I’ve been lucky enough to play around with a lot of pretty expensive gaming mice over the years, testing offerings from the likes of Razer and Logitech and often switching over to whatever one I felt best, because a good mouse has always been important to me. But these days the performance differences between them all is actually pretty small, leaving comfort as one of the biggest factors when picking which one to buy, and you can’t help but wonder if a budget mouse could provide a high enough level of precision for the average gamer without having to break the bank. Cue the Etekcity Scroll X1 which can be picked up for pennies.
Etekcity’s offering is a bit hit and miss in terms of comfort. The long, sweeping back rests nicely in my hand when using a standard palm grip, my preference, and the grippy rubber where the thumb resides and patiently awaits its call to action is great at its job, although I do wonder how it will hold up over time. Likewise the sloping angle to the right of the rightmost click contours nicely to my ring finger, although it would have been nice if it had used either the rubber or the same material that the sloped back of the mouse uses rather than the shiny, slightly slippy plastic that adorns it. The problems arise from just two areas on the mouse; the first sits toward the rear on the left, just behind the thumb grip where you find a ride that juts out a little too far. My thumb bent mostly around it when resting naturally, but the jutting plastic came out far enough to rub against my finger. For me, at the very least, it needed to be brought in a little but more, with a more rounded edge. On the right of the mouse we can again find some grippy rubber, but it’s weirdly stuck inside a deep conclave that resides near the base of the mouse in a position that I’m adamant no human finger could ever possibly hope to reach, unless it was snapped into the correct alignment by a pissed off loan shark who ordered his goons to smash up a few fingers. That leaves the pinky finger trailing along the mouse mat, a pet peeve of mine now, and the conclave also means that there’s yet another quite pronounced, jutting edge that irritates my pink. The whole package in terms of comfort, then, is merely just alright. I’ve handled many, many much nicer feeling mice, but I’ve also had the questionable privilege of using some truly horrible ones, too, and the Scroll X1 certainly isn’t in the company of those.
The build quality is actually pretty damn good for a budget offering. There’s no creaking and feeling of movement when lifting up the X1 that is present in so many other mice, both budget and expensive. Likewise when placing fingers on both sides and giving the whole unit a squeeze there’s no movement of squeaking as parts shift just a little. There’s just a teeny bit of movement on the left click, but otherwise it feels solid. This extends to the buttons themselves which offer a nice, satisfying feeling when used. The left and right clicks are responsive, and the two thumb buttons actually sit just above where the thumb naturally rests when using a typical palm grip. Both of them are easy enough to reach, and that’s coming from someone with small hands, and while they feel just a tad squishy they’re generally quite good. Equally the scroll wheel is perfectly serviceable with enough ratcheting to make it usable in games for doing things like switching weapons, while being smooth enough that it feels decent for general web usage. The scroll wheel can, of course, be clicked, too. The final two buttons are located right on top of the mouse and are used for switching DPI levels.
Visually the mouse almost looks a little like Razer’s Deathadder when looked at from the left, to the point where I can’t but wonder if the mouse’s designer was attempting to copy Razer to a degree. All in all it looks quite nice, but won’t be impressing anyone or making them stop in their tracks to take a good gander, which really isn’t a big negative unless you’re into flashy mice. Where I do have an issue is in the use of LED lighting. There’s two lights on the mouse, one illuminating the scroll wheel and another slowly pulsating one at the rear of the mouse. When you swap between DPI settings using the top buttons the color of the rear light jumps between blue, red and green, with one color for each setting so that you always know what you’re on at a glance. The first problem is that the scroll wheel LED doesn’t change color, too, and instead remains resolutely red, which irritates the crap out of me. Yes, it sounds daft, but having one blue light and one red light niggles. Secondly even though the mouse can switch between these three colors you can’t actually change it manually, which seems like a wasted opportunity. Why can’t I change the color to blue to match my keyboard’s lighting? The mouse is obviously capable of it. Finally, you can’t switch off or adjust the brightness of the LEDs, which is extra annoying when trying to watch a movie with the lights of. In fact the mouse even remains illuminated when the computer itself is turned off so long as the PC is still connected at the wall.
Alright, so far so good, then. There’s been a couple of gripes, but nothing truly serious. How about performance? We run into a problem straight away in the form of the DPI. The maximum setting is 2400, which is absolutely enough for the vast majority of users. The truth of the matter is that the absurdly high DPIs that companies absolutely love to use in their marketing campaigns are almost entirely useless as they’ll send your cursor skittering across the screen like its being chased by a fat guy who thinks it’s a free all you can eat buffet. The problem is that you can actually only select between three DPI settings (800, 1600, 2400) rather than choosing the exact number you want, allowing for far less detailed tweaking when it comes to getting the mouse setup exactly how you like it. Sure, you can use the Windows adjustment or in-game sensitivity, but getting software involved is less preferable than adjusting raw DPI. Aside from that we’ve got the typical 1000Mhz report rate and…uh. Oddly enough neither the packaging, manual or website indicated what sort of response time or anything else the mouse is supposed to have. What I can say is that throughout my time with the mouse it performed very well, never missing a beat or failing to keep up with my movements. Firing up a selection of shooters, strategy games and more (including Far Cry 4, Homeworld Remastered and The Witcher 3) I didn’t notice any particular difference in my own performance. Does that mean the Scroll is equal to those expensive mice? Well, no. I could feel a difference, very slightly, and from a purely objective stance the Scrolls performance doesn’t match up. However, objectivity speaks purely of numbers and facts, not of real world testing, and out in the real world while I believe I could feel the difference between the Scroll and my own Logitech mouse it was marginal. What I’m attempting to ungracefully get at here is that while there is a difference in raw performance unless you’re a hardcore, skilled gamer looking to get absolutely every fraction of power from your tools then the gap really isn’t noticeable. I’m willing to bet that in some sort of contrived test where the Scrolls sensor was whacked into a generic body and pitted against a much more expensive sensor that vast majority of people would never be able to differentiate between them. In short, the Scroll, in terms of performance, will be perfectly fine for anyone that isn’t an enthusiast.
The software, which in a nice touch actually comes bundled on disc with the mouse, is incredibly basic in its visuals and features, but completely suffices in its job. From the primary menu you can change what each of the seven programmable buttons on the mouse, opting to perhaps set the top buttons to control media, for example. You can also record macros, although only key presses will register so you can’t create any macros that also uses the mouse buttons. In the advanced tab you can select between the three different DPI settings, change the polling rate, and chance both the double-click speed and speed of the scroll wheel. All of these settings can be saved to one of three profiles. And that’s it. Simple stuff.
The cord is the braided nylon type that seems quite durable but is also prone to getting caught up on things. At 5ft long the cable is actually a little annoying, at least for me as my computer actually sits about that distance away from me behind the monitor. I’d like to see a longer cable here. Also be warned that the USB connection is unusually large in length, towering in at probably around an inch and a half, though I didn’t measure it. If for whatever reason space is tight, keep this in mind.
Really the Scroll X1 is one of the difficult things to talk about because there’s nothing really wrong with it, and yet there’s really nothing particularly great about it, either. It’s just a completely mundane product that serves its intended purpose pretty well, but for the price point that mundanity nets you a pretty solid mouse with performance that’s adequate for most people. I’d be inclined to say that the average user probably won’t notice much difference between this and a far more expensive mouse in terms of raw performance. However, for dedicated gamers looking purely for great there’s nothing here that would convince me not to recommend saving up for longer and grabbing something else, even if it’s just for the extra comfort that can be afforded by other offerings on the market. Still, the Scroll X1 does enough for me to whack a recommended sticker on it; if you want a no-fuss mouse for gaming and don’t want to spend too much then it’ll do just fine.