The Bottom Line
The Marsback Zephyr Pro is a solid gaming mouse that does most things right. But build quality issues and uncertainties about the fan’s effectiveness mean that it’s not a straightforward recommendation, even for the sweatiest of palms.
+ Unique honeycomb design
+ Great RGB lighting
+ Top-quality PixArt sensor
+ Full-featured, easy-to-use software
|- Potential build quality issues
- Sub-par thumb buttons and mouse feet
- Fan vibration
- Cooling can be hit or miss
The lightweight gaming mouse market is arguably the most crowded market segment for PC peripherals. Almost every big peripheral company has an ultralight or two in its lineup, making it incredibly hard for a small company like Marsback to make a name for itself. But that hasn’t stopped them from trying with the Zephyr Pro mouse.
The Zephyr Pro’s big party trick is the included fan that, in the company’s words, “can effectively evaporate sweat to make your hands feel cooler.” It sounds like a godsend for sweaty-palmed gamers the world over, but is it really?
Does it live up to the company’s claims? And is it worth using if you don’t necessarily need the fan? Read on to find out.
Design and Build Quality
Sure, the Zephyr Pro’s built-in fan is its unique selling point, but the fan’s useless if it’s not a good mouse to use in the first place. So let’s first look at how it fares as a mouse.
The Zephyr Pro has a 69-gram (2.43-oz) symmetrical body that works for both right- and left-handed users (although the Zephyr Pro only has thumb buttons for right-handers). It measures 5.1 inches front to back, has a maximum width of 2.6 inches, and is 1.6 inches tall at its highest.
If you want a point of comparison, the Zephyr Pro’s shape is quite similar to the Glorious Model O. You should find the Zephyr Pro easy to get to grips with if you’ve used a Model O before.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Model O, the best way I can describe it is an inoffensive shape that should work for a variety of grip styles. To be sure, it won’t offer the same comfort as a right-handed “ergonomic” shape like the Razer DeathAdder. But neither is it uncomfortable or unpleasant to use.
One aspect of the Zephyr Pro I really like is the weight-reducing cut-outs. The larger, more angular holes give the Zephyr Pro a different, more “organic” look than the standard honeycomb holes of most lightweight mice. It’s all finished in a matte black that has, thankfully, remained fingerprint-free despite being used daily for the past couple of weeks.
The Zephyr Pro has six buttons, including two dedicated buttons on the bottom for cycling between the seven default lighting modes and an on/off button for the fan. Both are welcome, and it’s nice to be able to switch lighting and turn the fan off without having to start the software.
The RGB lighting is great. The white fan works great with the in-body RGB lighting and gives the Zephyr Pro a vibrant look. Combine that with the LED strip around the bottom edge of the mouse, and you get one of the better RGB implementations I’ve seen on an ultralight mouse.
The color of the mouse wheel’s RGB is independent of the color of the other LEDs, and instead changes depending on your DPI. You can set the color for each step in the software, which I’ll be taking a look at later in the review
Overall, I have no complaints about the Zephyr Pro’s design. There’s nothing particularly outstanding about it beyond the different honeycomb cutouts and RGB lighting, but there’s also nothing really wrong with it either. Marsback nailed the basics.
The Zephyr Pro gets the basics right for an ultralight mouse in 2021. The shape is decent, it’s lightweight, and it sports some snazzy RGB lighting. Unfortunately, it’s let down a bit by the build quality, which is a bit of a mixed bag.
Let’s start with the positives first. The braided cable is solid, and I had no issues with it during my testing. It’s slightly thicker than the cable you get with Glorious’ mice, but that’s not really an issue in my book. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s on par with most of its competitors.
The body itself feels well put together, and there are no rattles or squeaks when you shake or squeeze it. The Omron switches used for the left and right mouse buttons click satisfyingly and should last the mouse’s lifetime, if not longer.
The thumb buttons are my first big issue with the Zephyr Pro. It’s not really a build quality issue and more just a matter of preference, but I don’t like the long travel on the Zephyr Pro’s thumb buttons. They don’t click satisfyingly, either. I prefer shallower thumb buttons, and find the ones on the Zephyr Pro quite uninspiring.
Then there’s the mouse wheel. The wheel on my unit developed a significant horizontal wobble within a few days of using it. The wobble doesn’t affect the scrolling, and the mouse wheel clicks still register cleanly, so it’s not a deal-breaking flaw. However, it definitely makes the Zephyr Pro feel a bit cheap.
Admittedly, only one of the two units we received has the mouse wheel issue, so I might just be unlucky. That said, I’ve used many mice over the years and never encountered this. It was definitely disappointing to have this scroll wheel issue within days of unboxing the Zephyr Pro mouse.
The feet also feel a bit rougher than the ones you get on Glorious’ mice or the Razer Viper. While they glide across my Cooler Master MP510 mouse pad fine, I can definitely feel some extra friction during faster mouse movements. Admittedly, the MP510 is a relatively rough pad with a large weave; you may not have issues if you use a smooth or hard mousepad.
I’m a bit disappointed with the Zephyr Pro’s components and build quality overall. The mouse wheel, in particular, is a letdown. Hopefully, it’s an isolated incident and not a widespread issue with the mouse itself.
The Zephyr Pro wouldn’t be a modern gaming mouse without its own software. And, as far as mouse software is concerned, the Marsback Zephyr Pro has one of the better examples I’ve seen. Here’s the “Performance” tab, where you can change settings such as polling rate, DPI steps, and lift-off distance.
I liked that Marsback lets you adjust settings such as the switch response, mouse pointer speed, scroll wheel speed, and double click speed. I didn’t have to use these myself as the defaults were fine for me, but I can see users getting some use out of these settings.
You also have the option to remap the mouse buttons, change the LED patterns and colors, and set macros. You can store your settings to one of five slots per profile, with a seemingly unlimited number of profiles available. The mouse only stores one configuration, though, so you’ll still need the software installed if you want to switch between different profiles.
I liked the Marsback software quite a bit. The LED patterns are a bit oddly named but beyond that everything’s straightforward and easy to use.
I played a mix of competitive (Quake Champions) and single-player (Control, Quake 2, Doom Eternal) games to put the Zephyr Pro through its paces. I had no issues with it, and even the rougher mouse feet had no impact on my gaming.
I’m not elite enough to discern differences between any of the modern high-end sensors, so the PixArt PMW3389 felt perfectly fine to me. I didn’t have issues with spinning out or the lift-off distance in games, and I was able to track targets and strafe jump like I normally do (in other words, badly).
The PMW3389 can be set to anywhere from 100 to 16,000 DPI, which should be enough of a range for anyone. I can’t imagine anyone using anything below 400 or above 1600, but the option’s there if you need it.
The cable is as good as any I’ve used recently. There isn’t really much to say here: it stays out of the way and never caused me to miss a shot. Truth be told, I find it hard to differentiate between braided cables these days, primarily since I use a mouse bungee.
My issue with the thumb buttons did rear its head during gaming. They worked fine, but I just didn’t enjoy pressing them. I use the thumb buttons quite heavily, so the uninspiring feel definitely impacted my enjoyment of the Zephyr Pro. Pressing them never quite became second nature for me, unlike with most of my other mice.
Overall, the Zephyr Pro’s a perfectly adequate gaming mouse. It won’t wow you, but it shouldn’t hold you back either. The thumb buttons are definitely the biggest issue, but even that is likely more a matter of preference than anything.
Now we get to the Zephyr Pro’s key feature and its entire reason for existing: the fan. For context, this isn’t Marsback’s first attempt at a mouse for sweaty hands. In 2020, the company (then known as Mindshunter) released the Zephyr, which cost $99 and, according to reviews, had a relatively noisy and vibration-heavy fan.
Marsback claims that a change in the fan’s mounting angle (from 45° to 180°) on the Zephyr Pro results in “a stronger cooling blast” and “less buzzing vibration” compared to the old unit. While I never had the chance to try the original Zephyr, I can say that the fan is inaudible on the Zephyr Pro. Vibration is still present, sadly, but it’s only noticeable when you lift the mouse.
The vibration was still quite annoying, though. As a relatively low-sensitivity gamer, I lift my mouse regularly during gameplay. Each time I did that with the Zephyr Pro, I could feel the fan vibrating in my palm. Was it bad enough to stop me from using the mouse? No, not at all. But it prevented me from reaching for the mouse after I was done testing it.
Is the fan effective, though?
That’s a slightly tricky question to answer. I don’t have sweaty palms, so I was never the target market for the Zephyr Pro, to begin with. But I tried using it with a wet palm and noticed that the fan helped dry my palms slightly quicker than with other mice.
Despite that, it didn’t feel like the fan was moving enough air to really justify choosing it over any other similarly-priced lightweight mouse. And wet palms aren’t quite the same as sweaty palms, either. So, to make sure I was being fair to the Zephyr Pro, I lent the mouse to a friend with (self-proclaimed) moderately sweaty palms to see if it worked better for him.
While he found that the fan did help keep his palms slightly drier, the fan was also only effective when he used a palm grip. With his default claw grip, the fan didn’t really make much difference. He also pointed out that there aren’t enough holes on the mouse buttons to help with any sweat issues on the fingers. “It’s better than nothing,” he told me in a text, “but it’s not effective enough to make me want to switch.”
Marsback may have gone too far in the other direction when fixing the original Zephyr’s faults. Sure, fan noise is nonexistent, and the vibration is kept to a minimum in most situations. But those improvements may have come at the cost of the fan’s actual cooling performance.
In conclusion, neither of us was particularly impressed by the Zephyr Pro’s built-in fan. But your mileage may vary, and I can see particularly sweaty palm grippers getting more out of the Zephyr Pro than either of us. No guarantees, though.
The Marsback Zephyr Pro gets the basics right. The shape is decent, the cable’s lightweight, braided, and flexible, and the sensor is as good as any you’ll find in a modern gaming mouse. But that isn’t anything special, and other lightweight mice get the same things right for the same price or cheaper.
And then there’s the fan. Sadly, we’re not convinced it’s effective enough to justify buying the Zephyr Pro at MSRP over other mice. And, as that’s the entire reason the Zephyr Pro exists, that makes the Zephyr Pro hard to recommend. But if you’re at your wit’s end trying to game with sweaty palms, the Marsback Zephyr Pro may be worth a try. Who knows, you might get more use out of it than we did.
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