It may be the incremental upgrade of all incremental upgrades: The Logitech MX Master 3S — at least on paper — is one of the smallest gadget updates we’ve seen in recent memory. Put them side by side and you wouldn’t be able to see the difference (unless you were comparing to the newest “Pale Grey” Master 3S color), you probably wouldn’t physically feel the difference, and unless you have a trained eye, you probably wouldn’t notice an on-screen difference either.
But rest assured, you’d instantly be able to tell the two top-end mouses apart once you’ve clicked them.
The audible difference between the MX Master 3 and 3S is so jarring, it runs up against years of muscle memory. As a colleague here at The Sweet Setup put it, the Master 3S will have you questioning whether your on-screen clicks register not because you can’t feel the click, but because you can’t hear the click.
In reality, there are four main differences between the Master 3 and Master 3S:
- The Master 3S has an all-new 8000 DPI sensor vs. the Master 3’s 4000 DPI sensor.
- The Master 3S uses Logitech’s new Logi Bolt USB receiver while the older Master 3 uses Logitech’s older Unifying Receiver.
- The Master 3S’s audible clicking sound is 90% quieter than the Master 3’s click.
- The Master 3S comes in a new Pale Grey color, which will nicely match some of your white non-Logitech desk accessories.
Two of the above four reasons are far from reasons to upgrade from the generation-old Master 3. Even the Master 3S’s quieter click is unlikely to persuade Master 3 owners to part with more cash, unless they work in a context where sound is an issue. And if you have multiple Logitech accessories — such as the popular MX Keys keyboard — which run on the Logi Unifying Receiver, you may even have incentive not to upgrade to the 3S.
New buyers, on the other hand, are sure to take interest in the new Master 3S.
It’s All About the Click
Clicking the new Master 3S is sure to shock you. You certainly won’t hear the mouse click and you’re sure to notice how different the mouse feels when clicking as well. It’s pretty jarring.
I would define the feel of the click as mushy, soft, and even undefined, but I have a difficult time determining if that’s because my brain is so used to hearing an audible click. That audible recognition notifies you of the exact moment the mouse button has actuated — when you hear the click, you know you’ve clicked on something. Since there’s such low audible feedback, it’s easy to think of the Master 3S as a mushy feeling.
On screen, the MX Master 3S certainly feels more responsive than any prior mouse or trackpad I’ve used. I regularly zip past my intended on-screen target and click on the wrong element — this is the worst inside Finder and has served me to double-down on using keyboard shortcuts to navigate folders and files.
But when I’m in the zone and in the middle of the best focus time of the day, the MX Master 3S feels like a precision instrument. For the longest time, I neglected to do any photo editing on the Mac — the precision and intuitiveness of using an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro far outweighed the age-old clunkiness of a Magic Mouse on a Mac. (Not to mention the iPad Pro had a better display than any MacBook Pro or MacBook Air for the longest time). Now though, with the XDR Display in the 14-inch MacBook Pro and an MX Master 3S with incredible precision, I find myself enjoying photo editing on the Mac once more.
The Logi Bolt Receiver
Color me surprised when I plugged in the new Logi Bolt receiver and my new Logitech MX Keys keyboard neglected to connect to my Mac. There weren’t any bad words or anything, but my disappointment was unmatched.
The Logi Bolt USB receiver shipped with the MX Master 3S promises the latest connection technology for Logitech’s latest computer peripherals, but older Logitech accessories are out of luck. If you’re insistent on using these USB-A receivers, you’ll have to connect two USB receivers to connect an MX Keys keyboard and an MX Master 3S mouse.
The confusion didn’t stop there for me, either. Logi Options — the software you install to configure and customize Logitech peripherals — was also recently updated to Logi Options+ for the latest MX Master 3S and the MX Mechanical keyboards. Off the top, I couldn’t get the MX Keys keyboard to be recognized in Logi Options+, and Logi Options doesn’t support the new MX Master 3S. So I ultimately installed both Options and Options+ before I was able to get everything to work.
There’s a transition going on from the old USB Unifying Receiver in past Logitech accessories and the latest MX peripherals. It could be painful for folks upgrading from old hardware to new hardware. Also, why can’t the Logi Bolt come in a USB-C flavor? I’m officially tired of needing USB-A adapters.
Everything Else is As Expected
By and large, everything else about the MX Master 3S is what we’ve come to expect from the best mouse maker in the world.
- Ergonomics continue to be unmatched, at least if you’re a righty.
- The thumb pad is a little more difficult to click than my old original MX Master, but it also ensures you don’t inadvertently jump between macOS spaces.
- The forward and back buttons are in the same place as the Master 3, but different places than the original MX Master. Again, I have had fewer inadvertent back and forward clicks with the 3S.
- The horizontal scroll wheel continues to have a knurled, machined metal material and feels phenomenal.
- Tracking remains excellent, even on glass. I used the Master 3S on an old wooden desk with a glass cover and never experienced a single tracking hiccup.
- Battery life remains excellent. The Master 3S touts seven months of battery life. I don’t think mine would reach seven months with eight-hour-a-day use, but it’s still excellent. The 3S also continues to be charged via USB-C.
The Easiest Recommendation for New Buyers
I’ve travelled the full mouse and trackpad spectrum in the last two years. I used the old MX Master for a long, long time. When it came time to retire it, I moved to a Magic Trackpad with hopes of gaining access to all macOS navigational features. When my wrists grew tired of the Trackpad, I bought the latest Magic Mouse (which comes with that awesome braided Lightning cable; probably the best part about purchasing a Magic Mouse these days). And, well, we all know how the Magic Mouse feels.
So I’m back with the latest MX Master 3S.
It’s truly excellent in my book. I adore the quiet clicking — not that I need the quieter click for the office, but I’m very grateful for the silence. I love the battery life and USB-C charging. I like the extra customizable power to jump between spaces, horizontally scroll, and even the per-app customization, like horizontal scrolling in Safari switching between tabs. Finally, the MX Master 3S feels exquisite in hand and eliminates any strain I’ve experienced with the Magic Trackpad or Magic Mouse.
If you’re moving over from one of Apple’s peripherals or you’re setting up your new sweet setup, the MX Master 3S is a no-brainer, even if you can find the Master 3 for a few bucks less here and there.
If you’re upgrading from the Master 3 though, the discussion is a little less one-sided, especially if you have other Logitech peripherals. If you have an MX Keys keyboard, you’re probably best suited right where you are with the Master 3.
You can pickup the Logitech MX Master 3S on Amazon for $100.
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