Fnatic BOLT Review
Fnatic has been releasing gaming peripherals for a couple of years now, and because of the fact that the brand really does seem to listen to their consumers we've seen their products become better and better. The Streak65 LP, for example, is one of the better gaming keyboards out there at this point in time thanks to its alluring mix of enthusiast-level features and gaming-focused design.
When the BOLT was released, hype levels were high. Fnatic's first couple of tries to get some traction in the mouse market got a lukewarm reception; they weren't bad mice, but they didn't really push any boundaries either. The BOLT tries to change that. It's a lightweight wireless mouse with a brand new shape, a flawless sensor, Kailh GM 8.0 switches, PTFE feet, and a battery that doesn't need to be recharged every other day.
In theory, this is one hell of an addition to the mouse market, especially given its (for a wireless mouse) rather low price point. We all know that specs don't tell the whole story though, so we've sent a unit to our reviewer to find out what he made of the Fnatic BOLT.
"All of the building blocks are there to make a fantastic mouse; from the shape to the switches they've selected, but with so many great mice out there it comes down to margins and details. That's where the BOLT falls flat."Our Mouse Reviewer
Fnatic BOLT Review - First Impressions
The Fnatic BOLT is a classy mouse. What's immediately obvious here is the lack of holes in the shell of the mouse. That trend really seems to be dying out (or companies have become better at reducing weight without having to resort to the cheesegrater-style shells) and that'll sound like music to the ears of some people. I have never minded holes in mice, but I do know a lot of people who don't like them, so going for a solid shell seems like a solid choice from the people at Fnatic.
It's not all business though; the scroll wheel (which has customizable RGB underneath it) is a bit translucent and has tiny bolts underneath it. It's a pretty cool way of making the mouse identifiable when it's in the hands of a pro player in a tournament or what have you, and it doesn't come across as gaudy or irritating to me, so I don't mind this little design quirk.
A small note: the white version of the mouse is a bit heavier than the black one. I only got the black one to test, so I can't comment on how resistant the white version is to yellowing or what not. The reason for the heavier weight is that the white version uses a special plastic in order to prevent yellowing.
The BOLT is a no-nonsense mouse that comes in at a weight of around 67 grams (it bounces between 67 and 68 when I weigh it). That's not extremely light, but I'm not someone who absolutely needs the lightest mouse available (and for some designs I even prefer a bit more heft, definitely if I'm playing tactical shooters) so I don't necessarily see this as a flaw of the mouse.
A curious quirk is that the bottom 'plate' is actually a sticker. You can peel it off in order to reveal the actual bottom plate with holes in it. It doesn't add a lot of weight to the design but it's a bit of an interesting design choice. I don't really recommend taking it off, however, as it might void your warranty. It won't save you a ton of weight anyway and the mouse most likely isn't designed for it. Not that dust and regular 'mousepad obstacles' would harm electronics in any way, but I'm just mentioning it to be complete.
Inside the box of the Fnatic BOLT you will find the mouse, a charging cable, an extender dongle, the receiver, a pair of additional mouse feet, and the usual documentation. No surprises there, in other words. The quickstart guide is clear and detailed, so you can get to fragging straight away should you want to.
As always, I appreciate the addition of extra mouse feet. In today's world there are a lot of brands that provide aftermarket feet so it's easy to get the exact glide that you want (be that more controlling or lightning fast) but it's always nice to see a pair of replacement feet included with a mouse, especially when it's geared towards competitive gamers. I don't believe that these feet are of a 'standard shape' though, so your aftermarket options will be limited.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
Those who know their gaming mice will probably notice that the BOLT looks rather familiar. Its design is very similar to Zowie's S2 design, and that's a smart decision if you ask me. There are tons of brands, big and small, that are copying the EC-style mice and making them wireless, lightweight, and all of that, but almost none haven taken on the S-style of shape; a more compacted and slightly 'humpier' ambidextrous mouse. People who were waiting to see that type of shape in a wireless package can rejoice, as the BOLT delivers on that front.
It's not an exact copy of Zowie's S line, though. The back is nearly the same, but the S has an overhang towards the front whereas the BOLT has flatter sides towards there. The BOLT is also a touch wider at the base at the front, or at least it feels that way, making your grip at the front portion feel a bit wider with the BOLT. Which one you prefer will depend on personal preferences, but I like the more natural feeling curves of the S line a bit better.
Regardless of the comparisons: the BOLT has a very safe shape with no annoying or potentially limiting curves and dimples. If you're looking for that type of shorter, more compact ambidextrous mouse with a more sudden hump towards the back than what something like a G Pro X (which has a more gradual hump) or Razer Viper offers, to name a few very popular mice, then this would be something to look at.
The mouse I got (again: I only got the black version so I can't make any comparisons with the white version) has a coating that kind of feels like it's just slightly textured plastic in the sense that it's not very grippy. I didn't have any performance issues with the BOLT, but I do have moderately sweaty hands when I'm gaming, so if your hands are bone dry this might be a bit of an issue.
The coating handles oils and fingerprints really well: I never had an issue with the mouse feeling or looking greasy, even after long gameplay sessions, so there's nothing really wrong with the coating but it does feel a bit subpar/cheap to me. It's also not extremely grippy.
On the bottom you'll find two large feet that provide a rather controlling glide, in the sense that they're not the fastest feet around. I absolutely don't mind that since I don't like that 'icy' feeling of extremely slick skates (which is also the reason I gravitate towards control pads these days) so for me these are absolutely fine but if you want a speedy slick glide you might want to take note of this.
Buttons and scroll wheel
The BOLT uses Kailh GM 8.0 switches underneath its main buttons. Those have quickly become community favorites, but it's one thing to select a switch and it's another thing to implement a switch. The BOLT is sadly proof of that. I just don't like these buttons at all. I'm not someone who is a mouse button switch enthusiast (by this I mean that I'm fine using pretty much any current switch, as long as it's implemented nicely) so I'm perhaps not as strict on buttons as some other reviewers, but these main ones need some work.
Both main buttons feel loose to the touch, and there's quite a bit of side travel on both. If I press a button with some force it also quite often travels over something internal, which gives it a grindy feeling and sound, and that's annoying to feel (you don't really hear it unless you're really listening for it, to be fair) when you're doing something like spraying in CS:GO or holding an angle through a scope with the right click, to name a few examples.
The main buttons are fine when it comes to pre- and post travel (the post travel could be lessened, but it doesn't really annoy me) and the actual click, as I'm used to from Kailh GM 8.0 switches, feels crispy, but on the whole the main buttons just don't feel good to me.
The side buttons, then. That's a tale in two parts. There's virtually no travel on either side button (there's some post travel on mouse 5 if you press hard but that's not an issue for me on my copy) so they feel great in a way, but they actuate with a rather mushy and unpleasing click. It's a shame, because I'm someone who uses the side buttons an awful lot in games, and the buttons themselves feel like they're implemented nicely, but it feels like a cheap and mushy switch is being used here, making them feel subpar.
The scroll wheel is rather tactile and is a bit loud but it's fine if you ask me. It's also easy enough to press but not so light that it leads to accidental presses, so all is well on this front.
Fnatic is a company that absolutely listens to consumer (and reviewer) feedback so I have no doubt that they'll be taking all of this into account when designing a new mouse (or an updated version of this one) but for now it's really simple: the BOLT's main and side buttons are very disappointing.
Quality and cable
Shaking the mouse vertically and horizontally leads to some movement inside the mouse that you can definitely hear, but other than that non-issue (you don't hear anything when you're using it normally) there's nothing to remark about the build quality of the mouse. The bottom plate is perhaps a bit more flexible than you'd give it credit for due to the fact that it's a stickered honeycomb plate, but it's definitely sturdy enough to stand up to everyday usage.
The included charging cable has prongs for a more secure attachment to the mouse and is pretty flexible to boot, so I wouldn't have any issues using this mouse with the charging cable attached to it at all. The battery lasts for around 110 hours on the 2.4 mode though, so you shouldn't ever find yourself having to play with the charging cable attached unless you forget to charge your BOLT. The expected battery life on Bluetooth is around 210 hours, by the way, but that's not something you want to be using for gaming due to latency and what not. It's good to have it on the mouse in case you're also using it as a productivity mouse though, so kudos to Fnatic for including it.
Performance and sensor
The 3370 sensor is one that's known to be flawless, so as long as you implement it properly you've got yourself a flawless wireless gaming mouse. I know that this is an enormous oversimplification, but that's basically the gist of it. Fnatic have done a good job here. I noticed no signs of sensor malfunctions anywhere, and the wireless connection also really does its job. There's no lag, nor did I notice any dropouts (despite testing these mice in an environment where there's a bunch of possible interference going on) so as far as the sensor and wireless performance goes my unit is perfect.
Configuring the mouse can be done without ever installing any software, but if you want to go a bit deeper (or if you want to use an uncommon DPI step) you'll need Fnatic's OP software. The software itself is lightweight and looks nice and clear to use, but I did notice some hiccups. It abruptly quit on me a couple of times, for example, and getting the mouse up to date with its firmware was also a bit of a hassle thanks to these sudden stops and the fact that it seemed to create multiple 'mice' in the program when only one was connected.
That's not a deal breaker, though, since the BOLT has onboard storage, meaning that you only ever need to download it once. Make sure that you have your cable handy, though, as you need to plug the BOLT in if you want to make any changes to the mouse's performance. That's a touch annoying and something I would like to see changed in the future.
Aside from the hiccups and the weird fact that you need to connect the mouse via its cable in order to make any changes there's nothing really wrong with the OP software. It allows you to configure the LOD, and even the debounce time, and all of that saves nicely to the device itself. Something that you can't do (at least not at this point in time) is create macros or rebind buttons, so make sure you're aware of that if you're purchasing this mouse.
This mouse seems to be a dream for claw grippers and, to a lesser extent, fingertip grippers. Due to its sudden hump at the back it's also good if you prefer to have a filled palm, but I can only see that working for people with small to medium hands due to the size of the BOLT.
As always, though, this section comes with a disclaimer. Everyone is different, and your preferences are probably not my preferences and so on. Always take these 'grip/size guides' from us reviewers with a grain of salt. They're just a guideline, and if you feel like this (or any other) mouse suits you exactly then don't be afraid to try it out, even if reviewers say it's not compatible with your hand size or grip style.
Conclusion & Recommendation
The Fnatic BOLT is a rather frustrating case. The basics are there: the wireless performance is flawless, the sensor performs exactly as it should, it has a safe and comfy shape, and the build quality feels good. It struggles in the finer details, though.
Things like having to plug in the mouse if you want to make any changes are minor annoyances that can be overcome, depending on your sensitivity to these kinds of issues, but there are also issues that can't be ignored. The buttons are way below par if you ask me, and that goes for both the main buttons and the side buttons. The coating also feels a bit cheap and slippery. All of these issues combine to make a mouse that feels, much like its accompanying software, as if it's still in beta.
All of the building blocks are there to make a fantastic mouse; from the shape to the switches they've selected, but with so many great mice out there it comes down to margins and details. That's where the BOLT falls flat. That doesn't make it a bad mouse, it just fails to meet expectations if you ask me. Luckily, these are issues that can be fixed rather easily (it would be different if their wireless implementation was completely bugged, for example) so I'm excitedly waiting for a revamped version of the BOLT.