As framerates continue to rise and system latency continues to fall, it’s important to understand where the bottlenecks in your performance lie. While the truth is that you, the human, are the primary limitation, you certainly can work around your mortal inefficiencies to ensure your split-second decisions and actions translate into the intended gameplay input. Corsair is putting in the research and development in that regard, and the Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series is its latest effort to claim new levels of competitive performance.
With a name like that, your first thought may be to recall the previous iterations of the Sabre, but this latest mouse has an entirely different focus. In fact, it doesn’t look anything like the old models, which makes the decision to name it as such an odd one. The 2021 Sabre RGB Pro is a new concept, designed with esports-level performance in mind. From the 74g light-weight design to the Omron zero gap switches, you’ll immediately get a feel for what this mouse is meant to do the moment you try it out.
Yet as good as the Sabre RGB Pro feels in your hand, it packs in even more features via the iCUE and Axon hyper-polling software. Not only do you get the flashy lights, you get lightning fast response times. Truth be told, that performance does come at the cost of CPU utilization, but we’ll get into the specifics of all that later. Let’s run through the rest of the general features first before we get into specifics.
Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series specs
We’ve compiled the most relevant bits of information from the full spec sheet, but you can always find more on the Corsair website. The following table offers a quick reference tool for all of the Sabre RGB Pro features, but we’ll cover usefulness, ease of use, and thoughts on quality before weighing-in on everything in the conclusion.
|Color and finish||
Black, light gloss
Optical PixArt PMW3392
|# of buttons||5 + DPI button|
Omron, Quickstrike, zero gap
x2 full zone + x3 shared single zone DPI
|Connectivity||USB 2.0 Type-A|
|Report rate options||
125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, 8000
2.1m/7ft drag-reducing paracord
General features and purpose
Corsair emphasizes the competitive advantages allowed by using this mouse. The light-weight design, zero gap buttons, and high polling rates tend to dominate the key selling points, but I would point out a few other things that I noted during testing. The drag-reducing cable not only puts rubberized cables to shame, but also has an extremely flexible design. I never had an issues with the Sabre cord interfering with my gameplay unlike the entry-level mouse I keep around for comparison testing. The lighter weight and greater flexibility of the Sabre cable are noticeably better. The cable also comes with a fastening strap for easy portability, making the Sabre a lot more manageable for those looking to travel to competitive events.
The scroll wheel also incorporates a rubberized material that makes for the best grip I’ve felt yet on mouse. I really can’t complain about the scroll wheel grip on too many other gaming mice I’ve tested, but the material on the Sabre just feels a bit more “grippy.” That could largely be due to the surface having a flatter, larger contact area, but hey, it works. You certainly won’t miss any weapon cycles with the Sabre.
Visual design and RGB lighting
The overall look of the Sabre is a bit bulbous looking at first, and I have to admit I’m a huge fan of Razer’s sharp angles that still manage to pull off a low-profile aesthetic in many cases. However, the Sabre is more functional. This is immediately obvious when you palm the mouse. There are sloping angles and grooves for your fingers to rest in on the buttons. Anyone keen on ergonomics will immediately notice the effort spent here. If you don’t like the shape, I think it’s something you’ll just have to get over in exchange for the Sabre’s benefits. It certainly isn’t a bad-looking design though, as it still has a sleekness to it and doesn’t display any overwhelming characteristics that scream “gamer.” That, of course, is provided you don’t have the rainbow RGB effects on.
The attention to small details like the rubberized feel on the USB connector and the braided paracord are also noteworthy. Corsair still needs to do a little more work on removing some unnecessary slack in the cable, but there’s only a little bit, and not too much to where it will cause a problem. According to the company, this is intentional, as it is part of the drag-reducing fabric design.
The RGBs are brilliantly bright. So much so that I opted to turn the brightness down, and I think there’s more than enough glow to satisfy any lighting fanatic out there. You can see that the Corsair logo and the scroll wheel light up with a balanced glow. These are full zone lights that can be customized independently via iCUE and matched with the rest of your setup if you’re all about the lighting effects. As a quick note about the iCUE software, it’s a lot easier to use now and I never saw it crash unlike old builds. For the Sabre, you can’t have a full rainbow effect present all at once, but you can program the mouse to cycle through effects. I suggest a slow-changing effect or a solid color scheme so as not to be overly distracting.
I also noted that the DPI LED indicator on the side has a full range of RGB color choices, but you can only set the three bars to a single, static color at a time from what I can tell. This was a bit disappointing and something that could be remedied in the future. Still, Corsair does offer some good overall RGB options for the price.
Layout, feel, and build quality
As already touched upon, the Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series feels like a natural fit for the hand that’s very comfortable. While the Sabre only comes right-handed, Corsair’s decision to focus on this single design has paid off in overall comfort. The bulbous design may not look as cool, but it provides support and helps keep your hand right where it needs to be. The grooves on the buttons provide additional placement guidance so you’re fingers revert back to the same position every time.
I do have small hands myself, so the Sabre is admittedly a bit large for me at times. However, that’s also due to my lose grip preference. Our general conclusion is that it will work for anyone with medium-sized hands or larger. It’s especially true if you fully palm the mouse like you’re supposed to do. If you claw grip, you’ll be fine too.
Speaking more to the scroll wheel, I think the placement is about right. The rubberized texture also allows me to get plenty of grip with just the side of my finger so I don’t have to reposition my fingers much when switching weapons before getting back to firing.
The layout is pretty minimalistic as far as gaming mice go. There are only five buttons to work with opposed to some other choices out there. The added functionality of things like sniper buttons can be nice, but the Sabre does well with what it offers. The primary two buttons are Omron zero gap switches that are rated for 50 million clicks and the side buttons provide satisfying feedback. The extended length of the side buttons were a good consideration, as well as the small gap and angles in between to provide feedback of which side button your finger is on. Clicking the scroll wheel feels equally good.
The smooth plastic sides do feel a bit disappointing, as the competing Razer Viper model offers a far more premium material, but that comes at a premium price as well. The smooth plastic edges on the Sabre might not be a big deal to everyone, but I’d certainly pay more for a different material on the sides.
As for the overall build quality, the Sabre feels very solid and well made despite its startlingly hollow feel. That’s meant in the best way possible, because you won’t feel like your holding a flimsy product. It’s built light to fight.
Gaming performance and tuning
The gaming experience is of course where the Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series shines the most, all RGBs aside. Everything we’ve mentioned thus far contributes to the performance results you will notice. The weight of the mouse and the overall responsiveness really stand out.
The mouse itself weighs in at just 74g. This feels like the perfect weight to where you’re not making accidental movements, but you’re hand isn’t slowed due to factors like inertia. I’m still curious to see what the upcoming 37g Final Mouse products perform like, but I’ll never use anything as heavy as my 121g mouse again for competitive shooters. You can’t adjust the weight of the Sabre, but it feels light and perfectly balanced as is. I also again want to emphasize that the cord is light and flexible and didn’t drag.
The responsiveness of the primary buttons on this mouse is likely the synergetic result of the zero gap Quickstrike buttons and the 8,000Hz polling rate. If you need an explainer of what a polling rate is, it’s the number of times inputs are scanned for and reported to the system. The typical polling rate for a mouse is 1,000Hz, so 1 ms. That has been the standard for quite a while, but was in part due to the taxing effect of increased polling rates on the CPU. Newer processors are getting strong enough to where hyper-polling is no longer an issue though. As such, companies are pushing for 8,000Hz now, which is just .125 ms. That’s a difference that esports players will value. However, it probably isn’t enough of a difference for a casual player to justify buying this mouse and upgrading an aging CPU over.
The Axon hyper-polling software is multi-threaded, so it does better on CPUs with higher core and thread counts. The resource demands only increase as you scale up the reporting rates beyond 1000Hz. As an example, the 7700K could not handle the 8000Hz polling for both the mouse and keyboard simultaneously, but I found the 11700K managed it just fine. I had acceptable results at a 4,000Hz polling rate though when playing at 4K60 on the 7700K. Needless to say, 1080p gaming suffered. Now it might sound weird to bring up 4K gaming for something like this, but I discovered an interesting result. The lower refresh gaming feels a lot better when the inputs are able to make up for some of the competitive performance bottlenecks. Just something to keep in mind.
My final takeaway on hyper-polling is that while the increased responsiveness sounds better in theory, I think 2000-4000Hz still feels quite good. If you have a CPU that can manage the higher levels, it certainly doesn’t hurt to crank it up. And make sure you plug your Sabre directly into your motherboard for the hyper-polling to work right.
DPI settings and software options
The improvements to the iCUE software come at a good time for Corsair’s latest wave of products. I was easily able to set up custom DPI settings after plugging the mouse in. The Sabre RGB Pro features five pre-programmed DPI settings built into the hardware which can be manually tuned in iCUE. The default values are 400, 800, 1200, 1600, and 3200. It only takes a moment to get to the slider values for manual tuning, and you can save your own settings to the onboard memory when you are done. This will allow you take take the Sabre with you and retain your preferred settings on any PC.
You can also perform on-the-fly DPI changes during gameplay by holding down the DPI button on the top and then selecting the forward or back buttons on the side. Doing so will change the DPI by increments of 50 and the mouse will give you visual feedback such as a green flash for adding DPI and red for reducing it. This is a great consideration for if you’re feeling off a certain day and don’t want the hassle of pulling up iCUE or even taking your eyes off the screen for that matter.
Furthermore, the side LEDs actually show you which DPI setting you are on. I mentioned that there are five settings, and the LEDs light up accordingly as a visual aid. You just need to remember what you set for each stage.
You’ll also notice some additional options like angle-snapping, added pointer precision, surface calibration, and button response optimization.
Final thoughts on gaming performance
Those with large hands that tend to apply light pressure while resting their fingertips on the front ends of the primary buttons may find the buttons on the Sabre to have a little too much of a hair-trigger feel that will cause accidental clicks. That will either take some getting used to or it could be a deal-breaker for games like battle royales where accidentally giving away your positioning can be the difference of winning and losing.
I simply didn’t have this issue though. During my time with the Sabre, my edits in Fortnite felt especially crisp and precise, but the precision and effortlessness of using this mouse in games like Destiny 2 and Apex Legends was game changing. Having grown up playing on console, I have a tendency to perform better on controller when it comes to things like movement control. However, the improvements I experienced for my aiming control and responsiveness finally justified making the full switch to mouse and keyboard. I may just be a fan of lightweight mice, but I can certainly recommend this one.
Pricing and conclusion
At the cost of just $60 USD, the Sabre RGB Pro manages to offer a high-performance gameplay experience with plenty of other enticing features for good value. The Sabre comes in $20 USD cheaper than the competing Razer Viper, but lacks the ambidextrous layout and premium side grips. It still feels plenty comfortable though, and this mouse is really more about the gameplay anyways.
A lot of companies love to make flashy marketing claims, but they don’t always translate into actual substance. In this case though, our takeaway impressions are that the Sabre is entirely worth it, even if the full 8,000Hz hyper-polling isn’t in use. The CPU scene is about to get a lot more competitive in the coming years though, so you can almost think of the monstrous polling capability as a bit of a built-in future proofing measure by Corsair.
The Sabre RGB Pro is built for FPS/MOBA games though, so it isn’t an ideal choice for those who like to have plenty of programmable buttons. You’ll also want to keep in mind that the Quickstrike buttons are quite sensitive at the front end. This may be a bit too sensitive for some, and the Sabre won’t be ideal for people with smaller hands that palm grip, but the features are killer.
The Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series is great as is, but if Corsair iterates on this basic design to provide a few different models that cater to different hand sizes and preferences, this could be a product family that ends up on a lot of desks in the coming years. It’s on sale now at Corsair’s website.