Asus ProArt Mouse MD300 review

Asus ProArt Mouse MD300 review

Many companies are pleased with their high-end decking mice With more buttons than you think possible. Asus is taking a different tack with the creativity-focused ProArt Mouse MD300, outfitting it with two scroll wheels — one on the top and one on the side — as well as a third exclusive rotary control dubbed the Asus Dial. Some productivity mice allow you to click a combination of buttons; The ProArt MD300 lets you spin a wonderland of wheels. It’s a great pick for people like graphics and video creators, but the mouse carries an MSRP of $180. It also ignores many potential customers by neglecting a large group of creative professionals: Mac users. If you’re on Windows, and spend a lot of time on Adobe software, this might get on your fingers very happy.

A mouse with a major circulation scheme

Look at it from the right side, and you’ll find the ProArt MD300 is a fairly standard mouse in the right hand with an all-black color scheme. (The Clamshell, unfortunately, excels at collecting smudges in day-to-day use.) You’ll find four buttons on top: the primary left and right buttons, a clickable scroll wheel, and an oversized button below the latter. The left side is the “good side”: there, you’ll find an additional (cylindrical) scroll wheel and the Asus Dial. These side controls also feature buttons that can be pressed between swipes and spins.

(Photo: Nathaniel Mott)

The wireless mouse works with both Bluetooth and a 2.4GHz wireless USB dongle, and can be paired with up to three devices. Asus rates battery life at up to 150 days on a full charge; I didn’t get to practice with the mouse for long before the deadline for this review, but it ran for several weeks without stopping. You can back up quickly, too: The company says one minute of charging is enough for three hours of heavy use or eight hours of light use.

Asus ProArt Mouse MD300 Front USB port

(Photo: Nathaniel Mott)

This heavy use is unlikely to include gaming; The MD300’s optical sensor is not as accurate as the Elite sensors gaming mice, peaking at 4,200 dpi, and its lack of traditional side buttons can be a handicap in some titles. The mouse weighs 3.8 ounces (109 grams) as well, which is twice the weight of the flagship Razer Viper V2 Pro. But this does not come as a surprise. It’s called ProArt MD300, not ProGame MD300.

Deets on the Dial

This brings me to the Asus Dial. The company describes it as a tool for making fine adjustments to various settings in creative applications such as Adobe Photoshop. On some devices (we’ll talk more about that in a moment), it can also call up a radial menu that can manage a variety of settings. It can function as a scroll wheel as well, although the placement of the dial makes the side-scrolling “drum” more comfortable to use.

My primary issue with the Asus Dial is that it only reaches its true potential on Windows, since that’s the only operating system supported by Asus’ Armory Crate software, which manages all of the company’s peripherals and components. Creative professionals who use Macs, and there are plenty of them, can’t take full advantage of the Asus Dial. This seems like an omission given the placement of ProArt.

Corner Asus ProArt Mouse MD300

(Photo: Nathaniel Mott)

For creative professionals using Windows, the core functionality of Asus Dial changes with the software you use, with the focus on Adobe Creative Suite. In Lightroom Classic, for example, Dial manages rendering; In Premiere Pro, the timeline zooms in and out; And in Photoshop, it’s used to zoom in and out on certain layers.

Windows users who don’t spend their day on Adobe programs will be greeted by the Asus Dial user interface. By default, this item only provides volume controls, but it can be customized to allow mouse move tools to adjust screen brightness (only on a laptop, not a desktop), switch between apps or virtual desktops, or act like a scroll wheel traditional.

This is an interesting concept, but it falters somewhat in execution. There are three issues that cross with the Asus Dial screen UI: its size, the lack of a way to dismiss the UI after it appears on the screen, and how easy it is to accidentally invoke. These vulnerabilities culminated in repeated intrusions of valuable screen space by volume disk (which had the added effect of deafening me the next time I launched a game).

Despite this, it’s easy to like the physical aspects of the Asus Dial. It provides enough resistance to allow for fine adjustments, but not so much that it becomes cumbersome to rotate. The integrated button also has a satisfying click. Like I said, I didn’t find it as comfortable to use it in a scroll wheel position as an actual scroll roller next to it, but that will vary based on your grip and hand size. Users with smaller hands will likely have a better time with the Asus Dial than the scroll wheel.

communication and software

Asus deserves props for putting big, high-quality feet on a non-gaming mouse. Some production mice have small feet that wear out after a while; This does not appear to be the case with the ProArt Mouse MD300.

I did notice that the mouse’s Bluetooth connection was a bit finicky with my MacBook Air running macOS Monterey; The device took a while to pair and even after that it sometimes disconnects and forces me to pair it again. Every time it happened I saw ProArt listed twice in my Bluetooth list, so I’m not sure what the problem was (I wouldn’t recommend a mouse to Mac users anyway, due to its software limitations).

As the Windows software goes, the Armory Crate is just fine. Some users who own multiple Armory Crate-ruled Asus products might be annoyed by having to select a specific device to tweak every time they want to change a setting, but this is arguably less of a hassle than having to install and keep track of multiple apps.

Asus Armory Crate button settings
Asus Armory Crate Disk Settings

Either way, the Armory Crate offers all the features you’d expect, from the ability to update mouse firmware and adjust performance settings to handle button remappings and customize the Asus Dial. Again, it’s a shame that the app is a Windows exclusive.

Asus Armory Crate cursor speed settings
Asus Armory Crate power settings

Verdict: A flexible mouse, but only for a few

So, who does the ProArt Mouse MD300 make sense for? Assuming Mac users would be better off buying a different mouse because the Armory Crate isn’t available for macOS, that leaves Windows creative professionals who spend most of their time in the Adobe Creative Suite, don’t play much games, or just prefer rotating a controller to click.

Cost is another important factor. At the time we posted this, the MD300 wasn’t yet available in the US from the Asus online store or partner retailers, but the advertised list price of $180 is… pretty much not cheap. We’ll have to see how the actual street prices are affected. As it is, ProArt is less expensive than some creative tools (or the annual cost of an Adobe subscription), but much more than many other mice that do most of what they do. It’s all about whether you can take advantage of this demand.

We can see the appeal of the Asus Dial user interface, but with its current limitations—in terms of features and compatibility—it’s not enough to sell us on the ProArt MD300. (That is unless you spent your days in the Creative Suite, in which case it might be your future best friend.) This is a solid mouse with potential, but it won’t be able to justify that price for most people.

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