Last Year Cooler Master unveiled its darker and more aggressive side, the CM Storm line. This new line was aimed at the enthusiast who wants looks and performance. We reviewed one of the first products from this new line the SM Storm Sniper Case. It was and still is one seriously nice case. But Cooler Master did not stop there. They have also added an accessory line to compliment the great cases like the Sniper and Scout. We have one of these in house and up on the bench for some gaming and general usage testing. So let?s take a look at the CM Storm Sentinel Advance High Performance Gaming mouse and see if it is worth your time and money. Or will it make you want to jump on a table and scream.
The box that the Sentinel comes in it about what you would expect from a high-end gaming mouse. There is plenty of slanting letters to give an impression of speed, red is a prominent color and the required flames tell us this product is ?smoking hot?. If you get past all of that you can see there are a few truly nice features shown off as well that we will talk about in more detail below.
The back of the box goes on to expand on the major features of the Sentinel Advance. Between the front and the back Cooler Master has made sure this mouse will end up in your cart if you are looking at it in a store.
Once you do get this home and tear open the box you do have everything you need to get going. Cooler Master has even thrown in one of their unique cable managing slot covers. This is on top of a mini-CD-ROM with the Sentinel Advance drivers and software.
Sentinel Advance Features and Construction
As you would expect the Sentinel Advance is built along the now familiar lines of most modern mice. However, it is not the same. It is a little bulkier and longer than the traditional mouse and also has longer buttons, this last bit offers a larger area for your ?shootin? fingers to rest on and activate those functions while gaming. But let?s take a more systematic look at the Sentinel Advance and cover some of the features as we go.
Starting at the front we see the typical mouse buttons we talked about as well as a scroll wheel. But there are three extra buttons visible when looking at the front. One is at the under the scroll wheel at the front. This is set by default to switch between the five different profiles available on the Sentinel Advance. Yep, like many other gaming mice Cooler Master allows you to setup profiles for the various tasks you perform. The other two are above the wheel and are for adjusting the dual tracking lasers that the Sentinel carries. The one with the little nipple on it adjust upwards for greater accuracy and the other down through 5600, 3800, 2600, and finally 1100DPI.
Along the left side of the Sentinel there are two additional buttons. By default these are set to forward and back in your browser. However, as with just about everything else they can be custom configured tooperate how you like them to.
Just behind these buttons is a clear area surrounded by a ventilated metal bezel. The clear area is an OLED display that shows you what DPI you are currently setup on and the ventilated bezel area lights up with one of eight available colors. You change these in the Sentinel Advance control software that we will talk about later.
The body of the mouse has an interesting texture to it. Again this feels like a rubberized surface but it has less friction that rubber [even soft rubber] would. This surface is cool and comfortable on the hand. It allows for an excellent grip with very little effort, this reduces strain and fatigue on your gaming hand [insert random online porn joke here].
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Flipping the Sentinel Advance over, we find that the quality does not end at the top. In a slight departure from tradition the Sentinel uses mush larger pads than your average mouse. This gives it a sturdier feel as it glides over your desk or mouse pad. We also see a compartment at the back of the mouse. This is the weight storage area.
When you open it up you can see five 4.5 gram weights. These help to give the Sentinel a solid feel when you are making small and precise movements. This is similar to the weights on the Logitech G5, but without the issue of having the weight tray sliding out all the time. Of course we would be remiss if we did not draw attention to the laser port here. This is the opening where the dual independently adjustable 5600 DPI lasers shine though on their way to your mousing surface.
The last thing we will point out here are the two ?head lights? these are a pair of OLEDs lights that can also be adjusted to whatever color you want. This change is independent of the top color. Before we move on there are two last minor things to talk about. The first if the cloth coated cable and the 2nd is a gold [plated] USB connector. Both merely round out an already impressive device.
Software and Extras
Setting up the Sentinel Advance is accomplished through the use of the CM Storm utility. This handy little piece of software allows you to gain complete control over your new rat. From the time you open the software you can see how simple it is to configure individual profiles and even the default one to your liking. When you first launch the application you are asked to select the type of gamer you are. Unfortunately you are asked this every time you launch the app as do far there is no way to set one as default. This is something that CM [Cooler Master] needs to address as having to choose each time is a tad annoying.
Once you get by that little bit then you get into the real meat of the mouse. On the general screen you can set the DPI levels that are controlled by the twin buttons we talked about earlier. These adjustments can be set for the X and Y lasers independently although there are only four levels you can set.
But other than that you can actually adjust [for each of the five profiles too] the sensitivity of the mouse, USB polling interval and of course double click speed. On the left of the screen you can set each of the eight buttons on the Sentinel Advance.
On the Color Control tab you can do pretty much what you would expect. You can control the colors for the two major OLED banks. But not only can you change the colors but you can also change the way they work. You can set them to run all the time, breathe [slowly dim and brighten], flash on and off as you click the mouse, or turn them off if they get too annoying. Also, on this page you can upload an image to personalize or ?tag? your Sentinel Advance. This is a pretty cool feature but it does take some getting used to.
You need to do a few things first. Your image needs to be 32×32 Pixels and should be black and white. Also if you want it to be landscape when looking at the bottom of the mouse [as in the picture below] you need to save the image at 90 degrees counter-clockwise of the way it should be viewed. You should also save this file as a BMP for the best results. But once you go through all that it is worth the effort.
The next two tabs allow you to setup scripts and macros. These can then be assigned to buttons on the Sentinel Advance for easier use and to automated work. The library tab is just a place to view all of your saved scripts and macros and to assign them to individual profiles if that is what you want to do.
The last page is pretty simple. It allows you to hit the CM support site and to look for and upload firmware patches to your Sentinel Advance.
One last thing that is a pretty cool feature is the ability to export and import profiles you have setup. This allows for you to easily backup and restore profiles for your CM Storm Sentinel Advance. The reason you can store these on the Sentinel is due to the 64kb of memory built into it. This means you do not have to run the software to have access to your favorite profiles [great for taking on the road]. You can also edit the profile names and even associate images with each one inside the CM Storm software.
To test the performance of the Sentinel Advance I stacked it up against my G5 laser gaming mouse. I played through several levels of Modern Warfare 2, Wolfenstien, and Farcry 2. I played each of these for one hour using each mouse to gauge hand and wrist fatigue and also accuracy and ease of use. I then sat down for some detailed Photoshop CS4 editing. These tests would be using the eraser tool and the cloning tool to edit and clean up small details in images. Unfortunately as these tests are all subjective I can only offer you my experience with it at this time.
I found the Sentinel Advance and the G5 to be roughly equal in terms of accuracy in game, but thought the Sentinel was a tad easier to use. The tacky grip that it has was more comfortable as I could maintain a very relaxed grip. With the G5 I felt like I had to hang on more. After three hours of gaming with the G5 my hand felt a little cramped and my gaming suffered. With the Sentinel I did not have that; my hand still felt relaxed and I was better able to control my movements.
For Photoshop editing, the Sentinel won hands down for one very important reason; the ability to adjust the laser independently. By doing this I could control horizontal and vertical movement with the press of a button [once the profile was setup]. Now I know that some will say that this is unfair, but in the end you will want to choose the mouse with the best features to suit your needs. In this case the Sentinel won out because of that handy little feature.
Overall the Sentinel is a much better pointing device than my old beloved G5.
The CM Storm Sentinel Advance has a $70 price tag. This puts it well inside the pricing of other gaming mice out on the market. With the extra features it has and the well thought out design I think it is a bargain at this price. In fact only the Logitech G500 has a higher DPI in its price range ($50-$75) and that is only by 100DPI.
I like the Sentinel. It is comfortable, flexible, fast and accurate. It has a sleek, clean feel and look to it. I found it excellent for gaming, Photoshop work [photo editing] and for just about any other use you need. The ability to load the mouse up with five profiles to quickly switch between work types cannot be overlooked. This is simple an excellent feature. I loved being able to setup macros in for Photoshop and Office and still maintain the defaults in another profile. The Sentinel is also priced very well at $70 so you can get these great features without breaking the bank. If you are looking for an excellent gaming mouse, photo editing mouse or just a nice mouse for general use the CM Storm Sentinel Advance has got you covered.
With its combination of great features, accuracy and design BSN* is happy to award the CM Storm Sentinel Advance our Prosumer/Enthusiast Innovation Award.