When BenQ acquired ZOWIE GEAR in late 2015, the newly formed gaming division of BenQ started making waves quickly in the peripherals industry. Competing with the likes of Steelseries and Razer is no easy task, but ZOWIE focused on the competitive gaming market to bring a level of quality that not many can match.
The ZOWIE Gaming Mice line-up brings three series of products, each designed for a specific sub-section of gamers. Within each series, they are broken down even further based on size variations. We take a look at the various mice that ZOWIE have to offer and what makes each series special. Keep in mind that the technical specifications and hardware used for each mouse is exactly the same, so your main question when choosing between them would be – Is this the perfect mouse for me?
Normally, we start off with the design aspect of the mouse. But seeing as how that would be the main bulk of the review, let’s start off with what’s inside a ZOWIE mouse.
The interesting thing about the ZOWIE gaming mice is that they do not come with any customizable software. None whatsoever. The mice are completely driverless and you just plug them in to start playing. This may seem like a massive letdown at first, but consider that the product is catered to the players who are always out attending gaming tournaments and events. Without the need to carry a USB filled with software to get the most out of your mouse, players can focus on playing rather than fiddling with settings.
That said, there is a degree of customizability built into the mouse itself. One the back of the mouse, you can find a DPI switch with an LED indicator. This lets you swap around between four settings of DPI – 400, 800, 1600 and 3200.
The right-handed EC series mice have two buttons on the left side, whereas the ambidextrous FK and ZA series have two buttons each on both sides of the mouse. When you plug in your mouse, you can hold down the middle mouse button and one of the mouse buttons to determine which side is more suited to you. This way, you can immediately swap between left-hand mouse buttons and right-hand ones.
In a similar fashion, you can switch between three settings of polling rate by holding down on the side buttons when connecting your mouse. The polling rates swap between 125, 500 and 1000 Hz. While there’s limited customizability, the fact that there is a way to change settings without compromising on additional software requirements is something I can appreciate as a player. Having organizing gaming tournaments, one of the single worst part about players bringing their gear is the time it takes to install the required software and fiddle with the settings. The ZOWIE gaming mice eliminate that entirely.
The mouse buttons use the Huano switches, that offer more of a harder click which FPS players would definitely appreciate. While I personally prefer the lighter Omron switches, the ZOWIE mice perform better in shooting games where a single tap can make a large difference. Besides, the distinct tactile feedback is quite enjoyable to play with in games like Overwatch.
The optical sensor used in the ZOWIE mice is the Avago 3310, which lacks built-in acceleration and prediction. This makes sense, considering the lack of software to customize these settings. The lift off distance for the sensor is calibrated to be just about perfect for most gaming mouse mats. ZOWIE has moved on from the 3090 and perfected their mice with the 3310 sensors.
And now let’s get down to the actual design scheme that ZOWIE gaming mice line follows. Their products are divided into three series - EC, FK and ZA.
The EC series consists of the EC2-A and the EC1-A, designed for right-handed users. The ergonomic design is engineered to provide as much comfort as possible while allowing my fingertips to maintain a solid grip on the mouse. The buttons on the side of the mouse are easy to reach, positioned at an appropriate angle and height.
The medium-sized EC2-A weighs 93g and has a total length of 120mm. The EC1-A is its larger counter-part, weighing 97g and increasing the length to 128mm. While both mice cater specifically to players who enjoy the rounded design, the size makes a huge difference as well. The EC1-A is more suited to palm-grip users who often don’t get enough out of smaller mice. I’m reminded of the Razer Imperator in this respect.
The ZOWIE FK series has three mice, although we received only two of them to review. The FK2, FK1 and FK1+ are ambidextrous in terms of design, so they can fit in with both right and left-handed players.
The FK series is focused on a low-profile design, where control is key. I found the design to be more suited for claw-grip users, with the height of the mouse providing more room to move hand around over the mouse.
The FK2 is the smallest of the series, weighing 85g and rising up to a height of 36mm. The FK1+ is the largest however, strapping 95g and a height of 38mm. The one we haven’t mention, the FK1 is somewhere right in the middle. The low-profile design, coupled with the larger size makes the FK1+ more suited for players like me who shift constantly between claw and palm grips. Having a mouse that doesn’t lock your playstyle down to one specific type but at the same time providing the necessary comfort is what makes the FK series shine.
The ZA series brings a high-profile design, in stark contrast to the FK series mice. The design brings more support to both claw and palm-grip users, with the latter benefitting more from the elevated height.
The ZA13 is a tad smaller than I expected, weighing only 80g and spanning a length of 120mm and a high profile of 38mm. As casually evident, the ZA13 cuts down on the length and elevates the palm instead to offer both comfort and control.
While the ZA13 may be perfect for tiny hands, the larger ZA12 and ZA11 were more suited for my paws. The ZA12 weighs in at 85g with a length of 125mm, similar to the FK2. However, the hump of the mouse goes up to 39mm, exceeding even the FK1+, the largest of the FK series. The ZA11 gets even larger, weighing 90g, with a length and height of 128mm and 40mm respectively. While the ZA series is downright perfect for palm-grip users, even those with a claw-grip can find the mouse comfortable to use. It depends mostly on how much support you are comfortable with on your palm and whether the increased height of the mouse hinders your movements.
The ZOWIE Gaming Mice are geared towards competitive gamers who know exactly what they want when it comes to gear. The no-frills approach that ZOWIE has taken to their product line is refreshing and they truly managed to bring the concept of “plug and play” to life. I highly recommend trying each mouse and feeling the difference for yourself before finally settling on the perfect one for you.