Xtrfy MZ1 Review
Xtrfy started out as a peripherals company that was mostly known for its links to successful esports team Ninjas in Pyjamas, but over the past couple of years they've become so much more than that. From making a keyboard that's still among the most popular boards in the CS:GO scene to coming up with exciting new concepts for high tier gaming mice, the Swedish brand has proven that they're not just a flash in the pan.
When esteemed mouse reviewer Zy "Rocket Jump Ninja" Rykoa first announced that he was making a gaming mouse in collaboration with a known brand, Xtrfy were among the prime suspects for many people because of their willingness to innovate and move away from the beaten path of endless clones and rehashes. Many months later, here we are. The Xtrfy MZ1 - Zy's Rail is a reality. This mouse has everything that it takes to be a top gaming mouse in today's market (flawless sensor, PTFE feet, lightweight design, flexible cable) but the main feature is of course that brand new shape, designed by Rocket Jump Ninja.
Exciting as it is, there are of course questions. Is this mouse a good pick for other people, or is it more of a niche project that will only suit a very select number op people? Is the build quality up to par? Is the sensor implementation done well? Our reviewer hass all of the answers in his full Xtrfy MZ1 review!
"After years of studying and reviewing the best mice in the world, Rocket Jump Ninja knew what a mouse needed, but the shape didn't exist. Now it does."Xtrfy
Xtrfy MZ1 - First Impressions
When I first heard of the MZ1 I was intrigued. As a mouse reviewer and enthusiast I of course know who Zy "Rocket Jump Ninja" Rykoa is (I will sometimes abbreviate Rocket Jump Ninja to 'RJN' and refer to Zy Rykoa as 'Zy' throughout the review, as he is known by both monikers in the community) and I think I have seen every single one of his mouse reviews. As such, I am also familiar with his ideas about aiming and mouse shapes. Knowing all that, I expected that this mouse would be small and light even before it was formally revealed. It seems that my hunch was right.
The MZ1 is definitely a small mouse, that's something that you immediately notice. I will talk more about the shape and elaborate a bit on RJN's ideas about aiming (and mice) further on in the review, but it's quite clear that 'comfort' wasn't one of the main concerns when designing this mouse. That's not to say that it makes your hands cramp instantly or anything like that (again: more on that further down in the review) but as RJN himself says: 'we need to sacrifice comfort so we can get the mice that help us aim best, because smaller mice are easier to aim.' Whether you agree with that last part or not is a different story, but to me it's exciting to see a kind of different approach to mouse design with the MZ1.
Where I would've loved Xtrfy (and RJN, but I don't know how much he had to say about the finish and so on) to not take a different approach is with the looks of the mouse. The shell is slightly translucent which gives the whole thing a sort of 'cheap 90's BB gun' look, and that combined with the kind of wacky shape and holes in the mouse makes for a rather goofy looking mouse. Of course we're talking about a performance product here so the looks of it won't influence my opinion at all, but I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't have looked a lot slicker had they just gone for a regular type of plastic on the shell at least. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but as far as I'm concerned this is definitely a mouse made for streams without a mouse cam.
Upon unboxing this mouse and noting down my first impressions I also noticed that Xtrfy has significantly improved their cable. Compared to the cables on their earlier mice, this one is noticeably thinner and more flexible. If I recall correctly this was something that initially wasn't planned so props to Xtrfy and Zy for pushing this through after all.
What you get with the MZ1 is an extremely small and light mouse. The fact that it's so lightweight (58 grams on my scales) combined with its small frame makes for a very nimble pointing device.
As with other Xtrfy mice the button on top of the MZ1 doesn't control the DPI and contrary to other Xtrfy mice it also doesn't (exclusively) control the RGB. On the bottom of the mouse you'll find a slider that controls what this button between both main clickers does. It allows you to choose between different settings that you can use to configure the mouse (RGB, Polling Rate, LOD) and there's also a setting where it acts as the F11 button so that you can bind any ingame action to said button without having to install software since the MZ1 is driverless. That's a nifty and innovative feature if you ask me.
Xtrfy's packaging (and the contents of said packaging) has never left something to be desired if you ask me, and that is the same with the MZ1.
Inside the box you will immediately find the mouse, and underneath the mouse you get a quickstart guide (or rather a complete guide, since there's no software that comes with the MZ1), a thank you note from Zy Rykoa, an Xtrfy sticker and, most importantly: extra mouse feet. I love it when brands include those (doubly so when it's an esports focused mouse that I'm reviewing) so props to Xtrfy for adding those. There's also an additional ring to put around the sensor in case you so desire, but I never put it on for this review since I didn't feel like it was necessary.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
The shape of the MZ1 is without a doubt its most important feature. It has been molded from a lump of clay by Rocket Jump Ninja way back in 2019, and today we've got what's known as Zy's Rail.
First, a little context. According to RJN, a smaller mouse is better for aim. Those of you who follow his reviews will know that features such as weight and the size of a mouse are very important to him and as such it comes as absolutely no surprise that his first signature mouse is very small and extremely light.
At first glance the MZ1 might look like a symmetrical mouse but in reality it isn't. The left side has a curve to fit your thumb, for example, and the right front side of the mouse goes lower than the left side. This combined with the pronounced (and very sudden) hump at the back leads to a shape that's pretty far from safe, but making a safe 'one size fits all' type of mouse was obviously never the idea here, and I can only respect that. There's a reason the FK and EC mice of this world are cloned so often (it's because they are great designs that fit a whole lot of different people) but I really applaud it when a company/designer tries to come up with something new.
Something that I thought of when testing this mouse is that it reminds me of holding a pen and writing. With the mouse being so small with a relatively high hump at the back, and the front buttons being so close to the mat (or whatever surface you put it on) my thumb, pointer, and middle finger come very close together (I rest my palm on the hump so I was not using a pure fingertip grip when testing the mouse) giving me a similar sensation to holding a pen and writing.
I can follow what Zy means when he says that smaller mice like this one are easier to aim with: due to the way I hold this mouse, tracking (for example) was way easier than it is with larger mice. I managed to easily beat my high scores in various tracking-based scenarios on aim trainers even with very little practice with the MZ1. I think that really is down to the more 'pen-like' precise movements that you can make with a smaller mouse.
As a tradeoff though it felt (and still does feel) less 'stable' when doing stuff like large horizontal swipes where keeping your crosshairs at an exact height is of importance. Larger mice (for me) have the advantage here because there's just less room for them to slip around inside your hand when swiping.
I'm not going to get into a whole rant here, but I just wanted to give you my thoughts on aiming with this mouse, seeing as the whole philosophy behind aiming and the kinds of mice that help with that is an important part of how this mouse came to be.
Zy's main game is Quake, where flicking all over the place and tracking enemies at (relatively) high sensitivities is very common. In that context it makes a lot of sense to go for a mouse like this. As I said: for these types of aiming movement it's fantastic. If you're mainly into tactical shooters, where 'aim stability' and crosshair placement are very important I don't think that a smaller mouse is objectively better and then I haven't even dived into personal preference (regardless of the games that you play) so I personally think that there's more to it than 'small mouse = objectively better'.
In short: getting the right mouse shape for you can and will make your aim better, but whether this is that shape kind of depends on your personal preferences. For me it made certain aspects of my aim better (I did enough testing to confirm that I undoubtedly track better with this mouse than with my main) while it performed slightly worse in others.
The coating of the MZ1 feels good to me, even though it's ever so slightly glossy and I'm usually not a fan of that. I had no issues with performance or slipperiness throughout my testing and the mouse also handles sweat and oils rather easily.
The feet on the bottom are pure PTFE and perform perfectly. There's no scratchiness on my copy and I didn't have to take a lot of time to 'wear them in' so to speak: they glide perfectly well straight out of the box.
Buttons and scroll wheel
Underneath the main buttons of the MZ1 you'll find Kailh GM 8.0 switches. These haven't been selected for any particular reason other than the fact that they 'feel satisfying' and I agree. There's a pleasant tactile sensation when clicking and I find these switches to be a nice middle ground between something like a heavier Huano and light Omrons to name two of the more popular switches out there.
I'm not very picky with actual switches on a mouse though: what's far more important to me is how the switches and main buttons have been implemented and that's done nicely. When testing for it there's a tiny bit of post travel on both of the main buttons and some side travel on the left button but it's not something that I noticed in real life usage so I don't consider this to be an issue.
Both side buttons are excellent too. They actuate with a crispy click and have no mushiness to them, and what's perhaps most important is that there's almost no noticeable post travel and none of that annoying 'pivoting' (whereby a sidebutton has more post travel the more you press it towards the front or the back) on either button. They're also excellently placed for me: I can reach both without having to move my thumb more than a couple of millimeters and there's a substantial gap between the two so that you never accidentally press the wrong one. This part about the positioning will depend on your grip style and hand size of course but I couldn't help but notice how they're pretty much perfect for me (~18x10 cm and claw grip) so I thought I'd mention it.
The scroll wheel could use a bit more tactile feedback if I had anything to say about it but other than that it's fine. It's completely silent, easy enough to press, and never messes up.
Sound test in order: left click, right click, scroll up, scroll down, scroll click, mouse 4, mouse 5.
Quality and cable
Despite the fact that the MZ1 doesn't make any noise when shaking it or tapping it on my desk I do have a small remark regarding the shell integrity. Right where I put my thumb (underneath the side buttons, right in the middle of both) the shell flexes a tiny bit, and if I put a lot of pressure on that point I can also hear the mouse creak a bit. That last one isn't an issue (it's almost whisper quiet so it doesn't bother me) but the fact that the shell moves a bit and I can feel it moving whenever I tighten my grip is somewhat of an annoyance to me. It doesn't move enough to mess with my grip or performance though, this is really just a slightly nitpicky point but I have to mention those too of course.
The cable, then, is great. It's not the absolute best stock cable that I've ever tested but it's miles better than the slightly stiffer cables that Xtrfy used before this one. The new EZcord Pro should be on all of their mice from now on if you ask me. Shove it in a bungee and it won't annoy you at all, but this one can also be used without a bungee with relative ease. The cable exits the shell at an upward angle to reduce the amount of cable that touches the pad right in front of your mouse which is a nice touch and can help prevent those scenarios where you perform a large swipe and your cable ends up underneath your mouse. No complaints about the cable at all, and I wouldn't change it for an aftermarket cable if I was to main this mouse.
Performance and sensor
After testing the MZ1 I found no evidence of any sensor malfunctions. That's what you expect out of a 3389 sensor so I tend not to go in-depth on the sensor performance of modern mice, but of course these things always have to be tested for a review. As I said though: it's all good. There's no smoothing, acceleration, or anything else to be noted here.
Xtrfy mice are (so far, at least) plug and play and driverless. Everything that there is to configure can be configured on the mouse itself. That means that gamers who use a non-standard DPI step, for example, will have to adjust (or skip this one altogether) but Xtrfy weren't greedy with the DPI steps that they've included here so I'm quite confident that everyone will be able to find something that they like.
One super cool feature is the fact that you can set the 'DPI button' (which is traditionally used to change the RGB on Xtrfy mice, here it's also used to toggle between different polling rates and LODs if you have your slider on the relevant setting) on top of the mouse to act as an F11 button. This allows you to bind an ingame action to said button, effectively giving you an extra button to use without having to use software. It's a cool feature that I can see myself using in some games. It's not the most handy button since it's quite hard to reach (so you best not bind something that you need in the middle of a firefight to it) but at least this way you can actually use that button on top for something else than choosing RGB.
Due to the size of this mouse it's probably quite obvious that this is not one for palm grippers, unless you have really small hands. A small problem with the MZ1 is the fact that it's front-heavy. That's usually not an issue, but since this mouse is aimed at fingertip grippers it's something that should be mentioned because this can get quite annoying if you employ a 'no palm contact' type of grip and your fingers are closer to the back, which is how I fingertip grip a mouse. Do note that a pure fingertip grip is not my main grip style (nor has it ever been) so your mileage here may vary. In any case: I think this mouse works perfectly for people who use a fingertip/claw hybrid where there's still a portion of your palm that rests on the mouse since the hump really helps with that, and for me that's the kind of grip style that this mouse seems to be made for.
I don't want to go too deep here because even the definitions on the 'traditional' grip styles can be muddy (look up some images and you'll find that people can have different ideas about what is claw grip, for example) but hopefully this section does help a bit to help you decide if it's going to be for you.
As usual, though, I want to end this section with a disclaimer: everyone is different. There's not a single reviewer out there who can tell you what mouse is perfect for you with 100% accuracy without having extensive knowledge about your preferences. Take these 'this mouse is great for grip X and grip Y' comments with a grain of salt since everyone has different preferences. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa, even if we have the same hand size and grip style.
Conclusion & Recommendation
I've been a fan of Xtrfy's mouse department for a while now, and I can only applaud their willingness to work with Zy "Rocket Jump Ninja" Rykoa on a mouse that wanders off the beaten path as much as the MZ1 does. I'm not an idiot: they'll have done their homework and expect to make money on this whole collaboration, but it's still encouraging to see that a brand isn't afraid to innovate (they've been doing that before the MZ1 too).
The MZ1 - Zy's Rail is a very interesting mouse. It pretty much ticks all boxes (flexible cable, smooth feet, light weight, really solid clicks, ...) aside from perhaps being wireless but it's the shape that separates it from the pack. It's safe to say that this shape won't be for everyone. This isn't a shape that tries to appeal to as many different grip styles and hand sizes as possible. For me, this one is made for people who want smaller mice and use a fingertip/claw hybrid where there's still a certain amount of palm contact, but your mileage on this front may vary.
I don't fully agree with the whole 'smaller mouse = better aim' claim that's often said by RJN (see the 'shape and finish' section for my thoughts on that) but if you're someone who primarily plays games where flicking and tracking moves matter more than crosshair placement or horizontal swipes, for example, this can be a fantastic option. Again though: this is rather subjective.
With its unique shape it's a welcome change from the 'egg shapes' that usually accompany small mice and its blend of ergo and ambi characteristics in combination with the high back hump makes for an extremely interesting mouse. It's not for everyone, but the MZ1 is a welcome addition to the world of gaming mice if you're asking me.