VAXEE XE Review
VAXEE is a relatively new peripherals manufacturer that was founded by the people behind the original ZOWIE team. As such, it shouldn't be a surprise that their first couple of launches were focused on the competitive esports audience, but this new VAXEE XE changes that slightly.
Rather than being a 'professional esports' mouse like their other releases, this one gets the designation as being for 'gaming & work'. With that, we see a couple of differences between this brand new XE and previous VAXEE mice in the buttons, scroll wheel, and weight department.
With all that being said: obviously this mouse can still be used for professional gaming. It houses a flawless 3389 sensor, has Huano switches, and you can adjust the polling rate, DPI, and click response speed.
Is this newest VAXEE mouse worthy of your attention even if you're a (future) professional gamer, or is it something for casual gaming at best? Find out everything you want to know in our full VAXEE XE Review!
"As a mouse that aims to bridge the gap between work and play, this kind of misses the mark due, but as a mouse for competitive gaming this is yet another great release by VAXEE."Our mouse reviewer
VAXEE XE - First Impressions
First things first: this mouse is not wireless. I specifically mention this because I've seen a lot of people in the community who, even after the official unveiling, thought that this would be VAXEE's first wireless mouse, but that's not the case. You'd be forgiven for thinking that it was, as it's the first VAXEE mouse to come with a detachable cable, but you will need to keep the cable attached at all times if you want to use the mouse for anything other than display purposes.
With this being VAXEE's first mouse that isn't aimed directly at the hardcore competitive crowd, there are some notable changes between this and their earlier releases. There is now a 'DPI button' on top of the shell, for example. That was put there for productivity/browsing purposes so it's not an actual DPI button, but more on that later on in the review. Another major change has been made to the scroll wheel. This is now a lot quieter and smoother, a change that I'm sure many competitive gamers will also welcome.
The fact that this release is aimed more towards the 'fun' end of the spectrum rather than the 'tryhard' end is further emphasized by the available colors on release. The XE can be bought in a variety of colors, and I have received the Orange version to test. Specs are the same between all colors.
I get what VAXEE were going for here: they're releasing a mouse that can be used both for gaming and productivity, whereas their earlier releases were definitely focused purely on competitive gaming (think of the loud and very tactile scroll wheel, which is good for gaming, but not so much for productivity usage) but to me it just seems like a bit of an odd release. Casual gaming or not: the XE is priced at around the same price as their hardcore competitive mice (the XE is 5 dollars more expensive at the time of me writing this review) and it just seems to me like there are a lot of mice to compete with at that price point in the 'casual market'. Mice that have more buttons, are wireless, or have accompanying software to rebind buttons and record macros, for example.
That being said: the XE definitely has all the specs of a top tier gaming mouse, so it's not as if they skimped on the sensor or anything like that in order to create this product. Think of this one as a standard VAXEE mouse with some added (or slightly changed) features, not as a release with cut features. If you're considering this one you shouldn't worry about the specs or internals as those are on par (or better, depending on who you're asking) with their earlier releases.
The XE is a medium-sized flat-back ambidextrous mouse that comes in at a surprisingly low (for VAXEE mice, at least) weight of 68 grams, making this the first VAXEE mouse to dive under the 70 gram mark on the scales.
There's no RGB to be found on the mouse, and the only visible light comes from the indicator LED below the multifunctional button on top of the shell.
As we've come to expect from VAXEE, there's nothing in the plain white box aside from the XE O mouse itself. That's fine with me, but I do wish they'd at least include a pair of replacement mouse feet.
I know that I keep banging this drum in my reviews, but a pair of extra feet is a welcome addition for mice aimed at (competitive) gamers, especially at this mid-tier price point.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
Just for reference: my hands are 18x10.5 cm and I use a claw-dominant grip most of the time.
VAXEE is a relatively new company, but they've already managed to make quite the name for themselves in the professional and competitive gaming scene, and that's in no small part thanks to their fantastic shapes. This XE is a new addition to their lineup, and it's their first truly ambidextrous shell design.
I would describe this shape as the love child between a ZOWIE S and a ZOWIE FK (with perhaps a little Logitech G Pro Superlight/Wireless mixed in) and that's of course good news given the reputation of those mouse designs.
What you get here is a flat ambidextrous shape with a centralized and gradual hump and a rather noticeable flare at the back. The front buttons sit low, meaning that you can place your trigger fingers really close to the surface you're playing on, and that's something that I personally really like. Due to the flare at the back and the low button height, this shape locks you in a little more than you might initially expect, giving it a more formed feeling and shape than something that's a bit more neutral like the ZOWIE FK or Logitech G Pro Superlight. The main buttons having some very subtle comfort curves in them only add to this more 'locked in' feeling.
All in all, I have to say that VAXEE have once again knocked it out of the park with their shape. It took me some time to really get used to it, but once I did I found that this shape offers a great mix between the maneuverability of small and neutral ambidextrous mice and the more stable experience that you get from more formed, larger mice. This is once again top tier work from VAXEE.
The coating is a different story. VAXEE have moved away from their previous coatings for this release, and while I do find the XE's coating to be better than what VAXEE previously put out, it's still not all there for me personally. It's grippy enough (to the point where it almost feels a bit too sticky when my hands get sweaty) but it feels almost powdery to the touch, which is a feeling that I don't particularly care for. Luckily it's no longer a fingerprint and oil magnet like earlier VAXEE mice, but I'm still not a big fan of the coating.
The smaller feet have been swapped out for two large specimens (complete with a sensor ring) but I have the feeling that these glide a bit less smoothly than the feet found on the OUTSET AX and NP-01. I don't have a problem with that myself (I don't like very slick skates) but if you are into speedy feet you'll want to prepare for a feet swap in case you're getting this mouse. That's not to say that these feet are scratchy though, because they're not. They just feel a bit slow to me.
Buttons and scroll wheel
In a world where pretty much all mice are going for Kailh switches, VAXEE have stayed true to their Huanos. The XE uses 70G Huano switches. Those are heavier than the switches that earlier VAXEE mice use, and that's certainly something that you notice. Whether that's a pro or a con depends on personal preferences of course, but I don't see it as a bad thing as I tend to lean towards heavier buttons myself.
The button implementation is fantastic: there's a tiny bit of pre travel, virtually no post travel, and a lack of noticeable side travel. I say 'noticeable' because it's possible to get the buttons to move horizontally after pressing them if you apply a lot of pressure, but I don't see this happening in actual gaming scenarios, nor have I noticed this myself when gaming so I don't see it as an issue. This all combines into a set of clicks that's extremely pleasing and very consistent to use.
The side buttons do have some post travel, particularly mouse 4 when pressed near the edges, so those could use some work, but they actuate with a crispy click and the travel is not enough to annoy me ingame, leading me to consider these side buttons as 'fine,' though they're nothing more than that.
Since this is a mouse aimed at a slightly more casual audience, VAXEE have let go of their loud and tactile wheel, but I have this sneaking suspicion that this change won't only be welcomed by the more casual audience. There's more than enough definition between steps to use the wheel for sensitive applications such as weapon switching, and the best news is that it almost doesn't make a sound when scrolling. I know VAXEE like to use their loud and tactile wheels on their performance mice due to their reliability, but I'd love to see this type of wheel make it over to their other mice too. The user experience is just so much better with this wheel if you ask me, and the only change I'd make here is that I would make the wheel itself a bit easier to press.
Quality and cable
This XE is the first VAXEE mouse to feature a removable USB-C cable, which almost leads me to think that this release was supposed to be wireless before they encountered some issues in the production process, but that's of course just me theorizing. As it stands, this mouse is wired only.
With the onslaught of wireless mice at all kinds of price points it's a bit of a risk to release a wired mouse in this day and age, and while I personally don't have any issues using a wired mouse (provided the cable is good) I definitely know some people who simply won't go back to using a wired mouse now that there are so many wireless options, so I would love to see VAXEE move to wireless mice sooner rather than later.
This detachable cable was added with the idea of user customization, but I'm not a big fan. The cable itself is more flexible than what can be found on earlier VAXEE products, so in that way it has improved, but it's still not the best cable out there, and with how large and stiff the end piece of the connector that goes into the mouse is I get quite a few 'cable whip' moments where I can feel the cable slapping and maneuvering against the mousepad when I'm making big swipes. Stick it in a bungee and it'll be good to go, but if you're going to use a cable at this point in time it has to be better than this one in my opinion.
The build quality tells a different story. As I've come to expect from VAXEE mice, this is absolutely rock solid. There's no creaking when applying pressure nor is there any noise when shaking the mouse, so as far as I'm concerned this is another sturdy and reliable product by VAXEE.
I should note that it is technically possible to actuate mouse 4 by applying pressure to the shell, but this requires so much pressure that I don't think it will happen to anyone in an actual gaming scenario. I've only been able to test this on one copy though, so do test for this if you receive yours, since this might vary between units.
Performance and sensor
Inside the VAXEE XE you'll find the 3389 sensor. This is a flawless sensor that's been implemented flawlessly, so I have absolutely no complaints on that front.
Even with this being a productivity-oriented mouse, the XE is still driverless, meaning that all of the customization is done on the mouse itself. Heavy macro or shortcut users will have to look elsewhere, but VAXEE did add some functionality for work and productivity. The little button on top (commonly called the 'DPI button', though it isn't a DPI button here) can be used for three different functions. It can function as Page Down (which can be rebound in game as well, so you have an extra input option), Win + Shift + S for easier access to the screenshot tool, or as Win + ;, giving you easy access to an emoji menu.
I think that last one is a bit silly and could've been used in a more sensible manner (I see a copy or paste shortcut as something that's way more handy for work, as an example) but the way I see it, it's just a tiny extra which doesn't influence the actual performance of the mouse in gaming scenarios so I'm not all too bothered by it. There's also the fact that you can use it Page Down, which is a lot more useful in gaming applications. If the button only functioned as an emoji button I would've been a lot more critical here.
Thanks to the shape design and size I can see this mouse being used by pretty much all grip types. The neutral and flat shell will accommodate fingertip grippers as well as claw grippers, and people with smaller hands who utilize a palm-dominant grip will also be able to use this without much issue.
Of course grip and size preferences are extremely subjective. This is just a rough guideline, so if you feel like this mouse would fit you or your grip type then by all means: try it out. These grip/size guidelines in reviews are just that: guidelines. Reviewers can't know you or your personal preferences.
Conclusion & Recommendation
The VAXEE XE is an interesting mouse. This is VAXEE's take on a work/gaming mouse blend, yet if you take away that marketing this would, to me, feel like an esports-focused mouse due to the fact that it has no RGB (like it or not: some of the more casual gamers do care about that stuff), comes with a wire, and has no software. As a mouse that aims to bridge the gap between work and play, this kind of misses the mark due to the aforementioned reasons if you ask me, but as a mouse for competitive gaming this is yet another great release by VAXEE.
It's interesting that VAXEE have added some of the community's most requested features to this 'more casual' mouse. The XE has a lower weight and a quiet scroll wheel, both of which are features I've seen requested a ton on enthusiast forums. Is this a clever way to gauge the community's response to these changes without slapping the 'premium competitive gaming mouse' label on it? Who knows, but I for one would love to see this scroll wheel make its debut on VAXEE's other mice. The weight is something that's a bit more subjective, but I think that a slightly lighter VAXEE product is also something that's going to be welcomed by a lot of mouse geeks (I say that lovingly) who are waiting to try out a VAXEE product.
In a nutshell: if you're looking for a casual mouse that also serves as the ideal productivity companion then this ain't it, if you ask me. There are other options out there that do the whole work/play thing better. If you're looking for an esports mouse with a fantastic flat ambi shape and high quality standards, then do take a look at the VAXEE XE.