Mice aimed at MMO players, like the Logitech G600 and the Razer Naga, are designed around a simple principle: MMOs have lots of spells, so MMO mice should have lots of buttons. That means an array of 12 identically sized and shaped buttons on the left side of the mouse. For games other than MMOs, that’s way too many buttons. And even for MMOs, where keyboard commands are arguably faster, it’s not a great experience. The buttons are too small and too similar to be differentiated instinctively. I think it’s bad design.
Roccat wanted to take a stab at the MMO mouse last year, but it took a slightly different approach. The Roccat Nyth, which was announced last year, has that similar 12 button layout, but it’s completely configurable. The buttons are small pieces of plastic that snap into the side of the mouse like Lego. And the Nyth comes with enough button pieces to create a ton of combinations. Want those 12 small MMO buttons? Go for it. Want six double-wide buttons? You can do that. Want two or three double-wide buttons stacked on top of each other? You can do that. Want to fill in the entire left side with flat pieces for a spacious thumb rest? That works, too.
I spent some time trying out different button combinations at Roccat’s CES suite, and was surprised by how much I immediately liked the Nyth. Most importantly, the interchangeable buttons feel good. They’re solid and clicky, and don’t feel like gimmicky cheap add-ons for the mouse body. They feel just as good as the thumb buttons on Roccat’s other mice. I prefer simplicity in mice design, so the Nyth appeals to me more than other MMO mice. I don’t want 12 buttons, but I like the idea of two, or maybe four, of the double-width buttons.
The first configuration I tried had two double-wide buttons on the top row, which is a pretty typical mouse layout. I rocked my thumb upwards to press those buttons. But I also tried something a bit different, putting those two buttons on the bottom row, and I liked that, too. There was still plenty of space for my thumb to comfortably grip the mouse, but I could press the buttons with a small, easy thumb movement downwards.
The “blank” plates for the Nyth felt nice and smooth under my thumb. No negative effect on grip there, either. After using the mouse for a few minutes, the only feature I wasn’t sold on was the rocker on top of the mouse. It juts up in the center, in between your index and middle fingers, and took some serious getting used to. I might end up loving how quickly I could click it right or left by slightly moving my fingers side-to-side, but when I’m using the mouse more casually, I think I’d end up hitting the rocker with my palm instead of perfectly positioning my fingers around it.
The right side of the Nyth also pops off—it’s held in place by magnets, and Roccatp plans to ship the mouse with two grip types, one of which is a larger grip that resembles the Mionix Naos. The magnets seem to hold the side grip on securely enough for gaming, even with some aggressive swiping. The buttons on the opposite side are also completely secure. To pop them out, you have to release a small slider on the bottom of the mouse.
The Nyth’s customizable buttons could use a bit more design tuning before the mouse ships. the only real issue with them is that the labels (1, 2, 3, etc. for single buttons, 1-2, 5-6, etc. for double wides, 1-4 for blank plates) are etched into the plastic and hard to see without direct lighting. Roccat plans to ship the mouse with a small case for those buttons, which will help with organization.
After getting my hands on the Nyth, I think Roccat has built a promising mouse out of something that sounds like a gimmick. It has a 10,000 DPI sensor, which I’ll need to spend much more time with to judge. And Roccat says this will be one of the more expensive gaming mice on the market, more expensive than the Kone XTD, which retails for $90. That may make it a niche product, but I think mouse enthusiasts are going to have fun with it. You can even 3D print your own buttons, if you want.
The Roccat Nyth gaming mouse should be available sometime in Q2 of 2015.