XPG, the gaming sub-brand of Taiwanese component manufacturer ADATA, impressed us last year with its spot-on XPG Summoner keyboard. Its next act, unfortunately, isn’t a repeat triumph. The XPG Primer ($49.99) is a budget-priced wired gaming mouse with a good sensor, but it lacks the strong chassis design and features necessary to stand out among its peers. Meanwhile, its novelty feature—a PBT-plastic chassis—shows little clear benefit, and XPG’s current lack of configuration software limits your ability to take advantage of a relatively powerful sensor. The XPG Primer isn’t a bad mouse, but it’s hard to recommend when you can find many other models with more going for them in the same price zone.
Prime or Basic?
Measuring 1.6 by 2.5 by 5 inches and weighing 3.6 ounces, the XPG Primer is a basic gaming mouse through and through. The seven-button right-hander sticks to the basics: two clicks, a scroll wheel, and two buttons in the center column on top. The top button cycles through six resolution presets. The bottom cycles through the RGB lighting options, which are quite limited: two rotating patterns, and six static colors. On the left side, as expected, are forward and back buttons. There’s nothing wrong with having a basic button layout—only mice with a lot of buttons dare to try anything different.
The problems become apparent when you start to inspect and feel the chassis. The Primer’s base has a steep drop at its back and a very mild lateral decline from left to right. Given this shape, I was never able to find a completely comfortable grip, as I constantly felt the bottom of my hand slipping, and the right side of my hand felt unsupported. It doesn’t help that, instead of having rubberized grips, the Primer’s sides are merely textured to look like grips, which won’t help you make your hands comfortable or keep them steady.
That may have something to do with the Primer’s signature feature, a PBT “doubleshot” shell. Polybutylene terephthalate plastic, or PBT, is often used to make premium after-market keycaps and high-end keyboards because it’s more durable. The doubleshot manufacturing process, often a big selling point for keycaps, creates text (or legends) on the keys that won’t fade over time.
You may be asking, “How does using PBT make my mouse better?” After using this mouse for about a week, I don’t have an answer for you. In theory, it should keep the mouse in working order for longer, except that the chassis or case is seldom the first component of a mouse to wear or fail. The only place where you’ll notice the effect of the doubleshot material is a small RGB element, the word “PRIMER,” printed into the left side of the mouse.
If I had to describe the XPG Primer’s look in a single phrase, it would be “faux flashy.” The black PBT is laced with four RGB lighting elements: two curved accent lines along the far edges of the click panels through the top of the base, a light in the scroll wheel, and the aforementioned Primer label near the front. No matter what lighting color(s) you choose, you’ll see a little red near the bottom and front, because the underside of the mouse is made of red plastic. In lieu of the usual RGB in the palm, an offset XPG logo is simply carved into the base. The design riffs on the tenets of the gamer aesthetic, but only in shallow ways.
The Primer’s best feature is one you can’t see. It sports a PixArt PMW3360 sensor, which we’ve seen in some of our favorite budget mice, such as the Glorious Model D. The Primer’s highest tracking setting is a whopping 12,000 dots per inch (dpi), which is very high for a budget mouse. Unfortunately, since the XPG Primer relies on presets for these settings, there are only six options between 400dpi and 12,000dpi—you aren’t likely to take advantage of that larger range.
There’s room for improvement on that score, though. XPG tells PCMag that it plans to release its first configuration program, XPG Prime, in late July, with support for the Primer mouse due by the end of the third quarter of 2020. Adding even a minimalist configuration app would likely give you more control over the Primer’s DPI settings and allow you to remap its buttons, which would make its seven-button layout more useful. The change won’t be enough to completely change my mind on the Primer, but could smooth out some of its roughest edges.
Not a Prime Example
Between the curiously shaped PBT chassis and the lack of customization options, the XPG Primer is weak in many of the fundamental aspects of gaming-mouse design. It isn’t especially expensive at $49.99, but many mice in that range do a far better job at giving you more for less.
The Primer may become a more appealing option when its configuration app launches later this summer, but that won’t be enough to elevate XPG, just yet, as a mouse brand.
ADATA XPG Primer Specs
|Number of Buttons||7|
|Sensor Maker and Model||PixArt PMW3360|
|Sensor Maximum Resolution||12000 dpi|
|Power Source||Wired USB|
|Warranty (Parts and Labor)||2 years|