Roccat Kone Review

The Roccat Kone is the first gaming mouse to be released by German company Roccat. They’re not messing about with this new mouse, as they’re taking on the likes of Razer and Logitech with a high-spec product. Does the new kid on the block have what it takes to steal some sales from the big boys?

Specification
Max DPI 3200
Polling Rate 1000Hz
Max Tracking speed 45 inches/second
Frame Rate 7080 frames/second
Buttons 10 (8 programmable)
Operating System Windows XP, Vista
Warranty
Special Features
  • Integrated Turbocore (72MHz) for enhanced processing power
  • 128Kb onboard memory for storing up to 5 profiles
  • Customisable LED light system showing full spectrum of colours
  • Adjust weight with four clip-in weights
  • Tracking booster for up to 200% improved laser performance
  • Ergonomic hybrid shape with optimum grip and comfort
  • 16-bit architecture for accelerated data transfer
  • 4-way tilt scroll wheel

Looking at the features list on the box you can’t help but be impressed. A lot of it is marketing speak, but cutting through the crap you’ll realise that the Kone is well equipped.

Starting off with the sensor, you get a ‘true’ 3,200DPI laser with reduced ‘Pick-Up Flight’. What this means is that the sensor stops responding the instant you lift the mouse, so you don’t get that horrible phenomenon where you find yourself pointing in a random direction when you reposition the mouse on the mousemat. The Kone also claims to have a tracking booster that gives up to 200% better performance than a standard laser.

There’s a 72MHz processor built into the Kone to handle the stream of data from the sensor. Add to this the 128Kb of onboard memory that can store up to 5 button profiles and you have enough power in this mouse to put my first two computers to shame (a 32Kb BBC Micro and a 128Kb ZX Spectrum). There are ten buttons in total and eight of those are programmable, so the Kone will be ideal for RTS and RPG gamers who like to program lots of macros.

There’s some fancy LEDs that can be customised to your heart’s content, and the feel of the mouse can be customised by adding one of four weights.

So, a promising start. Let’s crack open the box and see what its like.

Packaging

[singlepic=82,100,,,left]You get the impression that you’ve bought a quality mouse when you see the Kone’s box. It’s a large chunk of blackpolystyrene, with a transparent window in the front to allow you to view your new mouse. The polystyrene splits in two to reveal the inner plastic sleeve that holds the mouse and all of its accessories. It’s a sturdy box that will give the Kone plenty of protection in transit.

Splitting open the inner plastic gives you access to the Kone and the various accessories. You’ll find the mouse, a plastic case containing the four weights, a driver CD and a quick installation guide. You also get an Inari Case Mission Book and Roccat ID Card, which gives you access to some online extras.

Design

Although taste is subjective, I personally consider the Roccat Kone to be one of the best looking mice available. It is a sleek shape with no awkward angles (think Saitek Cyborg mouse) or protruberances (think Microsoft Sidewinder). The Roccat Kone is a right-handed mouse, so left-handers will have to look elsewhere.

The surface of the mouse is covered in a matt black plastic that feels a little like rubber. There are two plastic strips that run the full length of the mouse, which cover two LEDs each, and at the base of the mouse is the Roccat logo, behind which is a fifth LED. There are ten buttons in total – two on the left side for your thumb, three on top of the mouse above and below the scroll wheel, and of course the scroll wheel itself which includes a tilt action.

The Kone is very comfortable to hold, but it is a large mouse so is better suited to players who use a palm grip (rather than claw). Your thumb nestles nicely on the left side and all buttons are in easy reach. The buttons themselves have a nice action, being light to the touch but not too light. The Kone also feels like a sturdy device and seems to be well built.

The only flaw in the design is a visible join in the rubbery coating where it has been split into two pieces. One piece covers the lower part of the mouse, the second piece covers the top and two main buttons, and you can feel a slight ridge where the two pieces join. It’s a minor point, but Razer managed to cover the Deathadder in a single piece of smooth rubber, so surely Roccat could have managed the same?

The cable is 6 metres long, so should provide enough reach for most people. However, the first sign of cost-cutting is visible on the USB connector. The Deathadder, a cheaper mouse, features a gold USB connector, whereas on the Kone you get normal metal. While this is hardly going to stop the mouse working, I would have expected a gold-plated connector on a £50 gaming mouse.

Software

In the weight box you will find a mini CD. Pop it into your CD-Rom and you may be surprised to find little more than a static HTML page directing you to the Roccat website. This is probably a good idea as it forces you to download the latest drivers in order to get the mouse working, but if you haven’t got web access when you’re installing your Kone then tough – you’ll have to wait until you can get onto the internet to make full use of its features.

I downloaded the latest drivers (driver 1.29, frmware 1.32), which came as a 9MB zip file. Installing the drivers takes a few moments and requires a reboot, and after that I was prompted to upgrade the firmware on the mouse. This takes a couple of minutes but its just a case of sitting back and letting the program get on with it.

[singlepic=71,100,,,left]Roccat have clearly put a lot of thought into the software that comes with the Kone, as it’s a joy to use. The interface is clean and easy to understand and the various options are all intuitive. There are five tabs – Main Control, Color Control, Advanced Settings, Update and Help/Support.

The Main Control tab covers button assignment, sensitivity and scroll wheel speed. You can also choose the settings for the DPI switcher by including any of 6 DPI levels – 800, 1200, 1600, 2000, 2400 and 3200. These are cycled through when you press the dedicated DPI + and – buttons on top of the mouse.

[singlepic=72,100,,,left]Color Control, as the name suggests, allows you to control the colours for the five LEDs. You can choose your colour, or let the mouse select a random one, and then add effects. This tab also tells you the weight that’s currently installed in the mouse.

The Advanced Settings tab allows you to specify different levels of sensitivity on the X- and Y-axis. You can also activate cursor acceleration, switch the TCU on or off, and adjust the Windows pointer speed. The polling rate can also be adjusted to 125Hz, 500Hz or the full 1000Hz.

Sadly there’s no auto-update of the driver software, so the Update tab gives you a button to check manually. Clicking the button tells you your current version and the latest version on the website, with the contents of the changelog. Finally, the Help/Support tab gives a button that launches your browser and takes you straight to the Roccat website.

You can create up to five different profiles and save them to the mouse’s onboard memory. The eight programmable buttons (excluding the main left/right buttons) can be reassigned with a preset action, or loaded up with a macro of your choosing, so there’s plenty of scope for tailoring the mouse functions to a specific game.

LED Lighting

The Kone has got some very trick lighting inside its sleek body. There are five individual LEDs, each of which are capable of reproducing any colour in the spectrum. Using the software you can manually set which colours you want and then add effects – rotating, moving, pulsating, blining or heartbeat. Check out the video to see them in action.

This all sounds very good, but in action the effects aren’t quite what you’d expect. The pulsating option, which I expected to be a smooth change in brightness from dark to light like the logo on my Deathadder, is just a flashing effect. As is the blinking effect and the heartbeat – basically the effects boil down to just flashing in slightly different ways. Also, although the LEDs are supposed to be capable of reproducing the full spectrum, in reality you can only choose from a palette of 40 pre-defined colours.

Weight System

[singlepic=79,100,,,left]On its own the Roccat Kone weighs 133g, but this can be increased by up to 20g using one of the four weights. The weights come in multiples of 5g (5g, 10g, 15g and 20g) and are easy to fit. On the base of the mouse is a round socket – just choose the weight you want and pop it into place. They’re also easy to remove by pressing a button positioned next to the socket. The currently selected weight is detected by some pins in the socket and displayed in the driver screen.

It’s a simple system that makes a slight difference to the feel of the mouse, although the divisions between each weight could have been greater. Each 5g increase is barely discernible, perhaps multiples of 10g would have been better.

There is also another problem with the weights. If you don’t want any weights fitted at all you are left with an empty socket on the underneath of the mouse, with the pins that detect the weight completely unprotected. It would have been a good idea to include a cover for the socket to stop the pins getting dirty or damaged.

In Use

I put the Kone to good use as my everyday mouse, setting aside my trusty Deathadder. This meant it would get used as a standard Windows mouse for word processing and development work, and then get thrown into whichever games happened to be capturing my interest at the time.

For normal desktop applications the Kone works very well, but I found myself turning down the sensitivity to around 1600DPI. At this level the Kone is fast yet accurate, and it feels slightly more responsive than the Deathadder at its maximum setting of 1,800DPI.

For game testing I turned to Far Cry 2 and Left 4 Dead. I started off with the mouse at its full 3,200DPI and, to be honest, found it way too sensitive. It was difficult to remain accurate as the slightest twitch of the mouse caused significant cursor movement. Eventually I settled on using two of the DPI levels – 2,400DPI for fast action and occasionally switching down to 1,600 DPI for sniping. The +/- buttons are ideal for doing this as they’re easy to reach in a hurry and as long as you don’t have all levels of DPI activated they’re quick and intuitive – with all levels switched on you can easily lose track of which level of DPI is currently in use.

Although I haven’t used a Lachesis for a while, the Kone seems to be more responsive at 3,200 DPI than I remember the Lachesis at its full 4,000 DPI. It could be considered too twitchy for a lot of players, but that’s not a problem if you configure the DPI levels to your taste.

The programmable buttons are great, and you can map a lot of the game functions to the mouse. For example, in Far Cry 2 the scroll wheel click opened up the map, the button above the scroll wheel acted as ‘reload’, one of the left thumb buttons threw a grenade and the other toggled between grenade and molotov. This meant my keyboard hand was left to concentrate on movement while weapon management was controlled entirely by the mouse.

As far as comfort is concerned the Kone proved to be a pain-free experience. I would say I have average-sized hands into which the Kone seemed to fit perfectly, and at no point did I have any discomfort, even after a full working day of eight hours. It was the same for gaming, and after some lengthy sessions my mouse hand still felt comfortable. Some mice can leave you with aching and cramped fingers, but the Kone isn’t one of them.

A final mention goes to the Tracking Control Unit, or TCU, that helps to reduce the pick-up flight mentioned at the start of the article. It really does work, and manages to greatly reduce the problem. It doesn’t entirely eliminate it, but lifting the mouse back into the middle of the mousepad is no longer the stuff of gaming nightmares.

Conclusion

Roccat were aiming high with the Kone, and the results are very good. While the LED lighting might be a bit of a letdown the rest of the mouse more than makes up for that. The Roccat Kone is excellent where it matters – the laser sensor is smooth and very responsive, the buttons are easily configured and its comfortable to use for long gaming sessions.

The negative points are few and minor. The LED lighting isn’t all its cracked up to be, the lack of a cover for the mouse socket seems to be an obvious flaw and … that’s about it. One improvement I would like to see is some sort of DPI indicator on the mouse so you know which one of the settings is in use. An LCD display like that on the Microsoft Sidewinder would have been a good idea.

So could the Roccat Kone be considered the best gaming mouse available today? There’s no single answer to that question, as it depends on your personal gaming style and the games you want to use it for, but the Roccat Kone gives you everything you’d ever need from a mouse.

Author: Chris

Chris is a devout PC gamer who spends way, way too much time sat at his PC either gaming or writing. You can find Chris on Google+

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19 Comments

  1. The KONE is excellent, i played the device for a few month now and i am totaly satisfied!

  2. This mouse is utter crap and the company making it are a bunch of lying, stealing a-holes. I’ve had more contact with both their mice and their workers than I would have liked. I had 3 Kone’s and all 3 had their mouse whell die within a month. The 3rd one was the so called v2. Same thing. They fixed nothing!
    And these problems are happening to everybody. Also their support took 6 months to replace my mouse… 6 f…king months!
    Need I say more?

  3. Say no more, Tom, Roccat clearly haven’t done much to win you over!

    My experience was better – support arranged for my mouse to be returned within two days of contacting them and the replacement was shipped out soon after. It is the new version and the mouse wheel is still working OK, although it is only a couple of months old at the moment – my first Kone lasted about nine months before it collapsed.

  4. hey i got this mouse. It’s a superb and more better than most wired Razer mouse. The quality also better than Razer mouse. The quality is comparable to Steelseries mouse which have a good build too. I really love this mouse and never face any problem yet. I hope Roccat can make more better choice of mouse since i’m sick of hearing a Razer’s fanboy which know nothing about other mouse and just gives a shit reviews all over the world.

  5. Hi Ranger, glad you like the Kone. I’m still happy with mine, despite the failure of the scroll wheel (the replacement is still going strong).

  6. I’m looking to buy the Kone v2 or the Razer Imperator, for a everyday mouse and gaming which is better in your opinion Chris?
    thanks 🙂

  7. Hi Azagedon. Between the two I’d say the Kone, it’s the better all-round gaming mouse.

  8. For BIG people with BIG hands!

    Roccat is making a false claim about this product’s Ergonomic Hybrid Shape. It is NOT suitable for people who use Claw Grip style as a mouse as large and as high as this forces the Palm Grip style.

    There’s no doubt that the Roccat Kone is a high-tech precision gaming mouse with many great features.

    It has a 3200 DPI Pro-Aim Gaming Sensor to reduce Pick-Up-Flight; a TCU (Tracking Control Unit) to calibrate the laser power to match the mouse pad surface; an Integrated Turbocore to save CPU power; 128kB of Internal Memory to save up to five Game Profiles; a customisable light system with 5 LEDs capable of displaying the full spectrum of colors; and a FastClip Weight Kit to change the weight of the mouse from 118g by 5g, 10g, 15g and 20g.

    But the so-called Ergonomic Hybrid Shape that is supposedly suitable for people with both claw grip or palm grip fails to impress me. If you have large hands then you should find this mouse very comfortable and easy to dominate.

    However, if you’re like me and have small-medium sized hands then don’t be surprised if you get wrist ache and have trouble moving it quickly from side to side. My wrist ache got so bad after the first 5 days I put the Kone back in it’s box and got my old faithful Razer Diamondback mouse back into action. The Razer is such a fantastic mouse; it’s fast, accurate, and lightweight so you really feel in control of the mouse rather than the mouse controlling you.

    In summary, if you’ve got big hands (Roccat is a German company) then buy the Roccat Kone, otherwise get something smaller like a Razer Diamondback.

  9. Sorry GogoPogo, but I disagree – I am certainly not a big person and I don’t have particularly big hands and I have no trouble with the Kone. I still use it almost daily and I have never had wrist ache, thanks to the very supportive shape. I would agree that it is not great for claw grip gamers, but fantastic for palm-grip unless you have really small hands.

  10. Hi Chris, just wanted to ask how is your replacement kone going?is it still ok?

    Im planning to buy one, however, im having my doubts due to the horrible scroll wheel issue of the Kone..

  11. Hi Nikes. The replacement Kone is still going strong – in fact I’m using it right now. The scroll wheel is still working OK and feels like it’s going to last, although I didn’t spot any signs of trouble on my last one until is suddenly let go one morning.

    Based on the performance of this replacement mouse I’d say go for it, get yourself a Kone, but if this one packs up like the old one I’ll be sure to let you know!

  12. Hi Chris, based on your recommendation, i got myself a Roccat Kone. All I can say is this piece of rodent is amazing! The Roccat Kone and Roccat Sota combined gives excellent tracking and smoothness!Added with additional buttons and the slick lighting system,it is one of the best gaming mice out there.

    However Chris,I got this one problem i couldnt figure out. The Roccat Profile manager enables us to specify an application that will trigger the profile switch. However, upon exiting to the said application, it doesnt go back to the default profile I specified for general desktop use. I am currently using the driver version 1.41 Firmware 1.41.

  13. Thanks Nikes, it’s always nice to hear from someone who’s pleased with a purchase following one of my reviews. Better than receiving abuse for recommending a piece of crap!

    I’ve just been trying this out on my Kone (same firmware/drivers) and you’re right – the first swap to the app profile works fine, but as soon as you exit the app it doesn’t switch back to the previous profile.

    The only thing I can think of is to assign the OSD-Profile Switch to a button in the app profile to allow you to switch back manually. Personally I’d choose the button forward of the scroll wheel, simply because it’s the one I use least. That way you can hold the button down and scroll back to your default profile. It’s a bit fiddly but it works.

    The alternative is to raise the issue with Roccat who may be interested in adding this to the drivers, but then again …

  14. Hi Chris,you are welcome,It was really a nice review,and it was very informative since you have an actual replacement from the dreaded scroll wheel.

    Regarding the profile switch, actually I already did what you said and we have the same preference. I also used the button forward the scroll wheel,however I assigned it as Profile Down,since my default windows profile is the first profile on the manager.This way I can switch back manually.

    Thanks for your great feedback Chris, and as of now,I am really enjoying my Kone.

  15. Sup Y’all …. Razer Rocks!!! 🙂

  16. This is mouse overrated. And seriously overpriced for what it has to offer: poor senzor tracking; too hard and noisy main buttons like on cheap mice; no DPI indicator; to change profile you have to expend two buttons because there’s no roll over when you hit the boundary; no cover for the weight hole; general feeling as it’s going to break apart…

  17. So you don’t like it then?

    Yes it’s expensive, yes it needs a dpi indicator, yes the profile swapping could be better. Apart from that I think we’ll have to agree to disagree.

  18. This mouse is crap. I’ve tried on several surfaces. It really has one significant problem which just kill everything else; the sensor dies on fast movements. Not every time, just sometimes. Try doing repeated circles fast. At some point the mouse will just fail, cursor lagging behind.

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