Though the NZXT Avatar S gaming mouse does not necessarily require you install its companion software in order to use it, doing so unlocks some additional features that many people would likely be interested in. That includes the ability to assign macros to any button on the mouse, customize the DPI, toggle LED lights on or off, and more. Many settings can be saved as profiles and loaded more easily at a later time, but all of the ones currently in use are uploaded directly to the mouseís on-board memory so that they may be preserved, even for use on other computers.
Hereís a complete rundown of the softwareís capabilities:
- Button Assignment -- All five buttons on the mouse can be changed or even turned off. Make any of them automatically double-click, emulate a key press, or execute a pre-programmed macro.
- Advanced Mousewheel Options -- Even the mouse wheelís scroll-up and scroll-down can be customized to do anything the standard five buttons can.
- Orientation -- Switch between right-handed and left-handed mode.
- Logo -- Toggle LED logo on or off.
- Led -- Toggle the LED lights beneath the main mouse buttons on or off.
- Dpi Switch -- Toggle the hardware DPI switch (hold left side button and scroll) on or off.
- Polling Rate -- The polling rate can be adjusted between the USB standard of 125Hz, 500Hz, and the maximum 1000Hz.
- DPI Switcher -- The three DPI presets can be adjusted in increments of 100.
- Enable X-Y Master Sensitivity -- You can choose to customize hardware sensitivity values for both the X- and Y-axis, this defaults to off with both sensitivities at the maximum.
- Windows Pointer Speed -- You can adjust the Windows pointer speed and pointer acceleration, which can also be toggled on or off.
- Scroll Speed -- Customize how quickly you scroll through documents using the scroll wheel.
- Double-Click Speed -- Customize how quickly you need to double-click for it to register as such. Thereís a testing area right next to this setting that lets you try out your changes.
The Avatar S has a mostly smooth plastic body, with a slightly rubbery matted texture on top and glossy accents on the sides. It feels a little sticky at first, which might indicate some potential slipperiness for those with particularly sweaty hands. It is shaped concavely on either side, with the extra buttons placed right up underneath each lip. Inside this curvature is some plastic roughness and etching, likely placed as much for looks as some extra grip. It doesnít fit naturally in the hand, which doesnít surprise me. Thatís sort of the risk associated with creating an ambidextrous design -- you inherently sacrifice some of the comfort afforded by mice that are specifically designed to be held by one hand, whether right or left.
Interestingly, the part of the mouseís shell that comprises the primary buttons sort of hangs there, not connecting to anything at the front of the body. Not that the primary buttons ever do connect to the front, per se, but itís rare to see a design that doesnít hide and protect that action. It may not be likely, but I can see a messy eater dropping some crumbs and mucking up the works or, if you have kids, some tiny fingers getting in there and prying the mouse open like a gatorís jaw. This is a wired mouse, and though the USB cable length is more than adequate at about seven feet, itís sheathed in plain rubber casing. This is much more likely to create friction, and therefore impede movement, when itís dragged across a smooth surface than the braided fiber cables you see on some other gaming mice. Itís something to consider if youíre interested in preserving that silky smooth glide provided by those Teflon feet on the bottom.
The scroll wheel on the Avatar S is superb. Itís almost-but-not-quite flush with the main mouse buttons and so is easy to reach for clicking, plus it rolls smoothly and quietly at speed. You can still feel every increment if you need to scroll precisely, however, which is good for changing weapons in a shooter, for example. I very much prefer this to the wobbly tilt wheel that Logitech has been putting on their newest gaming miceÖ Unfortunately that may be the only thing NZXT does better, as their button placement is otherwise sorely lacking. The Avatar S inherits its predecessorís side button design and placement, which means they are recessed and awkward to reach. Furthermore, the fact that there is one on either side of the mouse (again, a product of that ambidextrous design) means that if you want to use both, you will need to learn to press the one on the far side with your ring finger. That is, if youíre not already doing so inadvertently!