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Cooler Master Storm Octane LED Gaming Combo Review (SGB-3020-KKMF1)

Cooler Master CMStorm Octane MS35 Mouse: A Closer Look

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The CMStorm MS35 Mouse reminds us of the Cooler Master Sentinel series mice, minus the finger flairs on the palm side, and the MS35 mouse has a bit of a flimsy feel to it. It’s rated for a 10 million click cycle, but we wouldn’t recommend bouncing it off any walls during “Oh no! I got head-shotted again!” fits.

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The Octane MS35 Mouse has the standard two keys on top (left and right-click), the mouse wheel which acts as the third key, and has a rubber wraparound for easy traction. You find two additional side buttons on the thumb side of the mouse for right-handed users. This is definitely not a lefty mouse, as no buttons reside on the non-thumb (right) side.

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The right side is fairly unremarkable, but as mentioned, this isn’t an ambidextrous mouse and therefore there are no buttons on the right side.

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From the top you get a glimpse of the two small windows that light up, resembling a Transformer’s eye slits. The two top buttons are for DPI and color switching. The button closest to the wheel switches the DPI setting (ranging from 500 – 3500 in 4 levels) but there’s no DPI LED indicator so you have to wing it. The rear button switches colors, and both buttons have a tactile and audible clicking noise to let you know you’ve switched DPI and colors.

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Here’s a top view that gives you a better look at the styling of the CMStorm Octane MS35 mouse. We have to admit that for an entry-level mouse it does have a sharp, stylish look.

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The bottom of the CMStorm Octane mouse shows three Teflon feet and the Avago 3050 optical sensor. It also shows the usual warning icons, URL for Cooler Master, and what appears to be a cover for adjustable weights. Adjustable weights would have been a big plus for the combo, but Cooler Master just put the cover there for looks or perhaps for a weighted variant later.

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Now that we have the technicals out-of-the-way, here’s a shot of the CMStorm Octane mouse with the blue lighting. As you can see, it’s rather muted and will be covered by your palm when gaming, but does provide a sleek Transformers look. All the colors available on the keyboard are available on the mouse, so we’ll leave the mouse color shots to blue and red.

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Here’s the red “eye” view and we have to mention that red makes it look a bit wicked. Noticing the rear hip of the Octane mouse, we find ourselves missing the extra flare from the Sentinel and our hand is rubbing the mouse pad as we mouse around. Flares on the rear of the Octane mouse would go a long way to ease the movement of the mouse across any pad, as the second your hand drags any mouse pad, it increases resistance. The other thing we miss about flared hips is that it seemed like we had to make a conscious effort to suspend our hand above the pad to prevent friction and most of us tend to let our arm and hand droop over the mouse. Clench style mice incur a higher rate of hand fatigue during intensive gaming sessions.

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One of the coolest features of the Octane mouse is the two lit panels on the front which illuminate a small patch in front of the mouse. As you slide around the mouse pad, you get the occasional screen reflection of the patches and for all the world they seem like Transformer eyes glaring at you from the shadows.

Testing Methodology & Gaming Performance

Testing mice and keyboards is a bit subjective, but we fired up our massive gaming rig (5920K Overclocked to 4.375 GHz with Dual GTX 960’s in SLI) then broke the learning curve by coding some review material. Once we are comfortable with the mouse and keyboard, and the buttons and keys feel natural in our hands, we move on to the gaming phase. This process makes for a slower release of the review, but it’s not rushed, as rushing a mouse and keyboard combo review isn’t a good idea. You can’t form an intelligent opinion of a mouse and keyboard combo in a day. All you can do is rush the release of the article and short the readers of real insight on the product.

For gaming we went old-school and hit a little Crysis 3 and some Elder Scrolls Skyrim, representing a first person shooter and an action RPG.

Gaming Performance

Octane MB70 Keyboard

Despite having a non-mechanical nature and using membrane keys, the keyboard has a bit of “clickyness” to it. We generally prefer mechanical keys for the tactile feedback they provide. The membrane keys on the Octane keyboard were easy to press, and we had very few failed keystrokes during gaming. Failed keystrokes aren’t really an indicator of a bad keyboard, but more an indication of the gaming excitement. Mechanical keyboards give you that tactile response and membrane keyboards give you a little mushier feel. The membrane keys took less pressure to depress than say the Razer Chroma, which has mechanical keys. You really can’t fault the Octane for having keys that are a bit mushy at it’s price point. Take into consideration that the Chroma costs around $162 and that the Cooler Master Octane Combo is $49.99 after rebate.

It’s a hard pill to swallow when your gaming keyboard cuts you out of buying two quality games. With the Cooler Master Octane Combo you can get a gaming mouse and keyboard and two games for the price of the Blackwidow Chroma, so the savings are appreciated and once you get past the non-mechanical nature of the Octane MB70 keyboard, it’s not a bad gamer.

Now, there are amenities we do miss with the Octane. This keyboard is entry-level gaming gear and we are a bit spoiled, but there’s no software with the Octane keyboard. You simply change the color and breathing pattern with an function key combo, so it’s all mechanical in getting pattern changes. The lack of programming software also means no macros can be laid out for easier gaming. Now we had no problem with complex keystroke commands, and the 19-key Anti-Ghosting feature is nice for an entry level set.

The one feature we didn’t expect to see was being able to adjust the input speed of the keystrokes using the FN & Q keys. Cooler Master may have utilized the FN key a bit too much, so at first you may end up FNing a breathing effect instead of an input rate change, but after the learning curve it’s not bad.

Octane MS35 Mouse

We enjoyed the Octane MS35 mouse, but not as much as the MB70 keyboard in the combo. The mouse has great keys that are easy to use and the tactile response is passable, but it feels flimsy in our hands. The DPI adjustments with the button closest to the wheel are easy to make, but you have four levels from 500 DPI to 3500 DPI and no indicator of what DPI you are actually on. You have to gauge the DPI by feel and by the distance your cursor is traveling on the screen. Still, having an adjust-on-the-fly DPI button on an entry level set is a bit of a luxury, so the lack of a DPI indicator won’t cost the Octane many scoring points.

We found the 3500 DPI setting quite enough for fast gaming adjustments in Crysis 3, but at times we over shot our target and had to reign the mouse back in. The problem here is that during the heat of battle, you go from 3500 DPI to 500 DPI, which is a crawl, so you have to click three or four times to get past the 3500 DPI and back past the 500 DPI setting to a playable DPI.

The lower DPI setting of 500 was handy for coarser adjustments, but the 2000 DPI range was best suited for our gaming style. We have had our hands on 6000 DPI mice and the wind blowing across the hairs on your hand sends you flying across the screen. So 500 DPI isn’t really enough but ultra high DPI sends the mouse flying across the screen wildly. At the entry-level, 500 to 3500 DPI works and if you just chucked dad’s old 800 DPI Microsoft mouse, the Octane will feel luxurious, if a bit flimsy.

Of course, the Octane mouse is an optical mouse and shouldn’t be confused with a laser mouse. Optical mice can be good, and the Octane mouse is a good optical, but optical will never match the precision of laser. Of course optical will never see the price of laser precision, so it’s a trade-off.

With mice, you have to strike a balance with keys. We’ve seen mice with 10 MMORPG keys mounted under your thumb and those are way overkill and lead to a lot of mousing mistakes. The five keys: right and left click, the mouse wheel and the two shoulder keys on the left side of the Octane are plenty for most end users.

Final Thoughts

The Cooler Master CMStorm Octane Combo is a fairly capable keyboard and mouse combo in the entry-level gaming arena. We Award_Approvallike the value it represents for entry-level gamers and it’s an inexpensive path into the world of gaming peripherals. The seven color backlighting of the combo is definitely a great selling point, but don’t set your expectations too high at the $59.99 normal price point. The lighting is great for a seven color, LED backlight, but you have to accept membrane keys.

The CMStorm Octane mouse performed well enough, but again it’s a matter of expectations. If your 6000 DPI, gold-plated, head-shotter with 35 buttons and 12 adjustable weights just died, then the Cooler Master Octane probably isn’t for you. If you have a tight budget and prefer to spend the money on games and get entirely acceptable performance, the you’ll be happy with the Octane Combo.

Throughout the summer there will be a lot of birthday parties where the Octane Combo will be a welcome sight. Many lawns will get mowed and old items put up for sale to get the slick look and backlighting that the Octane Combo offers.

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The Bear Facts: The Cooler Master Octane Gaming combo offers a good value for entry-level gaming gear and many entry-level gamers will be excited to see it arrive in the mail or at a birthday party. The seven backlit colors are sweet to the eye and the mouse sensor switches colors as you switch the eye colors of the mouse. All in all, the value of the Octane Combo outweighs any shortcomings, and we always appreciate a good product in the affordable range.

ProsCons
  • Seven Color LED Backlights
  • Stylish Look
  • Keyboard Feels Substantial
  • 19-Key Anti-Ghosting
  • 6 Multimedia Keys
  • DPI On The Fly
  • Good Avago 3050 Optical Sensor
  • Price
  • Mouse Feels Flimsy
  • Optical Not Laser Sensor
  • Feet on Keyboard Feel Flimsy

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