VAXEE ZYGEN NP-01 Review
Vaxee is a new peripheral/esports company that has a couple of industry veterans working for them, so when they first revealed their plans to make a new gaming mouse there was quite a bit of interest from all ends of the peripheral world. Born from a collaboration with Japanese CS player Junya “noppo” Taniguchi's company ZYGEN we now have the VAXEE ZYGEN NP-01; the first of many collaborative esports/lifestyle products that VAXEE has planned.
This NP-01 introduces a brand new shape, a paracord-style cable, Huano switches, and a flawless 3389 sensor, all packed into a 75 gram design with on-board control of DPI, LOD, and even click response time. The team behind VAXEE is made up out of the original Zowie Gear founding team so there were of course great expectations regarding the shape of this mouse, but we all know shape alone (despite being the most important aspect of a mouse) isn't enough to make a mouse truly great so we sent a unit over to our reviewer to see what he made of it. Read our full review for the verdict!
"VAXEE have done their homework. These people obviously know how to make a good competitive gaming mouse and this ZYGEN NP-01 is an impressive first product."Our mouse reviewer
VAXEE ZYGEN NP-01 - First Impressions
Allow me to start off this review with a bit of a story: when preorders for this ZYGEN NP-01 went live I wasn't scheduled to review the mouse, but the shape was intriguing to me so I wanted to buy one for myself, even if just out of interest. To my dismay they didn't have my preferred payment option so I basically closed the website and went on with my life, until I got an email from the co-founder of VAXEE asking me if I had any issues with my order. I explained that I couldn't use my preferred payment method, to which he replied he would arrange for me to be able to pay via bank transfer, despite that not being an official option at the time.
I found this personalized approach to be pretty darn refreshing so I just thought I'd mention it. VAXEE doesn't sell on any platforms aside from their own website because they want to "provide more efficient and personalized services" and because it "will allow consumers to receive a higher quality of humanized services when they encounter product-related problems." Of course I am no stranger to marketing talk, and I always prefer it when products are more widely available (doubly so because things like postage fees can greatly increase the price of products when sold by smaller companies) but for what it's worth they do seem to be holding up their end of the bargain.
On to the mouse itself then, and there's not a whole lot to note on first sight. Noticeable is the fact that VAXEE aren't heavy on the branding. At all. The only evidence that they've made the mouse is found on the bottom, right next to the sensor. The logo at the back of the mouse is ZYGEN's but you do need to look carefully before you even see that. I don't mind that (I prefer a clean look over a typical 'gamer product aesthetic') but I don't imagine it'll do wonders to get their brand out there to people who aren't aware of it.
The second thing I noticed right away is the coating, or rather the coatings. On the shell you've got this almost sparkly silver/black coating that's supposed to be matte (more on that later) and then on the buttons there's an almost rubbery gun grip type material. I'll elaborate on this later on in the review but in short I can say that I quite like this.
The ZYGEN NP-01 is a smaller mouse that edges on medium. The shape is neither here nor there: VAXEE have gone for this kind of blend as far as the shell goes, with the NP-01 being an ambidextrous mouse mixed with a couple of ergo mouse features. I'm not someone who is against companies using cloned shapes but of course it's always nice when designers try to come up with something new, even if it is a bit of a risk.
Coming in at 76 grams it's a bit heavier than all of the currently popular ultralight mice but there are a lot of people who prefer their mice to be around this weight so I won't mark that down as a disadvantage. Seventy-six grams isn't heavy by any means, and whether you like that weight or not will come down to personal preference.
Much like the mouse itself the packaging of the VAXEE ZYGEN NP-01 is no-nonsense. It comes in a white box with pretty much nothing on it, which I assume isn't a problem because the box won't be on shelves in physical stores anyway, and inside of the box you will find the mouse sitting inside a foam mold and that is it. There's no quickstart guide, no stickers, and none of those 'thank you for purchasing notes.' Fine by me, though a small info card would've been nice.
What's a bit less fine by me is the fact that there are no replacement mouse feet in the box. As a mouse that's completely aimed at hyper competitive gamers I would've liked there to be a set of replacement feet for when the (very thin) stock feet wear out. The fact that these aren't there isn't a massive issue but it is something they could consider adding.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
The shape is without a doubt one of the defining features of this mouse. Prior to release, VAXEE has been releasing various in-depth comparison images where the NP-01 is versed against some of the popular/similar picks out there today, and they even released a video detailing the intricacies of the shape so it's evident that they're proud of it. And they should be.
The front of the mouse is very much that of a symmetrical one and the top portion of the shell doesn't have any typical 'ergo curves' either; it's when you look at the bottom part of the top shell and the bottom plate that you see the ergo influences. There's an indentation for your thumb on the left side and a slight outward curvature along with an overhang on the right to accommodate your ring and pinky finger and help with picking it up. If this all sounds confusing I apologize: it's always hard to explain a shape in text which is why I included pictures of everything I just mentioned throughout this review.
In any case: for me this shape is definitely one of the better ones out there. I know all of this is highly subjective but the whole design flows super naturally and it accommodates a large variety of grip styles without any issue at all. If you're a fan of popular ambidextrous shapes such as the Zowie S and to a lesser extent the Logitech G Pro Wireless (that one has a more central hump) and you feel like you want just a bit more of that 'formed' feeling without going for something that's too curved this could very well be the one for you.
As I mentioned before this is a mouse with a mixed coating. I believe that the people at VAXEE have said that they're also planning on releasing a glossy coated version but I'm not sure if that's worth the trouble. While I wouldn't call the coating 'pure gloss' or something like that it's definitely not fully matte either: this is more of a hybrid in my opinion. It feels and performs okay (though I did have some slippage issues) but I do prefer the feeling of a straight up matte coating. Luckily it's not much of a finger oil magnet and cleans up nicely but the coating is an area that can be improved upon if you're asking me.
It's a different story with the buttons. These have their own special coating that almost feels like a kind of grip tape or gun grip and I like it. I don't recall ever having issues with my fingers slipping on any main buttons so it's not as if I perform better with these but I do like the feeling of the texture.
The two large PTFE feet that provide the glide set themselves apart from most others due to the fact that they're very, very thin. I don't have a real problem with that but it could raise durability concerns for some, which brings me back to my point about them not including a replacement set in the box. It's a bit of a missed opportunity.
Nevertheless, the glide here is smooth and reliable. The NP-01 is not a super fast mouse as far as the overall glide sensation goes but that's fine with me as I don't really prefer insanely slick skates anyway. Interesting last note here: VAXEE does sell replacement feet on their website, and on that same site you can get yourself a pair of thicker skates (0.45mm versus 0.6mm) if you so prefer. In my ideal world they'd include those thicker skates in the box as well so you can choose what you want but I realize that all of my ideas would drive up the cost. Perhaps they could give people the option to choose their preferred skates when ordering the mouse however.
Buttons and scroll wheel
The ZYGEN NP-01 uses Huano switches. These are generally a touch heavier than the other oft-used Omrons but I don't have a problem with that myself, and definitely not when they're implemented like they are here.
The main buttons, to me, are great. On my copy there's no discernible pre or post travel when gaming or browsing and there isn't a trace of wobble or sideways movement at all. Of course it's always possible to detect unwanted movement on pretty much every mouse if you're really looking for it but even then I had a hard time finding anything incriminating here so this set of clicks will be fantastic for gaming. The switches underneath make the main buttons actuate with a satisfying click and while they're not the snappiest sounding or feeling switches I have ever used the overall click sensation with the NP-01 is among the best I've tested in recent times.
The side buttons are pretty darn good as well. They're snappy with almost no pre travel and they're positioned pretty much perfectly as far as I'm concerned. There's also a noticeable gap in between both buttons so that they're easily distinguishable when you're under heavy fire in your game of choice. I will say that there's a touch of post travel if you press the buttons hard towards the back, but not enough to really annoy me personally.
We then arrive at what could be one of the mouse's most polarizing features: the scroll wheel. Those of you who have used a Zowie mouse will know what I'm talking about since VAXEE is using that very same type of wheel. The main difference here is that the wheel on the NP-01 has 24 steps instead of 16 so that will already make it more tolerable to a lot of people but ironically I am not sure what to think of it.
This loud and very defined type of wheel is supposed to make every actuation feel very tangible and while I kind of get that on a 16 step wheel I feel like they could've gone with a quieter one if they switched to 24 steps like most other mice anyway. I've seen plenty of wheels that have enough definition and don't sound so loud so it can be done. That said: the wheel feels great in game (and is easy enough to press) and that's what this mouse is made for, so perhaps I'm being a bit too critical.
Sound test in order: left click, right click, scroll up, scroll down, scroll click, mouse 4, mouse 5.
Quality and cable
Shaking the mouse does not reveal any unwanted noises or loose parts so that's all good but I have to say that I can actuate the mouse 4 button if I press hard enough on the shell in a certain position, namely right underneath said button. There's no need to panic though, unless you've got the grip strength of a vice.
I've used this mouse extensively and even tried to replicate the 'issue' ingame but when I got to the point of actuation the amount of force required influenced my grip so much that I find it hard to believe that anyone will have a real issue with this. It's possible that other copies have a bit more of a problem with this however so I'm mentioning it just to be complete.
On to the cable then. This is a paracord cable according to VAXEE but I'm not sure if I agree. Paracord isn't a brand, so companies can call any cable a paracord but I feel like the definition has gotten a bit hazy over the past couple of months. While this certainly isn't a heavy or cumbersome cable it's far away from the extremely flexible stuff that you find on some other mice on the market. I'm not that bothered by it, and if you stick it in a bungee you do get that almost wireless feeling (which is also due to the built in stress relief that angles the cable upward at the point where it exits the shell) but if you're after those aftermarket feeling highly flexible ones you'll be disappointed.
VAXEE do have an explanation for this: a highly flexible cable can actually end up underneath your mouse after heavy swipes, for example, and it can be argued that going extremely flexible can cause durability issues. I'm not taking any sides in the paracord vs. slightly stiffer cables debate (both have their merits) but this isn't what I think of when I read 'paracord.' Hopefully the next big revolution in the world of gaming mice is mainstream flawless wireless technology so that we can leave the whole cable thing in the past, but until now this does the job fine.
Performance and sensor
VAXEE have been designing this mouse from the ground up to be a hyper competitive gaming mouse. That means that it has a flawless sensor in the form of the 3389. It also means no RGB, no frills, and no software. On the bottom of the mouse you've got three buttons to control DPI, polling rate, and the click response time.
The idea behind that last one is that different people have different clicking rhythms and as such it can be handy to allow people to choose their own response/debounce time. I'm not so sure how big of a difference maker this is but I did spend some time testing all three settings out (including some blind testing) in an aim trainer and I found that I consistently performed better with the response time set to either 2 or 4, though there wasn't any real difference between those two for me. I don't think this feature will improve your ingame performance by a large margin but it's fun to experiment with regardless.
You can also change the Lift Off Distance by pushing a combination of buttons, by the way. That's not readily apparent because there's no dedicated button for that and there's no manual or quickstart card in the box. For a product that's plug and play without any optional software it would be nice to have a small little booklet or pamphlet to let you know about the different features and the different DPI levels and their colors, for example.
Aside from that this is what you'd expect out of a competitive gaming mouse: it performs flawlessly ingame thanks to the 3389 sensor and has all the things you would want to customize readily available on the mouse itself, even though you might have to search for it a bit. Skip this one if you're a big fan of macro making, RGB lighting, or you play at an uncommon DPI level but for everyone else this has all the features you need.
This is one of those mice that can be great for pretty much all grip types. Perhaps it's not the greatest for fingertip grippers (even though the buttons actuate as easily at the back as they do anywhere else) but for claw or claw-dominated grip types this should be a home run. Palm grippers with small to medium hands can definitely also rock this one thanks to the hump at the back.
As always I want to include a disclaimer with this part: all of this comes down to preference. You are the only one who knows what you find comfortable and all us reviewers can do is give you a couple of pointers when it comes to how a mouse will fit you. So take everything that reviewers such as myself say about grip compatibility for what it is: a guideline.
Conclusion & Recommendation
VAXEE have done their homework. These people obviously know how to make a good competitive gaming mouse and this ZYGEN NP-01 is an impressive first product.
The shape steals the show if you're asking me. This entirely new shape is one of my favorites and this beautiful blend between the best parts of ambidextrous and ergonomic mice will no doubt please a lot of people out there who are looking for a naturally flowing mouse that's not too curved or formed. That alone is enough to make it stand out from the rest of the pack and lift itself above the sea of samey ultralight mice that seem to be falling from the sky left, right, and center but there are a couple of things stopping it from being truly S tier.
The coating, for example, isn't all that. I almost never like these blends between glossy and matte and that's the same here. The cable, while perfectly fine in a bungee, definitely isn't a paracord and the scroll wheel, while also perfectly fine, could be a lot quieter. There's also the fact that it weighs 76 grams, taking it out of contention with many of the popular ultralight mice that have been coming out.
Whether or not these aspects are deal breakers will depend on your personal preferences but if you can look past these smaller annoyances you've got a fantastic competitive gaming mouse with a great shape and a fantastic set of clicks. This is a very promising first product by VAXEE.