CM Storm Sentinel III Mouse Review
Not only has it been some time since we’ve seen a Cooler Master keyboard here at pcG, but it’s also some time since we’ve seen a mouse too! This (predictably!) is now about to change as we get to take a look at the new CM Storm Sentinel III. Of course we’ve seen the CM Storm Sentinel before in the guise of the Sentinel Advance II, a mouse that I was particularly found of back in 2012, when it was awarded a Gold award!
The CM Storm Sentinel III is a right handed ergonomic mouse, designed specifically for FPS Gamers that use a Palm Style of grip. The Sentinel III is equipped with an Avago 3988 Optical sensor (the Sentinel Advance II was Laser) with a maximum DPI of 6400. In addition to this there are eight programmable buttons, two illumination zones supporting 16.8 million colour RGB lighting, a weight management system, an OLED display and 512KB of on-board memory supporting up to five Profiles via the CM Storm software.
The CM Storm Sentinel III arrived at pcG in a smart looking (somewhat understated) box with a large image of the Sentinel III on the front. In addition to the brand and the product name Cooler Master have chosen to highlight the Ergonomic Palm Grip and the fact that this mouse has been designed for Gamers. While in the top right corner we see the 16.8 million colour wheel highlighting the Sentinel III’s RGB credentials.
Looking at the back of the box we see four images over on the right, featuring the OLED display, TactiX button, scroll wheel and the weight management system. Over on the left there’s descriptive text (in various languages) regarding the following (although you’ll likely need a magnifying glass to read it!):
The front of the box features a simple flap that’s secured by way of Velcro. Lifting the flap allows you to see the Sentinel III in all its glory as well as read some basic tech specs (see Specifications/Features below) and a little bit of blurb.
The mouse and its accessories, of which there are none (other than a basic Quick Start Guide) are both well packaged and nicely presented.
At the time of review the CM Storm Sentinel III is retailing on Amazon for approximately £43 and comes with a 2 year warranty.
courtesy of CM Storm
|Material||Plastic / Rubber|
|Sensor||Avago 3988 Optical Sensor|
|CPI / DPI||4 Levels / Up to 6400 DPI setting|
|Tracking Speed||200IPS / 50g|
|Lift Off Distance||Adjustable (<2.1mm)|
|Polling Rate||1000Hz / 1ms|
|Connector Cable||USB 2.0|
|Cable Length||1.8 Meters|
|Dimensions||135 x 83.6 x 40 mm (5.3 x 3.3 x 1.6 inch)|
|Weight||177.5 g / 0.392 lbs|
|Weight (w/o weights)||155 g / 0.342 lbs|
|Weight (w/o cable)||115 g / 0.254 lbs|
|Additional Weights||5x 4.5 g / 5x 0.009 lbs|
First impressions of the Cooler Master Quick Fire Sentinel III are along the lines of, hold on a minute it looks exactly like the last one (CM Storm Sentinel Advance II)!? And indeed it does, very little has changed when it comes to the shape and ergonomics of the Sentinel III. I guess Cooler Master are thinking along the lines of ‘if it aint broke…’. Of course now there’s an optical sensor instead of the Laser and the software has been refined too, but apart from that, visually…
Looking at the left side of the Sentinel III we can see its highly sculptured ergonomic design; a design that caters specifically for right handed, Palm Type grip FPS Gamers (according to Cooler Master). In the centre we see a large thumb rest area that’s simply sculpted from the same plastic as the main body of the mouse. What would have been nice here (perhaps) is a rubber inlay to further enhance grip and improve aesthetics too. Just above the thumb area we have the two main thumb buttons, that are actually quite well placed for my bastardized Claw grip! The back two of which feature the Tactix logo, meaning that this button can be setup as a shift button (via software), thus providing additional functions to all of the other buttons.
There’s very little to see when looking at the right side of the CM Storm Sentinel III mouse as there’s simply an ergonomic section of plastic that’s (again) sculpted (a little) this timer for your ring finger and little finger to rest upon.
The front of the Sentinel III looks pretty busy, and working up from the base we first come across the two lower tunnels, these tunnels are not simply for show either. When powered up these two tunnels emit light from the rear mounted LEDs (a little like headlights) and can be configured via software, allowing you to modify the effect (breathe, blink etc) and colour. In the centre we find the 1.8m braided cable attached and above, left and right we find the two main buttons. Between the two main buttons we find the scroll wheel that is rubberized with nice palpable graduations, although the wheel just feels a little small for my liking. Forward of the scroll wheel we find one of the eight programmable buttons, that by default is setup as a Profile Cycle button. Behind the wheel there are a further two programmable buttons that by default are setup as DPI Up/Down. To be honest the back two buttons are a little hard to operate, as they’re simply too flush to the surface and too close together. This makes operating them a precision maneuver, difficult in the heat of battle for sure… 😮
Looking at the mouse from the rear there’s very little to see (well nothing to be honest!) other than the highly contoured nature of the mouse, lending itself to a Palm Style of grip. But, now maybe a good time to mention the plastic that the body of the mouse is made from. It is both smooth yet grippy (bad word I know!) at the same time, more important it’s not slippery! 😉
When viewed from above we can now clearly appreciate the ergonomic nature of the CM Storm Sentinel III mouse, that is (visually) indeed designed for right handed Palm grip Gamers. The section behind the two DPI switches, both in the centre and the honeycomb surround itself are not just for show either. The central section features an OLED screen that can be programmed by way of the software, while the surround illuminates and again both its effect (Breathe, Blink etc) and its colour (16.8 million) can be controlled via the software. The OLED screen by defaulr also keeps track of the Profiles as well as the DPI levels, with both X and Y being shown.
Flipping the mouse onto its back so it can’t run away allows us to see the centrally mounted Avago 3988 Optical Sensor (new for the Sentinel III) and the two large glides that sit left and right with a small glide at the back and an even smaller one at the front. Also at the back we can see a section (complete with CM Storm logo) that looks like it might just flip open…
Aha! So that’s what it’s for then… Flipping open this flap allows access to the Sentinel’s Weight Adjustment System, comprising of six 4.5g weights. I removed the back two as I thought with them in place the back of the mouse was a little too heavy for my liking…
As I’ve seen this mouse before in the guise of the CM Storm Sentinel Advance II, there is still a lot to like here; but with the main changes being the Optical sensor and the lighting I’m going to have to plug it in to find out more! 😉 I’m also a little concerned that the Gaming Mouse market has moved on a lot since 2012 and I’m not sure that the changes made to the Sentinel are enough to compete with the fierce competition of today. I guess we shall see…
|The CM Storm Sentinel III connects by way of a gold plated USB plug found at the end of a 1.8m braided cable that itself is equipped with an EMI Filter (ferrite bead) and a simple CM Storm logo.|
|After installing the Cooler Master software (not supplied) get it here, the mouse firmware was immediately updated to the latest version. The original version was version 1.12 and was updated to version 1.18 (as you can see from the image left).|
The following games were used during testing:
Firstly let’s look (or is that feel) at the ergonomics of this right handed Palm Style grip Gaming mouse designed for FPS Games. And also let’s just bear in mind my own bastardized Claw Style grip. It is therefore surprising how well I took to the ergonomics of the Sentinel III as I’m not really a Palmer! But I found the grip to be easy to get used to and comfortable, especially during longer gaming sessions (here’s looking at you XCOM 2). The buttons (for the most part) are also well placed, especially the two thumb buttons. The Profile and DPI buttons, while well placed are a little awkward to operate IMHO, due to the fact that they’re too small and too low in the frame of the mouse. This makes the use of these buttons a bit superfluous for anything other than what they’re set up to do out of the box (Profile/DPI), which is a bit of a shame. But overall in use it is a very comfortable mouse to get to grips with… 😉
Tracking, courtesy of that Avago 3988 Optical Sensor was also very good, and that’s the biggest difference over the old Sentinel Advance II. But is it any better? I would honestly have to say, no not really. It’s easily as good from what I can remember, but it’s not necessarily any better. But then again, it does seem as good as most of the optical based mice I’ve recently tested, yet lacks that surgical feeling offered by mice like the Mionix Castor and Cougar 550M. Overall though there’s a lot to like about the Sentinel III.
Now let’s turn our attention to the RGB illumination and the OLED display. The RGB illumination is very good with good colour representation across the board. But what’s disappointing is that the colours can’t be controlled independently of one another. There are of course a few effects to choose from (although not many!) including: Static, Spectrum, Rapid fire and Breathing. It’s all pretty cool (simple) stuff but it’s hardy got the wow factor! 🙁
The OLED screen is also pretty cool in the fact that it’ll keep track of both the selected Profile as well as both the X and Y axis DPI’s. Although because of its positioning it is a little difficult to see, which is a shame. Also the OLED display can also be programmed via software should you wish to display your own 32×32 bmp image, which is also kind of cool…
The software has been updated for the Sentinel III and from what I can see it doesn’t look or behave any better than it used to! In fact on my 3440×1440 monitor the software seems to over-scale and appears on screen as though it was to help the partiality sighted, which is strange! 😮 Once I got past the fact that the software took up most of my screen, I began to delve a little deeper…
The software itself is divided into four main tabs: Main Control, Macro, Library and Support, while the Main Control tab itself is split into a further five tabs, but more on those later. Let’s first take a look at the Main Control tab. Here you can programme (and disable if you wish) any of the eight programmable buttons as well as assign functions such as Macros, Multimedia controls, DPI, Profiles and even the OLED screen (On/Off).
The Macros tab is where one obviously comes to record ones Macros! 😉 In the screenshot above left I have included a shot of a simple grenade throw macro. When recording you can choose to either record the actual delay (in real-time), reduce all delays to a set time (default 10ms) or choose God mode that has zero delay between each actions (that’s almost guaranteed to fail in game!). While there is the ability to insert and delete macro entries there’s no ability to edit.
The Library tab simply allows for Profiles to be imported and exported to and from the Sentinel III courtesy of its 512KB of on-board memory. Profiles can also (rather handily) be reset should you wish to do so.
The final tab (Support) is nothing more than a bit of blurb and a link back out to the CM Storm Sentinel III product page, which seems a little at odds with the button name to me (Online Support)!? In addition to this there’s a button to display the Version Info of your setup (software/firmware).
Moving on and looking at the rest of the tabs within the Main Control tab, next up we have the Storm TX tab. This tab is the same as the Key Assignment tab but this tab now handles what action (the same action options are also supported) will be performed by the mouse while the TactiX control button is held down (as shown by the image on the left). Note that now you can only program seven of the eight buttons as button 5 is being held down! 😉
The LED tab allows us some control over the RGB LED lighting aboard the CM Storm Sentinel III. There’s the option to either switch colour at the DPI level or at the Profile level, with full control over the colour itself, logically providing up to 16.8 million colours. There are also some basic effects options too, with the option of Static, Spectrum, Rapid Fire and Breathing as well as the option to disable the illumination altogether. What’s disappointing though is that the LED lighting at the front (headlights) cannot be control independently of LED lighting at the top and that’s a shame. There’s also no control over the breathing mode or the spectrum mode colours. Again, disappointing… Although to make up for this there is the ability to add your own logo/image to the OLED screen with 32×32 bmp files being accepted.
The sensor tab allows control over the four DPI settings supported by the Sentinel III. Control can be also be applied to both the X and Y axis independently or they can be linked. Here you can also control Angle Snapping, Lift off Distance and angle Tuning. There’s also a Surface Calibration option allowing you to tune the Sentinel III to your mousepad or one of CM Storm’s own. Although, it’ didn’t seem to like my Overclockers UK mousepad as it simply failed to calibrate each time.. 🙁
The last tab (OS Sensitivity) allows control of the Sentinel III while in Windows, as well as allowing access to Poling rate (best left at 1000Hz) Double Click Speed and Button Response Time.
The updated CM Storm Sentinel III is a good Gaming mouse, but it’s not as good as the old one IMHO! This is not because the Sentinel III is worse per se, it’s simply the fact that the competition has moved forward and maybe, Cooler Master just haven’t moved forward enough!?
The CM Storm Sentinel III arrived at pcG in a smart black box adorned with an image of the Sentinel III on the front. Within, the Sentinel III and its contents (just a quick start guide) were adequately packaged and well presented. On opening the box you’d be hard pushed to tell the difference between the old Sentinel Advance II and the new Sentinel III, with the main difference now being that the III now features an optical sensor (Avago 3988) as opposed to the old Avago Laser one. In addition to this the on-board memory has been increased from 128KB to 512KB and the top of the mouse now features a perspex screen to cover the OLED display. So as you can see (or not!) visually not much has changed.
Of course the new Sentinel III features RGB illumination offering up to 16.8 million colours to choose from, and in practice it works well. The colour representation, for the most part is very good and there’s some nice effects on offer; from Breathing through to Spectrum and Rapid Fire. But here Cooler Master could of (and should have) done a little more as the two lighting zones (front headlights and top) cannot be controlled individually and you also have no control over the colours used in the effects, which is a bit of a shame.
The software (that’s also been updated) is also a little lackluster looking, maybe this was due to my monitor’s resolution (3440×1440); but the software’s scale was massive almost filling my whole screen and there was no way to control it, it simply looked odd! Luckily it performed well enough and pretty much all of the options are here for the hardcore Gamer from, Profiles to DPI and from LED illumination to Macros.
Thankfully the new optical sensor performed really well in testing (mainly while I was playing XCOM 2 to be honest!), there was very little hint of any form of software assistance and no sign of lag. For the most part the Sentinel’s tracking was near perfect, although I wouldn’t say it was the best of the optical mice that we’ve recently tested here at pcG. Maybe it was down to my mouse mat that the software simply refused to calibrate, having said that it also refused to calibrate any other surface that I tried!?
Overall the Sentinel III is a good Gaming mouse and it will perform well in all genres of Games that you throw at it. The issue is that at around £40 (at the time of review) there are other mice that offer similar performance and features for the same or less money, meaning that the competition is strong. I’m just not sure that Cooler Master have done quite enough with the new Sentinel III to ensure a place near the top of your shopping list…
Please Share, Like & Comment below, we really value your thoughts and opinions…
Many thanks to Cooler Master for providing this sample for review