- Excellent scroll wheel
- Excellent sensor
- Great build quality
- Swarm software
- Braided cable
- Great looks
- Some texturing or rubber for claw grippers would be nice
Following on from our recent review of Roccat’s ISKU+ Force FX Gaming keyboard, we are pleased to present our review of the Kone EMP gaming mouse. The EMP is an updated version of the already highly regarded Kone XTD, so it’s likely the EMP is another fine entry into the Roccat stable of gaming peripherals.
Unboxing and Overview
The Roccat Kone EMP comes with a typically bright box choc full of feature descriptions and information on just about every feature of the mouse.
The mouse is contained within an inner shell and comes with a setup guide and a set of stickers which is a nice touch.
Here we have the mouse itself. Users of Roccat’s Kone series will be familiar with the shape, The EMP is more of an evolutionary upgrade rather than an all new design. But hey, if it aint broke, don’t fix it.
The Kone EMP is a large mouse, only suitable for right handers. You can consider it a good mouse for people who rest their palm on the top surface, though a user used to holding a mouse with the finger tips will also find the mouse comfortable, if a little large for those with smaller hands. At 116 grams its also on the heavy side.
Below is the left side of the mouse. Towards the upper side are the common forward and back browser buttons. Of course these are fully programmable with Roccat’s excellent Swarm software that we’ll go into later.
Below those buttons is a large indentation where you’ll rest your thumb. There’s a slight flare at the top, just below the browser buttons so there’s no slippage of the mouse when it is picked up off the surface. We’d like to see a bit of covering here instead of just smooth plastic. Dimples or rubber would be welcome to provide extra grip.
Here you get a good view of the glossy plastic which house the RGB lighting lighting strips. We’ll go into this shortly.
The right hand side of the mouse is bare. There is a contour for resting your outer fingers but with dry hands it feels at times there is a lack of grip here. Again, some dimples or a bit of rubber or gripper material would be welcome.
The front picture below shows the scroll wheel which Roccat calls the 4D Titan Wheel. Of course you can scroll forwards and backwards, left to right and click for rapid scrolling via mouse movement.
Just behind the wheel thee are two buttons for DPI adjustment.
And here’s the belly of the beast. There are large glide pads at the front and rear which appear to be very durable.
The sensor is a custom PixArt design that Roccat call ‘Owl-Eye’. The sensor is configurable in 100 DPI steps from 100 all the way to 12000 DPI. Competitive gamers will really appreciate this level of customization to dial in their settings to a tee. Roccat state that their in house gaming teams and engineers spent a lot of time maximizing precision in the 400 to 3000 DPI range which is considered the sweet spot for the mouse.
Lastly we have the USB connector at the end of a 1.8M braided cable.
Roccat Swarm Software Overview
Roccat products are controlled by the company’s impressive Swarm software. All the Roccat products are controlled from this one program. It checks for firmware updates over the net too.
Selecting the Kone EMP mouse at the top of the page reveals four main sub menus. The first of these is a pinned settings page. If you look through the rest of the mouse settings, you will see a small pin at the top of the sub menu. Clicking that will attache the selected section to the first page.
The second ‘settings’ page is shown below. Key among these are the DPI settings. This is useful for tuning the DPI to your preference or for different tasks. You might want to have a different setting for general Windows use, another for a FPS game, and another for a MOBA game for example.
You can control many of the parameters you will find in the Windows mouse properties. Scrolling, double click speed and sensitivity etc.
The third page is where you can change the button assignments. It goes much further than that though. You can set a Easy-Shift [+] button, which is the same as a shift key essentially, to set a secondary function. For example, if you had a multi fire mode weapon, you could hit the shift key and activate it from the mouse. There are a ton of possibilities. You can also set macros and have profiles for different games and tasks.
The final menu is the advanced settings tab. Here you can change the polling rate, enable sound feedback for certain functions and also set distance control. This is worth playing with on different mouse surfaces to improve tracking over the surface.
The other key control on this page is that of the illumination, or the RGB settings. The Kone EMP has four lights found at either end of the two strips as you can see in the pic below. In addition to actual color control (of which there are millions) you can set effects. There are only four effects which is a bit lacking compared to some vendors, and is worth mentioning, but this should not be a deal breaker by any means.
The lighting looks great generally. It doesn’t shout and scream at you like a fireworks display. Its a nice blend of bling and subtlety that we personally prefer over a club laser show. We note that lighter colors do lack a bit of depth compared to some of the other mice we’ve seen.
General Use Impressions
Evaluating the feel of a mouse is a very personal thing. What I might find comfortable and ergonomic may feel like a brick in another person’s opinion. Having said that, our experience with the Kone EMP was excellent. Its relatively larger size and heaver weight should suit those with large hands or used to having their palm resting on the mouse. Its generally OK for a finger or claw grip user, but it does lack a bit of grip when used like that. it was still very comfortable however when used that way.
Elsewhere, the Owl Eye sensor works very well for a few reasons. The DPI granularity is impressive and allows for some serious fine tuning all the way up to 12000DPI, although this is overkill and the mouse remains very accurate below this. If you’re playing a turn based game, and selecting multiple units frequently and quickly, or aiming for that distant sniper head shot then the accuracy of the sensor becomes very apparent and the Roccat Owl Eye is clearly very very good. Its also very capable on different surfaces. You can use it on your gaming mouse pad, but also on your lap, on a bench, wood or the bedroom blanket without skipping and stuttering.
The easy shift functionality should come in useful, but may have a bit of a learning curve in a game where you’d be used to pressing a keyboard key for the same function. Repetitive use will take care of that quickly. There are endless possibilities and if you’re using a game with lots of commands, being able to double your buttons comes in very handy. Don’t forget you can set macros too. Buttons like the pair that control DPI (and otherwise unused)are very useful for this purpose.
We think the mouse has just the right level of click volume, though some prefer a quieter click. The scroll wheel is perhaps the best we’ve encountered so far. It has just the right level of resistance for scrolling, side to side movement and pressing it down. Its hard to activate it by mistake. It just feels really good and well engineered overall, with a nice feel.
Finally, here’s a look at a couple of the RGB options available. The beauty of RGB is of course, you can choose you favorite colors.
Roccat have been around long enough to know what they are doing. The Kone EMP really does feel like a refined mouse. It looks great with its somewhat subtle RGB design being preferable to an eyeball burning laser light show. Some might feel the RGB lighting lacks a bit of vibrancy, but this is a visual niggle and does not detract from the experience.
The excellent sensor and scroll wheel come in for particular praise. The accuracy and ability to fine tune the sensor according to the application will be vital. When you’re selecting an in game button thats jut a few pixels across, you want to hit it first time, the same goes for a headshot. You’ll want consistent accuracy and performance to be the best you can be in your game, and the Kone EMP delivers.
The Swarm software is still excellent. Its easy to use, fully featured and intuitive. Having a Roccat keyboard on hand, we can attest to its usability there too.
It took all of 5 minutes of using the Kone EMP to feel as though we’d been using it for years. This points to a very natural ergonomic design that felt great. The scroll wheel really is excellent and the whole mouse feels durable and built to last. The Kone EMP has a RRP of $79.99 USD, so it’s not cheap, but it will give you many years of gaming goodness and will survive several upgrade cycles.