The Anker 8200 DPI High Precision Laser Gaming Mouse ($59.99) had the potential to be one of the best gaming mice on the market. Instead, it squanders almost every opportunity to excel. With simplistic software, inconvenient buttons and some truly baffling design choices, the Anker 8200 demonstrates that a number of small annoyances can add up to a product that feels like less than the sum of its parts.
The Anker 8200 is an odd mix of comfort and discomfort. The mouse feels like a team of designers were determined to balance every useful feature with one that was equally unhelpful. Take, for example, the rests for the thumb and two outermost fingers.
The thumb rest, while a bit on the small side, is a comfortable, textured pad that supports a wide range of positions. On the other side of the mouse, there's nothing but smooth plastic, making it considerably less comfortable than just about every other gaming mouse on the market.
The Anker 8200's overall shape is pleasant and conducive to both palm and claw grips. With a large frame and gentle curves, the peripheral fits any hand size, and its responsive buttons offer a satisfying amount of resistance.
MORE: Best Gaming Mice
That said, the buttons are also a significant source of grief. The Anker 8200 offers nine programmable buttons, plus a nonprogrammable one on the bottom of the mouse. Users can select commands of their choice for the left and right mouse buttons, the clickable scroll wheel, three thumb buttons, one button above the scroll wheel and two buttons below it.
Having three thumb buttons is not a terrible idea, but putting them in a radial formation makes the two outer buttons somewhat hard to reach. Additionally, the middle button is textured at the top, but not at the bottom, where a player is most likely to click. This means that the three buttons can feel awfully similar in the heat of the moment.
Lining up so many buttons around the scroll wheel was also a poor choice, as it forces the middle finger to be in control of four separate commands. The button above the scroll wheel is relatively easy to reach and has a comfortable texture, but the two below it are tiny and hard to press. The scroll wheel itself, though, is one of the best we've used.
Perhaps the most baffling choice is the button on the bottom of the mouse, used exclusively for profile switching. Since it would be totally impractical to use this button in-game, it essentially lets users select a profile when they're back on the desktop, which they could just as easily do with the software. The button is not only inconvenient but somewhat superfluous.
One of the biggest problems with the Anker 8200's predecessor, the Anker 5000, was its ugly, inefficient software. While the Anker 8200 has better software, it's still woefully inadequate compared to other modern gaming-mouse programs. In some ways, the program has even taken steps backward.
The Anker Precision Laser Gaming Mouse software is functional, but extremely limited. You can program the nine previously discussed buttons with either single keys, keystroke combinations or macros (extended sequences of commands). The software deserves praise for making macros so easy to record and use, but otherwise, the feature set is pretty standard.
What brings the Anker 8200's software down is its dearth of profile options. The mouse can hold only two profiles at a time. Beyond that, you'll have to save and load profiles constantly. This process is cumbersome and prone to errors, since the mouse will automatically reset to defaults when you move it between computers.
For comparison purposes, most comparable Logitech and Razer mice (and even the Anker 5000) can hold at least five simultaneous profiles.
If you want to take your profiles with you, you'll need to transfer the files manually and load them up every time you want to switch a game. If you play more than two games on a regular basis, the Anker 8200 adds an extra level of annoyance. You can't link profiles to individual games, so if you forget to assign a profile before you load up a game, you'll have to quit and restart.
Beyond that, the dots-per-inch (DPI) sensitivity selection is impressive, ranging from 50 to 8,200. You can switch between up to four different settings on the fly and unlink the X- and Y-axis in case you want to vary the speed of horizontal or vertical scrolling.
You can also change the color of the light-up Anker logo and scroll wheel on the device, although this is not incredibly helpful, as your fingers will generally cover both. The DPI indicators will always be blue, which doesn't help differentiate between profiles.
In terms of raw precision and accuracy, the Anker 8200 performs as well as any of its competitors. We tested the Anker 8200 with "BioShock Infinite," "StarCraft II," "Batman: Arkham City" and "World of Warcraft." While it didn't offer any special features for a particular genre, its extra buttons and relatively comfortable grip proved useful for every game.
That said, the device's poor button placement hindered every game we played. We usually map our most common commands to the thumb buttons, but the Anker 8200's thumb buttons are easy to get mixed up. We often crouched when we meant to jump in "BioShock Infinite," or accidentally assigned a civilian to a military unit in "StarCraft II."
MORE: Best Gaming Keyboards
We got the most use out of the extra buttons in "World of Warcraft," where we were able to free up a few buttons by keeping the DPI constant. By assigning lower-priority actions such as accessing the quest log and auto-running to these buttons, we were able to keep our commands relatively clean.
The Anker 8200 has decent liftoff range to the left and right, allowing us to lift a few millimeters before the mouse stopped responding. Its Z-axis tracking was another story, though. Lifting up the peripheral and replacing it often caused the cursor to travel way off-course.
For its price, the earlier Anker 5000 wasn't a bad mouse, and had a lot of potential to become something better. But the Anker 8200 opted to fix what wasn't broken on the 5000, and leave a lot of problematic aspects alone.
Every one of the Anker 8200's good ideas comes mired in caveats, and all the user tweaking in the world can't solve its fundamental design problems. You could probably do worse than the Anker 8200, but there's no compelling reason to get it instead of another, better mouse like the Logitech G500s.
Laser Depth: 1 mm
DPI: 50 – 8,200
Size: 127 x 79 x 43 mm
Weight: 140 g (Adjustable)
Grip Type: Palm/Claw
Follow Marshall Honorof @marshallhonorofand on Google+. Follow us @tomsguide, on Facebook and on Google+.
- 15 Best PC Games Right Now
- Logitech G500s Review
- 25 Best Windows 8 Apps
Get instant access to breaking news, the hottest reviews, great deals and helpful tips.