Roccat’s latest entry in their gaming mice family is the Leadr, a wireless option that can also serve as a wired mouse. How does it compare?
The last time we reviewed a Roccat mouse, it was the Kiro – a budget mouse that performed very well for a mouse at its price point. The Leadr sits at the opposite end of the pricing spectrum, currently ranking as Roccat’s most expensive and exclusive model. For good reason though, because we believe it out-performs their previously existing models.
Visually, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the Leadr looks a lot like Roccat’s own Tyon mouse, but there are significant differences under the hood making the Leadr more than just a wireless version of the Tyon. The biggest differentiator is the Owl-Eye optical sensor that the Leadr has, whereas the Tyon has a laser-based sensor. The Owl-Eye is a brand new piece of technology (based around how an owl’s eye works, apparently) and it promises high precision gaming even at dpi levels of up to 12,000. Obviously this is a setting you won’t need very often, but it can be useful when gaming on large screens with super high resolution graphics.
Another big difference with the Tyon is the Leadr’s capacity for wireless gaming, which Roccat proudly announces as “wireless without compromise”. You’ll often hear gamers complain about the same two or three things when it comes to wireless mice, and it’s lag/latency issues and the performance of the mouse once the battery starts running low. From this perspective, the Roccat Leadr is an absolute success – and how it performs in both wired and wireless modes is the mouse’s biggest selling point.
The Owl-Eye sensor mentioned earlier does a great job no matter how the Leadr is connect to your system, and part of that is that it’s always in “full power” mode. You’d think that that affects battery life, but with about 20 hours of battery life (charges lasted between 18 and 20 hours for me, depending on the game used) this never became an issue. Data between the mouse and its docking station is exchanged at rates of 2.4 Ghz, which obviously accounts for the lack of lag and latency issues – I honestly could never tell the difference between how the mouse performed in its wired and wireless modes.
The docking station supplied with the Leadr performs three functions: you can use it to hang your mouse and see its charge level as it’s being charged, and it also takes care of the communication between the mouse and your computer using its usb cable connection. The third function is an interesting one as well for those who enjoy wired gaming better, as connecting the Leadr to the docking station by cable turns it into a wired mouse – while also charging up the internal battery at the same time.
One downside of the docking station is its size – it’s quite a bit bigger than the mouse itself, and thus takes up quite a bit of space on your desk. In my case, I started thinking about just leaving the docking station behind the monitor to save space – but that makes using wired mode for charging your only practical choice and thus you’re wasting some of the functionality of the docking station. For those with plenty of desk space, this is not likely to be an issue.
Ergonomically, the Leadr is an excellent choice for gamers like me who have larger hands. It’s solid, feels sturdy and packs a lot of buttons onto it without becoming too cluttered. There’s a total of 14 buttons available, although realistically speaking most gamers won’t use more than half of them. At the front left and front right side of the top, there are pairs of buttons that control your DPI settings and allow you to switch between mouse profiles, and besides a little experimenting for the sake of this review I never touched them as I did most of my settings prior to starting my game.
Depending on your choice of game, the two tiny paddles on the Leadr can be quite useful. One is located on the top while the other is on the left side of the mouse (this is a right-handed model), and they’re ideal for flight sims or shooters that put you in control of jets and/or helicopters. Using the top paddle for banking and the one on the side to change altitude, their use was instinctive and most welcome. The same can probably also be said for the “Easy shift” button, which serves as the “alt” button on your keyboard in how it assigns different controls to your buttons on the fly – again, not something you’ll use in every game but especially useful if you want to map functions to the mouse that you’d otherwise use a keyboard for.
Powering the experience is Roccat’s Swarm software suite, which they introduced a few years ago and has grown in functionality since then. For the Leadr, it allows you to configure your button assignments and game-specific profiles, as well as giving you the option to change the lighting scheme for your mouse for those who prefer gaming using a certain lighting scheme. If you’re using other Roccat equipment, the Swarm software suite can take care of that for you all at once as well.
If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to invest in a wireless mouse, then the Roccat Leadr is a great choice that takes away all the wireless-mouse related worries you might have. If you feel like you prefer a wired connection anyway then the Leadr can provide that – although it doesn’t give you any reason to with its excellent wireless performance. As an added bonus that a wired mouse never gave me, the Leadr also keeps working well when not sitting right next to its receiver unit. This makes it a great option for people who enjoy playing their PC games on a TV screen as long as you have a keyboard that can provide the same level of comfort. It’s the ultimate Roccat mouse so far – not only on par with its wired cousins but also outperforming them in nearly every aspect but its price point.