Zowie EC3-CW gaming mouse review: Wireless, at long last
Zowie EC3-CW gaming mouse review: Wireless, at long last
Zowie is a familiar name in gaming mice and esports. Their FK and ZA series have seen extensive use by pro players, but the company has been relatively quiet in recent years. While brands like Razer made headlines with 8,000Hz wireless mice, Zowie has stuck to its staid wired offerings — until now, that is.
The Zowie EC-CW series is its first-ever wireless range, and like all other Zowie mice, it is available in three different sizes. The EC3-CW which I'm reviewing, is the smallest, measuring 119mm long. In comparison, the EC1, which is the largest, spans 130mm. There are slight variations in the weight as well, with the EC3-CW coming in at 76g and the EC1-CW weighing 79g.
Wireless tech aside, the EC3-CW is immediately recognisable as a Zowie mouse. The company has played it exceedingly safe here, sticking to a tried-and-tested shape and design instead of introducing a new one. The ambidextrous EC shape has always been a favourite among those who prefer ergonomic mice, and the EC3-CW remains one of the most comfortable mice I've used to date.
Of course, this also means it is exclusive to right-handed users, featuring a well-rounded hump that is almost perfect for the palm grip. The top shell also slopes downward on its right edge, conforming to the natural resting position for your wrist. This provides a more relaxed support for your palm and fingers, and more stability when moving horizontally, according to Zowie.
The left side of the mouse curves inward, guiding your thumb in place. Finally, additional ergonomic contours finish off the right side of the mouse, allowing you to rest your ring finger and pinky more naturally. While the EC3-CW isn't necessarily my go-to mouse for competitive shooters because I prefer something in between a claw and fingertip grip, I found myself switching to it in games like Diablo IV, where there was often a ton of rapid clicking involved.
The shell has the same matte Zowie coating. This provides good grip, even if you have dry hands, which should help with comfort.
Zowie is also pushing the science behind its designs. The company says that the EC-CW allows the index and middle fingers to click buttons more easily, which certainly bears out in my time with it. Overall, the design is intended to reduce fatigue, such as by alleviating the stress on the wrist flexor muscles.
The EC3-CW's shape isn't for everyone — but if you're a palm gripper, there's a lot to like here.
But falling back on an existing shape means that the EC3-CW also runs the risk of being called boring. It doesn't quite bring anything new to the table — in a time of 8,000Hz polling rates and magnesium alloy constructions. It almost feels like it's too little, too late. The EC3-CW isn't a bad mouse at all, but after waiting for so long for a wireless mouse from a brand like Zowie, I kind of expected more. Zowie's mouse is even considered pretty heavy by today's standards, and its mass is palpable after getting used to mice in the 50g range (such as these).
The mouse ships with a receiver that doubles as a charging dock, in addition to a tiny wireless 2.4GHz dongle. The mouse also has a visible red antenna at the front, which is supposed to decrease the chances of unexpected transmission interference, together with the receiver. I didn't notice any difference in wireless performance, regardless of whether I was using the receiver or the dongle. You toggle between the receiver and the dongle using a switch at the bottom, which also lets you power down the mouse.
As a result, it makes the bulky receiver seem kind of pointless, charging dock aside. It feels like an unnecessary added expense, or at the very least an accessory that should have been sold separately. You'll find a flexible USB-C paracord-style cable in the box too, which is great for when you forget to charge the mouse and need to use it in wired mode.
All the customisations are done on the bottom of the mouse. In true Zowie fashion, the EC3-CW is a plug-and-play rodent with no driver at all. You can toggle between 400, 800, 1,600, and 3,200 DPI using a button at the bottom, in addition to adjusting the polling rate between 125Hz, 500Hz, and 1,000Hz. You can adjust your lift-off distance as well, with settings for low, medium, and high. This is done by holding various combinations of buttons, such as mouse 4 and mouse 1.
Fortunately, the EC3-CW makes up for its lack of excitement with a large dose of mundane competence. Buttons feel crisp and are smartly placed and easily accessible, particularly the side buttons, and the scroll wheel feels pleasantly tactile as well. However, there is some post-travel on the two primary buttons, although it's not something that bothered me in-game. The buttons are also on the heavier end of the spectrum, which means there's little risk of accidental double-clicks.
Battery life is great as well. Rated at 70 hours, I was able to go several days without worrying about the battery. The mouse feet provide a smooth glide right out of the box, and there is a helpful niche accompanying each one that will make removing and applying replacements far easier.
The PMW 3370 optical sensor needs no introduction, delivering flawless tracking with zero issues. There may be newer sensors available today, but Zowie has clearly demonstrated a preference for proven solutions. And while some folks might miss being able to raise the DPI beyond 3,200, the four steps offered by Zowie should cover the majority of gamers.
Suffice to say, the EC3-CW is a very capable mouse. The main stickler comes in its price tag. At S$249, it is in the same territory as very stiff competition, such as the Razer Viper V2 Pro and Logitech G Pro X Superlight. It is even a tad more expensive, likely due to the inclusion of the receiver. For the price, the EC3-CW doesn't offer anything particularly fresh over its rivals, and it lags behind slightly in the weight department.
Unless you're a fan of its ergonomic shape, there are also mice that are lighter, more affordable, and perform just as well. With brands like Lamzu, Glorious, and Pulsar coming for a slice of the pie, the EC3-CW has a difficult case to make for itself. When you've waited this long to finally make a wireless mouse, it feels like it should be more than just a wireless version of an existing model.
The EC3-CW isn't a bad mouse at all. It just would have been excellent if it had a smaller price tag.