It finally has happened: The Zaunkoenig M1K no longer is the only dedicated Fingertip Grip gaming mouse in town. Chinese gaming mouse company G-Wolves has announced the «HSK», which already is being called «The poor man’s Zaunkoenig». We have gotten a bunch of emails asking as whether we would be mad at G-Wolves for «being inspired» by the M1K. We are not.
The mission of Zaunkoenig is to get Fingertip Grip out of the shadowy existence it was forced into over two decades ago. However we cannot do this alone. That is why from the start we hoped that other mouse companies would follow our lead and release dedicated Fingertip Grip gaming mice as well. Hence not only are we not angry at G-Wolves for being inspired by the M1K, we are happy about it.
In the following I will take a quick look at the HSK and compare it to the M1K.
Comparing the HSK to the M1K
Looking at the HSK and the M1K in a side by side comparison some similarities as well as one big difference become very obvious. See the following picture out of a review by BT:
G-Wolves made the HSK 60 millimeters wide at the front, which is exactly the same width as the M1K has at the front. With a length of 84 millimeters the HSK is just 5 millimeters longer than the M1K. Being very short is a very important attribute for a pure Fingertip Grip design, because only a very short design gives you the maximum amount of vertical range of motion. A short design also saves a lot of weight. So far, so good.
Obviously though we now have to talk about that weird back hump, that makes the HSK look a bit like a door stopper. Is it a show stopper?
Disclaimer: I do not own a HSK review unit. I doubt «Hi, I am Patrick from Zaunkoenig.» would have landed me one. However five years ago or so we made a bunch of prototypes with similarly tall humps. And boy, were those awkward. The tall hump came into contact with our fingers when when stretching those out, limiting our vertical range of motion. Also, the tall hump resulted in a steep angle on the mouse buttons which in turn resulted in the prototype as a whole constantly slipping backwards, towards our palms, forcing us to reset our grip constantly.
You could argue that that the back hump on the HSK is so tall, in order to making Claw Grip on the HSK viable. Many gaming mice are designed for Palm Grip first and Claw Grip second. Some gaming mice are designed for Claw Grip first and Fingertip Grip second. The M1K was designed for Fingertip Grip first – and nothing else. Maybe the HSK was designed for Fingertip Grip first and Claw Grip second? If that indeed is the case it is a good example of what happens when you design a thing to be not just one thing, but two things: a compromise. A mouse that works with Fingertip Grip as well as Claw Grip will not be optimal for either.
The HSK definitely gets bonus points for omitting side buttons. Side buttons and dedicated Fingertip Grip design are mutually exclusive: when using Fingertip Grip your fingers are all that is in contact with your mouse. Hence, when those fingers do not focus on gripping the mouse but also are pressing buttons, you significantly undermine the integrity of your grip.
Considering the HSK is almost as small as the M1K is, it may be surprising to some that it clocks in at a relatively hefty 37 grams, which is 60 percent heavier than the M1K with its 23 grams.
Obviously the HSK is not made from carbon fiber, but from standard plastic (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS in short). Also the wheel maybe adds about 4 grams. However I cannot shake the feeling that the HSK is heavier than it should be. I suspect the ABS shell of the HSK was purposefully over-engineered (in other words: they made it way too thick to make it much more robust than necessary).
I think this decision to over-engineering the HSK stems from a common prejudice that Fingertip Grip users face. I cannot count the times I have read something along the lines of «Oh, you are using Fingertip Grip? Enjoy your carpal tunnel syndrome.» Many seem to assume that Fingertip Grip automatically means Death Grip. In reality though, especially with a light mouse, you need very little force for Fingertip Grip.
On the plus side the HSK could be robust enough to survive Youtubes strongest mouse reviewer: boardzy. With his almost inhuman strength boardzy makes quick work of normal mice and keyboards. So maybe the HSK was designed with boardzy in mind.
Fingertip Grip is on the rise due to various reasons: lightweight gaming mice are getting ever more popular, and Fingertip Grip enables the lightest designs per definition. Additionally, games like Fortnite, with its high degree of vertical movement compared to games like CS:GO, benefit a lot from Fingertip Grip, as no other grip offers this much vertical range of movement. That is why I firmly believe the number of dedicated Fingertip Grip gaming mice will continue to go up.
Sooner or later other gaming mouse companies will jump on the Fingertip Grip train. I just hope that those companies will not take «the rise of Fingertip Grip» quite as literal as G-Wolves, especially when designing the back portion of the mouse.