Affordable yet powerful, the gaming mouse can seriously improve FPS performance. Not for n00bs.
At first the Logitech MX518 just seems like a silver Logitech MX510 with several dents on the top, but upon toying with the sensitivity settings a true gamer will appreciate the twitch turns at ludicrous speed followed immediately by precision sniping without breaking a sweat.
Optical illusions are fascinating. What are really just a few dots of ink can effectively fool the mind's depth perception and color recognition, enough to make you look twice and try to feel what's actually there. The MX518 takes advantage of this art with its new faceplate. A dark metallic silver color appears to absorb light in different areas, giving off the appearance of very deep dents in the mouse itself. The Swiss-cheese-like 'holes' are very similar to the NASA photos of moon craters, or perhaps more like someone putting speed holes in a new car with a pickaxe. Whatever it looks like, it will definitely pull attention on store shelves with the see-through box it's packaged in.
From left to right, Logitech MX500, Logitech MX510, Logitech MX518.
Button placement remains the same as the previous models with two buttons positioned just above the thumb to prevent accidental clicks, while remaining in reach for fast access. What were once scrolling buttons have been replaced by sensitivity increase buttons, and right under them is the same inconveniently placed application switch button, which unfortunately didn't stay in between the thumb buttons as was introduced with Logitech MX1000 laser mouse. While not really used often, it requires taking your index finger off the trigger. All in all the design was well thought-out as the mouse remained comfortable during an entire 12-hour LanManiac LAN party session.
Software - The Heart of It All
Upon launching the SetPoint Driver configuration pane (read: no more buggy MouseWare drivers), we were faced with the button configuration tab. Unlike previous mice, the thumb buttons and middle click were assigned to "generic" by default, thus able to be used for things like Button 4 in Quake while reverting to the forward/back/scroll within the Windows environment. On another tab are the movement options such as pointer speed, acceleration, scrolling speed, pointer trails, and "smart move" to automatically move your pointer to the OK button in dialog boxes.
The third tab in SetPoint is exclusive to the Logitech MX518, and that would be the game settings. In here you can select what games the drivers will recognize such as those that render with OpenGL and Direct3D, as well as add your own games to the list, including non-rendered 2D games like Tetris. Once a recognized game is started, the mouse can behave differently with options for keeping advanced button assignments such as double-click and keystrokes, as well as whether the mouse should use the Windows' or SetPoint's speed and acceleration settings. One thing that we would have liked to see (and have liked to see since the MX series first came out at that) is the ability to change button assignments completely for certain applications. Some games such as Call of Duty don't recognize more than three mouse buttons, thus requiring mapping of the extra buttons to keys such as delete, which then has to be changed back manually after exiting the game. Quite inconvenient.
The most touted feature of the MX518 by far however is the ability to change DPI sensitivity on-the-fly. Out of the box without drivers, the mouse already sports 3 resolutions of 400 dpi, 800dpi, and an insane 1600 dpi. This is good news for Mac and Linux gamers who like to get insane with a rocket launcher, then slow the pace for some railgun action. On Windows XP this gets even better with the SetPoint drivers. Within the advanced game settings, five custom dpi resolutions can be created in increments of 50 from 400 to 1600 dpi. Being able to make your own settings is very handy for easing the jumps in between resolutions like jumping to 1200 dpi before taking it all the way to 1600. There's also an option for audio notification when switching resolutions, although Logitech needs to be more clear that you must go into the Windows Sound events to assign a sound since none is set by default.
In order to properly test the Logitech MX518, we used the three most common mousing environments - the bare imitation oak finish of a computer desk, a generic CompUSA mousepad, and a professional gaming mousepad, namely the fUnc sUrface 1030. The mouse glided well over each surface with its slick feet, with less friction than a brand new Logitech MX510. Over the fUnc surface, it literally felt like a puck on an air hockey table.
About the only thing that could interfere with the gliding other than spilt Bawls is the mouse cord, so some sort of cable management like a Mouse Bungee or cable clip can be extremely useful. As for tracking, both of the mousepads were generally on target - when using the CompUSA pad, twitching the mouse would land within the enemy's hitbox, while the fUnc surface was dead on the center of the hitbox landing several headshots. The desk didn't do as well, often missing the target slightly.
We tested the mouse in a variety of shooter games, including Battlefield 1942: Desert Combat, Call of Duty: United Offensive, Quake III Arena, and Unreal Tournament 2004. In Desert Combat, we generally left the mouse at 800 dpi since aiming isn't as much of an issue as being able to quickly turn around and fire at whoever is shooting you. While in the M-109 Howitzer, cranking up the resolution to 1600 did wonders in quickly turning the main cannon, something that takes ages otherwise.
Call of Duty was on cue with every twitch to check corridors and blast people with the MP40, and switching to 400 dpi for sniping with the Springfield. The thumb button made for a good melee attack after running out of bullets. In the gore-fests of UT2004 and Quake III we cranked up the DPI all the way to 1600 and went crazy with the flak cannon / shotgun, then dropped it to 600 dpi for sniping. Being able to switch sensitivity in these games is a godsend since there's less time to line up a shot accurately with as powerful scope as the games have, especially with Quake since there's only one level of zoom.
Throughout each game played no deaths could be attributed to lag, the MX518 keeping up to every twitch and click thanks to the corded design and powerful 5.8 megapixel/second image processing with a 16-bit data format that reports 125 times per second. And no, this isn't our minds playing tricks on us as the MX518 was more responsive than the Logitech MX510 while set at 800 dpi. Finally, we didn't have to worry about not moving the mouse when sniping from a nest, as there's no sleep mode to wake from that could take crucial milliseconds away in the event of an ambush.
Can switch sensitivity on-the-fly
Doesn't require drivers
Drivers for Windows XP only
Only one button set for all applications
For right-handed gamers only
If you play FPS games every now and then, but aren't known for staying up into the late nights on nothing but cold pizza and caffeine, or bellowing taunts through the microphone, the Logitech MX518 isn't for you, and you would probably just be better off with any regular 800 dpi mouse. For the more avid gamer however, it blends a perfect combination of a comfortable design and performance that can seriously improve your game play in first person shooters. At $50, the MX518 is an affordable weapon for your arsenal, and is highly recommended.