Computer accessories gimmicks are a dime a dozen (RGB LEDs anyone?). But every now and then one becomes a hallmark of computing (again, RGB LEDs anyone?…). The Marsback Zephyr Pro ships with a fan in it to keep your digits dry and your grip steady during long gaming sessions. So, is the fan a gimmick? Or will it become a new premium feature in the gaming accessory ecosystem?
I often start my reviews with my disclosures. I’m a casual gamer. I don’t play frequently and when I do play, it’s typically not for long; life gets in the way. But I do spend hours on a computer every day, and as much as I’d like to avoid my mouse in favor of my keyboard, I’m still using it for a very large portion of the day. Sometimes in an office with very little air circulation. That said, this is a review from a casual gamer and productivity user.
Marsback Zephyr Pro Review: A mouse with a fan!
The Zephyr Pro packaging is interesting. It stands vertically and the top slides off, exposing the Zephyr Pro on a pedestal-like piece of foam. The packaging is clearly carefully designed to be eyecatching, secure, and protective. In addition to the mouse, you receive a few sheets of stickers, a user manual, and a card describing the company, Marsback.
At first glance, the plastic that the Zephyr Pro is made from appears a bit cheap due to a very slightly textured surface. The surface even appears more matte and dull compared to my Razer DeathAdder Essential and Cooler Master Master Keys Lite mice.
Adding to the feeling of cheapness is the relatively low mass of the mouse, again, coming in at 15g less than my other mice. Despite the cheap feeling texture and the lack of mass, it does feel sturdy, and I personally prefer lighter mice, but I suppose even my limited time with brand-name mice has imparted some biases on me.
The body of the mouse, unlike any I have seen before, has perforation around the backend of the shell, along the sides, and a small amount at the base of the primary buttons. The mosaic-like pattern is symmetrical and the holes themselves have bevels that smooth out the edges.
The perforation allows light to come through from inside where the translucent fan glows softly. The fan itself bears a center-aligned Marsback logo ‘M’ as well as the print ‘arsback’ just below it in a somewhat awkward fashion, but it is only just visible. It’s obvious that the perforation was needed for the fan, but the fan might be unsightly to some, especially when it’s light because it’s prominently visible among the dark interior of the mouse.
In addition to the fan, a portion of the PCB’s surface mount components are also visible. The PCB appears to span the entire base of the mouse, or at least what’s externally visible. I personally feel that the surface mount components that are visible seem distasteful.
It’s not because they are visible, but because I feel that there should have been a commitment to either hiding the componentry or a commitment to flaunting it. This somewhere in-between betrays both aesthetics.
The mouse is of medium size lengthways without a pronounced arch as some have, but I feel that it’s a bit thinner widthways than most of its length, but again, I’m not a gaming enthusiast or prosumer. In any case, I found the shape of the mouse to be easily adapted to and has become very pleasant as my daily driver.
The Zephyr Pro features both back and forward buttons, which have become customary on most computer mice, as well as a center button that is used for changing the DPI. There are two additional buttons at the bottom of the mouse, one for enabling and disabling the fan and the other for enabling and disabling the lighting.
Around the bottom of the mouse, there is a light-diffusing channel for the LEDs with the exception of the front face where the cable feeds in. Because it’s mostly downward-facing, the channel is very difficult to see until it’s lit. This is especially true in lower light and it imparts a certain sophistication that is very appealing.
|Marsback Zephyr Pro||Description|
|Length||131 ± 0.5mm|
|Width||65.7 ± 0.5mm|
|Weight (excluding cable)||69g|
|Resolution||100 to 16,000 DPI|
|Maximum Acceleration||50 G|
|Maximum Speed||400 IPS|
|Primary Button Switches||Omron Mechanical – 50M Clicks|
|Onboard Memory||DPI Settings Saved|
|Footpad||PTFE – 250km+ Service Life|
At the expense of being repetitive, I’m only a casual gamer, so my performance metrics will be entirely anecdotal and subjective. But I really do enjoy this mouse and it feels good ergonomically speaking. I like its lighter weight and the textured surface has grown on me. But these are all very personal aspects.
Marsback Zephyr Pro uses the Pixart 3389 sensor which is capable of 16,000 DPI. That is, the resolution that it scans at is 16,000 units per inch (why we still use inches for anything, I don’t know). What that really means is that you can move the mouse 1/16,000 of an inch (0.0015875mm) and it will detect that movement, provided you have the DPI set to 16,000.
A higher DPI setting allows for greater speed, but can sometimes affect the accuracy due to user error, because of this, it becomes a personal preference. That said, you can increase the DPI and lower the mouse speed in your operating system to increase sensitivity without the typically difficult handling of high DPI modes.
The polling rate of the Pixart 3389 sensor is 12,000Hz. This is the frequency that the sensor captures at, commonly referred to as the FPS, or frames per second, but should not be confused with the polling rate that the mouse sends data to the computer at, which can be configured up to 1000Hz.
And the other metric that might be of importance to prosumers and serious gamers is the IPS or Inches Per Second (again with the inches). The Pixart 3389 can track up to 400 inches per second. That is to say, if you move the mouse faster than 400 inches per second, or over 10m/s, you will lose some tracking.
My desk is almost 2m long. I would have to move this mouse across my desk in less than 0.2 seconds to experience and drop in trackings. While that might sound absurd, it isn’t quite as unrealistic as it might seem. Not that it’s typical of people to utilize their entire desk space in fractions of a second, but that the quick changes of mouse trajectory may have significant acceleration, even if only for a few hundredths of a second. For serious gamers, this is a competitive edge.
Now on to the other performance aspects, the centerpiece of the Zepher Pro, its fan, is pretty straightforward. It just works! The cooling effect is very obvious, particularly in the palm area. It’s actually effective enough that you might want to disable it at times. It would be nice if the fan intensity was configurable.
The front of the mouse is generally missing out on the cooling given the lack of perforation of the primary buttons. But the cooling is very functional and can be felt as much as 3cm-4cm away from the mouse itself.
Marsback had to replace a unit that malfunctioned. The mode of failure was significant drifting, the sensor was tracking for the most part, but with constant drift and jitter. Given that this product uses the same sensor found in Razer, Logitech, Cooler Master, and HyperX products, I think it just boils down to luck of the draw. Despite that, I think it’s an important detail to disclose. I have not experienced any issues with the replacement unit.
Software and Configurability
The Zephyr Pro software is very typical of gaming peripheral software. It has that obligatory sleek black aesthetic that we all expect, which isn’t a problem. But what is a problem is the fact that you need to run the software as an Administrator.
This, to me, seems unnecessary and potentially insecure. Only things requiring administrative privileges should be run as an Administrator. My guess is that the application needs the privileges for changing COM ports for configuring the mouse via a serial connection.
The software lets you configure the actions performed when any of the buttons are pressed. There are over fifty different action options assignable to the buttons, so it’s rather flexible for most users, but they even support macros which means they can be very powerful. These assignments are saveable as profiles for quick loading and switching later.
There are a variety of performance tweaking options, most notably the DPI and polling rates. However, you can also change the mouse speed, scroll speed, double-click speed, click response time, lift-off distance, and X-Y synchronization. As with the action assignments, these can also be saved into the configuration profiles.
The lighting configuration is something that I found to be fairly weak considering the possibilities. There are seven preconfigured lighting patterns, those include constant color and lighting disabled, so there are really only five animations. The different patterns have their associated options, but the configurability is rather underwhelming.
The color of the light in the scroll wheel cannot be customized. At least not directly. The color of the scroll wheel light indicates the DPI mode. When configuring the DPI settings, the associated color can be configured as well.
But this means that after populating the seven DPI configuration slots, most of the colors will likely clash with any carefully planned color scheme. You can get around this by configuring all modes to use the same color and possibly all modes having the same DPI, but that defeats the purpose of the ability to customize these options.
Despite the probable color scheme clashes, it is an elegant solution to indicate the current DPI setting. However, I think it would be much more convenient if the scroll-wheel temporarily displayed the associated color as you cycled through the DPI modes with the DPI button, and then returned to the configured color scheme and animation.
Lastly, the software supports creating macros. These macros even support keyboard input. The macros, like the profiles, can be imported and exported, allowing you to share them with your friends. Interestingly, the export also supports sencryption of the resulting file. The saved files have the extension .mbin. The file is not text-editable, so you’ll have to import it back into the Marsback software for any further tweaking.
Marsback Zephyr Pro – Final Words
Overall, the Marsback Zephyr Pro gaming mouse is a very pleasant experience. The performance characteristics are on par with all mice I’ve used in the same price range. It is, in my opinion, a very comfortable peripheral that, with or without the fan, most people should be able to adjust to.
Even if you’re not the type to find yourself losing grip on your online matches, the Zephyr Pro would make for a good backup for LAN parties where you don’t have to worry about the hygiene of lending a device.
I recommend the Zepher Pro to anyone looking for a decent mouse that fits the description. I will continue to enjoy it over my Cooler Master Master Keys Lite and even my Razer DeathAther Essential.