ROCCAT Kone XTD & Kone Pure Gaming Mice Review

Author: Aaron Chen
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Tuesday, March 5th, 2013
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/roccat_kone_xtd_pure/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.

If you've been in the market for mice over the past few years, you may have heard of a company named ROCCAT. Based in Germany, ROCCAT largely focuses on computer peripherals for enthusiasts and gamers, producing products that look as stylish as they are functional. Slick blacks and blues are the highlight of the company branding – a style reminiscent of Razer's black and green theme.

Today, we will be looking at two of ROCCAT's newest gaming mice, the Kone XTD and Kone Pure. The Kone XTD is the larger of the two and boasts "Maximum Customization" by featuring 4 independently-lit LEDs, 8 fully programmable buttons, and an adjustable weight system. Not to be outdone, the Kone Pure features its own 16.8 million-color customizable lighting system and 7 programmable buttons. Both mice are wrapped in a soft-touch finish and come with an internal 72MHz Turbo Core V2 processor, an 8200DPI Pro-Aim R3 laser sensor, and ROCCAT's trademarked Easy-Shift[+] button; basically a Function key that gives each mouse button a secondary function.

ROCCAT's Kone XTD and Kone Pure look to be designed with enough technology to keep the savviest of computer and gaming enthusiasts pleased. Let's see how well they are truly implemented in our review!

Specifications:

ROCCAT Kone XTD:

Product Code
ROC-11-810
Laser
Pro-Aim Laser Sensor R3
DPI
200-8200
Polling Rate
1000Hz
Response Time
1ms
Processor
72MHz Turbo Core V2 32-bit ARM-based MCU
Onboard Memory
576kB
Cable Length
1.8m braided USB cable
Dimensions
13.5cm x 7.8cm x 4cm (LxWxH)
Weight
123g (excl. cable) + 4 optional weights (5g, 10g, 15g, 20g)
System Requirements
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8

ROCCAT Kone Pure:

Product Code
ROC-11-700
Laser
Pro-Aim Laser Sensor R3
DPI
200-8200
Polling Rate
1000Hz
Response Time
1ms
Processor
72MHz Turbo Core V2 32-bit ARM-based MCU
Onboard Memory
576kB
Cable Length
1.8m braided USB cable
Dimensions
12cm x 7cm (LxW)
Weight
90g (excl. cable)
System Requirements
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8

All information courtesy of ROCCAT @ www.roccat.org/Products

At first glance I am already attracted to ROCCAT's attention to detail in packaging the Kone XTD and Kone Pure. Both come in large black boxes, bolstered by large glossy photos and their list of features clearly outlined. Again, the quality and styling here is a little reminiscent to that of Razer products, albeit with a different color scheme.

On the front we have a large bird's eye view of each mouse. Both mice feature nicely customizable LED lighting, as indicated by the rainbow-colored strip on the top right of the box. Up here is also some shiny printing advertising "Max Customization Gaming mouse" for the Kone XTD and "Core Performance Gaming Mouse" for the Kone Pure. Just above that is a little cut-out that screams 'Open Here' – which we'll be doing in a bit! The large ROCCAT Kone XTD and Kone Pure branding are to the top left. Moving down, there are four tabs with quick bullet points on features such as the 8200DPI laser sensor, Easy-Shift[+], customizable multi-color lighting, and the Tracking & Distance Control Unit (TDCU). Below that are points on ROCCAT's software features and 576KB of onboard memory, alongside some icons with even more feature information.

The right side of the packages is mainly empty except for the large ROCCAT branding, the ROCCAT website link in the corner, and another 'Open' sign. As expected, the front panel of the boxes open up to reveal the mice behind a clear plastic clamshell. The panels are held shut by a small magnet, a nice attention to detail. Below the mice we can see further listing of features such as TDCU, ROCCAT Talk, ROCCAT Talk FX, and the MMO-approved design.

Behind the front panel is another large and colorful photo of the mice. From the text up at the top, we learn that the Kone XTD has a full-size 'comfort' shape while the Kone Pure has a mid-size 'control' shape. I'm assuming this means the Kone XTD is meant for palm grips while the Kone Pure is more suitable for claw grips. We will be sure to try both grip styles in testing. There is also some descriptive text and photos of the 72MHz ARM-based tracking processor and Easy-Shift[+] button which are featured on both mice.

Further to the left of the open panel is an in-depth description of the Easy-Shift[+] feature, alongside some usage examples. Basically, you can set one button on each mouse as an Easy-Shift[+] toggle (the Down side button being the default) which acts something like a Function button. Holding it down in conjunction with another mouse button will trigger the latter's secondary function. This effectively gives you a potential 22 mouse functions on the 8-button Kone XTD, while the 7-button Kone Pure gets a maximum 16 total mouse functions.

The left panel of the box has a detailed listing of the major features including the Pro-Aim laser sensor, customizable lighting system (4 LEDs on the Kone XTD and "16.8 million-color lighting" on the Kone Pure), integrated Tracking & Distance Control Unit (TDCU), ROCCAT Achievements Display (R.A.D) and ROCCAT Talk. Each listing is accompanied by a glossy colored photo.

The back of the boxes feature another large colorful photo of the mice, this time a front view. Here several arranged text blurbs point out many of each mouse's major features. Further down are descriptive listings of more features; they're mostly the same between both mice with the exception of the weight system, 4-direction mouse wheel, 4-LED light system on the Kone XTD compared to the Kone Pure's "highest-quality build", 2-directional mouse wheel and 16.8 million-color lighting. The lists are translated into nine languages further below.

Features are again revisited at the top of the box, but pictured as small icons. Up here we also find a side view photo of the mice. Two features are highlighted here: the weight system and 4-directional mouse wheel on the Kone XTD, and the 16.8 million-color lighting system and 2-directional mouse wheel on the Kone Pure.

On the bottom we find a giant list of technical specifications (the same list for both mice), system requirements and package contents. Strangely, the removable weights on the Kone XTD are not listed here. There is also a quote from resident "ROCCAT Scientist" Dr. Erik Dale, probably an engineer from ROCCAT Research and Development.

Opening up the boxes, we find the mice sandwiched between two plastic clamshells. Also included is a quick installation guide – no driver CD here.

Taking a closer look inside the Kone XTD clamshell, you can find a little container near the bottom which stores the four 5g weights to be used with the mouse. We'll take a look at these in a bit. Overall, the accessories are sparse but it's hard to expect more from something that works straight out of the box like a mice.

Let's take a closer look at both mice now that they are out of their packaging!

Measuring in at 13.5cm x 7.8cm x 4cm (LxWxH), the ROCCAT Kone XTD is definitely a beefy mouse, even bigger than the Logitech G5 I'm used to. I have big hands, so I'm usually quite alright with seeing these larger mice.

Without doubt, the Kone XTD is one of the nicer mice I have come across. The top and sides of the mouse, as well as the buttons and most of the scroll wheel, are wrapped in soft touch plastic. Two strips of glossy plastic run along the sides with two clear strips embedded inside. These will light up via an LED on the top and bottom of each strip – 4 LEDs in total. A large feline-inspired ROCCAT logo and XTD branding lies where your palm sits. The ROCCAT Kone XTD branding is also featured on the left side of the mouse. It all makes for a slick-looking mouse for sure.

ROCCAT advertises the Kone XTD as a right-handed mouse and rightfully so – the top of the mouse is heavily designed to cater to right-handed use so If you're a southpaw, this mouse is definitely not for you.

In addition to the standard mouse buttons, the Kone XTD features several extra buttons: two side buttons are on the left and three are up top, one above the scroll wheel (Windows key) and two below (DPI toggles). The '4D' scroll wheel flicks left and right, which gives the Kone XTD a total of 12 native mouse commands. In conjunction with the Easy-Shift[+] button (assigned to the Down side button by default), this grows to 22 total mouse commands. As we'll see in a bit, all of these mouse commands are fully customizable.

Three large mouse feet make up the gliding surface under the Kone XTD. A giant sticker with the ROCCAT Kone XTD branding, barcode, and other important information can also be found here. The 8200DPI Pro-Aim Sensor R3 is embedded within a shiny sheet of metal.

Like many high-end mice, the Kone XTD features an adjustable weight system. Rotating open the circular panel, we find four circular holes into which you can place the 5g weights included with the mouse. Despite the ease in inserting the weights, there is no mechanism to take them out. Put in all four and you're left with little to no space between which to squeeze your fingers and take them out. Worst yet, inserting the weights with some degree of force makes it next to impossible to even remove one – I accidentally pushed one in too tightly and spent a good five minutes prying it out with my fingernails. It would be nice to see some indentations on the smooth sides of the weights or perhaps more shallow holes to address this.

As expected, the USB chord on the Kone XTD is braided, with nice ROCCAT branding on both sides of the connector. Unfortunately, the actual USB connector is not gold plated.

The Kone XTD definitely looks to be a very well-built and customizable mouse. Let's see if the Kone Pure can say the same.

Upon first glance, it's easy to see where the Kone Pure places itself on the market – the smaller size, fewer buttons, and less aggressive look definitely labels the Pure as something of a little brother to the Kone XTD. Don't let this fool you, the major features are still here.

Although smaller than the Kone XTD, the Kone Pure is by no means a small mouse. Although I like larger mice, I found the Kone Pure to be very comfortable upon first impression – maybe even more so than the Kone XTD. We will see how it fares with extended use in testing.

Like the Kone XTD, the Kone Pure features a nice soft-touch finish across the entire top and sides of the mouse. All buttons and most of the scroll wheel are soft-touch too. In place of the two light strips on the Kone XTD, the large ROCCAT logo on the palm rest lights up in an advertised 16.8 million colors. If anything, this gives the Kone Pure a more attractive minimalistic look. The ROCCAT Kone Pure branding is also in the same place on the left as the Kone XTD.

Like the Kone XTD, the Kone Pure is designed for right-handed use.

Two side buttons are found on the left, while two buttons (instead of three) are found on top which serve as DPI toggles by default. You will be able to fully program all of them using the Kone Pure software. Unfortunately, the scroll wheel here does not flick left or right. That means we get a total of 9 native mouse commands, or 16 total commands in conjunction with the Easy-Shift{+] feature.

A look at the bottom of the Kone Pure reveals two very large mouse feet and the same 8200DPI Pro-Aim Sensor R3 seen in its older brother. Branding comes in the way of a slick ROCCAT engraving and a large sticker with important serial number information. The Kone Pure lacks an adjustable weight system, though the lack of an effective removal mechanism for the weights on the Kone XTD made it a bit of a nuisance anyway.

Like the Kone XTD, the Kone Pure features a nicely braided cable with branding on both sides of the connector. The connector itself is not gold-plated.

Now that's we've had a gander at the two mice, let's get to what makes them truly special: ROCCAT's software.

Behind the Kone XTD and Kone Pure lies the extremely deep customization options in the software. Once downloaded from ROCCAT's website (again, no driver CD available), you're greeted with an almost-overwhelming number of options. A closer look reveals a very organized layout with everything under six tabs: Main Control, Button Assignment, Advanced Control, Color Control, R.A.D., and Update/Support. The software for both the Kone XTD and Kone Pure are nearly identical, aside from the Button Assignment and Color Control tabs.

Under Main Control we find the usual sensitivity, polling rate, and DPI sliders. There are five DPI toggle settings available on each of the five profiles – the slider goes from 200DPI and 8200DPI in 200DPI increments. Profiles can also be linked with three unique executable paths, a nice feature to trigger profiles for certain games.

The Button Assignment tab is where you'll find the meat and potatoes of the customization. The takeaway here is the aforementioned Easy-Shift[+] feature, essentially a "Function" key that can be assigned to either of your side buttons. Holding it down will enable another set of functions for the remaining buttons. It equates to 22 total button commands on the Kone XTD and 16 on the Kone Pure. I would have liked the ability to assign the Easy-Shift[+] onto any button on the mouse though.

A quick look at one of the button dropdown menus gives us an idea of the vast number of options available for button customization. Everything from DPI switching, to multimedia controls, to profile switching, to macros is all here. ROCCAT has even included some pre-set macros for a small list games and programs. I would have liked to see some more recent games here. With a compatible keyboard (currently only the ROCCAT Isku), the ROCCAT Talk feature will also allow you to enable secondary functions on the keyboard while holding down the Easy-Shift[+] button on the mouse and vice-versa. Unfortunately, I do not have a ROCCAT Isku to test today.

Modifying/deleting existing macros, or creating new ones can be done by opening the Macro Manager. The option to record key delays and group sets of macros are also available. If that isn't enough, switching to the Advanced Editor brings up something of a timing graph so you can really go in depth.

Advanced control is where you can individually fine-tune X-Y axis sensitivity, Windows pointer speed, polling rate, and initiate a complete factory reset. Here is also where you can enable the Tracking and Distance Control Units – essentially allowing the internal 72MHz Turbo Core V2 Processor to flex its muscles to process tracking and lift-off performance. As we will see in testing, the units help a great deal for obscure surfaces, despite being unnecessary on standard mouse surfaces.

Sound feedback control is also under this tab, but it's a feature I'd advise turning off, at least partially. If you've watched some ROCCAT advertisements, you may recognize the adrenaline-pumping husky voice; it's great for commercials but completely laughable when changing DPI or system volume in the middle of a game or music track. I envy the guy really; he needed to make a recording for every DPI sensitivity increment, in an increasingly aggressive voice. I almost bursted out laughing upon hearing "three thousand two hundred DPI" the first time but after a while, it got a bit irritating. The DPI voiceover can be helpful in games though, as there are no visual indicators on the mice themselves.

Color Control is where I had the most fun with these Kone mice! As previously mentioned, both the Kone XTD and Kone Pure feature highly customizable color settings. On the Kone XTD, you are able to individually set each of the 4 LEDs to any of the 33 pre-set colors or turn them off completely. Hidden under the two plastic lighting strips, they are not too bright. The refraction of the plastic also ensures a nice color blend between differently-colored LEDs, despite the colors themselves not being as even as I would have liked. There is also an option for lighting effects: fully lit, breathe, blink, or heartbeat. Then there's Color Flow, an option that automatically rotates the LED colors in accordance to an adjustable time interval. It raises the question as to why set colors in the first place but thankfully, Color Flow can be turned off.

To make up for the lack of light strips on the Kone Pure, ROCCAT allows you to change the LED color on the ROCCAT logo to anything in the color gamut – at least in theory. Trying for light green gave me a strange blue/green mix, while obscure colors such as brown gave me yellow that transitions to red during the breathe effect. I would still go with the 10 pre-set colors that ROCCAT has built in. And yes, the breathing effect is here though without the unique blinking and heartbeat ones. The lighting here is bright, almost too bright. It's not as even as I would like as well; it's brighter on the left compared to the right, possibly due to the placement of the actual LED underneath. Color Flow is also missing on the Kone Pure.

I would like to note that the ROCCAT Talk FX is supposed to work in conjunction with this lighting system. Under compatible games, the LED colors will change depending on the environment or game-triggered events. As we will see (or not see, rather) in testing, I couldn't get this to work.

R.A.D. is a page of statistics and 'achievements' for your mouse. Here is where you'll find information such as the number of clicks, scrolls, and distance tracked. Achievements will be unlocked after a certain threshold has been passed. I'm not sure about the practicality or usefulness of this page, but it does double as a cool 'just so you know' feature.

The Update/Support page is self-explanatory. Here you'll find links to update your driver software and find online/email support. I would have liked a way to check for updates within the program itself, instead of guiding me via my browser.

Once everything is set up, the 576kB of onboard memory on both mice will keep all your settings saved; very useful when moving from computer to computer. Given the vast number of options to remember, this is very handy indeed.

With that said, let's go into testing and see how these two mice actually perform.

During my time with the Kone XTD and Kone Pure, I have been putting them to use in a variety of tests such as web browsing, gaming, and day-to-day tasks. To give you a better idea of my thoughts on the mice, I will organize my results into several defining characteristics: Comfort, General Usage Experience, and Gaming Experience. I have also tested the mice on a variety of surfaces, so we will see how the Pro-Aim R3 Laser Sensor holds up.

As with any peripheral review, a lot of the results may be very subjective. Hand size, finger length, and grip technique may contribute to different experiences for every user. Be sure to keep this in mind as you read through the next page.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Mice:

 

Tracking:

The following table sums up how our tested mice fare on several materials. A "Pass" means the mouse can track movement without fault, while a "Fail" means that it had difficulty tracking movement.


ROCCAT Kone XTD
ROCCAT Kone Pure
AZiO GM2000
Logitech G5
SteelSeries QcK
Mouse pad
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Wooden Desk
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Clothing
Pass
Pass
Pass
Pass
Glass
Fail
Pass
Fail
Fail

As expected, both the Kone XTD and Kone Pure worked perfectly on traditional opaque surfaces, even without the Tracking and Distance Control Units enabled. Initially, I had trouble getting them to track on transparent glass, but a quick sensor calibration actually got the Kone Pure working reliably. Unfortunately, the Kone XTD would remain jittery despite half a dozen calibrations. It's strange, as they use identical sensors. I'll just have to conclude that your mileage may vary depending on the specific transparent surface and batch of mice you get. It's important to note that to ensure top performance from any mouse, an investment on a high quality mouse pad is always ideal. In any case, I was very impressed with the tracking for both the Kone XTD and Kone Pure. With a dedicated processor behind the scenes, I can't say I'm too surprised.

Comfort – ROCCAT Kone XTD:

I can say for a fact that I prefer large mice and the Kone XTD does not disappoint! The soft touch finish meant that I had no sense of slipping and unlike a lot of similar finishes (such as on Razer mice), I didn't find myself sweating much while using the Kone XTD. I could literally use it for hours. Initially, I thought the two plastic lighting strips would be the basis of some sharp edges, but that fear was quickly nullified when they actually served to provide some extra grip on my palm. As I earlier assumed, the Kone XTD caters more to a "palm grip" style due to its large size. Attempts to use my usual "claw grip" technique came with the sad realization that my already long fingers were simply not long enough to reach the end of the left and right mouse buttons. Overall, I can say I am very impressed with the comfort of the Kone XTD. If nothing else, it would be nice to have a more defined groove or surface to place my ring finger. The height of the mouse meant I would often have it in a tiring dangle.

Comfort – ROCCAT Kone Pure:

The Kone Pure is by far one of the most comfortable mice I have ever had the pleasure of using. I am not usually a fan of smaller mice (though the Kone Pure is by no means small), but the combination of the streamlined shape and smooth-yet-grippy texture made for a mouse that fit perfectly in my claw-grip grasp. All the buttons were exactly in the right places and the wide scroll wheel almost had me forget that it wasn't "4D." The Kone Pure was definitely still comfortable to use with a palm grip, but it may be a good idea to try it out at a local store first if possible. Overall, I was very impressed once again – ROCCAT definitely did a great job to ensure both of these mice can be used extensively without fatigue.

General Usage Experience:

As gaming mice I expected both Kone products to remain responsive in day-to-day use, and none of them disappointed. All the buttons convey a nice click and the soft-touch scroll wheels provide much defined tactile feedback. Pressing the left and right mouse buttons on the Kone XTD feels a little "heavier" than what I'm used to, a nitpick that doesn't exist on the Kone Pure. Otherwise, the large mouse feet glide very nicely.

The usage highlight of both mice definitely stems from the detailed ROCCAT software. The ability to customize every button input, combined with the Easy-Shift[+] feature, introduced more mouse functions than I could even use. I would have liked the option to program it into something other than the side mouse buttons because I usually use these as volume control keys. As mentioned earlier, you should probably turn off the Volume Up/Down voice feedback. Most of the time, it was just plain disruptive having some husky voice announce "Volume Up" over my in-game audio or music. Listening to the man shout out "eight thousand two hundred DPI" in an intense tone still cracks me up from time to time though.

Gaming Experience:

Gaming on the Kone XTD and Kone Pure were very comfortable experiences. Mouse tracking was precise and my hands didn't slip at all due to the soft touch finish. Here I was able to better appreciate the voice feedback when changing DPI values, as comical as the voice was. It definitely beats looking at some tiny LEDs that my hands cover up anyway. The feedback on the scroll wheels was also nice, especially on wheel-heavy games such as Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.

Again, the software was key to the experience. In addition to the programmable buttons, the most useful feature was probably having games assigned to specific profiles that can be enabled automatically. One thing that ROCCAT advertises for the Kone XTD and Kone Pure is Kone Talk FX functionality. Under compatible games, the LEDs will change color in accordance to certain game events or commands: low health will equate to red lighting for example. I tried testing this feature on several games including Chivalry, Left 4 Dead 2, Saints Row: The Third, and Bioshock 2. Unfortunately none of them had any effect on the lighting - even Bioshock 2, one of the few games that is featured into the pre-set software macros. To my surprise, a quick look on ROCCAT's website revealed no compatibility list. But even if it did work, I'd assume your mouse/hand would be covering up the LEDs anyway.

The Kone XTD and Kone Pure are not perfect mice; it's extremely difficult to remove the weights on the Kone XTD, the voice output available on both mice is slightly irritating, and ROCCAT Talk FX is practically worthless at this point. That said, these are all minor issues when you look at the bigger picture. Indeed, ROCCAT has made two of the most comfortable and customizable mice I have ever used. The soft touch finish feels great in the hand, the buttons are nicely tactile, and the accompanying customization software almost overwhelms you in the breadth of options available. On top of that, the LED lighting looks great, especially on the Kone XTD.

Currently you can find the Kone XTD and the Kone Pure retailing for $89.99 and $69.99 respectively. Pretty steep for gaming mice. Is it worth it? Definitely. ROCCAT has effectively stuffed in every single imaginable feature into the Kone XTD, while cutting out a couple minor ones (and the price premium) on the Kone Pure. You'd be hard pressed to find other mice that combine the same solid, comfortable build quality and immensely powerful software into such a neat package. If I had to pick however, the Kone Pure is definitely the better choice. You're losing the slick light strip lighting, the larger size, and an extra button (effectively making for 6 fewer commands) in exchange for a lower price tag and in my opinion, a more comfortable mouse overall.

Whichever one you choose, you can't go wrong with any of ROCCAT's newest Kone mice (unless you're a southpaw). I'm not one to give out Editor's Choice awards often, but the Kone XTD and Kone Pure definitely earn it. This may be the first time I consider replacing my 4-year old Logitech G5, and that's saying a lot.

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