Skip to main content

Tom's Hardware's 2010 Holiday Gift Guide: Part 2, Last-Minute Luxury

Mouse: Logitech Performance Mouse MX
By: Sam Finch

As enthusiasts, we can readily point out and appreciate the differences between an elite, $400 motherboard and an entry-level $200 solution. Why is it, though, that we usually don’t have similarly discriminating tastes with our input devices? If we aren’t content with a motherboard that merely bears the requisite slots, ports, and connectors, why should we settle for a mouse that’s limited to point, scroll, and click? This year, go high-end: the extraordinary Logitech Performance Mouse MX is the best mouse you didn’t know you needed.

The Performance Mouse MX’s claim to fame is its Darkfield Laser Tracking. As optical/laser mice have evolved over the years, one stumbling block has remained an almost absolute constant—glass surfaces. Specifically, they suck for mice. Darkfield is appropriately named after dark field illumination. Putting complicated science lessons aside, rather than tracking a mouse’s LED or laser light as it reflects off a surface in order to pinpoint a mouse’s movement (speed and direction), the Performance Mouse MX’s Darkfield sensor instead uses dust and what Logitech calls “other residuals” as its pole stars, so to speak. The sensor treats any surface that the laser light primarily passes through as an opaque (hence, dark) surface, making the microparticles easier to track. On a glass or similarly transparent surface, and lacking a mouse pad, Darkfield is justifiably game-changing.

That being said, if you’re in the midst of Call of Duty tourney with prize money on the line and fractions of a second separating you from scoring a headshot or taking a dirt nap, do you really want to be caught without a mouse pad, regardless of surface? That’s the $100 question we’ll let you answer for yourself.

But while Darkfield may be of limited importance in the above scenario, the Performance Mouse MX’s other features display a craftsmanship that nonetheless make it a premium mouse. The mouse’s ergonomic design feels great (sorry, southpaws—the MX is strictly righties-only); the four thumb buttons (scrolling, zoom, and application switching) seem to be placed well, too. The MX’s scroll wheel adapts the scroll rate based on how hard you pull the ripcord. Deliberate folks can still scroll along gradually, but if you let ‘er rip, the scroll wheel can blast through a hundred-page document or 1000-line spreadsheet in a matter of seconds.

The Performance Mouse MX’s wireless mini USB receiver is also worth mentioning. Called the Logitech Unifying receiver, the nickel-sized adapter will connect to the MX and any other compatible Logitech peripheral (which happens to be a fairly short list right now). Provided Logitech adds to list of devices that support the Unifying receiver, it could save you a few USB ports in the process (we're using it with the K750, mentioned on page three of the gift guide).

If you’ve never taken the high-end mouse plunge, we think you’ll agree that there’s no better opportunity that to do so with the Performance Mouse MX.