Zowie EC2 Review
If you could study Counter-Strike at university then the Zowie EC would be a mandatory piece of equipment to start out your first year. This mouse has been a favorite of CS:GO pros for years now and it doesn't show any signs of falling down the ladder any time soon.
The EC2 (click here to see an overview and timeline of recent EC releases in case you're getting confused) is part of the newest iteration of this legendary mouse and offers a number of changes over its predecessor, the EC2-B. Are they worth your time and money? Read on to find out!
"With the return of the previous coating and the two large mouse feet this should in theory be the ultimate version of Zowie's beloved EC mouse."
Zowie EC2 - First Impressions
If you're a bit familiar with Zowie's recent EC releases (in case you're not you can catch up here) you'll probably notice two big changes right off the bat: they've gone back to the coating that they used on earlier iterations and they've also reverted back to two larger mouse feet as opposed to the four small ones you find on the EC2-B. Whether you like these changes or not is obviously personal, but I welcome them. With the return of the previous coating and the two large mouse feet this should in theory be the ultimate version of Zowie's beloved EC mouse.
Aside from this the EC2 is everything you'd expect from Zowie; it's a mouse aimed at competitive gamers. This means that there's nothing here that doesn't serve a purpose, and that includes RGB lighting. As you may or may not know I don't really care about the looks of my gaming gear but if I had to choose I'd always go for more subtle looking peripherals so I like the way Zowie approaches this. There's a small red Zowie logo on the back of the mouse and a tiny BenQ logo on the left hand side of the mouse that's barely visible because it's printed on there in a glossy black. Performance over everything; as a competitive gamer it's a design philosophy I can get behind.
The EC2 is a medium sized ergonomic mouse (check out the EC1 for a larger option) with a shape that doesn't really need any introductions in the enthusiast scene. It's commonly referred to as one of the best shaped mice in the business so naturally Zowie has left this alone.
Something to note here is that Zowie have clearly opted not to join the 'ultralight race' with this mouse coming in at 87 grams. That's fine with me; not everyone wants their mouse to be as light as possible and 87 grams is still a very decent weight for a gaming mouse. Notably absent (when compared to most other gaming mice I mean) is a DPI button on top of the shell; as with most recent Zowie mice you can find that on the bottom.
The EC2 comes in the standard black Zowie box. What's interesting here is that there is exactly zero marketing on the box itself. You won't find any superlatives about the insane DPI counts that the sensor can achieve, for example.
Upon opening the box you'll be presented with the mouse itself along with an instruction manual, warranty information, a Zowie sticker and a pair of replacement mouse feet. This is the standard affair for Zowie mice but I always do appreciate it when manufacturers include an extra pair of feet so kudos to Zowie for this.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
A lot of people say that the EC has one of the best (ergonomic) shapes on the market and I still agree with that. It's a mostly safe shape; there's no crazy curvature that forces your hand to hold the mouse in a certain way and you won't find any awkward grooves anywhere either. It's not the first time I review an EC mouse so it's probably not the first time I use this terminology, but for me the EC feels very 'natural' in the sense that you can place your hand on the device in a variety of ways without having to make any sort of adjustment. I'm glad that Zowie knows that they've got something good here and don't try to make any unnecessary changes to this design.
The coating consists of this matte texture with a bit of glossy mixed in, or at least that's how I would describe it. It's definitely better than what they tried to do on the EC2-B but for me it's just 'decent'. It performs fine for both dry and sweaty hands (full disclosure: my hands get sweaty pretty easily so my ingame testing with dry hands is pretty limited) but I'm not a huge fan of the way it feels and the way it attracts fingerprints. Whether you like this particular coating or not is subjective, but if you're after a rubber/gritty feeling texture this isn't gonna be it. For me personally they could've done away with the slight gloss entirely, as I much prefer 'pure matte' coatings.
On the bottom you can find two large mouse feet that offer a smooth and controlled glide straight out of the box. A lot of people didn't really like the small feet that they went for on the EC2-B so it's cool to see that they took this input and made the necessary changes. Also on the bottom you'll encounter a DPI selector button and a polling rate selector along with indicator LEDs.
Buttons and scroll wheel
Zowie famously uses Huano switches in their mice as opposed to the (far more commonly used) Omron switches. This results in a slightly heavier feeling click than what you might be used to if you've never used a Zowie mouse before. I'm not someone who prefers super light clicks myself, so for me the main buttons on the EC feel absolutely fine and I suspect they'll feel fine for most users too.
Not a lot has changed between the EC2-B and this newest EC2 on this front but for me the clicks on the EC2 feel a bit crispier and more pleasant to use. They're also notably quieter than those of previous iterations, but I don't know if that's a series-wide change or just a coincidence with my review unit. In any case: the main clicks on this newest EC are nicely balanced and there's very little play or travel on the buttons themselves so for me these are great.
The scroll wheel, then, is perhaps the most infamous part of Zowie's mouse design. The wheel that's in this EC (and all other Zowie mice) has fewer steps than what you'll find on pretty much every other mouse. This is great for gaming purposes; you'll never accidentally scroll a step too far ingame, but it can be a bit of a bother to use for browsing. Combine that with the fact that it's a pretty loud wheel with very defined steps and you can see why it's not universally liked. I am personally not against this mouse wheel, as it is great to use for gaming, but I can see where people are coming from and wouldn't mind if Zowie changed this in their future products.
That being said: the wheel does perform exactly like it should with no steps skipped and it's decently easy to press down so you don't have to worry about the performance at all.
The side buttons are nicely placed and sized so I have no issues here but there is a noticeable amount of post travel on both buttons on my copy. That's a shame because they do actuate with a pleasant click.
Quality and cable
Upon tapping and shaking the mouse in various directions I could definitely hear the scroll wheel move around a bit but this really isn't something that I noticed when I was using it on my mousepad so for me this isn't an issue at all.
Since Zowie has opted to let the whole 'let's make our mice insanely light' train pass them by (which, again, isn't something bad; I know plenty of people who don't like super light mice) I expected the shell integrity to be top notch and luckily that's the case. It's practically impossible to make the shell flex at any point and I couldn't get it to make even the tiniest bit of sound when applying pressure around the mouse. In short: the build quality is stellar.
The cable of the EC is Zowie's standard rubber cable. This isn't a bad cable by any stretch of the imagination (in fact it's quite the opposite) but at this point it's pretty obvious that there are better stock cables out there. The thin rubber cable that's used is perfectly serviceable, especially if you rout it through a decent bungee, but I would start looking towards these paracord-like cables that other companies have started using if I was a Zowie engineer working on their next product.
I get the whole 'don't change a winning combo' thing but contrary to the mouse weight debate where there definitely are good arguments to not go for an ultralight design I don't think anyone would have anything against a lighter and more flexible cable on Zowie mice, even if this one is decent.
Performance and sensor
As is the case with every other gaming mouse worth its salt these days the EC2 has a flawless sensor under the hood. With this 3360 you can be sure that every little move that you make will be translated to your monitor with pixel perfect precision. The sensor is implemented as it should and there's no snapping, acceleration, or any other form of manipulation that can ruin your ability to aim so full marks to Zowie here.
The EC2 is, like all Zowie products, completely plug and play. There's no need (or possibility) to install software since everything is done on the mouse itself. That's great news for players who move around a lot such as professional gamers but not such good news for people who like to create a bunch of macros in their mouse software, for example. In any case, it's Zowie's philosophy that peripherals shouldn't need to be used along with software and I think that that's a good approach if you're aiming your products at the competitive/pro gamer crowd.
The most commonly used DPI levels (400, 800, 1600, and 3200) are all available via the selector button and you can change the polling rate on the device itself too, so I don't think that there are many competitive gamers out there who'd have a problem with the lack of software. I certainly don't.
Attentive readers will notice that the little information sticker (containing the serial number, model name, and so on) has been moved from the bottom of the mouse to a little tab at the end of the cable. This was already the case on the EC2-B Divina (but not on the EC2-B) and was done to eliminate anything that could possible interfere with the glide of the mouse. I can't say that I was ever bothered by that sticker on previous models but it's a nice testament to how Zowie looks at little details in order to improve their stuff.
The EC2 is one of those rare mice that can comfortably handle pretty much every grip type out there. Whether or not this will fit your exact preferences will of course vary from person to person and is entirely dependent on personal opinions and preferences but generally speaking I can't imagine that a lot of people would actively dislike this shape.
As a fingertip mouse it might not be ideal (then again most fingertip grippers should probably look towards an ambidextrous mouse) but for everyone else this should be a contender if you want to try out a smoothly flowing ergonomic shape.
I always stress the fact that no one can tell you what mouse would be perfect for you based on your hand size and grip style though. Always make sure to do your research. Everyone is different and has different preferences and ideas on what feels nice and doesn't.
Conclusion & Recommendation
This is a difficult one for me in the sense that I'm just not sure if this is 'the ultimate version' of this mouse. I understand Zowie's choice to ignore the lightweight race (since lighter = better definitely isn't true for everyone and 87 grams is a good weight for a gaming mouse) but it can't be denied that improvements can still be made to the EC series. I'm not even talking about the scroll wheel (which is a design choice) but I am thinking of the cable, side buttons, and perhaps also the coating.
Don't get me wrong, though. The EC2 is a great gaming mouse. It's my favorite iteration of the EC series (the EC2-B Divina is the exact same mouse but that one has a glossy coating and I prefer matte coatings) so I obviously do recommend it. On its own it's a great gaming mouse with a phenomenal shape and flawless ingame performance, and it's (along with the EC2-B Divina) the best version of the EC out there right now so if you like the premise of this mouse this is without a doubt the one to get.