Revealed at the recent CES event in Las Vegas was a new range of gaming mice from Steelseries. Among which were the SteelSeries Kinzu v2 and the Kinzu v2 Pro, mice which were aiming to be basic in functions, but high in quality. As stated by SteelSeries CMO Kim Rom, “The Kinzu v2 and Kinzu v2 Pro Edition are for players who don’t want anything more than minimal buttons and functionality, but that recognize minimal still means quality and precision.” This also means they come in at a very affordable price-point. But what do you get for your money?
First thing to note is that the mouse we’re reviewing is not the “Pro Edition”. That means it’s slighter cheaper, comes in a different range of colours, and lacks the ‘Omron’ button switches of the Pro model. The Kinzu v2 we received was the standard model, which is available in White, Orange, Red and Rubberized Black — of which we have the black.
When I took the Kinzu v2 out of its minimal packaging, the first thing I noticed about it was that it’s very narrow in comparison to other mice I’ve used. It’s billed as being 25% smaller than the SteelSeries Sensei, and it definitely felt very small in the hand compared to the stupidly named SteelSeries World of Warcraft MMO Gaming Mouse Legendary Edition that I own.
The other thing that first hit me upon opening it up was that although the finish of the black Kinzu v2 is called ‘Rubberized Black’, the material on the top surface hasn’t actually got a rubbery feel to it. While the sides are slightly rubber-like to touch, the large top surface is more of a textured plastic finish. It feels nice on the hand, though, and has a nice little sparkle where it catches the light.
When I first plugged it in, the Kinzu wasn’t immediately recognised. I had to grab the latest version of SteelSeries Engine from the website and install it before it came to life. I already had an out of date version on my PC, so I can only assume it would’ve been recognised immediately had been up-to-date on my driver update regime — and it’s really handy if you’re using a SteelSeries Engine-based keyboard, as the mouse settings just appear in a new tab within the same software.
The Kinzu v2 is, as we’ve already established, aimed to be a simple gaming mouse. So we lack a bunch of extra buttons; instead you’ll just get a left and right click, a scroll wheel with middle click, and a fourth button situated below the scroll wheel that can be used to toggle the mouse’s sensitivity. The latter is easily programmed via Engine, allowing for a choice of two switchable CPI settings chosen from 400, 800, 1600 and 3200. If you want to get right into the numbers it tracks at 3600 frames per second and 65 inches per second, but basically it’s a top quality optical sensor that can cater to most, if not all, gamer’s needs.
Other features include a 2 meter braided cable, which is always nice to have, the expected USB type connection, and a design that’s said to suit both left and right-handed users. Something I tried to confirm or deny, only to quickly realise that holding a mouse in my left hand feels more unnatural than a poltergeist encounter (note: that’s not a first-hand factual reference). It does feel nice in my right hand, though, but after a week or more’s use I’m still adapting to just how narrow it is having come from a fairly large alternative.
Putting it to good use
The Kinzu v2 tracks like a dream for a mouse in its price range. While it’s lacking on extra buttons, there’s certainly nothing left out in the sensor department. At a setting of 3200 CPI, it’s extremely sensitive, which is just how I like a mouse as an avid StarCraft II player — long games are just made so much easier by the short travel distances my hand needs to make, and selecting units feels really accurate. I had to lower it a little to feel comfortable in first-person shooters, but at all four CPI settings on offer it alwasys feels like it’s tracking as well as top gaming mice.
It also glides real smoothly on my mouse mat thanks to the oversized Teflon covered areas on the bottom, and is also aided in minimal resistance by the fact it weighs very little; 77 grams according to SteelSeries’ marketing material. That’s something that may or may not be to everybody’s taste, so if you feel you prefer a weightier mouse you should probably not opt for the Kinzu v2.
Another thing to cover is a rumoured “sensor jump bug”. Something which a few people have asked me about and which I believe originated from a few complaints around the web. I can confirm, though, that neither before or after the recent firmware update was I able to replicate this bug in paint software — and as stated stated above, the tracking of the sensor feels excellent and never once felt abnormal during real-world use.
The only issue I had adapting to the Kinzu v2 was the same thing that makes it what it is, the lack of any extra buttons. While the 8 programmable buttons on my regular mouse feels like an indulgent luxury, it had been a very long time since I’d used a mouse that doesn’t at least feature back and forward ‘browser buttons’. So while I felt unaffected in games such as StarCraft and shooters, it was really bugging me in desktop use. I’d never realised just how much I went backwards and forwards in my browser until I had to hit backspace or click the arrow every time. This may or may not be an issue for you, but if you’re coming from a mouse with browser buttons, I’d seriously recommend you think about how frequently you use them before opting for a product without. The buttons that are there, however, are well placed, have a nice click to them, and don’t feel like they’re about to wear out any time soon.
The Kinzu v2 comes in exactly in-line with where SteelSeries have aimed it. If you’re looking for a lower-end gaming mouse, and are willing to sacrifice on a few extras to reduce the price point, while still getting get the best possible performance in the sensor and its accuracy, I’d be hard pushed to recommend you a better mouse that can be bought for the tiny price that this one costs.
If you’ve got particularly large hands or are accustomed to a lot of buttons, its narrow form factor and lack of buttons might take a lot of adjusting to. But, the things that are there, are certainly on par with other products that SteelSeries produce — from the neat logo on the USB plug, to the braided cable and even as far as the printing method used to put the white SteelSeries branding on the mouse itself, the Kinzu v2 is a near certain pick for those wanting a ‘no-frills’ gaming mouse.
A little bonus unboxing video for you all, just in case you like that kind of stuff: