In a Nutshell
The new ASUS TUF Gaming M4 Air mouse is a lightweight and fast gaming mouse that can boast with modern design and very good performance. Its only major downside is mediocre build quality and use of plastic materials, which leave an impression of a cheap device.
Featured image: ASUS
In the consumer electronics market, trends are followed almost the same way as in the fashion world. When a popular design appears, it is only a matter of time before most manufacturers start including this same design (or variants of it) in their products. When it comes to mice, we are now witnessing an emergence of numerous new models featuring a perforated housing. Besides bringing new looks to the table, this design also helps save production materials, as well as lower production costs, but also lower device weight, which greatly benefits players who see speed as a priority.
ASUS’ TUF line of gaming peripherals also seems to be following this new trend, and despite the fact that these products aren’t very captivating to the eye, in most cases these are quality devices, with a good price-to-quality ratio. The new ASUS TUF Gaming M4 Air mouse fits this description well. Its black exterior without bright and flashy details will blend in with most surroundings, but given that this is a piece of equipment that is constantly covered by a hand, the lack of RGB lighting feels a bit disappointing.
ASUS TUF Gaming M4 Air Specifications
|Sensor||Optical (16.000 DPI)|
|Connectivity||USB 2.0 Type-A Wired|
|Dimensions||126 x 63.5 x 39.6 mm|
The ASUS TUF Gaming M4 Air is a fast mouse in every sense of the word. Wired connection means you don’t have to worry about signal latency, and its weight of less than 50 grams helps reduce resistance when moving it across any surface. On its bottom you’ll find plastic feet, which seem a little more slippery than usual, but do not compromise the sense of control. Its shape is symmetrical and its ergonomics are very good. The dimensions of the device suit different palm sizes and different ways of holding the mouse.
Packing a sensor with a maximum resolution of 16,000 DPI means this is a device with high potential sensitivity. This is no surprise, because the ASUS TUF Gaming M4 Air features PAW3335 optical sensor which is fairly common sensor seen in mice of this type, and has proven to be precise and reliable, with minimal deviations that should not be felt in everyday use or in more precise jobs. The TUF M4 Air is advertised as a gaming mouse, and in that sense it is very clear that its agility is suitable for games that require speed and precision.
The two side buttons on the left sink slightly into the housing, and are not always easy to locate with your thumb. It’s the only noticeable ergonomic flaw, but it shouldn’t be a big deal, with a little getting used to it. All keys can be programmed in ASUS’ Armoury Crate software. Typical functionalities can be found there, such as managing mouse settings, and configuring up to three different profiles which can be saved to the device’s built-in memory.
We used MouseTester software to test mice. This software allowed us to find possible flaws in the communication of the mouse with the computer and thus determine potential issues we could experience while gaming. In our tests, we focused on reading fast shifts, computer connection stability, and potential accuracy problems that manifest through jittering and artificial cursor alignment.
When it comes to connection stability, we don’t have too much to complain about it. Occasional anomalies are common to most modern sensors, and ASUS TUF Gaming M4 Air is no exception in that regard. However, these are no cause for concern, since they were only present in very small quantities.
The graph above shows the stability of fast motion tracking and the maximum speed that the sensor can register. Ideally, the line shown here should free of major irregularities. Modern sensors can usually detect speeds much higher than those achieved by ordinary mortals like us, who rarely exceed 3.5 m/s in their testing.
The slight sway of the curve tells us that there is a certain oscillation of the sensor that causes minimal changes in the readings due to which the steady movement of the mouse is not interpreted as such. Fortunately, these oscillations are correct and minimal, and will therefore be hardly observed in use. The variance of the readings is minimal, which is very impressive and probably the main reason why this “dance” of the curve can be seen at all. A less accurate sensor would probably result in a more precise curve of motion by scattering the readings and taking the average, but only because it affects the movement more than this mouse does.
Similar to speed, modern sensors are capable of tracking much higher accelerations than those that can be achieved by the human hand. The ASUS TUF Gaming M4 Air is able to deliver very precise and even tracking of movements, but with grouping of readings that are not quite correctly distributed along the curve. This gives us more information about the oscillations from the previous chart and suggests that perhaps the problem is not a lack of accuracy at all, but a lack of registered readings. However, again, these are milliseconds that neither man nor computer will be able to register.
The so-called Paint Test allowed us to check for the presence of jittering and find out if the mouse is using artificial motion smoothing. These two things, when present, negatively affect accuracy, which is especially annoying when playing strategy and shooting games in which precise and fast shifts have the greatest value. Jittering is manifested through extremely irregular and bumpy lines, while smoothing (artificial smoothing) is recognized by perfectly straight lines that act as if we were drawing them with the help of a ruler.
Our results of the Paint Test showed that the M4 Air won’t behave erratically, and it won’t take control away from the user nor will the sensor register false movements. This means we didn’t observe any noticeable jerkiness, or artificial smoothing.
We believe that for some users mice with visible internal components (like this one) do not look safe. However most users shouldn’t worry too much about using this mouse in humid areas. Internal components are treated with a protective coating that should protect them in the event of moisture or liquid penetration, and complies with the IPX6 standard. We are more concerned about some details on the exterior of this mouse. The quality of the material from which the case is made is not necessarily bad, but it is not the best we have seen so far. When squeezing harder, we noticed a little bending, which isn’t that problematic, but moving the keys is. Namely, we noticed that squeezing the case from the bottom and the left side can trigger both side buttons. Apart from these structural ailments, the TUF M4 Air has no significant shortcomings, and can boast with very good performance.