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Like many people, I often eat lunch at my desk. I also drink large amounts of water. So yeah, I spilled some liquid and dropped some crumbs on my keyboard, and it’s really gross. Companies have responded to people like me with different models of “water resistant” keyboards who can supposedly shake up spilled drinks like a duck. But they didn’t exactly do the same for the mice. And why would they do it? Mice are usually sealed pieces of equipment … unless it’s an ultralight mouse full of holes like the $ 50 HyperX Pulsefire Haste, then things get a bit risky. SteelSeries thinks they have the solution with their $ 100 Wireless Aerox 3, a lightweight model that claims to be the first gaming mouse to achieve an IP54 rating.
Now, that doesn’t mean this thing can take a bath. The “5” means it is dust-proof and the “4” means it can withstand splashing. So, don’t go pour a glass of water directly over this thing, or drop it into a full vacuum bag. But so far, dropping it in my tub and turning on the shower seems to have no effect; I just wiped it off with a washcloth, and I’m going to have to wait for all the little bits of liquid trapped inside to dry on their own. The mouse continues to function properly while waiting.
Part of the waterproofing is obvious. Unlike HyperX’s Pulsefire Haste, the Aerox 3 has a translucent plastic plate on its bottom, which should prevent spills from seeping into the chassis. This, plus the wireless radio inside, makes the Aerox 3 slightly heavier, but otherwise you’d easily mistake one ultralight mouse for the other. They’re both matte black with two thumb buttons on the left side and a textured scroll wheel between their top buttons. There is a small button in the middle of the mouse to change the DPI; that of the Aerox is the clicker.
The Aerox 3 is also available in a wired version, while the Haste has no wireless equivalent. The SteelSeries model charges via USB-C, which means I can plug it into just about any charger I have around the house. Another nice surprise is that this is the first 2.4 GHz receiver I have come across that uses a USB-C connection. So I was able to plug it directly into my MacBook once I moved some cords. Unfortunately, plugging it into a hub doesn’t seem to work, so if you’re running out of ports it can be a bit tricky.
It also connects via Bluetooth, so if you lose the dongle or just don’t want to carry that tedious item around, you can still use the Aerox 3. SteelSeries claims 80 hours of battery life on the receiver and 200 hours on Bluetooth. . I can’t speak to these estimates as I already had to charge the mouse at least once in the week I used it, without even a low battery warning. You can still use the device while it is charging, and it will also automatically turn off when you are not using it. To wake it up you have to click the buttons a little bit, but if not, it’s quick to reconnect.
Whether an ultralight mouse is the way to go, however, is a matter of personal preference. The Aerox 3 is remarkable in a world where so many gaming mice come with weights to make them heavier; it goes entirely in the opposite direction removing as much plastic as possible. It feels like you’re holding a piece of styrofoam and even comparing it to a minimalist wireless gaming model like Logitech’s $ 40 G305 feels oddly out of balance.
It really depends on how dirty your desk is. I have a very dusty apartment (although I do have a Dyson vacuum and an air purifier), and the Pulsefire Haste is pretty dirty already. But maybe the crud doesn’t matter as much as how the electronics on display handle it, and so far the Haste and Aerox 3 have been performing well in my office.