To test the Roccat Leadr, I used it for around two weeks in both wireless and wired modes. During this time, I played plenty of games, edited some photos and used the mouse for general work as well.
Lets start with the software, Roccat Swarm:
Swarm presents itself across four main tabs: a ‘pinned’ favourites page, settings, button assignments, and advanced settings. Overall, the UI is quite clean and easy to use, while I also like that everything is nicely spread out instead of being crammed into a single page.
In terms of features, Swarm has everything you would want for tweaking your mouse’s settings – button configuration, RGB lighting and polling rate are all taken care of. You can also create different profiles, though I couldn’t see any option to save programmes directly to the mouse. In any case, Swarm gets the job done and is not a hindrance at all. Thumbs up from me.
Moving on to the RGB lighting, the Roccat logo and the scroll wheel are the two lighting zones, and they are also independently configurable which is a nice touch. The colours themselves are accurate and generally look good – however, the lighting is just too dim to be truly effective. I would imagine this has been done deliberately to prevent the lighting from draining the battery too quickly, but it does reduce the overall aesthetic appeal of the Leadr.
However, when using the Leadr day-to-day, I had an excellent time with the mouse.
For starters, I actually really like the button layout. It certainly takes some getting used to as there are so many different buttons in very unusual places, but once you have been using the mouse for a few days it quickly becomes second nature. For instance, the two buttons either side of the scroll wheel are brilliant – the placement is very intuitive as you only need to move your two fingers a tiny distance to press them – I used them to adjust DPI and system volume and it worked perfectly. The buttons don’t get in the way when you aren’t using them, too, and that is something which cannot be said for all mouse side buttons – so that is another victory for the Leadr.
The button positioned just below your thumb is also a great inclusion and works as a great modifier for Roccat’s EasyShift technology. For those that don’t know, EasyShift essentially let’s you double the amount of functions that can be programmed to the mouse, as holding down the modifier button activates each of the button’s secondary functions.
With the amount of buttons the Leadr has, coupled with EasyShift, you can actually assign up to 22 different functions to the mouse – making it great for those who use plenty of macros.
Even if you tend to not use more than 6 or 8 buttons (myself included), the Leadr is still very comfortable. Its larger, ergonomic design does lend itself more naturally to a palm grip than anything else, but I was still able to use my preferred claw grip without any discomfort. Those with smaller hands, however, may find the Leadr just a bit big as it does measure just under 13cm long, but my medium-sized hands had no difficultly gripping or anything like that.
Moving on to performance, one of the things people typically associate with wireless mice is input latency. However, with the Leadr’s 2.4GHz connection (it does not use Bluetooth) I honestly can’t say I noticed any latency. As a disclaimer, I am not an overly competitive gamer in the first place – so there is a chance others may notice more latency than I did – but during several rounds of Star Wars Battlefront I couldn’t fault the Leadr at all.
The Owl Eye sensor, or PMW 3361, is also very effective. It is based on the PMW 3360 so it is not surprising that I had no issues when tracking. Even when editing photos on a pixel-by-pixel level, the Leadr performed flawlessly.
Lastly, we do need to talk about battery life, as you will have to re-charge the Leadr eventually. Roccat advertises a 20-hour battery life and I would say that is about accurate. In my experience, I could use the Leadr for around three days (bear in mind I work at a computer so am using a mouse for several hours a day) before it needed charging again, and that was with RGB lighting enabled, too. After that, a full-charge took around 2.5 hours which isn’t bad at all. The last feature to note is that the dock also has four LED battery indicators so you do know the rough amount of battery life remaining.