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Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse review: A legendary PC accessory reborn, with a big design flaw (Updated)

Microsoft's Classic IntelliMouse heralds the return of a, well, classic. But should it have been left in the past?

Microsoft's new Classic IntelliMouse is an affordable throwback to a (slightly) simpler time, when mouse pointers typically contained large internal balls with rollers that would, over time, accumulate dust and become stuck.

The first IntelliMouse hit the market in 1996, with a number of then-unique innovations. Over the years, the range pioneered the scroll wheel, while popularizing optical lasers over trackballs, ergonomic design, and dedicated thumb buttons.

Microsoft is revisiting the classic mouse design with the new Classic IntelliMouse, which faithfully recreates what made some of the original mice so special, with a bit of modern flair.

A classic reborn

Classic IntelliMouse

$39.99 (opens in new tab)

Bottom line: The IntelliMouse is a legend reborn, and it is well worth your attention, especially for the price.

Pros:

  • Ergonomic and comfortable.
  • Accurate sensor tracking.
  • Tons of configuration options.

Cons:

  • No wireless option.
  • Wire is annoyingly inflexible.
  • Rubberized sides perish quite easily.

What you'll love about the Classic IntelliMouse

Microsoft's IntelliMouse range is noteworthy for pioneering many mouse staples we now take for granted. Mouse tech has moved on, though, and there are now hundreds of manufacturers out there offering their own mice, specialized for all sorts of use-cases. This IntelliMouse is not what I'd call specialized for any specific user, but is instead a reliable jack of all trades that could bring the brand back to the forefront.

CategorySpec
InterfaceUSB 2.0
ButtonsFive buttons, three customizable
ScrollingVertical scroll wheel
DPIUp to 3,200 points per inch, configurable
SensorBluetrack, 1,000 reports per second
Weight100g
Size132 mm x 69 mm x 43 mm
Price$39.99

Leveraging Microsoft's Bluetrack laser tech, I've found that this mouse is among the most reliable I've used when it comes to different types of surfaces. Prior to this, I was using a combination of Razer's Naga Hex, and Microsoft's folding Surface Arc mouse. While both of those mice are great in their own ways, I found both of them suffered on my aging, unvarnished wood desk, which is a pretty challenging surface for any optical mouse. The IntelliMouse has eliminated my need for a mouse mat even on this rugged desk terrain, however, which is impressive. It even works on glass.

Speaking of the sensor, the IntelliMouse supports DPI anywhere up to 3,200, which is also impressive. You can configure the range via the Mouse and Keyboard Center app, and even set it up so that the side buttons can increase or decrease the DPI on the fly. I've seen some older reports that the sensor can jerk around, particularly when lifting the mouse off your desk when turning in games, but I haven't found that to be the case at all with the new mouse. Using this mouse in various shooters and other types of games using high DPI settings has been nothing short of a breeze.

The mentioned Mouse and Keyboard Center app has become somewhat of a staple of Microsoft's mouse range, and installing it in combination with the IntelliMouse grants a huge amount of configurability. You can record full macros and bind them to keys, set up different bindings per app, and even control Windows 10's Game DVR to capture gameplay without using the Game Bar or keyboard combinations. Gamers or prosumers who enjoy a lot of configurability will find a lot to love here.

I've been using the mouse for a few days now and found it to be pleasant in the hand, although it took me a little while to get used to its size. The buttons are tactile and reassuring to click, with solid travel and resistance against accidental clicks. The scroll wheel also has great action. The sides of the IntelliMouse are rubberized to improve grip, and the two side buttons fit perfectly against my thumb. The larger button is also elongated to make it easier to press on the lower half of your thumb, which represents an attention to detail other mouse makers often overlook.

What you'll not love about the Classic IntelliMouse

It's truly hard to find anything to complain about with this mouse. It looks sleek, it's comfortable in the hand, and feels premium. After using Razer mice and other gaming brands for a while, I find myself missing fabric cables, however. The plastic solution Microsoft has gone with for the IntelliMouse feels cheap by comparison, and it's annoyingly rigid and inflexible compared to other brands. Also, it's disappointing there's no wireless or Bluetooth option, and that's highlighted by the annoying cable materials.

Update September 21, 2019: After using this mouse for three months, frustratingly, the rubberized grips on the sides have begun to perish. The side actually feels quite irritating against my thumb now, making me wish they had opted for textured plastic, perhaps similar to what you find an Xbox One controller's grips. This design flaw is a huge oversight, and a damn shame.

Final thoughts on Microsoft Classic IntelliMouse

Microsoft has reinvigorated a classic with its new IntelliMouse, enhancing what made the old line so great, while throwing in some modern features and configurability. I hate the choice of materials Microsoft went for when settling for its cabling, but almost every other aspect of the product feels polished and classy. At $39.99, you could do far worse.

The Classic IntelliMouse is a solid, affordable option for all sorts of users that quickly became my daily driver.

Update September 21, 2019: In light of the fact the rubber perishes quite easily in what I'd consider light use, I've dropped my review score down a point to reflect this design flaw.

Jez Corden
Jez Corden

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

13 Comments
  • Not enough internal memory.
  • Oh yeah, those eight GB really don't cut it 🤣
  • This has been the most requested wired mouse here at work...glad to see it back...
  • Thx for the review. Looks like a solid choice.
  • I don't understand. Why are all of these reviews of the Classic Intellimouse coming out now? The device has been out since 2017 - October, maybe?
  • This mouse is only like the OG due to its shape. The sensor used in this revised version is terrible compared to the original. If you look at reviews that did gaming with it, it is nothing like the original, the sensor is very bad for gaming. Now... if you just want a mouse for basic use, sure, its a nice mouse. But for $40 there are a lot of other good mice that are both good for gaming and general use.
  • " If you look at reviews that did gaming..."
    Stop. Real gamers would never be looking at this mouse. Also, gamers should not dicate everthing in our computer lives. Also, no one is really using the OG in 2018 for gaming, c'mon.
  • I had one of these for roughly 15 years and the only reason I threw it out was because the cable began to frey, and thus interrupt operation. I remember a time even when these things were selling at quite the premium, used on ebay. Back then the build quality was quite good, it was also a time when back and forward side buttons were a new thing. But with mouse tech the way it is, I'm currently using a cheap $15 Chinese mouse here at my office and it suites my needs just fine.
  • Where does the 8 GB internal storage come from? It's not mentioned anywhere on Microsoft's site or in the Store app.
  • copy and paste mistake, fixed it, sorry about that
  • "A legendary PC accessory gloriously reborn" seems a bit over-the-top for something as mundane as a mouse. What's next? Gushing praise for a 6 outlet power strip? BTW, can someone explain why a mouse needs 8GB of internal storage?
  • I love this mouse - I just received it from Amazon last week. It was on sale for <$25 - a steal in my opinion. I only find two things annoying: 1. The software isn't in the Windows Store, and 2. The LED tail light stays on when my Surface is either undocked (and the dock is powered) or when the Surface is docked but shut down; the light does as it should when my Surface is sleeping, which is, it shuts off. Really, these are quibbles. This is an accurate, comfortable mouse with great button feel and ergonomics. And 8GB of memory. No, wait...
  • So, what's the deal with PC mice and scroll wheels anyway? Why do we still have them and, specifically, why are so many (all?) of them still optimized/designed to scroll in on only one axis--vertically--instead of optimized for scrolling both up and down and side by side? With a good laptop touchpad you can scroll horizontally or vertically easily with either a horizonal or vertical two-finger gesture. In the Mac world, Apple mice have had touch support for two-dimensional scrolling with the a gesture for years. I thought Microsoft was heading in this direction with their Touch Mouse several years ago, but the product seems to have disappeared, and all the latest Microsoft mice appear to support only vertical-scrolling--even if the scroll wheel is touch (Arc mouse, at least the one I have). My Logitech mouse has a little side-scrolling wheel, but it's clearly subordinated by design from the vertical scroll wheel, and it feels totally awkward to me compared to using a touchpad and compared to using an Apple mouse. Wheels seem like a (ok, cheaper, but) inferior design compared to a touch surface. One continuing trend in PC displays design is to go widescreen, and I'd assume that makes sideways scrolling at least marginally a little less of an edge case than it may have been in the past. But, obviously, the market has spoken and the single scroll wheel hasn't gone away. Is this a gaming thing (I'm not a gamer)? What's up?