Cherry MC 4000 review
Purchase date: Saturday 6th January 2018
Review date: Tuesday 21st April 2020
- First impressions
- Long term impressions
- Comparison with the IntelliMouse Optical
This is a review of the Cherry MC 4000 wired mouse. In addition to the standard three buttons on a mouse (left, right, wheel/middle), the MC 4000 adds two side buttons that default to providing Back and Forward navigation in Explorer and Web browsers. This model is available in black.
- Wired mouse with optical sensor
- Five buttons including scroll wheel and two side buttons
- Symmetric design
- 1000 and 2000 DPI sensor, switchable by a top button
- 130 g in weight, measuring 116 × 64.5 × 34.5 mm
- Button lifetime 10 million minimum
- Wheel lifetime 150,000 cycles minimum
As noted in my review of the Microsoft IntelliMouse Optical (IMO) mouse nearly ten years earlier, I adopted the use of a five-button mouse after discovering operating system–wide mouse gestures. (Due to software flaws and poor support for a paid product, I dropped StrokeIt in favour of the superior StrokesPlus.) I hold the mouse in a fingertip grip and move it using my wrist instead of my forearm, as well as use the mouse extensively with my left hand, which means that the standard right-handed five-button arrangement used by most (two buttons under the thumb on the left) is ruled out. With fingertip grip, button five on such designs remains out of reach. Ambidextrous gaming mice do exist (often with two buttons on each side that will only work in Windows with doubtlessly buggy drivers running), while regular ambidextrous five-button office-grade mice are rare, perhaps because most people aren’t even aware that the wheel is clickable (hence so many websites not understanding middle-click).
The desire for an ambidextrous design led me to originally choose the IntelliMouse Optical. However, the quality of that mouse leaves much to be desired. After my mouse at home wore out, I plugged in my final spare IMO, only to find that it was in some ways even more unreliable than the worn-out one that it replaced. With limited options on the market, and gaming mice known for unreliability, I finally decided to give Cherry a try, when my keyboard research reminded me that Cherry also made mice. I had previously tried Microsoft’s newer Comfort Mouse 4000, but that was so bad that I gave up on it immediately. I learnt from that detour that a free-rotating scroll wheel and tilt-wheel scrolling made the wheel and middle button almost unusable, and the exterior is rubber, which does not last.
The MC 4000 seems to be targeted towards gamers (which I am not); I chose it on the weight of the Cherry name, with the objective of obtaining a reliable office-grade mouse. It remains to be seen how well this model holds up over time in that respect. The list price for the MC 4000 is low, but (not counting for inflation) higher than what I paid for the IMO. I paid £19.25 all inclusive in 2018 for the MC 4000, while in 2010 a five-pack of IMOs cost me around £62.28 (with tax but before postage), equivalent to £12.46 each. Both prices are well below what a gaming mouse can reach, but those prices may be inflated more by prestige and gaming-specific features, considering that mice are very simple devices.
Having used the MC 4000 for over two years now, it is well overdue a review. I have not taken any photographs specifically for this review; if for any reason you desire such images, my photographs can be found in my Cherry MC 4000 article on the Deskthority wiki.
Back in January 2018, shortly after purchasing my MC 4000, I recorded my first impressions on the Deskthority input device forum. My main gripe was that the switch under the wheel was far too stiff from new, meaning that the wheel tended to rotate instead of click when pressed. As an avid user of the middle button, this proved quite a nuisance. Fortunately the button eased up after a while (somewhere between a few weeks and a few months) and now works just fine.
The other problem I faced was adopting to the smaller side buttons. The Comfort Mouse 4000 had even smaller buttons, but they were very prominent. The IMO had large and very responsive side buttons designed to accommodate the increased difficulty of pressing one of them with the your fingers, on the side opposite to where your thumb is (the button under the thumb is always easy to press). Cherry’s side buttons are small, thin, and are placed within a narrow waist of the mouse shell that positions them somewhat away from your fingers. The near portion of each button is stiff and hard to press, while the far portion is easy to press. One advantage of placing the buttons a little out of reach is that it reduces the likelihood of hitting the side buttons when picking up the mouse to reposition it, a problem with the larger buttons on the IMO. (The advantage of being able to hit the far side button of the IMO with the edge of your fingers is also a disadvantage in that that same button gets knocked when lifting the mouse.)
Long term impressions
Having used the IMO for over ten years, I have observed its longevity characteristics from the batch I purchased. By comparison, I have only been using the MC 4000 at home for two years and three months. So far, it has held up fine. I soon adapted to the smaller side buttons: pressing the button on the far side from my thumb involves pulling back my fingers so that my middle finger can reach it, which is not particularly bothersome. The wheel can be pressed as a button just fine now. The all-round glide pad has held up well on a mouse mat, providing very smooth movement; it remains to be seen whether it remains free from the scratchy sliding that plagues the IMO’s tiny feet. I have kept the mouse in its lower 1000 DPI setting, with the Windows pointer speed still at its maximum setting as it was under the IMO. (Perhaps because the blue light from the 1000 DPI mode feels softer than the red light from the 2000 DPI mode.)
I have yet to discover the secret of what IntelliPoint does that gives such reliable wheel scrolling acceleration across all software; no-one seems to have created something that works a fraction as well. As such, I have never been able to replace it with a product that works with a rival brand of mouse, and simply live with normal scrolling behaviour.
I do still suffer from occasional uncommanded wheel rotations after using the mouse wheel, just as I did with the IMO, but nowhere near as frequently.
For the most part, it simply feels like a fairly ordinary mouse, which is all was hoping for. It is fairly flat as far as mice goes, but for fingertip grip this is not a problem.
Comparison with the IntelliMouse Optical
The following comparison weighs up my overall experience with the IMO over ten years versus two years using a single MC 4000. Out of my original five-pack of IMOs, I gave two away new, and gave one away near-new after plugging in my final spare and abandoning it in complete exasperation. The defects with the firmware in my black IMO 1.1 batch also presented themselves in two more white IMOs that we ended up with at work, demonstrating that I did not simply buy a faulty lot. However, I cannot report on the long-term longevity of the MC 4000 compared to that of ten years’ continuous use of the IMO at work.
|Characteristic||Microsoft IntelliMouse Optical 1.1||Cherry MC 4000|
|Size||Possibly a little bulky, but tolerable||Possibly a little too slim (and low in height), but tolerable|
|Aesthetics||The IMO did not look too bad when new, but the rough texture and silver plastic looks rather dated now, not just in the cheap texture of the silver areas and tone but in the style of the wraparound area at the front.||The MC 4000 presently has a much more refined and modern-looking design, but that may too look dated when aesthetics change again!|
|Main buttons||Pressing any button after moving the mouse cursor will often move the cursor by one step in the last direction travelled, making accurate cursor selections in graphic software impossible.||Both buttons work correctly.|
|Wheel click||Normal||Very stiff when new almost to the point of being unusable, but loosened up after a few weeks|
|Wheel rotation||Frequently scrolls by one notch by itself a short time after the last deliberate scroll action; the wheel detents are excessively stiff from new and rotation is disturbingly noisy||Rarely scrolls by itself; the wheel rotates smoothly and quietly, although this can lead to overscrolling at times due to insufficient detent strength|
|Sensor||The tracking speed is extremely slow compared to other mice, and those who move the mouse with wrist action will need the mouse cursor speed set at maximum in the operating system.||There are two tracking speeds (slow and fast) which are switchable with a button press.|
|Side buttons||Both buttons are large, long and very easy to press; this is the ideal arrangement for ambidextrous operation, but does come with the risk that the far button (non-thumb side) can be triggered in error when picking up the mouse to reposition it, which can be dangerous in browsers.||The buttons are shorter in both dimensions, with the near ends very stiff. However, accidental presses are prevented by keeping the buttons smaller and further inward.|
|Materials||The rough plastic texture feels odd, and is prone to building up grease to the point that the case is all sticky where the mouse is gripped. The textured wheel surface however gives a reliable grip.||The hard, smooth plastic of the case is more grease-resistant, and grease build-up can be readily wiped clean. The Cherry wheel also offers a textured surface with good grip.|
|Construction||The injection moulding starts out with sharp edges to the holes for the side buttons, that are uncomfortable on the thumbs when holding the mouse. The case has poor internal support, and creaks when pressed or gripped, giving it overall a very cheap feel.||The fit and finish is flawless, and the case is solid and rigid. The recessed area along the top looks nice but does have the drawback of gathering hard to clean dirt (dirt build-up is inevitable but the centre recess seems like an unnecessary and prominent dirt trap).|
Cherry’s MC 4000 seems to be a perfectly serviceable office-grade mouse. It would be nice to be completely rid of the ghost wheel rotations, and accidental rotations from the inadequate wheel detents, but for the most part the constant trouble caused by Microsoft’s mouse firmware and cheap build quality is gone, and the MC 4000 feels far better put together all-round, something you should rightfully be able to expect from Cherry (although the modern G80-3000 mechanical office keyboards are too flimsy for my tastes).
When my IMO in the office fails (which it is starting to, as the microswitch under the right button has developed chatter) I will be replacing it with another MC 4000.