which looks great, and would go with a matte black gaming case extremely well.
Its party piece is arguably that aluminium frame which peaks through its skin, and gives the the 700M a very aggressive facade. I especially like the horn-like protrusions poking out at the front of the mouse. Consumers also get a braided cable with a gold-plated USB — COUGAR really takes performance seriously it seems.
Rearward, the palm-rest can be adjusted courtesy of a gold thumb screw located beneath the device. To the left, the thumb rest is enormous and houses a neat little sniper button.
I’m tempted to say that the 700M is over-engineered, but that would be taking away from the actual feel underhand. And why not? Gaming is about experience and ultimately dependent on performance — it seems right that it spends a few more bucks on these details.
With that said, it would be wrong to gloss over this mouse’s cheat sheet because COUGAR puts so much into R&D, so here we go.
It features an 8200 DPI (dots per inch) laser sensor that’s probably as sensitive as one could (or should) ever need, and is especially useful for playing games at 4K resolution, or for professional gamers with incredibly sensitive hands.
The 700M is also home to a 32-bit ARM CPU and 512kb RAM to ensure that the device doesn’t lean too heavily on its host machine, a nice touch but something we’ve seen more often on gaming peripherals. It’s certainly ready for hardcore gamers but whether the casual gamer will benefit from that, its debatable.
Users can also adjust the mouse’s polling time, from 125Hz to 1000Hz, boasting a 1ms response time. That’s a whole lot better than most mouses at this price range. The company’s also claiming a five million click lifetime, which should be a good few years at most for casual gamers, not so many for professionals (or in the case of Minesweeper addicts, a few days)
How does this translate into performance though ? Well, it really depends on the game.
While playing fast paced FPSes like Battlefield 4 and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the mouse is in its element. The DPI scaling button helps, and thanks to the Cougar software, the sniper button can be adjusted from anything to 8200 DPI. I would’ve loved to see a bi-directional DPI button (as one can only scale upwards), but it works well enough. Granted, 8200 isn’t something everyone would need, but once gaming in 4K becomes a standard, it will be a nice addition.
The fire button is also nicely placed at the far corner of the left click, which means the two don’t explicitly interfere. The mouse wheel is perfect for cycling through weapons in quick play and the gap between notches is large enough to not select a semi-automatic when silent weapons are in order.
On the more practical front, it’s a comfortable mouse to hold in any situation. Playing slower RPGs and the mouse allows your hand to rest even if does feel a bit cumbersome at times. This can be overcome by adjusting the weight, something I played around with thoroughly. Unladen, the mouse is a not-too-heavy 110 grams, which should fit most people’s comfort range. Those who prefer mice in the 80 gram range should however stave away.
During everyday labours, the mouse also performs admirably, but this isn’t meant to be a house cat. The specialist keys can be adjusted and turning the fire button into a refresh button when on Firefox made life particularly easier. Also, changing the two buttons behind the sniper (in range of the to of the thumb) to page up and down worked well. I barely used these in when gaming though.
All in all, this mouse can definitely be used for mundane tasks without the need to have an “office” mouse on standby.
While no one will likely buy this thing for the pure hell of it (I hope) or to browse YouTube videos with an unduly air of smug, it’s adept at gaming and browsing alike, which is always a plus. Some competition-grade kit does tend towards the hardcore gamer, but COUGAR has found a middle ground.
Price and value
At around R934, it’s not a cheap peripheral especially for those on a budget. There are much cheaper mouses that perform the same duties with less flash and drama, and would probably be better to cart around (if you love your LANs). But those who buy this mouse will be looking for rigidity, build quality, customisation options and a certain degree of flash. This mouse has all of the above. But would I personally pay a grand on a mouse? Probably not.
Verdict: There’s barely anything to fault with this mouse. The COUGAR 700M stood up well to all sorts of gaming, real world and stress tests. Its styling is brash without being obnoxious and its many features go a long way to satisfying even the most demanding gamers.
It seems the same old issue rears its head though — where’s the left-handed version? The software also leaves a lot to be desired, but for the most part it’s admirably utilitarian and sips resources. All in all, considering the mouse itself with its higher-end its specifications and its build quality, I’d hate to call it over-engineered, but at the same token it will probably be a good investment for the future.
Is it the best gaming mouse for under R1000? Quite possibly.