Zowie EC3-C Review
For years, Zowie has been the brand of choice for professional CS:GO players and one of the most often recommended brands for competitive shooter gamers. In recent times, however, the brand had fallen behind the rest of the market a bit. In a time where ultra lightweight mice with features such as paracord-like cables are commonplace, Zowie's lineup started catching some flak for being outdated.
It took them a while, but the 'C' line of mice is finally here. Zowie has brought a number of updates to their beloved mice, and with a lighter weight, paracord cable, and updated (24 step) scroll wheel the brand is trying to bring their products up to today's standards without forgetting their core values. Today we're taking a look at the EC3-C, which is not only one of the first mice of the C line, it's also a brand new shape in the wildly lauded EC line of mice. If you're not up to date with all the different EC versions you can always read our handy article on it, by the way, or you can check the specs here.
Is the EC3 a worthy addition to the lineup? And, perhaps more importantly, are the updates that Zowie made to their C versions enough to bring them in line with today's market? We sent a unit over to our reviewer to find out. Read our full Zowie EC3-C review to learn everything there is to know about the mouse!
"The EC3 keeps a similar shape design as the larger sizes in the series, preserving the distinctive feel while creating more flexibility in vertical movements."Zowie
Zowie EC3-C - First Impressions
Zowie's (EC) mice have gone through quite some updates in the past couple of years, but it can't be denied that their products had been falling behind what's considered the 'market standard' in recent times. Don't get me wrong: I'm not someone who feels like every mouse should be a featherweight small-medium symmetrical mouse with holes all over. I firmly believe that different people (and even different gaming scenes, but that's a bit more subjective and a debate for another time) have different needs and desires, so it's good to see that there are (established) brands out there that stay true to their own beliefs and aren't trying to wildly chase the latest hype with minimal research. There's another side to the coin as well of course. I think no one will deny that Zowie took their sweet time to come out with these C versions. Nevertheless, they're finally here, and on paper the changes that Zowie has made are great.
The most noticeable improvements come in the form of the scroll wheel and the cable if you ask me. I'll go deeper on both of those further down in the review, but if you have any experience with Zowie mice at all you'll no doubt notice these changes right off the bat. The weight of their mice has also been reduced, but since this is a brand new shape/size it's a bit more difficult to notice that instantly since there's simply no reference point to compare it to.
Aside from the changes/updates this is pretty much your regular Zowie mouse. It's an unassuming (no holes or garish designs) black mouse without any RGB elements and just a small Zowie logo that's located at the back portion of the device. There is also a very, very small BenQ logo that's printed in a slightly more reflective black on back of the left portion but that's honestly not noticeable unless you're looking for it.
The EC3-C is a brand new shape in Zowie's arsenal, but those who expect it to be a shrunken down EC2 will have to adjust their expectations. I'll speak about the shape more in the next section but this is basically a shorter version of the EC2 with a less pronounced hump.
The EC3-C weighs in at 70 grams on my scale, which I feel is an appropriate weight. Yes, it's not a superlight mouse, but that's not what Zowie is aiming for, and I don't think that the weight of this mouse will bother anyone who isn't actively looking for the lightest mouse out there.
As is tradition with Zowie, the EC3-C comes in a standard black box without any notable marketing speech printed on it. Inside said box you'll find the mouse, the usual documentation (warranty, quickstart, guide, ...) and a pair of replacement mouse feet.
I've always liked it when manufacturers include replacement feet with their mice, doubly so when the product is aimed at competitive gamers. Kudos to Zowie for including these extra feet and for the fact that they're still including them.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
Seeing as this is a new shape I know that a lot of people will be curious about how it feels in the hands. As I already mentioned in the previous section it's not exactly a shrunken down EC2. The EC3-C is basically the EC2, only shorter and with a lower hump, though I feel like the tilt is a bit more aggressive on the EC3 than it is on the EC2. The reason for the birth of this mouse is, according to Zowie, the fact that a lot of popular shooters these days require more vertical movement. A shorter base thus allows you to make those vertical movements by simply dragging the mouse towards or away from your palm with your fingers rather than having to move the entire mouse, which can be less accurate.
I know that some people will be disappointed by the fact that this isn't a shrunken down EC2, but I get where Zowie is coming from. I do find that vertical movements are a lot easier to do with the EC3, despite the fact that I absolutely love the EC2's shape. The EC3 allows me to make those vertical moves (fragging a Jett in VALORANT, building in Fortnite, ...) with more precision, while the fact that it's still as wide as an EC2 gives me some stability that I think I wouldn't have if this were just a shrunken EC2. That doesn't mean that I think that the EC3 is a superior shape, though. That all comes down to preference. I would personally still choose the EC2 because I prefer to have a bit more palm contact and the increased vertical accuracy isn't worth my lowered stability on the x-axis (this is personal though: you might not experience this, and it's worth noting that I prefer medium-sized mice over smaller ones) but design-wise I do think that the EC3 makes a lot of sense. It's a worthy addition to the EC lineup if you ask me.
The coating is Zowie's standard matte black coating and while it's not my favorite coating I feel like it has come a long way since the days of the EC2-B. It's still a bit fingerprint-sensitive, but it's far from the icky feeling oil and print magnet that it once was. Performance-wise it's all up to par: I didn't have any slippage issues.
On the bottom there are two large feet that give you a smooth glide straight out of the box. Do bear in mind that this is not a super speedy glide, and that's by design. Zowie's mice are designed primarily for CS:GO (and other tac shooters) players, where stability in aiming is more important than lightning quick flicks. That said: Zowie does sell a set of replacement 'speed skates' these days. I had those included with my sample so I put them on just to test them out and they're indeed faster and slicker than the stock glides, so if you're looking for that faster type of glide you can definitely get it.
It's a bit of a shame that Zowie doesn't sell two versions of their mice. As it stands, if you want the faster glide you'll have to buy the mouse with the standard skates and then purchase the speed ones separately. That's not a huge deal (it's not like they cost a ton) but it would be a lot easier if there was an option to buy a Zowie mouse with the speed skates preinstalled. It's a minor nitpick but maybe they could think about this in the future, though I know that this could cause logistical headaches that they might want to avoid.
Buttons and scroll wheel
There haven't been very many changes under the hood. Zowie still uses Huanos and a 3360 sensor (more on that later) because that's what works for them and their users and I honestly don't fault them for that. The main clicks on the EC3-C are a bit stiffer than what you find on most other mainstream mice but that's because of their focus on CS:GO/tac shooter players.
Spamming your clicks is of less importance in those games, whereas maintaining a proper clicking rhythm when tap shooting is more important in these types of games, and the slightly heavier clicks help with that. According to Zowie, at least. Whether this will be the case for you will depend but I can't say that I've ever had any issues with accidental clicks on any mice except for the early Logitech G Pro wired and G403 models. That said: I do like these clicks. There's a bit of pre travel but no meaningful sideways travel, resulting in a nice pair of main clickers that actuate with a pleasant snap and are of medium stiffness.
The side buttons are great. There's some pre travel present but post travel is almost nonexistent and there's no sign of that annoying 'pivot problem' that a lot of mice have where the side buttons travel inside the mouse shell when you press them on the edges. They also actuate with a pleasant click. No remarks here: the side buttons on my copy are great.
The scroll wheel, then, has finally seen some changes. Instead of the infamous 16-step wheel, Zowie's C line of mice now have a 24-step scroll wheel. I wasn't that bothered by the 16-step wheel (then again I have the luxury of swapping to a different mouse for productivity purposes; the loud and slow 16-step wheel was a bit of a headache for anything other than gaming) but I do have to say that this is a welcome change. Despite the fact that many people tolerated the 16-step wheel I haven't met many users who were actually fans of that old wheel so it's good to see that Zowie has finally moved on.
What it still is, is loud. It makes less noise than their previous wheels, but it's still on the loud side. I don't know what it is but I kind of associated the loudness of their previous wheel with the fact that it only had 16 steps (that was done to make every scroll step very perceivable) so I kind of forgave it for being loud and now that they've switched to the 24-step wheel I don't really see a reason to have it this loud anymore.
The wheel has noticeably less resistance than their previous ones, but clicking the middle wheel does require quite a bit of force. That combined with the relative lightness of the scrolling meant that I had a couple of accidental scrolls when I wanted to click the wheel. That stopped happening once I got used to the mouse but it's something to note regardless.
Sound test in order: left click, right click, scroll up, scroll down, scroll click, mouse 4, mouse 5.
Quality and cable
Zowie's mice have a reputation for being built like a tank so the EC3-C has got some decent-sized shoes to fill and luckily it does so without any issues at all. You can hear the scroll wheel rattling when you shake the mouse vertically (and when you violently shake it horizontally) but I never got that when I was using it normally so that's not an issue at all for me.
The shell is as solid as can be. There's no creaking, flexing, or really any parts of the mouse that feel less structurally sound. Top marks here.
One more eagerly anticipated change has been made to the cable. Gone is Zowie's rubber cable, in is a new paracord-like cable. This isn't the most flexible cable of its type out there but it's definitely good enough to use without having to paracord the mouse if you're asking me. It's light, decently flexible, and the rather aggressive angle at which the cable exits the shell of the mouse makes it so that your cable practically doesn't touch the pad in the important areas. This angled and reinforced cable exit might seem like a gimmick but I find that it does improve the overall feeling when using the mouse.
You can use the EC3-C without a bungee (I did for part of my testing and didn't have any problems) but if you put it in a bungee you're unlikely to ever even become aware of the fact that there's a cable attached to your mouse when you're gaming. I still prefer wireless mice since there's just something extra about being completely cord-free but I wouldn't let the cable stop me from maining this mouse if it sounds interesting to you. Unless you're extremely sensitive it won't bother you at all.
Performance and sensor
Inside the EC3-C you will find the 3360 sensor. That's not the latest in sensor tech, and I know that some people will be disappointed that they haven't switched over to something like the 3389 but Zowie explained to me that they're very much in the 'don't change what works' camp when it comes to sensors and I can't fault them for that. The 3360 is a flawless sensor (I found no evidence of any malfunctions during my testing) and while it's technically inferior to something like the 3389 this is extremely hard to notice for the vast majority of people.
Pros and highly skilled players are still using 3360 sensors today with no issues at all, so it's really pointless to worry about the 3360 versus the 3389 if you ask me. That last one can handle higher operating speeds, for example, but we're talking about swiping speeds that can't really be reached by humans during normal gaming, and the 3389's higher max DPI is also rather pointless when most pros and highly skilled gamers use a DPI of 1600 or less. That said: I don't know how much these individual sensors cost for companies like Zowie, but perhaps it would be worth it to slap a 3389 in there, even if only for the optics since that's a more modern sensor. It's not as if Zowie is asking for budget prices.
The EC3-C is strictly plug and play. Everything is configured on the mouse itself, including the DPI, polling rate, LOD, and click response time. It's worth noting that the default LOD is just over 1 DVD (1.2mm) and lowering the LOD with the hardware commands doesn't really lower that. I tested it on a variety of pads and that didn't change it. If the LOD change commands do anything it's not really perceivable to me, or it's happening in the margin between 1.2mm and 2.4mm which isn't really handy either way. The LOD didn't actually annoy me (it's not high enough for that) but it's something that you should note anyway since I know a lot of people who want their LOD to remain under 1.2mm.
The EC is one of the most famous shapes out there due to its safe and natural design, and as such this mouse can work for pretty much every grip type out there. Due to its shorter nature it's a bit more suited to fingertip gripping than its longer siblings but I suppose dedicated fingertip grippers are mostly looking at symmetrical mice anyway. Do note that there's less palm contact with the EC3 when compared to the EC1 and EC2 due do the shorter design of this mouse, so if you're big on palm contact it might be a good idea to look towards the other EC mice.
As always I want to end this review with a disclaimer: take these grip sections with a grain of salt. Not a single reviewer out there knows exactly what you want and people's preferences vary wildly from person to person, so use this section as a guideline and not as an absolute recommendation.
Conclusion & Recommendation
For me, Zowie has managed to find a perfect middle ground between following the latest innovations in the mouse world and sticking to their own principles. The EC3-C is a very capable mouse with a great cable, improved (but still loud) 24-step scroll wheel, smooth feet, and of course that signature EC shape. Speaking of the shape: this isn't a shrunken down EC2, it's a shorter and slightly lower version of the EC2.
It's not without its faults, though. The LOD of just a touch over 1.2mm, while not bothersome for me personally, can be an issue for people because it's not really possible to lower it at this point in time. There's also the fact that the feet aren't extremely fast, but that's a design decision and down to personal preference if you ask me. I like slightly slower feet as I prefer a 'planted' and stable feeling mouse over a slippery, icey feeling.
All in all, though, this is Zowie's return to form. It won't please the BR players out there who are constantly on the hunt for the lightest cutting edge mice but that's not who these Zowie mice are made for. They are made for people who play shooters such as CS:GO and Valorant. Tactical shooters where crosshair placement and stability matter more than keeping your crosshair on a proverbial swivel. For those players, this is a great mouse. If you're looking for a smaller ergonomic mouse you should take a look at this one.