Published on August 14th, 2022 | by Scott De Lacy
MSI Clutch GM41 Lightweight Wireless Mouse Review
Introducing the MSI Clutch GM41 Lightweight Wireless mouse, which has nominated for the CES innovation award in 2022 and is a Tom’s Hardware Editors choice mouse.
First, the specs
|MODEL NAME||CLUTCH GM41 LIGHTWEIGHT WIRELESS|
|Battery Life||Up to 80 hours|
|POLLING RATE||1000 Hz / 1 ms|
|SENSOR||PixArt PAW-3370 Optical Sensor|
|MAX DPI||20000 (Software)|
|PRESET SWITCHABLE DPI||400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / 6400|
|SWITCH DURABILITY||60 Million Clicks|
|NUMBER OF BUTTONS||6 Programmable Buttons|
|OPERATING SYSTEM||Windows 10 (and above)|
|CABLE TYPE MSI||FriXionFree Micro USB|
|PRODUCT DIMENSIONS (MM)||130.1 x 67 x 38.3 mm|
|WEIGHT (PRODUCT / PACKAGE)||74g (without cable) / 354g|
The most notable items of these specifications are the 400 to 6400 hardware switchable DPI and the weight of the mouse being only 74g, which is pretty good considering that it also has to pack a decent battery to give 80 hours of use from a single charge.
80 hours is actually quite impressive, so that warranted a bit of a look at the PixArt PAW-3370 sensor datasheet, which seems to be hard to find. Here is a similar datasheet. We can deduce from this reference datasheet that the PAW-3370 would also contain an all in one package, which is the optical sensor, USB UART and the 2.4Ghz wireless transceiver, not too shabby. What the datasheet for the 3072 shows is that the mouse will consume only around 1.8mA during operation and a measly 35µA on standby, which is more than likely about right for the 3370 as well.
The PixArt website currently lists these sensors:
Note that they also have a good breakdown of the running current and there are some contenders in the gaming and wireless category that do look pretty good!
Should you be in awe with all this? No. The sensor looks to be fairly common enough and given that the sensor numbers all seem to increase with newer packages, we can conclude that this chip is either a custom chip made for MSI or an older edition that is no longer supplied by PixArt.
MSI have chosen a sensor that gives great battery life and additional buttons all on one low powered chip, which also uses IR to reduce the LED power consumption, something that pretty much all high end devices are doing. Of course, that is all offset by the bright RGB LED anyway, so each to their own.
At this point, before reading, take a moment to check out the GM41 overview, because the marketing materials of the features are expertly presented.
Let’s unbox and see what we are dealing with:
A well presented box is always great! MSI have done a great job with the box and presentation and of course this is what we have come to expect with MSI products.
On first look of the mouse, it was a wow moment, the carbon fibre look on the sides is striking and the way it reacted with the light really felt like you were handling James Bond’s mouse.
Handling the mouse however revealed that the side buttons have a bit of a rattle to them. In fact any large movement causes a rattle, which cheapened the initial impression.
The PTFE feet/slides are silky smooth and precisely placed and strongly adhered, which is good to see. There will be no risk of these coming off under normal or even heavy use.
Underneath we can see that the charge pins are exposed but recessed, so shouldn’t snag on anything and can be easily cleaned. The power switch is on the left and the DPI selector button is on the right.
This seems to be an odd placement for the DPI button, sure it has been done before; but it means that DPI selection whilst actively gaming or using the mouse is impossible. You will have to lift your mouse, (rattling the side buttons) and press the DPI button until your desired selection has been made, then place the mouse down again.
The charger base is really well made. A thick rubber ring is installed on the bottom to prevent the mouse from moving around on your desk, as well as a top load USB port for the receiver, which is where we found it installed. The USB cable has been shaped to install and sit flush against the underside which is nice so that it doesn’t cause a bulge on the base, but it does mean you cannot use an alternative cable if you wish.
The USB cable is of exceptional quality, the sheath is strong and durable and 2M is a perfect length and would be welcomed by most people. The cable is rigid and holds its shape, which may or may not be welcomed depending on your personal preference.
For such a lightweight mouse, it is interesting to see that the centre of gravity is more forward in the mouse, being roughly between the bottom of the scroll wheel and the centre split of the top casing, rather than in the centre between the buttons and top casing. It is likely due to the battery or a heavier component being further forward, but then it may also be by design to keep the mouse from falling off its stand.
The GM41 is detected on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux immediately and is available for use without any need to install software.
Likewise the buttons work as expected and button 4 and 5 are available to be assigned by the host OS without any need for software. This is 100% a pass for the minimum expectations that most people will have.
Movement tracking sensitivity is perfect. Obviously at lower DPI’s, it is rather an exercise of long aggressive movements, but for fine detail precision it actually tracks well and steady. The highest DPI setting is perhaps too much for most, but again it is buttery smooth.
For those who absolutely must know, the GM41 will continue to track when lifted around 2-3mm from the surface, but beyond that and the tracking will either stutter or completely stop. So for all intents and purposes, the mouse must remain flat and would not work well on your knee, for all you crazy-weirdo-knee-people out there. (Seriously, how do you .. oh I don’t want to know).
The buttons are all perfect as well, the switches MSI have chosen are fantastic. Click, double click and even the scroll wheel clicks are great. The side buttons are easily accessible and the cap size is actually really well chosen, they don’t get in the way of your thumb in a standard grip. Obviously it is worth mentioning that if you are a lefty, well this mouse is not for you, your fingers will hit those buttons.
As mentioned the side buttons do rattle a bit, so at lower DPI’s when you require the aggressive movements to jump from one side of your huge screen to the other, if you hit the edge of your mouse pad you may lift and the rattling of those side button caps can be noticed. Honestly though, it isn’t a huge deal for most movements it is silent, but any of those annoying games where you have to shake your mouse – and you will hear it. So for those with OCD, ye’ be warned.
There is also the crud-factor, many mice will collect the chunks of dead skin and gunk and you have to wipe/scratch it off. After using this mouse for a few weeks, there was none. That alone is the best feature and is clearly because of the ridge design of the side panels and scroll wheel. Do not take that for granted.
Battery performance is great, it took around 5-7 days before there seemed to be a need for a charge. Outstanding.
The MSI website provided Dragon Center as the software package to install firmware updates and configure special options for the GM41 Lightweight Wireless Mouse.
It all seemed normal and standard. First the download, installation initial license and TOS screens all as expected.
And of course the data collection and signup requests, which were ignored – why do we need an account for a mouse?!
The GM41 was detected immediately and there was a firmware update that was required. In fact no other options are available until this is installed, so onward and upward we advance through.
After completion, we were not complete. So we try again. And again. And again. And, oh dear, we are in a loop.
What was worse is that closing and reopening the software, required re-confirmation of the agreements again. The loop continued and no firmware update ever seemed to actually complete despite the program stating it did.
If you are concerned about the lack of version numbers, change log or any other useful information presented, then you should be. This was just simply weird and was the most horrible experience encountered with the mouse. To be fair, a support ticket was raised to get to the bottom of this.
Contacting support required sign up, so looks like we can’t escape data capture. And full disclosure, yeah the cardinal sin of centre instead of center was used. Oops. Don’t judge.
It should be said before you read on, that support staff are first and foremost only there to help, and are often dealing with many support cases, they are the avenue for all complaints, and likely have little resources to perform their role. In many cases support staff are often representing the entry-level positions within their respected companies. That being said, we as consumers expect a minimum level of service and it is up to you to determine if you would be happy with the responses.
Here is the support interactions:
The following was sent as a response to the message with the RAR files.
|You have linked me to a google drive and a rar file with two exe’s.
Can you provide a more appropriate source for the firmware update? I am unable to verify the legitimacy of these files.
Also, are there release notes for the firmware updates? What, if any issues or improvements do they offer?
Given that this is a new mouse, and the software was freshly installed, are you able to reproduce the issue on your end?
What functionality does MSI Dragon center provide that enhances the functions of this mouse?
The main concern with receiving a RAR archive with two EXE files in it, is the obvious security question. Is it really from support? Could you run these in a work place? Should we as users know what a RAR file is and how to extract them? Would an Antivirus have allowed them or detected a virus? The point is that there was no strict ability to confirm the origin here.
Well did these firmware updates even work? Short answer is yes and no. Only the dongle firmware update worked. When checking back with the website, a new download of the Dragon Center was installed on a virtual machine (it’s what you do when you don’t trust the origin) and there was clearly a change in the program, since it displays the phrase “installing Dragon Center-Test” which never completed the install and simply silently failed.
MSI Center was also available and listed under the support page for the GM41, so naturally this was also installed and it detected the mouse, but again no features were exposed, but instead prompted to connect the mouse via ‘wired mode’.
Obviously, (and even more clearly now whilst writing this review) this would indicate that the mouse must be connected using the cable connected directly to the USB port on the device. This would also explain why the ad-hoc EXE update utility failed to find the mouse.
The out of box experience here with the software is terrible. None of the functionality that was advertised worked out of the box. Perhaps at best, after going through a bunch of undocumented work-arounds, and steps to resolve, that of which must come from the user being a trained engineer, since support didn’t provide these steps.. well, you get the point. Avoid the frustration and avoid the software entirely.
The MSI GM41 Lightweight Wireless Mouse is actually a pretty solid, well built mouse. The sensor is clearly high quality, the performance is great and overall the hardware is outstanding.
The drawbacks are the rattling buttons and the poor choice placement of the DPI button, which as a gaming mouse, this is a poorer choice compared to other models where the DPI button is available to the user and even programmable in many cases.
As a workhorse mouse, this is a great device and from a comfort standpoint, the mouse ticks the boxes. Remember, this is an ‘anti-crud’ design mouse, so it would be a great pairing with your gaming (or work) laptop.
The software offerings from MSI are horrible. Out of the box the software offers zero functionality or user benefit and MSI need to have a serious rethink about what they choose to unleash onto users. Don’t worry about what colour the LED is, your hand covers it entirely so you will achieve nothing useful.
Support offerings from MSI, at least for this mouse did not meet the personal standards of this reviewer. But they did respond quickly, they did try to help and they offered a solution to update the firmware.
A discerning user would truly appreciate this mouse and if you are an MSI fan-boy/girl you can’t go wrong, all things considered.
Summary: MSI Clutch GM41 is a sexy mouse and fantastic hardware, but the software offerings are a total waste of time.