For a long time I’ve been on the hunt for a “Goldilocks” gaming mouse. Something with just one more thumb button than the standard two found on shooter mice, without stretching into the less ergonomic and more complex territory of an MMO mouse with a grid setup.
The HyperX Pulsefire Raid attempts a happy medium here, with a cluster of four thumb buttons (basically doubling up the standard shooter buttons), and a larger separate button (where a lot of mice place the “sniper” button for temporary DPI shifts). Aside from that, it’s a fairly typical PC gaming mouse for the reasonably midrange price of sixty bucks. Overall, it gets a tentative recommendation: the excellent thumb-button cluster and a couple of nice extras are enough to outweigh a poor software experience.
At first glance, the Pulsefire Raid (just the Raid from here on out) doesn’t seem all that notable. The requisite RGB lighting is limited to the mouse wheel and the HyperX logo on the palm. That’s understated by the standards of gaming peripherals, and as someone who prefers a desk setup that doesn’t need a seizure warning, I appreciate it. Of course, there’s no accounting for taste.
In addition to the aforementioned five thumb buttons, the Raid comes with the standard left and right buttons, a wheel, and a dedicated single DPI adjustment button beneath it. HyperX takes pains to note that the finger buttons are individually articulated (as opposed to the combined single piece of plastic on some designs), but to be honest, I really couldn’t tell the difference during actual use.
I could tell the difference in the wheel, though: it includes left and right rocker positions, something you don’t often see on dedicated gaming mice. To be fair, it’s not especially useful for gaming, as the left-right twitch isn’t something you can activate quickly or easily. But as someone who uses their gaming PC as a work PC as well, I appreciate the inclusion for more easily navigating web pages and documents.
Other than that, it’s pretty basic. The mouse is a nice conventional shape, not too tall or small. It won’t work for lefties, unless, like me, you’re left-handed and use your right for a mouse anyway. Matte black plastic covers the whole thing, except for the more grippy texture on the sides and the wheel. The braided USB cable is six feet long, which should be able to handle your labyrinthine cable routing with no issues.
Using the Mouse
I like pretty much everything about the Raid itself. It’s comfy, and is made more so because the “feet” are huge pads at the front and back. This padding gives the Raid a relatively large surface area for smooth gliding on my mouse pad.
That unique thumb cluster is a big deal, too. I usually lock my mouse at a specific DPI (this one goes up to 16,000 if you’re wondering), and rebind the DPI button to “Home” on my keyboard, because it’s rarely used in games and it’s good for periodic functions like Overwatch’s ultimate attack. But on the Raid, I’ve got a nice big button at the front of the cluster—it’s just far enough away to be out of the way when my thumb is at rest, but not too far away for a quick press. And, I don’t lose the option to adjust DPI on the fly, and it doesn’t feel like my thumb is on a T9 phone pad, as in MMO mice. It’s great!
To be honest, I don’t quite know what to do with those other two buttons, beneath the typical Mouse 4 and Mouse 5 buttons, as I’m used to only utilizing those for a grenade/throwable and a melee attack. I’ve got them bound to volume control, a default option in the HyperX control program, just to make quick adjustments easier.
There’s not much to say about the lighting. It’s there, it works, and you can set up different colors and patterns in the software. It can sync with other HyperX hardware, but unlike some competitors, there’s no API connection with smart home or standardized lighting stuff.
Sorry Software, Detestable Driver
And, because we’re talking about the software … it’s the one big downside of the mouse. While I didn’t have any trouble with the “Ngenuity” driver program when using the HyperX Alloy Origins keyboard, for some reason it just doesn’t want to work with the Raid mouse. It’s functional—you can use all of its various settings … eventually.
The program had a hard time connecting to the mouse when I used it, and it froze and crashed pretty frequently. Worse, despite the Raid being advertised as having onboard memory (and indeed, saving all of my key bindings except one), the software bound the largest thumb button to “mute” for any Windows PC that didn’t have Ngenuity installed. That’s a huge problem if you intend to use your mouse on more than one machine, as HyperX encourages.
On top of that, the software is unintuitive and poorly laid out. I’m hesitant to be so critical—the binding and saving problems seem to be a driver issue, and might easily be fixed in a software update. But I can only review based on the experience I have right now, not what may or may not be fixed later. And right now, the software experience is barely functional at all.
Worth the Frustration (Maybe)
I’d love to score the Pulsefire Raid higher, and I would if it weren’t for its aforementioned software issues. The mouse is minimal without any outstanding features, but at $60, it’s not unreasonable in being a little dull. And, the cluster of thumb buttons is fantastic.
But man, that software is just lamentable. It’s quite possible to work around it, or rather through it, with enough patience. And, it’s worth it to do so, if you really want the flexibility of the thumb cluster and the side-scrolling wheel, and your budget doesn’t extend higher. I hope the software gets better because if it does, the biggest problem with the mouse goes away.
Here’s What We Like
- Near-perfect thumb cluster
- Smooth gliding
- Left and right scrolling
And What We Don't
- Terrible buggy software
- Onboard memory malfunctions