Expense. That's the main thing we've taken away from the collaboration between Thermaltake and BMW-owned DesignworksUSA so far. Well, that and one of the worst PC chassis we've ever had overheating our components.
I'm hoping Thermaltake has learned its lessons from the crazily priced Level 10 chassis with this Level 10M mouse.
On the design side of things, it's actually done a pretty good job. The key feature is the configurability of the chassis to complement the way you hold your little rodent on the desktop.
Like the MadCatz R.A.T, which must have inspired the bods at DesignworksUSA in some regard, you can attack the Thermaltake Level 10M with a little Allen key and make incremental adjustments.
The way the main hand rest almost floats above the solid aluminium base means it's highly configurable, though it doesn't offer quite as many options as the aforementioned R.A.T. That said, the two main configurations on offer here - height and tilt - are the ones that will make the most difference to your overall comfort. And isn't that the most important thing?
Well, as it turns out, no, that's not really the most important thing. Of course it's vital that your mouse doesn't feel like it's bending your fingers back in the wrong direction - I'm looking at you Razer Lachesis - but the way it works in general use is more important.
While I've easily adjusted the orientation and height of my Level 10M so it's sitting comfortably in my sweaty grip (though not too sweaty thanks to the little cut-out airflow holes), I've got a bit of a problem with the buttons.
The forward/back buttons are arranged side by side, which isn't an issue. The issue is the four-way hat switch that also sits under your thumb. It gets in the way of the larger back button, and because itfs raised a little more than the normal buttons, it's really easy to activate one of the directions just by resting your hand on the mouse. Accidentally dropping the DPI setting mid-battle is a sure way to find your virtual self full of more holes than Sam Beckett's Swiss-cheese brain. Oh boy.
The slim design means there's nowhere to rest your thumb or little finger other than the buttons themselves, making mistakes even easier.
Something else that doesn't help matters is the fact that the weighting on the left mouse button is much lighter than the rest of the buttons. It therefore needs less pressure to activate, which means it acts like a hair-trigger. In a shooter that might desirable, but not so much in a strategy game or even in general Windows use. It doesn't need much more pressure than simply resting your finger on it.
From those issues it may sound like I'm not a fan of the Level 10M, but the buttons aside, I really do like the floating, configurable design.
Sadly though, we have to come back to the inevitable price premium added by the BMW endorsement. At $150, it's a vastly overpriced mouse. The R.A.T 7 offers a similar configurable prospect, but comes in at $100, and has proper buttons.