VAXEE OUTSET AX Review
VAXEE's first mouse was met with lots of praise from reviewers and consumers alike thanks to its laser focus on competitive gaming. That focus also landed it on the desks of a fair amount of (mostly CS:GO and Valorant) pros, which is something that's quite rare to see for a brand new mouse from a brand new manufacturer. Of course the people behind VAXEE aren't new to this whole thing (the team behind VAXEE is made up out of the original Zowie Gear founding team) so it's not a huge surprise to see that they know their stuff, which is why we're rather excited to see them put out a new mouse so soon.
The OUTSET AX is a new ergonomic mouse from VAXEE. The goal hasn't changed (design great mice for competitive and professional gamers) but we do see some changes when compared to the NP-01 aside from the obvious fact that this is a brand new shape. We've sent a unit over to our reviewer to find out if this one is a worthy second attempt.
"This is definitely a mouse made specifically for people who prefer to play shooter games so it's not going to be for everyone but it does what it sets out to do remarkably well."Our mouse reviewer
VAXEE OUTSET AX - First Impressions
When the OUTSET AX was first announced I saw a lot of people who were comparing it to Zowie's EC line of mice. It's an easy comparison to make given the fact that both are ergonomic mice and look extremely similar but once you're holding both mice you definitely notice a difference. The OUTSET AX is shorter, for starters, with a more aggressive hump that focuses on the middle of the mouse. This leads to it feeling quite different than the EC. I'll talk more about the shape later on in the review but I wanted to get this obvious comparison out of the way first. This really isn't merely a VAXEE-branded EC shape.
Aside from that there's absolutely nothing remarkable about the looks of this mouse if you compare it to most other gaming mice. That's not a problem: the people at VAXEE aren't interested in making flashy, eye-catching products since you don't need all that to perform at a competitive level.
If you've got some experience with the NP-01 you will notice that the coating has changed: it appears I wasn't the only one who had some issues with the coating and the designers are showing that they listen to their audience by coating the OUTSET AX in a much more matte looking material. More on that coating later on in the review.
One last change that they've made compared to their first mouse is that the stock skates are now 0.6 millimeters thick as opposed to 0.45 millimeters. I myself didn't have any real issues with the 0.45 millimeter skates but I did end up using the thicker ones on my NP-01 (I kept using it for a while after my review period) so I completely support this decision and judging by what I read online I will not be the only one. It's always nice to see when companies really listen to their consumers.
As far as ergonomic mice go this is a medium-sized rodent. What's striking here is that VAXEE really do go their own way. This mouse doesn't try to be the lightest on the planet, nor does it try to wow you with crazy new technologies or materials. The OUTSET AX, much like the NP-01, aims to be an absolutely rock solid gaming mouse that you can rely on for years to come.
Following that philosophy there's also no software: everything gets changed on the mouse itself. That of course leaves people who use an uncommon DPI setting behind, so be wary of that if you're someone who uses one of those non-conventional settings.
The boxes that VAXEE products come in are among the plainest I've ever seen. That makes sense since they only sell through their own website (to ensure a certain standard of customer support, according to VAXEE) so there's really no need to have a fancy box if it's not going to be found on any shelf but I would like the contents to be a bit fancier.
I've said this when I reviewed the NP-01 and I'll say it again here: if you're making a product that's fully aimed at competitive gamers I think you should add replacement mouse feet. I'm not going to dock any points because they're not there but in my opinion it would be a nice gesture, doubly so because competitive (and professional) gamers are much more sensitive to how their mouse feels on their pad, so having the ability to replace worn out feet right from the box is a nice extra if you're buying a mouse that's built from the ground up for competitive players.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
Given the shape and dimensions of this mouse along with the history behind it, it's inevitable that it'll be compared to Zowie's EC line but (as I said earlier on in the review) it actually feels quite different in the hand. If I had to compare it to the EC I'd say that this feels like a 'more concentrated' version of the EC2. It's shorter and slightly taller with a hump that, to me, feels very much focused on the middle of the mouse.
Shape is, of course, subjective, but I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of this one. I personally like a hump that's either focused on the back or feels a bit more gradual than what's on offer here. That combined with the fact that I am not a tilt gripper (at least not to the extent that the OUTSET tilts) makes for a mouse that doesn't exactly suit me personally. That's fine though. As I said: this is all subjective.
If you're someone who feels like mice such as the DeathAdder, EC, and Intellimouse are just a tad too flat and/or long then this will be a fantastic fit for you. Objectively speaking it's a relatively safe shape too: it doesn't have any sudden curves or indentations, so it should suit a variety of grip styles and hand sizes.
The coating, then, is once again a weak point if you're asking me. It feels quite okay for my moderately sweaty hands, and I had no performance issues (except for when I had super dry hands; it could feel a tiny bit slippery then) but it is to fingerprints and oil marks like a flame is to moths so they're not quite there yet. It feels a bit better than the coating on the NP-01 in the sense that the OUTSET AX doesn't feel sticky as quickly but if you're asking me there's still a lot of room for improvement.
Both main buttons once again have a different coating to them. It feels like it's very slightly rubberized and I quite like it, even though I don't feel like it performs any better than mice that don't have any special coating. I've personally never had any issues with my grip slipping on the main buttons so I'm not sure how useful this is, but as I said I do like how it feels so it's not some annoying gimmick or anything like that.
The stock feet are 0.6 millimeters thick. That's still not chunky by any means but I feel like this is the right choice. I don't think that a lot of people actually preferred the 0.45mm skates on the NP-01 over the thicker ones so it's good to see that they've listened on this front. The glide that you get is relatively smooth. If you're someone who puts a lot of pressure on their mouse and/or you're using a thick and spongy pad you may want to consider the fact that these thinner skates can quite easily dig far enough into the pad to the point where the actual side of the mouse is making contact, thus interfering with the glide, but I think the feet that you get with the OUTSET AX will be fine for the majority of people. They're definitely not the fastest stock feet I've seen in my career but as I said they do glide fine overall. No issues here.
Quick note: the feet have the same dimensions as those on the NP-01, so they're interchangeable.
Buttons and scroll wheel
VAXEE is a new brand, and yet they're a company that I often think of when readers ask me for a mouse with great clicks. That speaks to how well thought out their products are, and I'm happy to say that the OUTSET AX yet again delivers in spades on the click front.
There's absolutely no wobbling or side travel on the main buttons (unless you push down really hard, but that's not replicable in actual gaming scenarios) and both actuate with a very pleasant click. They're not extremely crispy but you do get more than enough tactile feedback once you've actuated any of the main buttons, and while mouse 1 and mouse 2 sound quite different on my copy they feel nice and consistent.
What's quite interesting here is that VAXEE actually advertises the fact that there's some travel on the buttons. They say that they've done this because FPS gamers never really need to spam their clicks like an MMO or MOBA player would, so having a more reassuring click feeling is beneficial for (tactical) FPS players to avoid misclicks. I agree. If you read my reviews with any sort of regularity you'll know that I don't like extremely light main triggers, so for me the buttons on this OUTSET AX are damn near perfect.
Yes, there is a bit of post travel (as advertised) but it's not nearly enough to actually bother me ingame, and that combined with the near complete lack of sideways movement makes for yet another fantastic set of clicks.
I can be short about the side buttons: they're great. There's a bit of post travel if you actuate the bottom side button with a lot of force near the front of said button but that's nitpicking at a molecular level as far as I'm concerned. Both buttons give you a satisfying and tactile click without disappearing into the shell at any point, so VAXEE gets full marks here as well.
We then arrive at the scroll wheel. This was easily one of the most polarizing aspects of the NP-01 so VAXEE wisely changed this up, at least that's what they say. I personally don't really notice a big difference in all honesty. It's a tad easier to click but other than that it feels very much like the loud and stiff feeling wheel that I found on the NP-01. If you're going for this mouse expecting a near quiet wheel you're going to be very disappointed. I don't mind the tactility myself but I do wish they'd cut down on the overall volume.
I have the luxury of having dozens of mice at my disposal so I can just choose a different one when I'm working should I main a VAXEE mouse, but the reality is that a lot of people will be using this mouse both for gaming and regular browsing, and it's when doing the latter that a wheel this loud can definitely get annoying. I get why they want the definition between each step: it's to prevent accidental scrolls, but I just wish they'd achieve that same definition with less noise.
Sound test in order: left click, right click, scroll up, scroll down, scroll click, mouse 4, mouse 5.
Quality and cable
The OUTSET AX wants to be a dependable gaming mouse that you can bring to LAN events (let's all hope we get those back soon) and gaming houses for years to come so it absolutely has to be rock solid in the build quality department. Luckily it is. There's no creaking, rattling, or indeed any noise coming from this mouse when I'm shaking or squeezing it, so as far as I'm concerned this is all fantastic.
A while ago some of the honeycomb lightweight mice that came out all the time had this issue where you could actuate a side button (usually mouse 4) if you applied enough pressure to the side of the mouse. This was a legitimate problem with some of those mice, as you didn't need a whole lot of force to get that panel to flex enough to actuate the button, but these days I get the impression that some people are determined to find the same issue in other mice, resulting in them applying absolutely unrealistic amounts of force until a side button actuates to then say 'this is a big problem.'
I say this because the OUTSET AX has this 'problem' (as does the NP-01; some people asked me about it on Discord) but it requires a completely unrealistic amount of force to get that side button to actuate so this is not an issue at all in real life. If you buy this mouse you can rest assured it's going to be built to last, unless you somehow get a faulty copy of course.
Speaking of durability: VAXEE uses (like some other manufacturers) a slightly stiffer cable for two reasons, one being durability and also because of the fact that an extremely flexible cable can end up underneath your mouse after violent swipes. I'm not an engineer so I don't know how much more unreliable those nearly shoelace-like cables are, but I have to say that I personally prefer a lighter cable. I used the NP-01 (which has the same cable) as my main mouse for a while and I did end up paracording it. This cable is fine in a bungee, and it's not a disaster of a cable, but I've certainly seen better. Again though: I obviously can't speak for the durability of this type of cable versus more flexible ones.
Performance and sensor
As is the case with any gaming mouse worth its salt these days, the OUTSET AX comes with a flawless sensor, this time in the form of the 3389. This means that all those sweet moves that you're making on your pad will be translated to your PC (and monitor) with perfect precision and without any sort of prediction or changes made in the process.
In the spirit of making a perfect competitive gaming mouse, VAXEE have also opted to make the OUTSET AX completely driverless. Plug it in, set your DPI, polling rate, and the click response time, and you're good to go forever, no matter what PC you're playing on. This is great for people who are constantly going to tournaments or traveling between different locations to game, but it's a little less great for people who like to play around with macros or uncommon DPI settings.
As someone who is constantly plugging in peripherals (and, as such, installing drivers and programs) it's a relief to use a mouse that runs without any kind of software, but I am never against having the option to download a (very rudimentary, if necessary) piece of software in case you want to quickly rebind a button or change your DPI. It's not relevant to me personally (I don't rebind buttons on the hardware level and I play at 1600 DPI) but I think you can reach a bit more potential customers if you at least offer the option, so perhaps this is something that VAXEE can consider for the future.
As I said before, the shape of the OUTSET AX is relatively safe. Due to the tilted design I wouldn't recommend this to fingertip grippers but all other grip types should be able to find a home here, provided you like the shape of course.
I personally see this as a great mouse for people who desire a lot of palm contact, but as is always the case with these 'will the mouse fit me' questions you need to consider the fact that this is extremely personal. I know someone with huge hands who prefers a small mouse over any of the bigger options that that same manufacturer offers, and I know people with relatively tiny hands who swear by heavy, large mice. Always take these 'mouse X is ideal for grip and size Y' types of sentences with a grain of salt. No one knows what you prefer except for you yourself.
Conclusion & Recommendation
The people behind VAXEE of course are no strangers to making a gaming mouse, but that doesn't mean you're always going to knock it out the park. VAXEE are batting 2 for 2 though (I hope that that analogy lands because I don't know anything about baseball) and the OUTSET AX is another great gaming mouse.
This is definitely a mouse made specifically for people who prefer to play shooter games so it's not going to be for everyone, but it does what it sets out to do remarkably well. If you're looking for an Intellimouse-based pointer that's a bit shorter and more filling than some of the common options out there then you've got to take a look at this one. It's got a safe (original!) shape, fantastic clicks and is built to last.
It's interesting to see a company take their own path like this. A lot of manufacturers try to follow the latest hypes ('let's all cut holes in our mice!') and/or just copy existing shapes, but VAXEE really seems to be a company that knows what kind of direction they want to take, even if it sometimes doesn't necessarily align with current trends. I truly do applaud them for that, and if I look at how quickly their first mouse was adopted by pro players in the CS:GO and Valorant scene (usually completely new mice from completely new manufacturers don't really get looked at too long by the pros) it seems like they do know their market quite well.
You don't have to agree with everything that they do (I don't agree with the scroll wheel and cable, for example) but as far as 'made for competitive shooters' mice go this is another great product. I personally do hope they'll take a look at the coating and cable though.