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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

There’s a slogan printed on the Level 10 M’s box: “born to be seen.” That’s true; the gaming-grade peripheral from Thermaltake’s gaming division, Tt eSports, is really eye-catching. The design, created by German car manufacturer BMW, looks like a concept car from an auto show. The mouse has a see-through aluminum chassis to stimulate air flow with 11 configurable buttons and reaches 8,200 dpi of resolution. We’ll first describe these impressive features, and then see how well the mouse performed in action.

Level 10 MFigure 1: The Level 10 M mouse

The entire mouse is made of aluminum. The underside and the laterals keep the metallic surface visible, but the upper body is rubberized with four color options: black, white, olive green or red. A black longitudinal stripe divides the device in half, from the rubberized scroll wheel to an adjustment screw on the lower body. On the right main button there are four LEDs to indicate the resolution level, and on the left button there is one LED for the user profiles.

Level 10 MFigure 2: Tip of the mouse

On the left side, the user can find the traditional back/forward buttons plus a special one, called the Z button, which looks like a little analog stick from a videogame controller. This button can change the resolution level as well as the user profiles, going in four directions. On the left side of the upper body, there is a grid of hexagonal holes to let the air flow. The right side has two extra programmable buttons. There are no niches for the thumb or pinkie.

Level 10 MFigure 3: Left side

Level 10 MFigure 4: Right side

[nextpage title=”Introduction (Cont’d)”]

The underside features five Teflon feet, the bigger one being a rectangle in the middle and around the Avago ADNS-9800 laser sensor.

Level 10 MFigure 5: Underside

The base extends itself to form a curved support for the cable, which is cloth-wrapped and ends on a gold-plated USB connector. Tt eSports provides a Velcro strap to fasten the cable and a dust-cap to protect the USB plug. Nice touches.

Level 10 MFigure 6: Cable support and USB connector

On the lower right side, there’s another screw to adjust the body tilting (5 degrees to either side). The previously described lower back screw can adjust the height of the mouse to 0.19” (5 mm).

Level 10 MFigure 7: Adjustment screw and core view

The Level 10 M comes bundled with an installation CD, a transport bag and a six-point screwdriver.

Level 10 MFigure 8: Transport bag and screwdriver

[nextpage title=”Main Characteristics”]

The real breakthrough of the Level 10 M is the design mash-up of futuristic and industrial lines. The body is slightly ambidextrous; that is, with buttons on both sides and body tilting, it can be used by both right- and left-handed users. However, the two main buttons don’t have the same size, and the Z button is hard to control with the pinkie if the user is left-handed, so it’s wasted in that case.

Aesthetics aside, the Level 10 M follows the trends of the best gaming-grade mice on the market. It features a large number of adjustable functions, and it records macros and uses profiles on the 128 kiB internal memory, which means the user can trade computers without losing his or her preferences.

Level 10 MFigure 9: Configuration software

Everything is controlled by the Tt eSports’ software, which, unfortunately, doesn’t follow the same design of the mouse itself. It has an ugly and unfriendly interface. Once the user gets through the visual pollution, it’s easy to program the 11 buttons and even cancel the use of the lateral buttons, leaving only the two main buttons activated.

The user can choose four different resolution levels up to the 8,200 dpi limit. By default, the Level 10 M comes pre-defined with 800, 1,600, 3,200 and 5,000 dpi settings. Despite the confusing interface, macro recording is easy, and the user can even edit delays between keystrokes.

Level 10 MFigure 10: Macro recording

The software also controls the LED illumination on the tip of the main left button and on the Tt eSports symbol that lies beneath the hexagonal grid. Other adjustable functions are the X- and Y-axis sensitivity, the pointer speed, and the lift-off distance.

Level 10 MFigure 11: Performance adjustment

[nextpage title=”Playing with the Level 10 M”]

At first, the stylish design of the Level 10 M is a bit intimidating. It immediately begs the question: Is the mouse comfortable? Well, we’ll start with the weight. With an all-aluminum body, the mouse weighs 6.5 oz (185 g), so the lack of a weight adjustment system is justifiable. With a hollowed-out structure, however, the peripheral is light under the hand, and the high resolution means the mouse doesn’t need to be dragged around too muc
h.

Level 10 MFigure 12: Illuminated Level 10 M

As for comfort, the Level 10 M doesn’t have rubberized niches for the thumb and pinkie. These fingers have to rest on the metal ridges of both sides if the user is a palm-gripper. If he or she is a claw-gripper, that design quirk won’t affect him or her much, but the Level 10 M could also have had a length adjustment to better suit users with short fingers since it’s a long peripheral.

Most of the buttons are very precise, but the C button (near the right side tip) is a bit difficult to hit, especially for the ring finger. On the other hand, the Z button is extremely sensitive. Our thumbs hit it by accident one time too many in the heat of combat. The concept behind it is great – a mouse button that functions just like an analog stick on a videogame controller does – but the location makes it vulnerable to being hit by mistake. The scroll wheel is amazing, one of the best we’ve tested so far, but unfortunately, it doesn’t scroll horizontally.

In terms of performance, we have no complaints about the Level 10 M. The user is free to select the four stages of sensitivity better suited to his or her gaming style. As always, we suggest a lower resolution for a more accurate aim, and a higher resolution when selecting multiple units or enemies when playing RTS or MMORPGs. The Z button made the dpi and profile change quick and intuitive, but the location problem remained.

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main specifications for the Tt eSports Level 10 M mouse include:

  • Gaming-grade laser mouse
  • Ambidextrous design
  • Connector: gold-plated USB
  • Assignable functions: 11
  • Tracking resolution: Up to 8,200 dpi selectable on four levels
  • Polling rate: 125, 250, 500, 1,000 Hz
  • Memory: 128 kiB
  • Approximate size: 5.7 x 2.65 x 1.52 inches (147 x 67.5 x 38.8 mm)
  • Weight: 6.5 oz (185 g)
  • Cable: 5.9 feet (1.8 m)
  • More information: https://www.ttesports.com
  • Average price in the U.S.*: USD 99.99

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The Level 10 M mouse is a peripheral for those who want to stand out and brag about it. It has a high concept design. The idea of an increased air flow worked, and the mouse compensates the heavy weight with the agile hollowed-out body and the precise laser sensor. However, the design got in the way of comfort; palm-grippers won’t find niches for the thumb and pinkie to rest on. The joystick-like button is a great idea, but it’s too near the thumb. And the software interface doesn’t match the mouse’s stylish design.

Strong Points

  • Impressive design
  • Adjustable body
  • Transport bag
  • Increased air flow
  • High sensitivity
  • Excellent scroll wheel
  • Joystick-like button

Weak Points

  • Uncomfortable for palm-grippers
  • Joystick-like Z button is poorly located
  • Left-handed users will waste the Z button
  • Ugly and confusing software doesn’t match the product’s beautiful design