Previously on Review Geek, I wrote a love letter to the Logitech G603, my favorite gaming mouse. Despite the name, the G604 isn’t a direct sequel to that refined design, though it shares the epic wireless battery life. Instead, it’s a successor to the G602, a favorite among gamers who need tons of side buttons.
In terms of hardware, I like almost everything about this mouse. It’s not pretty, but it’s not trying to be, and it’s incredibly comfy and functional. The only thing that brings it down is Logitech’s bloated driver software. And unfortunately, that’s a big failing point on a mouse where programmable buttons are the entire idea.
I dig the G604 and will probably stick with it, if only because its functionality so handily beats my old flame. But if frustrating software is a dealbreaker for you, then skip it. It’s not worth the hassle.
Back in Black
The G602 is a sort of crossover mouse: halfway between a “shooter” design (just two thumb buttons) and an “MMO” or “MOBA” design (as many thumb buttons as you can fit). With a 3×2 grid, it’s a compromise between utility and usability. The G604 copies most of those design elements from way back in 2013, but incorporates some of Logitech’s more modern touches.
First of all, the mouse is jet-black and proud of it, with only the gunmetal scroll wheel breaking up the stealth profile. If you want a mouse covered in rainbow LEDs, look elsewhere. This has a benefit beyond the aesthetic: like the G603 and G602, this mouse can last for months and months on just its AA battery. Logitech estimates approximately 9 months of normal use, halving the batteries from the previous designs.
Other elements inherited from grandpappy G602 include the general shape and layout, with the exaggerated “fin” for your thumb to rest upon and a central palm area with a rubberized grip. From the G603, it inherits a dual Lightspeed (USB dongle) and Bluetooth wireless setup, the ability to swap between them with a single button, and a crazy-precise sensor (16,000 DPI in this case).
The all-metal scroll wheel can swap between smooth and notched rolling. Michael Crider
What’s entirely new to the G60x series is the scroll wheel. It’s metal, and notched, and pleasantly heavy. And it borrows Logitech’s favorite feature of the more button-down MX series: super-speed scrolling via a ball bearing. It’s an amazing inclusion if you use your mouse for heavy browsing and writing. The button just above the wheel is a stopper, allowing you to transition between smooth scrolling and notched—much better for the usual binds in most games. It can also scroll to the side, another feature absent from the previous generations.
The back of the mouse pops off to access the battery and Lightspeed receiver storage. Michael Crider
Other than the usual buttons, there’s a quick-switch input button above the wheel stopper, two inset buttons inside of primary click that are bound to DPI up and down by default, and the distinctive six thumb buttons. Note that the design is completely right-handed: trying to use this mouse in lefty mode, and you’re gonna have a bad time.
Let’s talk about those thumb buttons, shall we? I used the G602 for a while but had trouble with its six side buttons because it was hard to differentiate between them. Their sharp points all felt the same. Eventually, I defaulted to using just the first two buttons (G7 and G8), which made the versatile design basically redundant.
On the G604, these buttons are altogether more satisfying. They’re heavier, with a more dramatic raise and a sort of plateau shape that makes them easy to tell from one another. Each one is also raised to a slightly different level than the others, which is something that’s hard to tell unless you actually touch the thing. It looks like six little platforms, but in your brain, the six buttons actually form a sort of raised “L” shape like a chess knight pattern, with two lower buttons filling in the empty space.
It’s hard to see, but the flat portion of the keys are at different heights, making them easy to feel out. Michael Crider
Okay, that’s a difficult mental image to parse in a review. Just know that once you start using the G604, it’s easy to tell the thumb buttons apart. I was able to bind them and adapt to using them in Overwatch, with hundreds of hours of muscle memory stored up in my head, within just a few minutes.
They are, in a word, good. In two words, they’re really good. (Reminder: I’m getting paid to write this!) The design allows me to bind more complex actions and macros to my right hand, giving more in-game options with my left. And unlike designs with even more buttons, I can actually keep them straight on my fingers and straight in my head.
Not Just for Games Anymore
While the G604 doesn’t quite have the elegance of “shooter” mice, I find that having the extra functionality really makes up for it. The body isn’t quite as comfy as I’m used to, but it’s still more than serviceable.
And the buttons. Oh my, the buttons. Using the mouse in Overwatch, I was able to keep my left hand from roaming to less frequently-used commands by binding them to my thumb, letting me be more focused in the multiplayer. In the newly-released Mount & Blade II, I used my thumb for basic troop commands, allowing me to be a sword-swinging badass without distraction. It’s a wonderful time.
And it’s not just for games! I used the program detection to re-bind the thumb buttons for my most-used work programs, too. I mean, two. Chrome and Photoshop. Because that’s 95% of my job. But it’s still great! In Chrome, the first two buttons default to forward and back, but I used the rest for refresh, forward/back tab, and close tab. Small but appreciable amounts of time are saved versus keyboard shortcuts or mouse gestures.
My layout for Photoshop—eight custom tools, between two and four hotkey commands, now one button each.
The mouse saved me a huge amount of time in Photoshop. I’m no master, but I’ve been using the program in various incarnations for 15 years, so I know most of the standard keyboard shortcuts—they’re part of my muscle memory. It’s the ones that are just a little outside of my range, or that call for four different keys at once, that suddenly benefit from having all these extra programmable buttons around. For a laser-targeted approach to photo editing (including the photos in this review), I bound the thumb buttons to auto-color, auto-contrast, auto-tone, and the tool windows for Hue, Saturation, and Levels.
If six custom buttons for each app aren’t enough for you, there are another two hiding out on the top: DPI up and down. Since I never need to adjust my mouse DPI on desktop programs, I used these for Photoshop’s Image Size and Canvas Size shortcuts. Between these 8 instant-open commands, it feels like I can save ten minutes in an hour’s editing session. It probably isn’t actually that much—I’m saving a second, maybe two, for each time I’m not going through a drop-down menu. But it feels stupid fast.
I think this approach to binding macros and applying profiles to any program could benefit almost any power user, at least assuming the programs they use have a lot of keyboard shortcuts ready to bind.
The bottom’s extremely stable and glides well. Michael Crider
Two pleasant surprises came to me during testing. One, the scroll wheel is fantastic. Heavy, cool, and easy to use in either the notched “gaming” mode or the free-wheeling speed mode to quickly scan pages and documents. And two, the mouse is super-stable on its four feet arranged in a diamond pattern. I did notice one thing that’s poorly-implemented: switching between Bluetooth and standard “Lightspeed” USB is slow and clunky, to the point of being a pain. If you want a mouse that quickly switches between computers, this is not the one for you.
Oh Dear, the Software
There’s a huge black mark on this black mouse, and that’s Logitech’s G Hub software. The gaming-only management program is more or less like other all-in-one apps that manage a company’s gaming tools. But in this case, it’s almost entirely less.
The program is bad. Really, really bad. It’s poorly-organized, slow, clunky, and lays things out in ways that are baffling. It seems like graphic designers wrestled G Hub away from actual interface designers in order to make it look cool. If an all-black mouse on an all-black background is “cool,” I suppose.
The program automatically detected more than a dozen games on my system and then put a recommended layout profile on each one. I didn’t want that. I didn’t ask for that. But when I disabled all of the pre-set game profiles and started looking for Chrome and Photoshop, I had to dig down into the bowels of my Programs folder. Why? The macros that you save for each one can’t be applied to other profiles, so if you have multiple similar commands, you’ve got to recreate the macros each time. And you can’t create new profiles from the mouse management screen itself—you have to go back to the home screen. It’s a mess.
I didn’t ask for any of these auto-generated game profiles, and there’s no option to remove them.
Most damning of all, sometimes it just doesn’t work. Take Overwatch for example: I often play with YouTube or some other distraction on a second monitor, so I can watch videos in long stretches of the server searching for an open game. Well, the G Hub software switches over to my Chrome button profile when I do this…and about half the time, doesn’t switch back. So I have to alt-tab out of Overwatch, then alt-tab right back, as if I’m tapping G Hub on the shoulder to remind it to do its job.
For some programs, it just doesn’t work at all. I tried to set up keyboard bindings for Slack, Review Geek’s office chat program of choice. But even when I manually select the Slack executable file, it just can’t find it. No dice. It’s incredibly frustrating.
The software when I have Slack in focus. Notice how the Slack profile I manually assigned is not active.
For the times that G Hub works, it’s still useful, especially in Photoshop. For the times that it doesn’t, it’s a major headache. This isn’t a problem if you’re planning on sticking to the default key layout, or merely adjusting it. (It’s entirely possible to use all the mouse’s buttons and adjust But if you’re planning on filling up a dozen different profiles with complex macro commands and having them automatically launch with a game or program…well, don’t. This very nice mouse isn’t worth that kind of a hassle.
The Honeymoon’s Over
I like almost everything about the G604 itself. It’s versatile, comfy, long-lasting, and nothing in the design of the mouse is wasted. I wish it was better at switching between machines, but that’s a secondary concern for most users. For games and work programs, it’s fantastic.
The G604, left, and G603. Michael Crider
But man, that software. It’s a pain that drags down the entire experience. G Hub is clunky at best and broken at worst. It’s enough to make me recommend that anyone reliant on more advanced macro binding should look for another mouse.
That’s a shame, because I love Logitech mice. And it’s possible that the company will get its software act together. But as I can only review what I have, and not what I might get in the future, the G604 gets only a very conditional recommendation from me.
The article ‘ Logitech G604 Gaming Mouse Review: The Honeymoon is Over ‘ Previously Appeared on: https://www.reviewgeek.com/39271/logitech-g604-gaming-mouse-review-the-honeymoon-is-over/