Logitech PowerPlay system with G903 mouse - A skeptic's journey

Written by Kevin Cheng on . Posted in Accessories

PowerPlay + G903From pink Pebble to gaming, Logitech recently announced their updated G903 wireless gaming mouse with the HERO 16k sensor.

Here at DigitalReviews we thought it would be a good time to look at the state of play with the current G903 with the PMW3366 12k sensor in eager anticipation.

The folks over at Logitech were generous enough to send along a Powerplay Wireless Charging System with it.

First Impressions
What is Logitech PowerPlay?

It encompasses a line of Logitech G line of accessories with the centerpiece being the the Powerplay Wireless Charging System. In very simplistic terms that absolutely does not do it justice, it is a very fancy mouse pad that comes with an interchangeable soft (cloth) or hard surface that requires a special data/power cable that connects to your computer's USB port.

Under the bonnet of the PowerPlay Wireless Charging System is where the magic lies - it charges your mouse whilst your computer is on (or at least when *that* USB port is powered). The PowerPlay mat is semi-rigid. For goodness sakes don't try to bend it and don't drop it. There's plenty of stuff going on inside. The PowerPlay technology is proprietary so no, you cannot charge your phone. But on the bright side, there are now 5 members of the family that fit the bill.

The G903 mouse comes with everything you need to make it your own. It comes with a nice little storage case with left hand side blank and right hand side buttons should you wish to swap it to a southpaw mouse. Also in the storage case is a 10g weight and a Logitech Unifying receiver. A high quality braided micro USB cable is also included. Given this mouse is a few years old, I am going to let that slide.

 

G903 PMW3366History
Well I am just going to declare it upfront, my gaming days are long over. Anyone remember Wing Commander? Yeah that was my era. Actually I lied, I played three of the four Uncharted games, Jedi Knight, oh and Skylanders with the kids.

Instead I deferred to the younger generation who actually has the time to game, or at least prioritises gaming. ;) I partly delegated this review to Danbo who grumbled at me for forcing him to test a wireless gaming mouse, from Logitech to boot.

 

The Rig
Window 10 x64
Z390 ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula
32 GB DDR4 GSkill Trident Z RGB
Intel i9 9900K
NVIDIA GTX 2080ti ASUS Strix OC 11GB Edition
Ducky Shine 7 Blackout with Cherry MX Red Switches

G903 Profile Settings
Firmware: V 7.0.9
Button Layout: Left Side Only
Lighting: Primary- Fixed, Logo-Breathing
Surface Turning: Default
Sensitivity: 1600 DPI
Weight Disk: No

 

Games Tested
Counter-Strike: Go
Overwatch

 

Game On
Getting the PowerPlay system going is extremely simple. The base component of the PowerPlay system comes with a data/power USB cable which plugs into the module at the top. The interchangeable mousepad surface requires nothing more than putting it on top of the rubberised PowerPlay base and it stays there by friction. The module flashes blue to indicate it is powered on. On the G903 side you need to push down on the cover on the bottom of the mouse, pop it out and replace it with the PowerCore module. Then power the mouse on and it automagically pairs with the PowerPlay base. Brilliant simplicity.

Logitech offers both a soft and hard surface options, ready for your personal preference. The coarser hard finish is probably better for players who have tighter motions and better granular control. The softer cloth surface would suit those who prefer broad sweeping motions in their game play. Both surfaces are well constructed and works great with the G903. I have no preferences personally, most of the time I am just grateful if there is a mouse to work with rather than going full keyboard jockey. I do have a tendency to default to a hard surface purely because they are easier to clean.

The PowerPlay mat is just a large charging surface. When the data/power cable is plugged in, an electromagnetic field a few millimetres high is generated across most of the PowerPlay base. The G logo also lights up to indicate it is powered on, the RGB lighting is discreetly limited that.

The PowerCore module we swapped in earlier performs the task of transferring the projected charge from the mousepad to the mouse itself. To be honest when I first read about PowerCore, I expected something like an ARC reactor that needed to be pushed into the heart of the G903 mouse. In reality it is just a simple disc. The first device powered on and set on the PowerPlay mat pairs automatically.

Goodies boxThe G903 is an ambidextrous mouse, so the lefthanders amongst us aren't going to feel left out. It works well with a claw grip and more than adequate for a palm grip. The claw grip allows all the fingers to be out of the way, whereas for the palm grip the pinky and/or ring finger might get in the way. Obviously it all depends on your actual grip and size of hand. Again the RGB lighting on the G903 is very discreet, limited to the G logo and the grill behind the scroll wheel. It is a far cry from the OTT lights favoured by competitors.

It comes with 10 buttons although by default two buttons are disabled. The two thumb buttons on the right side are replaced with a stabilised piece of plastic which has a magnetic connector. It is a snap (see what I did there?) to swap it out with buttons so it is active on both sides of the mouse, or swap to disable the left side of the mouse instead for southpaws.

This accounts for 4 buttons and the rest are the standard left, middle and right clicks, and two which are mapped to DPI swapping by default, bringing the G903 to a grand total of 9 buttons. The DPI button position is behind the mouse wheel which can feel awkward, but it is kept out of the way of accidental activation. The tenth button directly behind the scroll wheel, who's sole purpose in life is to switch the wheel from a stepped clicky action to a smooth glide.

Regardless of which grip you prefer, or how your buttons are set up, the buttons on the G903 are just a hair trigger away from activating. It is incredibly sensitive to pressure and blistering fast to react. If you are looking for that clunky reassurance that you have pressed a button, the G903 is not going to offer it.

This brings us to Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. This is how using the PowerPlay system feels, magic. If you still hold the opinion that wired mouse is greater than wireless mouse for gaming, then you are in for a real treat. There was no discernible difference in actual input lag between a corded gaming mouse to the PowerPlay system. Whilst it is a few years old, the PWM3366 sensor absolutely holds it's own and DigitalReviews is excited at the prospect of the 16k HERO sensor upgrade.

The battery life of the G903 without the PowerPlay mat is rated at around 24-30 hours depending on the RGB setup. In real world use Danbo could get out about 5 days of his normal usage with default settings. Charging via USB cable will take between 2 - 3 hours to get a full charge and the mouse can be used at the same time. All in all battery life is very respectable.

The provided USB cable has prongs on either side of the micro USB male plug. It gives the G903 a really sturdy connection that is not going to disconnect or break even during the most heated gameplay.

With the PowerPlay mat though, battery life is no longer part of the equation. Logitech claims the PowerPlay mat can charge the G903 at between 1-2% charge per hour during use, or a full charge in around 12-14 hours when the mouse is idle. Not blistering fast wireless charging rates, but what is notable, is that the charging during use is enough to prevent the mouse from discharging - it pretty much balances it out. The PowerPlay mat will cycle the charge between 80 - 95% charge to keep the battery healthy.

 

G930 cableGripes
As good as the PowerPlay system is, there are a few faults or maybe we are just nitpicking.

On the PowerPlay base side, Danbo with his chunky paws complained with his large sweeping movements, the mouse ends up running off the edge of the mouse pad. Whilst he would like a bigger surface, I suspect the engineering complexity behind it would quickly escalate. The connector where the LightSpeed sensor is housed on the PowerPlay base sticks up a bit over the surface of the rest of the mouse pad, and he has ran the mouse into it a few times. As a result he shelved the the PowerPlay mousepad.

Like all things fabric the edges of the cloth surface will likely to fray over time. Chalk that up to attrition in service.

On the G903 side, popping in the PowerCore module removes the ability to adjust the weight of the mouse. Danbo reports that if the mouse is even slightly raised off the mouse pad during a game, no input will be detected. It took him some time to adjust to mouse flicks when playing FPS/hit scan type character as the weight of the mouse carries a bit of momentum.

Last gripe is that the mouse feet appears to be soft and is easily scratched, it would nice to have something a little more durable there.

 

Conclusion
I pushed the bulk of the testing onto Danbo, who initially told me he doesn't like Logitech gaming mouses, and specifically does not like wireless gaming mouses. When I checked in with him afterwards, he was singing a very different tune. So much so he actually would have loved to kept the gear. In his own words, he would "gladly replace my corded mouse with a cordless of variety of this calibre."

While the size of the PowerPlay base was a bit small for Danbo, he was blown away by the native battery life that gave him 5 days of battery life at his regular gaming use. Even when he receives a low battery warning, he could finish his game instead of scrambling for the USB cable right away.

The Logitech PowerPlay system is without a doubt an excellent setup for a serious gamer. Cordless but retaining lighting fast sensitivity, quality sensor and never have to worry about running out of charge mid battle. The price of the set up is not cheap though, with the G903 Lightspeed Wireless Gaming Mouse RRP at AUD$249.95 and PowerPlay base at AUD$199.95. The quality is definitely there, as to the value, that is up to you to decide.

DigitalReviews would like to thank Logitech for their on-going support.

 

Specifications
PowerPlay mousepad
Dimensions: 321 x 344 x 43 mm (LxWxD)
Control module height: 10mm
Charging surface thickness: 2mm
Cloth mouse pad thickness: 2mm
Hard mouse pad thickness: 2mm
Cable length (Power/Charging): 1.83m

G903 (PMW3366)
Dimensions: 130.3 x 66.5 x 40.4 mm (HxWxD)
Weight: 110g (mouse only)
Optional extra weight: 10g
Cable length: 1.80m
Tracking sensor: PMW3366
Resolution: 200 - 12,000 dpi
Zero smoothing / acceleration / filtering
Max acceleration: >40G
Max speed: >400 IPS
Battery life: Default lighting- 24 hours, No light - 32 hours

Systems Requirements: Windows 7 or later, MacOS X or later
USB port for data and power
Internet access for Logitech G HUB

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