CM Storm Sentinel Z3RO-G Review
There is a lot to like about the CM Storm Sentinel Z3RO-G. There is also a swathe of niggles and missed opportunities.
Let's start with the good stuff.
The Z3RO-G is a really comfortable mouse. As someone with large hands some smaller mice can feel a little cramped in the hand. This is not an issue with the Z3RO-G as, despite it's fairly low profile, it's got everything exactly where you'd expect it to be, and the thumb rest is neither too shallow nor as extreme as mice such as the Logitech Revolution MX.
All the buttons have a lovely tactile feel when you click them. The scroll-wheel is deserving of special praise as it's not as smooth as some, but have a lovely notchiness to it that makes switching weapons a joy. Scroll-wheels are always struggling for the delicate balance between the smoothness needed for document scrolling and the positive click needed to make sure you don't suddenly end up with the Impact Hammer when you wanted the Redeemer. It's also one of the quieter ones we've tested which makes speedily scrolling down webpages more enjoyable than some of the "playing card in spokes" affairs of other mice.
The software is a vital part of modern mice with their swathes of customisation and the Z3RO-G is no exception. There is a wealth of options available although sadly it's lacking some of the pre-built profiles that we've seen from Roccat or Razer. To make the most out of this you've really got the put the time in as the documentation is very good, but without any pre-built ones to give you an idea of the power available there is a bit of poke and hope involved.
Indeed the software is one of the areas in which the Z3RO-G really niggles. Installing the software is a phenomenally buggy affair. The installer that creates all your directories doesn't actually bother to copy any of the content off the CD and so all your shortcuts are blank and, besides some extra empty directories you haven't actually come away from the install with anything new. Browsing the CD finds all the setup wizards and autoruns one would expect, so you just have to copy these across manually. In fact they don't even need to be installed at all as the Z3RO-G configuration software and the Firmware updater are standalone products.
The much lauded inclusion of "Shattered Horizons in the box" sounds good, but in actuality what you get is a redeemable code and a long download that leaves you with a sparsely populated online shooter that's nearly two years old. Coupled to the default softwares inability to let you turn off the logo on the OLED so you can see your own personalised one and the default mouse profile being locked to that particular game and you'll quickly grow to loathe it more than enjoy it. It's certainly by no means a deal-maker or breaker, and whilst it's free so we shouldn't grumble too much it actually lessens your enjoyment of the mouse itself. Shot themselves in the foot there.
Thankfully the latest software update allows you to switch this logo off but that does lead to the obvious missed opportunity of having a screen on your mouse. Why can Shattered Horizons take up the whole screen, but our personalised logos are limited to 32x32? Why can't we replace that logo with our clan one? Or site one in our case. If CM Storm can do it, so should we. Equally if we have a screen that can display any information we choose, why is it locked to just showing DPI? Why not CPU Temperature or a thousand other possibilities. We've got the ability to assign colours to each profile so we can tell at a glance what our DPI is or which profile we've chosen. So really the screen sits and does nothing useful at all.
The final design quirk comes from the placement of the weights. They are right at the back of the mouse and whilst we might like big butts and we cannot lie, it does tend to make any movements of the Z3RO-G be more of an arc than a straight line. Especially as it comes with 22.5g in the back end by default. Sure you can remove them to lighten it considerably, but then you can't tune the mouse as you'd like because you have to leave most of them out to maintain accuracy, which is what gaming mice are all about.
It's a testament to the comfort and precision that the Z3RO-G has that it is capable of still standing tall despite those many issues. The sensor is amazing and tracks well over a host of surfaces. But the screen isn't used to barely 5% of its potential but with all those things aside it's still the great mouse it's always been. It's definitely a tiny evolution rather than a wholesale fix of the original Sentinel Advance. It's priced very well at around £45 and you do get a hell of a lot of mouse for that money. If you have a yearning to fly around in space shooting people online it's almost a no brainer.
Free up the screen and fix the software issues and this would be an easy gold. As it is a few niggles and a lack of real changes (Shattered Horizon inclusion and branding notwithstanding) from it's Sentinel Advance brother mean we can only award it our Silver Award.