Review: CM Storm Sentinel Advance
The Storm Sentinel Advance represents Cooler Master’s first foray into the world of gaming mice. The move was initially a surprise, because Cooler Master were previously experts mainly on the chassis/cooler/power supply fronts, but this mouse is actually pretty good.
The Cooler Master Storm series has been targeted at gamers and PC enthusiasts, so it’s easy to tell where this mouse’s heart should lie, metaphorically of course. We’ve also seen the CM Storm Sniper casing in the same series which was quite good. Fair enough. Magnifying glass in hand, let’s go ahead to what this thing can actually do. Here’s the official Cooler Master spec sheet:
- 5600 DPI Storm Tactical (TM) Twin-laser Sensor
- 64KB Sentinel-X (TM) Memory
- OLED DPI Management System
- OLED Team Logo Personalization
- 8 Programmable Buttons
- Rapid Fire Tactical (TM) Mode
- 1000Hz Polling/1ms Response Time
- Max Speed of 235 inches Per Second
- Max Acceleration 50G
- 1mm Life-off Distance
- Right-hand Ergonomic Design
- Gold-plated USB Connector
- 5 x 4.5g Adjustable Weight System
- Full-Speed USB
Most of the features are also found on other gaming mice nowadays, but the OLED display is worthy of mention. It displays both the X- and Y- DPI settings, as well as a small space where you can upload a 32×32 bitmap image. CM recommends that your clan logo go here. Pure marketing gimmick, but hell, we love the gimmick! I have mine flaunting my initials, much to the benefit of the ego of the proud owner 😀
The Sentinel Advance comes with a 6-foot braided cable, which tops regular rubber cables on strength, un-stickiness and durability grounds, with a gold-plated USB connector. A driver CD and StormGuard insert are also included. The primary use of StormGuard is mainly in LAN parties, where you can keep all of your peripherals secure (unless someone is really dedicated).
As far as the shape and the grip goes, the mouse is ergonomically well designed for right-handers, with thumb and pinky rests for those who spend long hours holding their mice (read, gamers). However, the design takes a few hours to grow on you. It’s not entirely natural like the Logitech G500’s grip, but after the first few hours, it feels perfect. The rubberized plastic surface and the extra-long left and right-click buttons help accommodate a variety of hand sizes. The size is almost as large as the Razer Mamba’s, but it does not feel so ungainly in the hand. On the contrary, it feels quite nimble, with the hump just the right shape for resting your hand on.
Overall, it’s a design on which you can rest your hand on easily, and if you add all five of the 4.5g weights, it is heavy enough for pinpoint accuracy even without your wrist on the mousepad.
The area in between the two major mouse buttons is reserved for a scroll wheel treaded like a monster truck tire that is a pleasure to use, the OLED display, the DPI-switch buttons and a profile change button. The profile change button is conveniently out of the way, and the DPI shift buttons are located adequately so that you don’t have to make too much effort to reach them, nor is it too easy that you accidentally press them. You have to intentionally press them. The thumb buttons are also placed in a reasonable place, but they lack the tactile feel of thumb buttons of other mice such as Logitech’s Mx518. However, they do the job perfectly.
We’re not fans of ultra-glitzy mice here at hashwired, but the bling lighting of the Sentinel Advance somehow works. The front LEDs sort of behave like headlights, and look pretty cool beaming out forwards and in front of the user’s hand. The top light, more of a diffuse triangular glow, also looks very nice from a user’s point-of-view, with the shape of the mouse conveying an aggressive, purposeful stance. There are eight colors to choose from: Yellow, blue, light blue, green, red, violet/pink and white. There are three lighting ‘themes’; the first is always on, the second is a breathing scheme, where the front and top lights alternately fade in and then out, and the last one is always on with the exception of a flash of white light at the front when a mouse button is clicked. Pretty cool, I must admit.
The CM Storm software does its job beautifully, with almost every feature one can think of crammed into its easy-to-use yet functional interface. The first tab controls the mouse button assignments, the DPI settings, motion sensitivity, USB report rate, response rate and double-click speed. You can program all 8 buttons according to your liking here. The second tab deals with the lighting and logo settings. The third and fourth control the macros and scripts, respectively, and the fifth is a library for recalling of saved scripts/macros. The last tab is the support page, from which you can contact Cooler Master support.
All in, this is a very neat, rather intuitive package, and the red/black color scheme is not nearly as lemony on the eyes as, say, Razer’s green interface. From here, you can customize four of the five profiles fully (one is not fully modifiable) and upload them to your mouse’s onboard memory.
Now, let’s get to the real usage business. The mouse, as previously indicated, feels good in the hand, and the large size allows users to rest their hand on the hump of the mouse or relaxed usage when it comes to relaxed work. Note that this is a mouse for palm-grip users only, claw-grippers will find it harder to hold the large mouse.
As far as gaming goes, I tried the mouse with a couple of first-person shooters, namely COD Black Ops, Counter-Strike 1.6 and Team Fortress 2. The mouse is easy to use, and if you bind the thumb buttons to actions like melee attacks or grenade throwing, they are easy to use and within reach. The weight of the mouse gives a proper feel to swiping movements, and more often than not you can judge where your swipe will land your crosshairs, for easy headshots. Snipers can rejoice too, because it is easy to switch DPI for low-sensitivity sniping and high-sensitivity fragging. The lightning fast response rates actually do make a noticeable difference as compared to standard optical mice.
The four Teflon surfaces at the bottom help ensure smooth motion, and there was no trouble at all using the mouse on the Razer Goliathus Alpha Fragged Control Edition mousepad featured in the pictures, even though the pad sports a very coarse weave. With the large, heavy mouse under your palm, you feel in command of your avatar. The effect is remotely like the DualShock PS3 controllers. So that in the end, even if you’re dying left, right and center, you still respawn with the same confidence and sense of purpose.
Strategy and RPG gamers might want mice with more buttons, though, because playing games like Dragon Age 2, you can feel the lack of buttons and constantly have to use and map keyboard shortcuts in-game. For them, the Razer Naga or CM Storm Inferno would work better, I believe.
In conclusion, this is a beautifully crafted mouse, and a very good first effort by Cooler Master. The build quality is very good, and in the end, I can only say that I will happily use the mouse for any purpose, be it gaming, Photoshop, or whatever, mainly due to the overall user experience it offers. Just do note that at the end mice are a matter of the user’s own preference; I might find this mouse close to perfect, but then again, you might be a leftie, for all I know.
- Good ergonomics
- Adjustable weight
- Lightning-fast response times
- Good customization options
- Catchy lighting
- Handsome looks
- Rubberized grip gets slippery with sweat [sic] after long hours of gaming
- Nothing to store unused weights in
- Weights are a bit on the light side
- Stiff thumb buttons
You can find the official website of the Cooler Master Storm Sentinel Advance gaming mouse here. Below is the official feature photo.