The X8 also includes a small LCD screen that informs you of the current dpi setting. This isn't necessarily as handy as it sounds, because the real feature is the capability to change modes -- not displaying their strength. If you're ever unsure about the X8's sensitivity level, you'll know from either your preset dpi button assignments, or as soon as you use the mouse. Using the screen as a battery-life indicator would have been more useful. The screen does, however, give you cues to assist in recording macros.
The macro-recording process is quite simple. A dedicated button in a niche on the left side of the X8 enables the recording mode. The mini LCD instructs you to push the button that you want to map the macro to. This can be the one of the vertical side buttons, the right-click button or the scroll-wheel button. Then you simply enter your commands for the macro and accept the recording by clicking the flashing, dedicated macro button. From there, you can assign further macros through the IntelliPoint software. You can create universal macros, or make them specific to a particular game or other program.
The X8 isn't as sensitive as the Mamba, but the two share a hybrid wired/wireless design. Each model comes with a USB charging station that doubles as a wireless receiver. The two also let you connect the mouse directly to the USB cable for charging and the data connection, ensuring that you lose no uptime when your mouse runs out of juice.
The X8 has an inline hockey puck-style base station with a hardwired
USB cable. To change to wired mode, you need to unwind a second cord
that ends in a magnetic tip, which pops into a magnetic receiving end
on the underside of the mouse. The Mamba's base station has a removable
USB cable with a uniquely designed USB input that pops out of the base
station and plugs into the Mamba below the scroll wheel. We find the
magnetic end of the X8's cable a pleasing solution that makes the
Mamba's design look clunky, although it's not necessarily a
The X8 communicates with a 2.4GHz wireless signal that polls at a rate of 500MHz. We found the X8's wireless response time generally adequate during our Team Fortress 2, Dead Space and Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 testing, but it seemed to have difficulty maintaining a clean signal when we ramped the sensitivity up to 4,000dpi. We can't feel too disappointed though, as you can always change to the wired mode if you need to use such a high setting. In contrast, however, the Mamba and its 1,000MHz polling rate showed no such drop-off.
Off the cable, the X8 lasts about 30 hours on a full charge from its AA NiMH battery.
With its wired and wireless connectivity, souped-up BlueTrack sensor, and well-sculpted design (for right-handed people), the Microsoft SideWinder X8 Mouse fits comfortably among the gaming-mice elite. It's a worthy addition to any gamer's arsenal.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet