Zowie FK2-B Review
The Zowie FK line has technically already received an update but that updated version was only available with a glossy coating as part of their Divina line. With the release of this regular FK-B series model and the updated ZA series we now have the full range of Zowie mice available with a flawless sensor and, as such, ready for modern demands.
Is this FK2-B really ready for the modern mouse market or is the update a case of 'too little, too late'? Read our full review to find out everything you need to know about the FK2-B!
"Some people might fault Zowie for not buying into the ultralight trend but it's a simple fact that some people prefer mice in the 70-80 grams weight range instead of super light pointers"Our mouse reviewer
Zowie FK2-B - First Impressions
I originally reviewed the FK2-B Divina back in December of last year and while I liked that mouse I also noted that I'd personally prefer a version with a matte black coating, and judging by what I read on social media between then and the release of this regular edition I wasn't alone on that. After what I assume were some unforeseen delays because of COVID-19 we now finally have the regular matte edition of this legendary mouse.
When compared to the FK2-B Divina edition nothing much has changed aside from the coating, so if you've read my review on that you already know what to expect but there are a number of changes between this B series and the old matte FK. I'll go into those in the review of course but the biggest changes come in the form of the sensor, scroll wheel, and side buttons, with minor improvements to the cable and clicks.
Of course this is a section on first impressions but the reality is that there isn't much to note about this mouse. Zowie are known to produce low-key looking mice that focus on performance and reliability above everything else so what you get here is a plain black mouse that looks extremely subtle compared to most other gaming mice: no holes, no crazy colors, and no RGB. The only branding you see is a small Zowie logo at the back and a very small BenQ logo on the left side panel. Some people might fault Zowie for not buying into the ultralight trend but it's a simple fact that some people prefer mice in the 70-80 grams weight range instead of super light pointers (and of course others prefer their mice even heavier: preferences vary) so it's not a problem for me that I can't see any holes or whatever in this mouse.
As with all Zowie mice the FK line comes in different sizes. The FK2 is the smallest of the FK family, with the FK1 and FK1+ being the larger options. The FK2 is a rather small (however pretty long feeling) ambidextrous mouse and Zowie hasn't made a change to the lauded shape of this mouse so that's nice to see.
What has changed is the fact that the side buttons on the right side have been removed. That's bad news for lefties but good news for everyone else, and as an added bonus the removal of said buttons results in a weight loss of about 5 grams.
The unboxing experience with all Zowie mice is pretty basic, and that's fitting for the image they're trying to bring across. You don't get crazy marketing lines or the promise of an outrageously high (and useless) DPI count here: it's a black box with an outline of the mouse on it and some details.
Inside the box you find the mouse, along with some usual documentation, a sticker, and a pair of replacement feet. Zowie has been adding these replacement feet for all of their mice in recent years and it's something that I really like so it's nice to see that they keep doing this.
Size & Dimensions
Shape and finish
Even if you've never held an actual FK before odds are you've held one of its copies. The FK and EC are among the most copied mouse shapes out there, and that's for a good reason. Zowie is widely known for producing amazing shapes and the FK still counts as one of the best low profile ambidextrous shapes out there.
What you get here is a flat and rather long feeling mouse with a very subtle flare at the back and no large or sudden curves anywhere. This makes it a very safe shape (provided you like flat mice of course) and while it's not my favorite shape (I prefer a bit more of a hump) I don't have any issues holding this whatsoever. As with all of Zowie's mice the design feels very natural and the neutral shape allows you to hold the mouse in a large variety of ways so long as you don't rely on a lot of palm contact for your grip.
Of course the coating is the feature that most people have been waiting for (the FK2-B Divina has the same specs and design as this version but the Divina coating is glossy which isn't preferred by everyone) and what we get here is the standard Zowie black coating. This has improved somewhat from the more glossy 'experiment' they did during the times of the EC2-B release but it's still not my favorite coating. It performs absolutely perfectly and it's without a doubt very grippy under all circumstances but it still has a tendency to pick up sweat and oils and I'm not a big fan of that. That doesn't matter for performance but it's definitely possible to produce a coating that's both grippy and reliable and not as eager to show prints and stains so this is something they can improve on in the future in my opinion.
The two large feet on the bottom of the mouse remain the same. They're rather thin but nicely rounded so the glide is smooth in all directions though they're not in that 'gliding on ice fast' category. This doesn't matter to me as I in fact prefer slightly slower/more controlling feet so these are right up my alley. I know some people would like there to be a version with faster PTFE feet and I think it would be a good idea to at least include a set in the box for future releases to let people decide for themselves but I sincerely don't think that a lot of people will have a real problem with these feet so I can see why Zowie goes by the 'don't change what works' idea.
Buttons and scroll wheel
The buttons on the FK line have always been very solid in my opinion so there wasn't a real need for Zowie to mess with these other than to do some fine tuning and it seems like that's what they did. Compared to the old FK there's noticeably less post travel, resulting in main clicks that are extremely solid. Pre and post travel is almost non-existent on my copy and there's barely any side play which makes this a very satisfying set of buttons.
The switches underneath the buttons are still Huanos. These result in a firmer and slightly heavier click feeling than what you'd expect from your average high tier gaming mouse but unless you're looking for extremely light buttons this shouldn't be a problem at all. Depending on how hard you click the main buttons they can sound a bit 'rattly' but as far as the performance goes these are reliable and pleasant to use.
The scroll wheel is still Zowie's 16 step wheel. I don't think this will ever change as it's a conscious design design to go for a 16 step wheel over a 24 step one as Zowie deems the former to be better for gaming, and I do somewhat agree on that. When gaming and bunny hopping around the clear and defined steps feel really natural and precise to use but of course the wheel is less pleasant for browsing or productivity so I guess it all depends on what your main purpose is with this mouse. Since this is very clearly a gaming mouse and I don't mind the wheel at all I won't say that this wheel is bad, it's just different.
What helps with this is the fact that the wheel feels much better than that of the old FK mice. This wheel implementation used to feel a bit mushy which is what I think turned a lot of people off. The fact that this feels a lot clearer and now appears to have more of its surface protruding from the shell (making it easier to use) on my copy makes this quite a bit more usable over the older FK's wheel, though I personally didn't have a lot of issues with that one either. I guess for most people Zowie wheels come down to this: you either love 'em or you hate 'em.
The side buttons have always been very decent on this model if you're asking me and that's still true for the B series. There's almost no travel and both buttons actuate with a clear click. Absolutely no complaints here.
Quality and cable
Zowie mice never disappoint me when it comes to their build quality. This FK2-B doesn't either. There's no creaking or shell flex and the mouse is silent, even when shaking it around. There's just something about these mice that make them feel as if they can withstand a great deal of punishment and still come out exactly the same. Of course I wouldn't recommend you to start smacking your mouse around but I'm just saying the FK2-B could probably stand up to a decent amount of gamer rage and rough travels to tournaments and LAN events.
The cable that Zowie uses on their mice has historically been among the better stock cables out there but in recent times companies big and small have been managing to put paracord-like cables on their products which leave this rubber cable behind. It's not a bad cable: for a rubber one it's decently flexible and light but it's just not 'with the times' anymore so to say. Stick it in a mouse bungee and you're not going to have any issues at all (in fact one could argue that a stiffer cable is better in a bungee since it stays off your pad better if there's a little stiffness) and even without one it's at most going to cause some annoyances depending on your tolerance for cable drag and bending but I find it hard to theorize why Zowie still isn't at least offering the option of buying their mice with a more flexible paracord-like cable.
In short: is there anything blatantly wrong with this cable? No, I don't think so, it's perfectly serviceable. Is it something they should think about upgrading, though? In my opinion: yes.
Performance and sensor
One of the main reasons people have been waiting for this refresh is the sensor refresh. Instead of the near-perfect 3310 sensor we now have the completely flawless 3360 that serves as the heart and mind of this mouse. Realistically the 3310 only spun out under very specific circumstances but it's true that it wasn't a completely flawless sensor so that issue has now been rectified. This implementation is done as it should as well: there's no evidence of acceleration, smoothing, angle snapping, or any of these other cardinal sins so you get definitely get a reliable gaming performance out of this mouse.
Speaking of performance: just like all other Zowie mice this FK2-B is plug and play, meaning that there is no need to install any software to start using the mouse. In fact there isn't any software so if you're a macro person you'll probably want to sit this one out. For everyone else the lack of software should be no issue, however. You can choose between a DPI of 400, 800, 1600, or 3200 on the mouse itself and there's also a button to choose between a polling rate of 125Hz, 500Hz, and 1000Hz.
As with all other new Zowie mice the information tab has been moved to the very end of the cable so you get a completely clean underside of the mouse. This is to eliminate any possibility of stickers and what not interfering with the glide, and while I can't say that I've ever been bothered by info on the bottom of a mouse it's a little change that doesn't hurt the product in any way (quite the opposite) so it's nice to see that Zowie thinks of the details too.
Zowie's mission is to have a mouse for every grip type and hand size out there and this one seems to be ideal for fingertip grippers and claw grippers who like a flat ambidextrous mouse. Of course hybrid grips are by far the most common so it isn't as black and white as I'm making it out to be but as long as you're not expecting a great deal of palm support from your mouse and you're into ambidextrous shapes you should be good to go.
Everyone is different, of course, so this section is really just a guideline. Not a single reviewer can give out recommendations that are 100% correct because different people can have drastically different preferences even if they have the same hand size and main grip type so always take these sorts of sections with a grain of salt. If you've got any questions you can always reach out in the comments: I answer all comments.
Conclusion & Recommendation
I already know that a lot of people will be disappointed by this release. No paracord cable? No attempt to be the lightest mouse on the market? Psh.
I don't think that Zowie wants to go for these trends, though. Does that mean they shouldn't ever try to innovate? No, absolutely not. I think there's room for a better cable and the inclusion of (as an option) faster feet at the very least but that doesn't make this mouse a bad one. The FK-B line is like that older striker in your Sunday League football team: he might not have the fanciest new boots and he isn't the absolute fastest or lightest on the pitch anymore but he still has all the skills that matter and is a reliable and well-performing member of the team.
Perhaps I took it a bit too far with that metaphor but it does illustrate my thoughts: Zowie's new mice might not excite people who are looking for cutting edge designs and materials but there's a whole bunch of people out there who prefer 'heavier' and more robust and controlling mice of this type; just look at our pro player lists to see how many pros use Zowie mice.
That said: I don't think anyone out there would be against an updated cable and perhaps a slightly less oil-attracting coating at the very least, so I'm not saying Zowie should rest on their laurels either. A perfect modern Zowie mouse (in my eyes) would have a paracord cable, a set of faster PTFE feet in the box, and a different feeling coating.
In short: this is a reliable and perfectly performing mouse, even in a sea of cutting edge lightweight products, but they could've done a bit more with it.