Hands-on review: Logitech G9 gaming mouse

Logitech G9 mouse

With the untimely and unfortunate death of beloved Logitech G5, I was forced to quickly find a replacement. While I know I could simply get a replacement, I figured it might be time to look for newer gear. So after a thorough Google consultation and some in-store browsing, I purchased a Logitech G9 through Amazon.

Let’s just say this is the first and last time I will ever purchase a mouse without getting my hands on it.

At first glance, the mouse seems to be a perfect fit for any hardcore PC gamer, or anyone who spends extended time working on a computer.

First the physical stuff. The eye is a laser instead of infrared. Some people complained that early laser models had a “floaty” feel to them; that effect is gone in newer ones, and provides very good movement accuracy and responsiveness. The bottom of the mouse has broad contact pads, making for very smooth movement across any decent mousing surface (I use a Funcpad F-series F10.s). The gripping surface of the mouse is made to endure extended usage, with a coating that prevents getting sticky or slippery with sweaty hands. Plus the body itself is customizable; you can swap covers to allow for different grips and hand sizes (the unit comes with two sizes). Finally, the scroll wheel can move in a smooth, fluid fashion, or use a “precision mode” with the familiar slight drag.

Under the hood is even more impressive. Like the G5, you can customize the the Report Rate — how often the system reads the mouse for movement. There are 5 possible values, as low as 125 reports/second (about equal to your typical cheapo mouse) or as high as 1000. The higher settings makes the mouse movement extremely responsive and precise.

Also like the G5, you can modify the DPI setting on the fly. Changing the DPI will increase or decrease how far the cursor moves in relation to the mouse. A higher DPI and the mouse cursor moves very fast, a low DPI and the motion becomes more precise. Gamers love this because you can use a high setting in high velocity situations, and a low DPI for things like sniping.

However unlike the G5, the G9 sports an extensive profile system, which allows you to set various DPI sensitivity layouts, in addition to completely custom button mappings, scroll settings, movement speed (which is not DPI), and acceleration. These profiles can be activated based on program — one for games, another for photo editing, etc. — or can be manually switched using a button on the bottom of the mouse. As if that weren’t enough you can store up to 5 of these custom profiles right on the mouse, allowing you to unplug it and take those settings with you. You can store as many profiles as you like on your computer.

Side-by-side comparison of Logitech's G5 and G9 miceAll of this sounds impressive. But no matter how nice the bells and whistles, the number one concern when picking a mouse is hand comfort, and the G9 fails miserably in that category for me. The G9 completely lacks the extended length and high arching curve typical of Logitech mice, opting instead for a shorter length and thinner, flatter profile. So instead of supporting your whole hand down to the butt of your palm, it drops off just past your knuckles, severely limiting your ability to firmly grip the mouse.

The thin profile means that you have to tuck your ring and pinky fingers to get them out of the way when moving the mouse, as opposed to the big arch in most Logitech mice that suitably supported your unused digits. If you’ve ever used one of those impossibly tiny travel mice and gotten cramps after using them for a while, you know exactly what I’m talking about here.

There are consequences for the other side of your hand; thick thumbs will have a hard time staying away from the back and forward button on account of the limited space between the top and bottom of the thumb area.

Keep in mind that I did all my testing with the “Wide Load Grip,” a name I decry as a misnomer. The thinner “Precision Grip” was even worse. Perhaps a better custom grip would solve these issues, but as far as I can tell Logitech is not selling any additional grip designs.

The left and right mouse buttons are concave instead of convex, with the left mouse button sporting a deeper well than the right. Due to the curvature of the rest of the mouse body, this layout creates a noticeable gap under your index finger (not as pronounced on the right mouse button). This only exacerbates problems with the DPI button arrangement (more on that later), creating a strong likelihood of accidental clicks.

The scroll wheel itself feels sturdy, but the motion is terrible. I personally don’t like a smooth scrolling wheel, and prefer a crisp click vibration when I move the wheel. Since this mouse does both, the click mode feels like a sloppy half-measure. Tilting the wheel left and right (those are “buttons” too) feels very good, but pushing the wheel down for the middle click is abysmal. It has a ton of resistance, doesn’t go deep enough when you push it, and lacks an audible “click” noise. The net result: you’re often unsure if you’ve actually activated the mouse wheel click, deliberately or accidentally, and you must check the screen for a result; way more effort than necessary.

Highlighted DPI display on side of G5 mouseHighlighted DPI controls on the Logitech G9 under left mouse buttonThey also moved the buttons and indicators for the DPI setting from their earlier location. On the G5, they had two ‘up’ and 'down’ buttons that sat below the scroll wheel, with an indicator that sat on the edge of the mouse to the left of your thumb. It was easy to quickly read and change the settings without moving your hand too much.

On the G9, the buttons are turned horizontal and placed directly below the clicking area of the left mouse button, and the indicator is above the button. There’s no comfortable way to look at or change the DPI setting without removing your hand from the mouse completely, and its very easy to accidentally hit the button with the bottom of your index finger. I honestly have no idea what they were thinking. Obviously the intention was to allow quick setting changes with the bottom of your knuckle, but (a) I never need to change the DPI setting that fast or frequently, and (b) it’s a little straining to keep my finger in a restful position with this arrangement.

Ultimately, the design lends itself to people with small hands, and those who like to “blanket” or “float” their hand over the mouse (aka palm grip) will probably be satisfied (not enthusiastic) with the G9. However people who prefer to maintain a tight grip around the mouse (aka claw grip), or any decent-sized hand will find the form of the Logitech G9 completely unappealing.

Logitech G9 ~$50

Pros

  • Excellent surface material
  • Great supporting software
  • Very customizable

Cons

  • Terrible shape for most hands, lacks “grip-ability”
  • Lots of accidental clicks to back/forward buttons, DPI switches
  • DPI switches & indicators less visible, accessible
  • Crappy scroll wheel

Decision: Fail

Returning it to Amazon and purchasing another G5.