Roccat Kone XTD, Hiro, Kave Headset, Ishku FX Gaming Hardware Reviews
Gameranx reviews the entire array of Roccat gaming peripherals.
If you've ever shopped for a new gaming peripheral, chances are you've first looked to two specific manufacturers. They're what you're likely to see in every Best Buy and Walmart, alongside the Microsoft gadgets you immediately ignore, and have the perception of being the finest on the market. But a company called ROCCAT may offer a compelling new choice. They recently sent us an ensemble of their best products – a mouse, mousepad, keyboard and headset – and we put them through their paces to see if they're just as deserving a place on your desk.
ROCCAT Kone XTD Gaming Mouse
First to enter the ring is the Kone XTD, ROCCAT's most advanced wired gaming mouse. Retailing for 89.99 in the US, it has a host of technologies under the hood to make it a very fast, versatile device and a presentation to match that power.
The Kone XTD is a full-sized, right handed mouse with a natural thumb rest and organic, flowing curves for the other side of your hand. Much of its surface is made of a soft-touch black coating rather than the harder plastic often used on equivalent Logitech devices. Not only is that material more comfortable, it's less prone to the grime that can accumulate from sweat. It gives the Kone XTD a premium feel, and it becomes all but impossible to go back to a mouse that isn't made of a similar construction.
The underside reveals the 8,200 DPI-capable, 10.8 megapixel laser sensor and a bay for housing the included weights. I appreciate the ability to adjust the heft of my mouse, but the weights are frustratingly difficult to remove once placed due to their tight fit. The laser fared much better, providing accurate and fluid tracking across any surface.
It boasts a 72 MHz Arm-based CPU and a polling rate of up to 1,000 Hz, yielding a response time of 1 ms, to aid that precision. It's an unquestionably quick mouse, but you'd be hard pressed to tell any meaingful difference between it and something slower. Your cursor won't lag behind if you're stuck with a 500 Hz and 2 ms mouse.
There are eight physical buttons that can be assigned to 12 functions. These are fairly standard, and include the left and right primary clickers, two large back and forward buttons accessible with your thumb, two below the scroll wheel for cycling through five DPI settings, one above that's little inconvenient to reach, and of course the wheel itself. ROCCAT advertises the latter-most of those as a Titan Wheel that's supposedly built with stronger components. In practice, this results in greater tactile feedback and a rigidity to every directional click or push. Every button shares those attributes, however, giving the Kone XTD a very sturdy impression.
It's got beauty to match its brawn, too. The lower half is accented in silver with the company's logo. But what makes it really stand out are the two lighting strips that run along the upper edges from the front to the base. These are controlled by four LEDs configurable in the driver software with up to 33 colors to choose from. Each can be set to a different color and enhanced with a variety of visual effects. Lighting can fully lit, blink, beat like a heart, breath or be disabled entirely. Additionally, the colors can flow in specific directions for a total package that's slick and expressive.
But the biggest feature is arguably its Easy-Shift functionality. This allows you to set a secondary actions on the mouse when holding down an assigned Easy-Shift button. For example, I could configure the left mouse click to open my web browser or even initiate a macro. Sadly, games don't recognize that feature for changing keybinds. That configuration has to be done within the mouse's software, so it's a more involved process. It works better with Windows and other related operations.
The Kone XTD can also communicate with other ROCCAT devices, such as the Isku FX reviewed below. Called ROCCAT Talk, this enables commands to be assigned between them. The best application of this I found was to set an Easy-Shift key to control the keyboard as well as the mouse. That way I could hold the Shift key to gain access to those secondary actions on the Kone XTD, freeing up a button to be used elsewhere and my hand from an awkward position.
The software for managing all of the above is very robust. Regrettably, the box contains no driver disc. You're instead instructed to download it from the product's official website. Once installed, there's a lot of control to tailor the mouse to your own needs. Settings range from several sensitivity controls, button assignments, polling rates and the aforementioned colors, and can be edited across five profiles. But there are a number of other notable, though not always perfect, options.
An advanced tool allows the creation and customization of macros. There is a decent amount of pre-made ones you can assign, though the selection of applications and games is limited and outdated.
The performance of the Kone XTD can be further calibrated through its tracking and distance control units. Editing its lift-off distance works as intended. I couldn't say the same for the TCU. It has to scan the surface the mouse is being used on before it works its magic, a process I never saw completed. It was hard to maintain patience after an hour and a half, and with its glide already butter smooth, I eventually gave up after multiple attempts.
If you'd like to be alerted when certain settings are adjusted, the software can provide audio feedback in the form of a gravelly stranger. This can be enabled for DPI changes, switching profiles, sensitivity refinements, raising and lowering system volume and when you unlock trophies. That's right, you can earn achievements for being a virile clicker and share that achievement on social networking. You may want to disable that trophy feedback, however, as it can be a shock when his terrifying deep, loud voice shouts your success when sitting you're in the dark in your underwear.
ROCCAT Hiro Mousepad
ROCCAT included the Hiro mousepad in our shipment alongside the Kone XTD gaming mouse. Its top, black surface is made of vulcanized silicone that's not plastic but has a rigidity to it that's not usually associated with fabric. It feels incredibly durable and true to its bullet points is surprisingly easy to clean. Dust was quickly wiped away with no residue left behind. The Hiro won't slip across the desk, either, because of its rubber underside. No matter how rough I was it barely budged.
Tracking is excellent. The Kone XTD glided across it smoothly with little resistance and noise. Where other fabric mousepads would lose their tracking due to subpar materials or dirt that was hard to remove, the Hiro has been free of those issues. It is however expensive at 49.99 USD. That's no small price to pay, but you do get what you pay for. The Hiro is the best mousepad I've ever tested.