July 3, 2022

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SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless review: The best MMO/MOBA mouse you can buy

Mice designed for MMOs (Massively Multiplayer Online games) and MOBAs (Multiplayer Online Battle Arenas) are an interesting breed. They’ve been around for over a decade, having reached the mainstream with the launch of the original Razer Naga in 2009. But, in all that time, they haven’t really changed much. 

While other types of mice get lighter and more sensitive or gained flashier lighting and multiple connection methods, most MMO/MOBA mice have remained kind of…stuck. The G600 Logitech sells today is basically identical to the one it launched in 2012. Most manufacturers seem to think the players that enjoy these button-laden mice are content with, at most, minor tweaks to decade-old offerings. 

SteelSeries is betting they’re wrong. Its new Aerox 9 Wireless attempts to marry the ample button selection of an MMO/MOBA mouse with the weight reduction, RGB lighting, enhanced wireless, and improved switches that have saturated the gaming mouse space in the dozen years since MMO/MOBA mice came onto the scene. Let’s see if they can make a case for the first truly new entrant to this niche category of gaming mice in years. 

Like

  • Reduced weight helps with fatigue during long gaming sessions
  • Feet and main switches are some of the best around
  • Side button tension is well balanced to prevent accidental presses in palm grip
  • Charging system is sensible and convenient

Don’t Like

  • Tactility of side buttons varies pretty widely across the panel
  • GG Software is pointlessly bloated with useless features
  • Not suitable for FPS titles, understandably

Shape

A lot of the heavy lifting for this section has already been done in my Aerox 5 Wireless review. The mice are shaped identically, with the obvious exception of the 12-button panel on the Aerox 9 Wireless. For those curious about my general thoughts on the shape, I’d recommend taking a quick look at this section within my Aerox 5 Wireless review. Here, I’ll be covering the unique quirks the all-button side panel adds to this model.

Like the Aerox 5, the Aerox 9 Wireless is a large, safe mouse shape. It’s, once again, most reminiscent of the Glorious Model O’s general curvature, but about 4mm taller. That extra height provides additional space for your thumb on the Aerox 5. Here, it provides extra space for a dozen side buttons. 

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That’s a lot of buttons!


Michael Gariffo

This means that your thumb will rest, at all times, on the button cluster. This can be disconcerting at first, especially for those that hold their mouse in a death grip during tense gaming moments. Accidental button presses are a concern.

In that vein, the presence of unavoidable thumb-side buttons makes claw gripping this mouse essentially impossible. The pressure needed from your thumb to maintain a stable claw grip will just lead to constant, unintended button presses. Since fingertip gripping a mouse this large is equally impractical, this places this model firmly in the palm grip-only category. 

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The main types of mouse grip demonstrate on Logitech’s G303 Shroud Edition


Michael Gariffo

This isn’t as much of a problem for an MMO/MOBA mouse as it would be for an FPS-focused model. Palm grips tend to be best for the hours-long raids or numerous sequential matches players of both genres participate in. Keeping your hand in a fingertip or claw grip for those lengths of time is usually painful enough to force you to settle into a more relaxed palm grip. 

Luckily for SteelSeries, the Aerox 9 Wireless makes for a very comfortable palm grip mouse, supporting all parts of the hand, and providing a nice resting area for both fingers on the primary buttons, thanks to the built-in comfort curves. 

More: The 6 best gaming mice: Click, click, BOOM

As with the Aerox 5, I’d recommend this shape for palm grip users with hands at least 15cm long (measured from the butt of the palm to the tip of the middle finger). Users measuring exactly 15cm might find the front-most row of buttons a bit of a reach, but it should still be doable for anyone at, or above, this hand size. 

Features 

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Michael Gariffo

Weight 

This is likely going to be controversial. Does an MMO/MOBA mouse really need weight reduction? Obviously, SteelSeries thinks so. It chose to use the same perforations found on its Aerox 5 line in this model, producing a mouse that weighs 89g. 

That weigh-in would likely get it panned in FPS circles, with entrants there mostly aiming for the 55g to 70g range. However, 89g is still far lighter than the 120g wired Razer Naga Trinity, or the even beefier 133g Logitech G600.

Some users may think that reduction isn’t worth the trade-off of having to deal with a honeycomb back shell. However, I’ve seen many other customers reacting with praise for there finally being a lighter weight MMO/MOBA mouse available.

Even if you don’t need that lightness to help your split-second reaction times and pixel-perfect accuracy, like an FPS player would, you’ll still appreciate the reduced fatigue it provides over those hours-long raids I mentioned above. In any case, the perforations on the Aerox 9 Wireless are very well implemented, with no rough edges or unfinished seams to irritate your palm. 

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The extremely comprehensive button remapping options within the GG software


Michael Gariffo

Lighting and buttons

This is the most important section for a mouse that lives or dies on the quality of its unusually large button selection, so let’s quickly get lighting out of the way. The three-zone RGB lighting is bright, vivid, and flashy. The customizability is excellent, and the total package should satisfy any RGB aficionado out there. 

Onto the buttons. There are a lot of them, if that wasn’t already obvious. On top you’ve got left, right, and middle-click, as well as a DPI button that can be remapped to whatever function you’d like in SteelSeries’ GG software (more on that later). 

I should note here, the left and right clicks are just as crisp, precise, and satisfying as those found in the Aerox 5 Wireless thanks to the inclusion of the same TTC Golden Micro switches now being used across the updated Aerox line. 

More: The best gaming keyboards: All the hits and clicks

On the mouse’s left side you’ll find a full dozen buttons, handily numbered 1-12. Each varies in size and shape, making it easier to tell each row and column apart by feel. A home row-esque nub on the “5” button further helps you re-center your thumb to find the correct input. 

I found it easy to quickly locate and press my desired button, and I found the tuning of their resistance and tactile feedback excellent…for the most part. I’ll cover the minor exceptions to this judgment in the “Performance” section. 

As you’d expect, each of these dozen inputs can be mapped to any standard keyboard key, media and playback controls, and stock or user-created macros. This is all handled in the GG software mentioned above. 

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The charging cable, Mouse Extension Adapter, and USB-C wireless dongle bundled in with both the Aerox 5 Wireless and Aerox 9 Wireless


Michael Gariffo

Connectivity and charging

This is another area where the Aerox 9 is identical to the other entrants in the line. It charges via a front-facing USB-C port. The charging cable is also what you’ll use to connect its Mouse Extension Adapter to the PC. The USB-C-equipped dongle is designed to plug into the other end of the coupler.

This provides a system that quickly lets you yank the cable from the Mouse Extension Adapter and plug it directly into the mouse for charging. This is great if you need a quick top-up mid-game. Thankfully, those top-ups should be quick. SteelSeries claims 15 minutes of charging can provide 40 hours of gameplay. While I didn’t test this exact assertion, I did confirm the claim that the mouse will indeed last 80 hours (on a full charge) while connecting via the included 2.4GHz Quantum 2.0 wireless adapter. 

More: The perfect USB-C charging cable: Power meter included

To be clear, the 180-hour playtime claim SteelSeries mentions in the Aerox 9 Wireless’ marketing materials requires use of the mouse’s Bluetooth connectivity, not its 2.4GHz dongle. This means you’ll be subject to the inherent latency Bluetooth connectivity adds, when compared to more standard 2.4GHz gaming mouse connections. 

This may be fine for very casual MMO players. But, for more serious MMO and MOBA participants, the split second of additional delay to input is likely unacceptable. Still, the option of connecting to a second system via Bluetooth is a nice extra, and a great convenience for those of us that frequently dock a laptop on our desks, or use one mouse for both gaming and travel. 

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Michael Gariffo

Sensor and feet 

The Aerox 9 Wireless’ TrueMove Air sensor is accurate, devoid of any unwanted acceleration or hiccups, and did an admirable job when tested out in FPS games. This means it should be more than accurate enough for any of this mouse’s intended MMO or MOBA applications. 

More: Logitech G Pro X Wireless vs Razer Viper Ultimate: Flagship gaming mice showdown

The 100% PTFE feet continue to be a high point of this line, providing not only a pleasant, consistent glide on every mouse pad I tested, but one of the best shapes I’ve used in recent memory. This is thanks to both the large surface area of the feet, and to the gently-curved edges that never threaten to catch or drag, even of rougher, control-focused mousepads. 

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Michael Gariffo

Performance

As far as the basic functions of a mouse go — pointing and clicking accurately, remaining comfortable, performing reliably — the Aerox 9 was essentially flawless. I won’t fault it for its large, somewhat imprecise feeling shape the way I did its sibling, the Aerox 5 Wireless. It would be absurd to expect any mouse with this many inputs to be anything other than big.

Even at its large size, it never felt unwieldy, thanks to its well-thought-out curves, reduced weight, and vastly improved build quality (compared to the initial entrants in the Aerox line). It let me quickly, precisely place my cursor, click, and move on to the next task, without ever getting in my way. That’s all you can really ask from an MMO/MOBA mouse. 

To be clear, it also stood up surprisingly well in the occasional FPS. Still, I really can’t recommend it for anything but the most casual shooter players. Those side buttons are too problematic for more precise grips, and its weight is a bit too much with so many lighter, cheaper FPS options available. This is, from the ground up, a mouse for gamers that focus on MMOs and MOBAs. 

More: Pulsefire Haste review: An ultra-lightweight mouse for work and play

To that end, the most important aspect of the Aerox 9 Wireless’ performance is obviously its thumb buttons. The goal of mice like it is to give you immediate, one-handed access to keys that would require moving your keyboard hand long distances to reach, slowing down your response times and potentially costing you, or your party, their in-game lives.

Like its aforementioned competitors, it does this adeptly, giving you a whole numpad worth of keys to customize to your liking. That’s more than enough to contain about 1 and ½ World of Warcraft hotkey bars, every single League of Legends input (with room to spare), or similar numbers of inputs from Final Fantasy XIV, DOTA 2, Lost Ark, Guild Wars 1 or 2, Heroes of the Storm, etc.

Side note: I wouldn’t recommend this mouse, or any MMO/MOBA mouse, for real-time strategy (RTS) games like StarCraft II. The extremely high APM (Actions per Minute) those games require to be successful on a competitive level aren’t helped much by having your mouse hand’s thumb getting in on the action. 

More: HyperX Alloy Origins Core keyboard review: Amazing build, terrible keycaps — but still worth a look

However, within games from the MMO and MOBA genre, the Aerox 9 Wireless shined for me, providing the ability to handle targeting, spell casting, and communications, all with one hand. This meant my keyboard hand could focus entirely on movement, or activating even more skills/spells than the dozen available on the mouse. 

Of course, any similarly-equipped MMO/MOBA mouse could do this, but it couldn’t do it while only weighing 89g, nor while providing a sensor and switches that I’d feel confident taking into any competitive FPS (the shape and weight of this particular mouse notwithstanding). 

The result is a total package that never once felt out of date like the G600 does in modern use, nor did it make feel bulky, slow, or problematic in any of the ways some other MMO/MOBA mice from lesser-known makers have, in my experience. The Aerox 9 Wireless always felt like a useful tool, adding to my capabilities and expanding my available actions without ever requiring additional thought or effort to use. 

More: The best gaming PCs: From HP to MSI, the top rigs compared

There will, of course, be a learning curve for those coming from more traditional mice. Thankfully, I found the placement of the thumb buttons to be among the easiest to learn across this genre of mice, making it a breeze for someone already used to this format. Even for complete newcomers, it shouldn’t take more than a day or two before you’re up to speed and enjoying all the Aerox 9 Wireless has to offer. 

I will say that the tactility of the side buttons does vary quite a bit. Those in the front-most row felt somewhat less clicky and quieter,  likely due to their proximity to the thicker support structures within the corner of the mouse. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s something I wasn’t overly fond of during my initial inspection of the device. Thankfully, in actual use, that minor difference melted away and had no impact whatsoever on my gameplay or enjoyment. 

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An example of the GG software’s convoluted front end from my time with the Aerox 5 Wireless


Michael Gariffo — Steelseries

What never stopped being a problem was the SteelSeries GG software, which continued to irk me with the overly bloated, unnecessary and unrelated extra sections I mentioned in my Aerox 5 Wireless review. At least it does a good job of making the already flexible selection of side buttons even more adaptable. Once you actually drill down to the menu where you can remap them, that is.

In fact, I believe the combination of the GG software and Aerox 9 Wireless hardware makes an excellent case for using it as a productivity mouse. It has ergonomics and comfort close to a Logitech MX Master series entrant, a selection of buttons that outnumbers some smaller Elgato Stream Decks or Loupedeck control surfaces, and a sensor precise enough to let you manipulate individual pixels in Photoshop or finicky timelines in Premier. 

More: 5 ways the Elgato Stream Deck can streamline your workflow (even if you’re not a streamer)

Imagine all of the photo, video, or audio editing tasks that could be automated by macros applied to these side buttons and you’ll begin to understand what a useful tool this mouse could be for creatives. 

That versatility is an extremely important point for a mouse priced at $150. Being able to justify that cost by applying the Aerox 9 Wireless’ features to both work and play might make that hefty price tag sting a bit less, after all. 

Wrap up

Let’s get right to the point, the Aerox 9 Wireless is the best mouse of its kind on the market right now. I will say it’s a close contest between it and the Razer Naga Pro. That similarly-priced model offers changeable side panels for additional versatility and Razer’s excellent, multi-model charging dock to skew things in its favor. However, it’s much heavier and it uses the same three-fingers-on-top shape as the Logitech G600, which always made both of those mice feel imprecise in the hand to me. For those reasons, I’d give the Aerox 9 Wireless the edge here. 

More: The best budget gaming mouse: Affordable pro gameplay

To be clear, you should still only purchase this mouse if you are very interested in its intended genres of games, or if its productivity use mentioned above is worthwhile for you. It’s just not a great FPS mouse, but it was never intended to be. If you think your personal level of interest in MMOs and MOBAs justifies spending $150 to give you a competitive edge, then I don’t think you find find a better way to dispose of that cash than on the SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless.

Alternatives to consider

Razer Naga Pro: This is the mouse that almost took the crown in this category for me thanks to its clever, changeable side panels. While it retains the weight feel and some older internal hardware, those focused more on flexibility across genres may want to give it a look. 

Razer Naga Trinity: The closest wired equivalent to the Naga Pro currently offered provides a more budget-friendly entry point to Razer’s take on an MMO/MOBA mouse. It’s a great option if you want flexibility in your mouse, and don’t mind the weight or cord. 

Logitech G600: Despite its age, the G600 remains a solid option for pure MMO players that don’t mind it’s somewhat mature sensor and switches. Logitech’s decision to keep it around for a decade shows the staying power its design has with consumers.

Corsair Scimitar RGB Elite: Corsair’s take on the genre uses a unique, moveable side panel that might make it the ideal option for users with smaller hands. It’s also one of the few other MMO/MOBA mice that doesn’t use the three-finger grip preferred by the G600 and Naga line. 

Logitech G502 Lightspeed: The latest G502 might not seem like a viable alternative, since its lacks the thumb-button array that defines this category. But, it packs 11 programmable buttons into its form, only a few short of some of the other options here. Better yet, it does it while still supporting claw and even fingertip grips (for large-handed users).