Zaunkoenig M2K Review
Newer gaming mouse companies usually tend to play it safe by copying well-known shapes, or at least releasing products that appeal to as many people as possible. That makes sense, since you want to speak to as many gamers as possible if you want to start off your company with a bang. That does have the side effect that there are lots of clones and samey mice out there, so it's always exciting to see a company coming up with something daring and unique.
That it's daring and unique is the least you can say about the Zaunkoenig M2K. It's a mouse that weighs a mere 24 grams, has a polling rate of (up to) 8000Hz, is made out of carbon fiber, and is made specifically for fingertip grippers. It also costs 300 euros. That's definitely not 'playing it safe' but it also is extremely interesting.
Read our full Zaunkoenig M2K review to find out whether or not this is worth the cash or if you'd better pass.
"That is why the Zaunkoenig M2K looks so different from any other gaming mouse. The design of the M2K serves one singular purpose: to enable you, the gamer, to aim with pinpoint accuracy."Zaunkoenig
Zaunkoenig M2K - Initial Thoughts
I've tested and reviewed an absolute ton of mice at this point in my career, but the Zaunkoenig M2K is the most unique of the bunch so far. When I first picked up the mouse I said 'wow' out loud, and that was not only because of the insanely light weight of 24 grams. I am someone who appreciates design and to me, this mouse invokes similar feelings as when I am looking at a well-designed supercar or something like that. It's not necessarily beautiful in the traditional sense of the word, but you can't help but have great admiration for the engineering and the craft behind it.
Even if you disregard my musings about design and aesthetics it's quite obvious that the M2K is an impressive product once you lay your hands on it in real life. The only thing that distracts from the 'wow' factor is the fact that it comes with a cable. I know that this is due to the 8KHz polling rate and I also know that a wireless component would increase the weight (due to the need for a battery and so on) but it's still a little odd to see a cable on such a premium mouse in this day and age. More on the cable later on in the review though.
A mouse that costs as much as two top tier mice from mainstream brands has to wow on all fronts if you ask me, so it's good to see that Zaunkoenig delivers on that front. The mouse comes in a nice and classy tin box. Open up that box and you get the mouse itself presented to you in a custom cut styrofoam storage. You also get a thank you card from Dominik and Patrick (the people behind the brand), explaining a bit about the mouse and giving you some instructions on how to configure it.
There's also a replica/dummy PCB included, showcasing the incredible engineering behind this mouse. Nothing else is included in the box, but given the price and performance-first design of this product I would have liked to see some replacement feet in the box. These feet are just applied to the bottom and not in any recessed cutout, and as such you could use a variety of aftermarket feet (as long as they're small enough) but it would've been a nice touch.
Size & Dimensions
Shape, Coating, and Mouse Feet
The Zaunkoenig M2K has a very specific shape. This mouse was designed for people to grip it with their fingers, and that's it. It's extremely small, and there is nowhere to rest your hand or palm. As long as you use a fingertip grip, there is some room for adjustments, however. There are some grooves in the buttons, but they don't force your fingers to sit in a certain position. The sides are flat, but the mouse is ever so slightly V-shaped so that you can kind of choose how thick you want the grip width to be, depending on where you place your thumb and your ring finger (or pinky finger, if you use a 1-3-1 grip).
The mouse also slopes down, which is nice if you place your fingers flat on the buttons, and it allows you to choose how high off the surface you want your fingers to be if you don't. All in all, as long as you stay within the realm of fingertip grips, this is a safe shape. Being someone who doesn't use a fingertip grip (and doesn't plan on changing to it) I found the transition to be relatively pain-free due to the accommodating shape of the M2K. Just to try it out I tried to claw it by resting the top of my palm against the back hump and then curling my fingers, and while it is possible to achieve something that resembles a claw grip, it's an uncomfortable experience. That's not a knock against this mouse: Zaunkoenig makes it very clear that this is a fingertip-only mouse, but I am just emphasizing this so that you don't buy this expecting it to be something that it's not.
I really like the sandblasted matte coating that they've used here. It's slightly on the rougher side but it handles fingerprints and oils like a champ and offers great grip in all circumstances. Coating is less important on fingertip mice if you ask me due to having way fewer contact points, but I would happily use a full-sized mouse with this coating.
The four tiny feet feel absolutely perfect right out of the box and provide a smooth and consistent glide without needing any breaking in. There's nothing much to say about these other than 'I really like them'.
Recommended grip types
Usually I try to emphasize that different people can utilize mice in different ways, but here it's pretty obvious: the M2K is a fingertip only mouse. There's no way of clawing or palming it, so the only grip to go for is a fingertip grip.
Buttons and Scroll Wheel
Not partaking in the recent Kailh 8.0 craze, Zaunkoenig has opted to use Japanese Omrons in this mouse, and I like that decision. Omrons generally are on the lighter side, and I feel like using a heavy or very tactile switch in a mouse like this would be like putting rally tires underneath a Formula 1 car. Yes, I am going to keep going with these car metaphors, by the way. The clicks themselves are somewhere in the middle of the pack when it comes to the force required to press them, but they actuate with a subtle and pleasing click.
There's very little pre- and sideways travel on the buttons, but depending on the amount of strength that you use there is quite some post travel. Being someone who uses quite a bit of force at times (when spraying in CS:GO and VALORANT, for example) I definitely noticed this ingame to the point where it got a bit annoying to me. I noticed that this is (at least partially) because the buttons flex a bit due to how thin they and the fact that there is generally nothing underneath them to support them. Pressing them hard near the front makes the front portion bend over the switch itself, while pressing them in the middle causes the button to flex in the middle.
I used these buttons a lot during my testing, and for good measure I sometimes applied frankly ridiculous amounts of force to them when using the mouse just to see how durable they are, and they did hold up perfectly well, but if you're someone who tends to put a some pressure on your trigger finger this is something you will want to note. The clicks are certainly serviceable, but overall they feel a bit mushy to me, and I would've personally sacrificed some weight savings in order to add a support structure to these clicks. Whether or not that's doable without adding tons of weight is something that I don't know since I'm not an engineer, but it could be something to consider for future iterations.
The scroll wheel feels great. It's on the more tactile side, meaning that you can clearly feel each step as you're scrolling, and it's pretty quiet when operating it. To top it off I feel like the click tensioning on the wheel is practically perfect, so I am really loving this wheel implementation.
As for the side buttons: there are none. It's a design decision like any other, and even though I am someone who has my regular side buttons bound to something in pretty much every game that I play I have to say that it's pretty easy to get used to the sidebuttonless life. I am glad that they added a wheel, though. The first iteration didn't have this, and I would consider that a massive handicap, but this lack of side buttons is something that you can work around pretty easily, at least if you ask me.
Build Quality and Cable
Despite weighing as much as 24 plastic bottle caps, the Zaunkoenig M2K is incredibly well built. The choice to go for a unibody carbon fiber shell was a good one: I never felt the mouse creak or flex during my testing, and tapping and shaking it revealed absolutely no sound at all. If I'm being pedantic I could say that it is possible to flex the shell a bit if you put a ton of pressure on it, but I couldn't replicate this when holding the mouse like I normally would hold it when gaming, so unless you have a gorilla grip the mouse itself won't budge when gaming. The buttons do flex, but I've already spoken about that in the previous section.
All in all, the Zaunkoenig M2K is an incredibly well built piece of equipment. Every mouse goes through the hands of Dominik and Patrick before sending it out to the consumer, so you can rest assured that you're getting a perfect copy every single time.
Time to address the elephant in the room, then: the cable. It's obviously strange to see a $150+ mouse with a cable attached to it in this day and age, but the people at Zaunkoenig have went through a great deal of trouble to make it as weightless and flexible as possible, and they've sort of succeeded if you ask me. It's a very decent cable and I would have no issues using this on a mouse of average weight, but the fact that this one is so extremely light makes it so that you definitely notice the cable at times. A mouse bungee pretty much eliminates this problem, so if you're going to lay down the cash for this mouse I would recommend to spend a little extra for a bungee; it will really make the experience complete.
Sensor and Everyday Performance
The Zaunkoenig M2K has a 3360 sensor inside that performs absolutely flawlessly. The mouse is capable of polling rates up to 8000Hz, which is, at this point in time, perhaps a bit overkill. You need a decently powerful CPU in order to run the mouse at those polling rates, and the effect will only be felt if you're running at least a 240Hz monitor. On top of that, you will also need to use higher DPI settings combined with very fast, constant movements on your mouse because otherwise there just aren't enough inputs for that 8000Hz to matter. I won't go into a ton of detail here, but 4000 and 8000Hz polling rates are basically only worth it if you have a high tier PC along with a high refresh rate monitor, and to top it off the game you're playing also needs to play nice with these higher polling rates.
Am I saying that the higher polling rates are a gimmick? No, not at all. It's exciting technology, and as the power of PCs and displays grows I would wager a guess that we'll see 4000Hz become the norm within a couple of years, so it's nice that manufacturers like Zaunkoenig are already pushing the envelope here. Just don't expect to suddenly become a God when you switch to 8Khz. if you meet the prerequisites it'll make you more consistent and make your mouse feel smoother, but it's definitely not an 'instant win' button.
On to another question, then. Is the Zaunkoenig M2K itself an instant win button? Well, yes and no. It takes a long time to get used to it, but once I really got to know the mouse I hit some extremely nasty shots with it and broke some records in aim training programs, so there's that. The extremely light weight, combined with the small size and fingertip-only grip design makes for a mouse that, once you're used to it, almost feels as if you're just pointing at something with your fingers in order to aim instead of dragging a mouse towards your goal. That's a unique feeling, and one I haven't experienced with any other mouse.
There are also drawbacks, however. The M2K is an extremely 'slippery' mouse; every little bit of movement gets picked by a mouse this light, giving it a very icy feeling. Even on control pads I sometimes felt like I was struggling to stay steady with it. That, combined with the fact that it accepts fingertip grips only makes it a mouse that's not very stable. I felt like a God melting people as Zarya in Overwatch (a mostly tracking-based hero, for those who don't know) but I sometimes fluked easy prefires in CS:GO and VALORANT that I wouldn't fluke with the mice that are in my regular rotation. This is obviously personal, but I see this as a great option for fast, hyperactive games where your aim is all over the place, and a little less suited for slower paced, crosshair placement-based games.
The mouse is configured entirely by using button combinations. Which configuration you're currently on is neatly explained to you by means of your mouse cursor making certain movements. All of this is clearly explained on Zaunkoenig's website, and setting your mouse up correctly is a matter of a couple of minutes. I like this way of doing it; it's a bit less clear than using indicator LEDs but those LEDs add weight, so this is the next best way of doing it if you want to stay driverless.
Zaunkoenig M2K Alternatives
The M2K is a unique mouse, so there aren't any alternatives out there currently that will give you the same overall feeling, but the G-Wolves HSK has that same 'fingertip only' super lightweight design so you could look towards that mouse if you're looking for other options.
Other than that, the Xtrfy MZ1 is a mouse that came to my mind sometimes, but that mouse is much larger and weighs a lot more. Still, it's also a mouse with an 'aim first, comfort and all else later' kind of design with a similar type of design idea behind it, albeit enlarged a few times.
Conclusion & Recommendation
Despite the fact that this mouse definitely isn't for me (I cannot get used to fingertip gripping and I like more stable mouse experiences) I have to say that I love the Zaunkoenig M2K. It's a mouse that thinks outside the box, from a company that is trying to bring a new product and experience to a market that's saturated with clones and samey mice. For that alone, Zaunkoenig deserves respect.
It's definitely an experience. I've tested dozens of mice over the past couple of years, and the feeling that the Zaunkoenig M2K gave me is a feeling I hadn't experienced before. I've never been closer to aiming just by pointing my finger at something.
It's a great product: capable of polling rates up to 8KHz, a weight of just 24 grams without using any holes, great feet, fantastic coating, ... It's also a specialized product, however. This is a mouse that's fingertip grip only. A mouse that focuses on weight, and sacrifices some things in order to achieve that weight, which becomes most evident in the lack of side buttons.
You might be able to live with these things, but there are also some objective downsides. The buttons feel mushy due to post travel, which is exacerbated by the fact that the buttons tend to flex when pressed with some force. There's also the fact that it comes with a cable, which might be difficult to swallow on a $300 mouse in late 2022.
All of the above makes this mouse a very unique product. It's not for me, but it doesn't have to be. I respect companies who try things like this. If you are someone who is looking for the lightest mouse you can find and you use a fingertip grip, this has every chance to be your ultimate mouse.
This is a very niche product, aimed at a very specific market segment of very, very serious competitive gamers. Make sure that you are in that market segment before you commit your hard earned dollars to this mouse.