Roccat Kone XP Air Mouse review: Impressive resume, mediocre performance
The Roccat Kone XP Air Mouse might be captivating on paper, but how does the wireless mouse stack up in the real world?
Our time with the Roccat Kone Mouse XP Air was divisive. A lightweight mouse with impressive customization options suddenly turned into a mess after a critical firmware update during our testing.
- Weight: 99g
- Connectivity: USB-C, 2.4 GHz wireless, Bluetooth
- Buttons: 15
- Sensor: Owl-Eye optical sensor
- Maximum DPI: 36,000
- Polling rate: 1000Hz
- Battery life: up to 100 hours
- Features: Dockable charging, programmable buttons, ‘3D RGB’
- Price: $169.99 / £149.99
- Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US
Included in the box: Roccat Kone XP Air, 2.4Ghz dongle, docking station, USB-C cable
Upon the first touch, the Roccat Kone XP Air feels a little cheap. The smooth plastic encasing the prowess inside doesn’t compare to the cost of the device. It certainly does the job, but with a price of $170 for a device like this, we were expecting something a little more.
We presume the plastic of choice is down to Roccat trying to shed as much weight as possible from the device, reducing it from the wired version’s 107g to 99g. This chase for the lightest possible device, when you’re only ditching mere grams seems like an oversight, as we’ve used cheaper mice that feel a little more sturdy.
Each button, at least, feels the part. While light plastic, there’s no real fear of them breaking.
We did, however, find the doubling up of the side buttons to cause us to miss certain actions we’d assigned to them, as our thumb would press both or all the buttons. Then there are the DPI change buttons, which after reassigning them to another function, worked far better.
There’s no real way you can press them accidentally, as your fingers rest away from the two buttons. However, we did have a few times where our mouse suddenly began to fire around much faster than wanted after an accidental knock.
It does look pretty with the RGB glowing inside, but again, its design philosophy here seems to be more in line with combatting off better wireless, lightweight mice over everything.
We are incredibly impressed with the battery life on the device, which is estimated to be around 100 hours. Despite leaving it on at all times and not even attaching it to the dock to really put it to the test, it managed to eke out around a week of performance with no issues.
The polling rate of 1000Hz seems pretty bog-standard these days, again, with no issues to speak of here.
Roccat has packed this device with 15 programmable buttons, one of our favorites being the one that lurks towards the thumb rest. It’s not sensitive enough to be an issue, but easy enough to casually move your thumb down to give it a press.
Originally set to the ‘EasyShift’ mode, we reprogrammed it for some classic gaming action in Half-Life: Blue Shift, offering us quick and easy access to the crowbar.
Reassigning things in the software is easy enough, but you have to manually select them to automatically apply them. Without this, there were a few minutes where we had done the legwork and wanted to test on the fly. Sure enough, because we hadn’t applied the changes, we thought something was wrong.
We also didn’t think we’d need different profiles, but deleting these wasn’t just a press and move on. You have to sit there and wait for it to think about deleting and then it’ll proceed.
It’s the same story, time and time again with these peripherals.
Kone XP Air software and connection issues
The problem that stems from the Kone XP Air isn’t that it’s a bad mouse, but it is yet another device hampered by lousy, intrusive software that drove us mad. The few days we spent with the XP Air once the software was introduced were sour, at best. Remapping buttons wouldn’t stick, while the actual mouse itself lost connection on a frequent basis.
This connection loss is one of the reasons we began to turn on the XP Air, as Roccat’s firmware went from supporting the mouse’s distance from the dongle to losing connection every few seconds. Once we moved and connected it back to the dock’s USB port, we were suddenly reconnected just fine.
Of course, we rebooted and upon a reboot, the mouse worked just fine. Another time from a cold boot, the mouse again, would not work with the dongle plugged in where we wanted it.
Here’s the thing, it’s not like the PC is all the way across the room. It’s a mere 50cm away from the PC itself. Before we updated, this was fine. In fact, we’d call it perfect. After this firmware update – which felt bizarre to do anyway – no matter what we did, the mouse would disconnect unless pretty much directly in front of the dongle.
Monitoring the signal, we saw that it would just drop to ‘poor’ on a frequent basis and we’ve no idea what could have been causing it.
Barbaric firmware updates
To update the firmware, the software will ask you to plug it in – fair enough – and then once it’s done, disconnect and reconnect it over USB. We couldn’t figure out why it needed this step, but sure enough, it progressed without a hitch and then proceeded to disconnect despite nothing changing in the room itself.
Then there are the macros it allows you to assign. These are obviously customizable to your preference, but the choice of presets that come with them is utterly bizarre. You go from the most popular titles today (PUBG, Fortnite, Call of Duty) and then right at the top, Bioshock 2, Command and Conquer 3, and Lineage 2. It’s like looking into a dimensional wormhole of the developers’ favorite office games.
It lends itself well to first-person-shooters and when testing it with our usual duo of Counter-Strike and Destiny 2, we had no real complaints. We couldn’t find a DPI setting that seemed to work, with this awkward middle ground of constantly hitting the switches and having to dive in and out of the software to make adjustments per game.
This is probably a personal issue on our part, but the mouse itself in-game does nothing of note and nothing to really stand out from the pack.
Seriously, it doesn’t do anything cool, it’s not especially outstanding and once you really get down to brass tax, the additional buttons we found often went ignored in favor of keyboard macros or shortcuts we were already used to.
Should you buy it?
Roccat has made a decent mouse, but at the end of the day, it’s nothing special. The docking station and customizable buttons are great, but the overall build quality and garbage software make this a disappointing outing for something priced this highly.
There are better wireless mice and there are definitely better mice overall if you’re willing to give up on the wireless dream.