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Zowie FK 2014 Gaming Mouse Review

9 April 2014

I’m Josh ‘deathdoG’ Edwards, long time FPS gamer for Team Immunity in Battlefield 3-4 and Counter-Strike, frequent Mwave customer and compulsive gaming gear buyer. I’ve used a lot of gaming mice over the last 4-5 years and I’m pretty open to trying anything that is new or recommended to me by others. A lot of people have spoken highly of the Zowie FK since its release in 2013, I thought it would be worth taking a look at and breaking down purely from a gamer’s standpoint. Apologies in advance if I’m short on technical knowledge regarding mice switches, tracking sensors and the effects DPI/Polling Rates; like most, I play by feel and comfort and that’s how I’ll be judging the mouse.

 

I view Zowie as a fairly low-key company who maintains a small product line, preferring to release minor updates and adjustments to current products rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. The Zowie FK was developed in conjunction with Filip ‘Neo’ Kubski, a Counter-Strike player whose claim to fame is wins at WCG, IEM and most recently, $200K USD at EMS-One. In short, this mouse rides high on eSports endorsement and is built to be a no-nonsense device. There are no LED’s, no custom drivers and no mind-blowing colour schemes. Users looking for a mouse with huge aesthetic value, customizability and generally bad-ass looks won’t find it here.

 

 

The mouse itself – notice the plastic/rubber combo leaves hand prints and marks.

 

 

The most important thing to understand (which ties into what I mentioned about the brand before) is that the FK’14 isn’t much of a leap from the FK’13, simply featuring an updated mouse wheel with finer movement and an infrared optical sensor. This isn’t going to be a game changer for FK’13 owners, but it is an upgrade, and I’ll look at that now.

 

A short note about the packaging: everything the mouse owner needs to know is printed on the box, from DPI increments to setting Polling Rates. It’s simplistic and low cost, but it doesn’t feel cheap. The first thing you’ll notice is the DPI increments, coming in at 450, 1150 and 2300 DPI respectively. These are some really odd increments for users that are accustomed to 400, 800 and 1800 DPI steps, so it’ll take some annoying tinkering and Windows Sensitivity magic to get the mouse movement feeling just right. It isn’t all doom and gloom though. Once it’s out of the box and you’ve gotten past the painful DPI steps, the mouse is an outstanding product.

 

When plugging in the mouse, I noticed that the FK’14 doesn’t use a braided cable like SteelSeries and Razer mice, instead using an elasticized rubber cable that feels a little stretchy, and feels sturdy enough, but I wouldn’t be too rough with it. Overall, the rubber cables great because it doesn’t snag on the mouse pad like some braided cables. It has a little more friction on hard surfaces than a braided cable would, but it doesn’t fray, kink or tangle.

 

 

Left side shot – two buttons located next to the thumb. They’re tough and you won’t hit them accidentally.

 

 

The simplicity of driverless design is a huge win. Plugging the mouse in while holding the left or right side buttons to set the polling rate to either 500 Hz or 1000 Hz. There’s a discrete DPI changer on the underside of the mouse, a simple button press changes the DPI increment, with an LED colour switch indicating which DPI is active. This would be great for frequent LAN’ers or anyone that prefers not to bloat their system with drivers.

 

The outside shell of the mouse is a rubbery surface that feels smooth to touch. It isn’t as grippy SteelSeries or Razer rubber coatings, feeling more like matte plastic. It’s worth noting that this coating is otherwise comfortable but it will make your hand sweat over long gaming sessions. I really feel like the mouse could use a surface upgrade to either up the grip or reduce the sweatiness.

 

 

Matte Black base with infrared sensor – the yellow button is the DPI switch. The mouse skates are pretty big and should last for a while.

 

 

The mouse suits a ‘Claw’ style of grip, with the middle section curving inward and the mouse not being overly long. My hand length is just under 20cm from middle finger to wrist and palming the mouse wouldn’t be an option, the design just doesn’t suit it. Given the concave design style of the mouse, the mouse is really comfortable but finger-tipping or clawing it is the only way to go.

 

I managed to try the mouse on Black and Navy mouse surfaces and black and white wooden tabletops. Tracking was perfect on every surface. There was no jittering or freezing regardless of how fast I pulled the mouse, no 360 spins of doom. Every motion and every movement was translated with precision, and the FK really provides that great feeling of having your exact movements play out in a way that is consistent to how you’ve moved the mouse. Top notch!

 

 

Claw gripping for comfort may not suit everyone, but it really fits with this mouse.

 

 

Putting it through the motions, click after click feels outstanding. Clicks are punchy with a bit of feedback, there is absolutely no spongey feeling that leaves you wondering whether you should’ve racked up that kill or not; when you’ve clicked the mouse, you’ll know it. The side buttons are tactile and responsive, requiring a bit of a press to activate, they can’t be triggered by accident. As mentioned previously, the main change from the FK’13 is the new, smoother mouse wheel. The old version was very raw and would sometimes wind itself back causing involuntary jumping or weapon switching at the worst of times. This wheel is finer, feels better for general use and is a nice design improvement.

 

Overall, the Zowie FK 2014 is an amazing product that delivers perfect tracking, solid clicks and a comfortable body that suits claw type grips. The updates to the 2013 edition are small, but still provide a tangible sense of improvement through the vastly better scroll wheel, which was criticized as feeling cheap and bumpy. Rest assured; the new wheel is great. Minor flaws like the coating, lack of design flair and DPI settings do little to detract from an otherwise stellar product, which at $69AUD, is great value for the performance it provides.

 

Positive:

 

Great Tracking – Tracks on a variety of colours, reacts well on all DPI settings, feels acceleration and prediction free.

Quality Build – Strong, tactile clicks, smoother mousewheel, tanglefree cable, great design/weight and perfectly sized side buttons.

Gamer Focused Design Features – Driverless workaround, DPI changing on the BOTTOM of the mouse, polling rate selection.

Extra Set of Feet – Longer life!

 

Negative:

 

DPI Increments – 450, 1150 and 2300 DPI..?

Matte Rubber/Plastic Body – Gets sweaty and doesn’t feel as grippy as competing mice.

Small Build – Will only suit ‘claw’ type users or ‘palm’ types with small hands.

Aesthetic – Could’ve used a bigger aesthetic change from the FK’13, yellow and black won’t suit everyone.

 

 

                          Quick CS:GO Montage by deathdoG using the Zowie FK 2014. Beast Mode Activated!

 

 

Author: Josh 'deathdoG' Edwards - Follow him on Twitter & Youtube!                                                            

       

Tags: Zowie, Gaming Mouse

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