Logitech’s MX Master 3 might be the best mouse ever made. Or at least, it’s the best mouse that I’ve ever used. There are a lot of good things about it, but what elevates it above the nest of other mice out there is — without a doubt — the scroll wheel, which is unparalleled by any other.
The MX Master series has always had great scroll wheels, going back to the original model in 2015. But the recently released MX Master 3 improves on that with a new magnet-powered scroll wheel mechanism that’s faster and more precise than the old model, as well as almost completely silent to boot.
I’m not going to get too into the technical aspects of the changes Logitech has made here with the magnetic mechanism (I highly recommend reading this in-depth teardown from Bolt that goes into the nitty-gritty), but the end result is a practically flawless scroll experience.
Like all the MX Master mice, there are two modes to the scroll wheel here: a precision, ratcheting scroll mode that lets you precisely tick up and down through a webpage or document, and a free-wheeling mode that just lets the wheel fly as fast as it can. Which, given the nearly frictionless magnets, is pretty fast. You can also activate the free-spinning mode by flicking the scroll wheel quickly while in the more precise, ratcheting mode, which is oddly fun to fidget with idly.
The new mechanism feels incredibly good to use. Every tick of the scroll wheel has a soft, subtle step to it, which the magnets make smoother and quieter than a regular mouse wheel’s moving parts. It’s hard to describe, but the end result is a lighter-feeling scroll that doesn’t take as much effort to push.
That’s to say nothing of the free-scrolling mode, which, thanks to the new system, feels like it could just spin forever. The heavy, weighted steel construction is also a delight to interact with, especially when you flick it just right to disengage the ratcheting mechanism and go flying down a page.
It also speaks to the advantages of a tactile system like this: the notched ticks as you scroll through each step on the wheel, the feel of the mechanism disengaging to release. They’re experiences that you just can’t get on a touchscreen, or even a trackpad. Even if the end result of scrolling down a page is still the same.
This is usually the part of this column where I talk about how the button changed the way we think about how we use a device, or was the hallmark of some greater paradigm shift in user interface over time. But I don’t think the MX Master 3’s scroll wheel does either of those things — not exactly.
I can’t say that I scroll my mouse any more frequently using the MX Master 3 than I already do, or that this is some dividing line in the sand for the way we’ll build mice. But I still think it’s a fantastic button — not because of all the potential it has as a smart object, but because it’s just an elegant, focused piece of technology that’s delightful to use. Not everything needs to be an internet-connected, customizable piece of hardware. In fact, the uni-tasking nature is often what makes hardware buttons stand out in the first place compared to their more function-packed touchscreen and software-based counterparts.
It’s an incredibly good scroll wheel. And sometimes, just doing a single thing really well is all a button needs to do.
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