Part of the new Microsoft Sidewinder product line, which will pinnacle with the X8 wireless gaming mouse (with Blue Track), the Microsoft Sidewinder X5 gaming mouse is a more budget-minded version of the original Sidewinder Gaming Mouse, specifically: $20 dollars cheaper.
The X5 features a hard, black plastic design, save for the cap pieces which are rubberized, with a rubber scroll wheel and plastic vertical side buttons. The high-gloss, plastic center strip houses the scroll wheel, DPI, and Quick Turn buttons. Not a flashy gaming mouse, the X5 is only equipped with two rear-mounted undercarriage lights. Its minimalistic aesthetic gives an air of dignity to the mouse in a category where gamers often pay more for flash than function. Thankfully, the X5 makes up for its lack of lighting effects with a variable-DPI laser sensor.
Gamers can press one of the three DPI buttons underneath the scroll wheel and put the mouse into 400, 800, or 2000DPI modes. Personally, I felt that the standard three settings needed some tweaking, and after installing the Microsoft software, increased the second setting to 1200DPI as opposed to the stock 800. The X5 is extremely responsive and at the full 2000DPI, even the slightest hand tremor will effect your aim. This works fine for macro movements such as running but, for fine movements, the lower settings are a definite must.
The mouse also features the ‘Quick Turn’ button seen on the original Sidewinder. You need to install Microsoft’s Intellipoint software for this (and macro capabilities) but once you do, you will realize its worth it. This button will send make the cursor act as if you just rotated the mouse 180 degrees, very useful in an FPS where you need to turn about quickly. Crazy Ivan? Now, its ‘Crazy You’!
The scroll wheel has been reworked from the metal one on the original Sidewinder to a rubber model with unique tread pattern. Microsoft claims to have been inspired by Halo and the Master Chief in the design of the Sidewinder (and X5) and you can definitely see the Forerunner-influence in the wheel’s tread pattern. The wheel has pronounced detentes in usage which make scrolling very efficient and accurate while the rubber texture is actually better in terms of grip than the metal wheel.
On the thumb position (sorry lefties, the unit is not ambidextrous) you will find the two programmable vertical buttons. They are a smooth plastic here (originally metal on the Sidewinder) and, unfortunately, still prone to accidental clicks when picking the mouse up from the pad to re-adjust it.
Gone are the adjustable weights and interchangeable feet of the original Sidewinder, but they are not missed here in the least. The X5 shows that you do not need those frills in order to be effective in-game.
The $59.99 gaming mouse price point contains some pretty stiff competition in it these days and, while the Sidewinder X5 is not the best in this heap, it easily holds its own against most. The biggest problem facing this new gaming mouse is the reseller market putting the original Sidewinder on sale for markedly lower prices. At least you can rest well in the fact that should you not find an original Microsoft Sidewinder mouse for cheap, you will be in great hands with the Sidewinder X5.