Infused with Finnish magic
But, before we dig deeper into the mouse itself, I want to talk about something that I found out about Roccat. You see, almost all Roccat products have Finnish names (e.g. Kone = machine, Kova = hard). When I asked Roccat about this, they led me to a video clip on their site, that told me a story about team of scientists working at Lake Inari (Lapland of Finland) where they found some mysterious material called Aimo (Finnish male name, which I found funny). Apparently, each Roccat product contains some of this material and that is the secret that makes them as good as they are. One wonders, however, why Roccat didn't take advantage of the Finnish Kalevala mythology and use the name Sampo instead of Aimo, as it would have fitted the situation so much better...
One of the main points of interest about Roccat Kova is that - unlike most other modern gaming mice - it relies on an optic sensor instead of the nowadays more common laser sensor. However, the optic sensor is advanced enough to provide up to 3200 DPI, which is almost as good as laser sensors can do. Another point of interest is that there are no drivers to install when you use the mouse – everything that can be adjusted or customised can be done with the mouse buttons themselves.
Max. DPI: 3200
Form factor: ambidextrous
Size in mm (lxwxh): 120 x 65 x 37 mm
Weight min/max: 90g
Price: c. 65.00€
Aside from the size issues, the ergonomy leaves little to be desired – the buttons are very well positioned and easily found. Likewise, the non-slip rubber coating on the sides of the mouse feels very comfortable. Overall, we get the feeling that this would be the perfect design for those gamers who are blessed with small hands. This also applies to the weight of the mouse: it is one of the lightest mice we've tested and since small hands go well together with weak hands... Just joking! However, personally I prefer my mice to be a little bit heavier.
The Roccat Kova has 7 buttons, almost all of which are easily to reach (usual problems with the side buttons on the little-finger side). The thumb buttons are relatively easy to tell apart, although I've seen better designs. They give soft, but detectable sound and tactile feedback when pressed. The main buttons give a good response and the sound they emit is pleasantly soft.
There is no separate button to change the DPI, as you do this by pressing the hindmost side buttons on both sides at the same time. This rotates the DPI settings through 5 options, indicated by the flashing colour of the mouse lighting. There's no way to go back to the previous setting other than by clicking through all the rest of the settings, which makes this method rather slow and unusable in fast action sequences. What's more, there's nothing to indicate your present DPI setting other than trying it out. In addition, you can also use other possible button combinations to change the lighting effects and colours of the mouse. All in all, you need to take good care of your manual, since there's no other way to remember all the button combinations that you can use.
In short, the wheel on Roccat Kova is magnificent. It is large and has soft non-slip rubber coating and feel that makes it a pleasure to use. It simply the best wheel that I've used: it is also easy to press and use as a middle button. However, the wheel does not include the very handy side scrolling feature familiar from many modern high-end gaming mice.
Roccat Kova doesn't really give you many options for customisation. Basically, the only thing you should be able to do is to change the lighting settings between stationary single colour and pulsating/switching varying colours. And I say “should be”, because I was never able to stop the light from switching to other colours, even though I would have preferred it to stay single-colour.
Since there are no drivers, you are also stuck with the pre-set 5 step DPI settings and you can basically only switch between them. In practice, I'm sure most users will settle on one setting and stay with it, since in order to switch one step higher and then back again requires you to flick through every other step on the way (no back button).
Overall, the Roccat Kova is a mixes bag when it comes to rating it: it really depends on whether you like full-palm grip or fingertip-control and whether your hands are large or small. Also, the missing driver software is a definite weakness, since I really want to be able to set my own preferences insofar as DPI settings are concerned. And, of course, there is little you can do to customise the mouse in any other area either, unless you are willing to do your own paint job on it.
Roccat Kova definitely looks great, but prospective buyers should consider their own preferences as it comes to customisation, measure their palm size and ponder about their preferred grip method before shelling out the cash for this mouse.