If you search “computer mouse” on Amazon, you end up with a search result a hair over 51,000. Now, we all know that half could be trash, so adding a few key words, such as “programmable” and “Scroll wheel” you get a more comfortable number. Thinking that we all expect to get what we pay for, and assuming that if you have read this far, you will agree that anything under $25 is probably not worth our time. Then we end up with 153 different computer mouses ranging from $25 to $100. None of these will claim that they are specifically for CAD; for that you will have to go and visit 3Dconnexion.
There have been a few 3Dconnexion items reviewed here on cadcamstuff.com and I will have to say that I’m a fan. But, this CadMouse of theirs is going head-to-head with my trusted Logitech Performance Mouse MX (that is a $99 match) and my other CAD champion, Logitech M705 (battery life is 2+ years). Don’t give me pretty pictures and stainless steel; when it comes down to a mouse for CAD, it’s all about performance and functions. My test: modeling parts and assemblies, fixtures, work holding and programming using Autodesk’s Inventor and Inventor HSM for the 2016 launch. 2 weeks of burning deadline of CAD and CAM.
Antone from 12CAD.com wrote a great article back in August 2014 “Best mouse for CAD” This was written before 3Dconnexion released their CadMouse. Antone broke his article down into the following categories:
- Wireless or USB
- Mouse resolution DPI
- Thumb button (extra buttons)
- Mouse sensitivity
- Going the extra mile
I think Antone has defined a pretty good standard for a mouse used with CAD so I’m going to borrow that.
Wireless or USB
The CadMouse is USB. Frankly, I was a little surprised; I thought every mouse today was wireless. But, I have been told that there is places where IT do not approve of the wireless option. I have to admit, that after two weeks I have no reason for specifically wanting wireless. Of course, when traveling, it is different. I will still take my M705 with me when going on the road.
Antone points out “The wheel, as you may know, is incredibly helpful for panning and zooming.” The 3DConnexion Cadmouse’s scrollwheel does this as good as any other brand, but the CadMouse comes with an undoubtedly big advantage: a middle (third) mouse button just for these functions. The only way I can explain this enhancement is that after 2 weeks it feels utterly stupid to use the standard scrollwheel on a regular mouse for panning and zooming.
I have been a pretty loyal Logitech user for the past 6 years, after a less favorable experience with a Microsoft mouse that cost me a fortune in batteries. I guess the test of time will paint the picture for the CadMouse, but if the other 3Dconnexion products should be indicators, I’ll say things are looking good.
The CadMouse has a good fit for my hand, but this is one thing that I truly believe is a preference. As Antone puts in his article, the best mouse is the one that feels good in your hand.
The higher DPI, the more precise and the faster reaction. I did a little research, and it seems like Logitech is working on a 12,000 dpi model, but most online gamers are claiming the anything around 4000 dpi is more than anyone needs. The CadMouse has 8200 dpi. When was the last time you complained about the accuracy of your mouse? I have to admit I don’t remember complaining about this since I had a mouse with one of those roller balls that always needed to be cleaned.
Thumb buttons (extra buttons)
Beside the awesome middle mouse button mentioned earlier, the CadMouse has two buttons above the thumb. Factory has their default programmed as zoom +/-. I did find the zoom-out helpful a few times, but the zoom in seems useless. Luckily, every button can be customized on this thing. There is also a button located on the top of the mouse, behind the scrollwheel. This button has a real cool circle menu (see beneath) that also can be customized to pretty much any function you’d like. I guess my biggest complaint is the placement of this button (same as for Logitech). I have never been able to find a comfortable way to click it.
Antone suggests adjusting the mouse sensitivity in Windows. You can also do this from within the 3Dconnexion interface that comes with the CadMouse. Personally, I run my mouse super fast. My preference is that I can reach from one corner of my monitor to the opposite corner with a swing of my wrist.
Going the extra mile
$99 is a lot of money for a mouse, especially since most computers ship with one for free. However, if you are doing CAD all day, you are going to hold hands with this device all day. In this case, I believe that the money spent on a good mouse is worth it.
So, is the 3Dconnexion CadMouse worth it? I believe it is. It’s very comfortable to use, and is beautifully designed. Also, it has a few functions that raise it above a standard mouse, like the dedicated middle mouse button for panning and rotating. However, if you are already using a high-end mouse, like the Logitech Performance Mouse MX, the extra functions might not be beneficial enough for the upgrade. A test drive might be in order.