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Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse review: A legend reborn?

Nathan Spendelow
14 Oct 2019
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
40
inc VAT

Microsoft’s Classic IntelliMouse tugs at the heartstrings of nostalgic gamers, but is this mouse just as worthy of a place on your desk?

Pros 
Nostalgic, ergonomic design
Packed with modern features
Extra customisable side buttons
Cons 
A little pricey
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Often overlooked, the humble PC mouse is a crucial addition to any gamer’s arsenal. Inherently, the core principles of the modern mouse haven’t changed much since the mid-noughties, but Microsoft’s own IntelliMouse series was one of the first such peripherals to lay the groundwork for the mouse as we see it today.

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A Legend Reborn. The focus group that combined those three words to create Microsoft’s reimagined IntelliMouse’s tagline managed to sum up this 2018 re-do rather nicely. This is a mouse that, all things considered, tugs at the heartstrings of nostalgic gamers while simultaneously adding a handful of modern features to this iconic mouse of a bygone era.

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Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse review: What you need to know

I may have been a mere three-years-old when Microsoft first launched its rather game-changing IntelliMouse in 1996, but it’s clear that the ramifications of such a device are still being seen today. Crucially, this mouse introduced the scroll wheel which, as I’m sure you’d agree, is now a feature no mouse can do without.

The Classic IntelliMouse isn’t quite so revolutionary. There’s certainly a whiff of nostalgia here, with the mouse’s overall design looking remarkably similar to the third-generation IntelliMouse from the early 2000’s, albeit with a flair of modernity. It just doesn’t offer anything quite as game-changing as the scroll wheel – but is that necessarily a bad thing?

The “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra can be adequately applied to PC mice and, while other manufacturers are happy to slap all sorts of gimmicks onto their gaming peripherals, such as RGB lighting and swappable side buttons, it’s refreshing to see Microsoft keep things nice and simple.

The mouse is flanked with black, rubberized sides – just like the original – for added grip, with a smooth, gun-metal grey finish on the top. Its ergonomic shape remains unchanged too, and there’s a soft blue LED tail light illuminating the underside heel.

Microsoft has introduced a few welcome improvements, most notable of which is the addition of a pair of thumb buttons on the left side of the mouse. These, along with the clickable scroll wheel, can be customised using Microsoft’s Mouse and Keyboard Center software – although the application isn’t available on Windows 10 S or Mac OS devices.

The IntelliMouse also incorporates Microsoft’s BlueTrack technology, which allows the mouse to be used on almost any surface. Even on my glass dining table, which is a setup that’s out of the question for most optical mice, tracking was practically spot-on, with no noticeable issues.

The mouse is also capable of 1,000 reports per second and a maximum of 3,200 DPI, which is nicely suited for when you’re whizzing between applications, or flicking your aiming reticule around to nail that perfect long-range headshot. I would have liked to see an on-body DPI adjuster, though, and perhaps a wireless model, although the 184cm-long cable is perfectly adequate for most PC setups.

Just as the original was a fine LAN-party companion, this 2018 re-do is just as well-equipped for your frenetic PC gaming multiplayer tournaments. Firing up the Battlefield V Alpha test, my performance was just as good as when I used my go-to Razer Naga Trinity, and that’s to say it was, well, rather mediocre at best. That’s certainly not the mouse’s fault, though, and purely boils down to my naff PC gaming skills.

Still, I never once had any issues with input lag. Again, it would have been nice to adjust my DPI on the fly when scoping in/out of weapons, rather than relying on the additional customisation software, but for the most part the Classic IntelliMouse is just as well-suited to gaming as specialist mice that cost twice, and in some cases three, times the price.

Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse review: Price and competition

At £40, Microsoft’s Classic IntelliMouse isn’t one of those bargain-bin mice you typically spot at the top of your Amazon search results. Considering its credentials, however, and the wallet-fearing price of many of its rivals, the IntelliMouse is actually rather well-priced.

Buy Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse


As a point of comparison, Microsoft’s reimagined mouse is up against the big leagues including Razer’s suite of pointing peripherals, which start at £50 for the Deathadder. Steelseries has plenty of equally excellent mice on offer, too, and they begin at £60 for the Rival 310.

Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse review: Verdict

There’s not much else to say about the IntelliMouse. Microsoft has successfully both reinvented its beloved mouse from yesteryear and reignited our affection for it. The Classic IntelliMouse might not look as fancy as its gaming competition, nor is it as crammed with features, but Microsoft’s fresh take on its aged mouse is a refreshing one.

The Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse is just as worthy a mouse for 2018 as the original was before the turn of the century.

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