SteelSeries Rival Gaming Mouse
It doesn't happen too often when a new optical gaming mouse receives hype. In-fact this past year up until now, all the mice we reviewed all used lasers and laser sensors. SteelSeries sent us their Rival gaming mouse which does feature an optical sensor as well as a number of other gaming-focused features.
It's often argued that optical sensors don't skip and thus track more reliably than laser sensors. In any case, better mice technology has narrowed the gap. We really haven't noticed mouse skipping on the laser mice we have reviewed and the Rival's optical sensor has a specified sensitivity, up to 6500 DPI, comparable to some laser mice out there. We'll have to see if the Rival stands out from the crowd or conforms to the rest.
The other focused features of the SteelSeries Rival mouse are a right hand ergonomic design, multicolor illuminated zones, and fully programmable buttons including two thumb buttons. Hardware specifications include 50-6500 DPI and up to 1000 Hz polling rate which translate to 1 ms response rate. The Rival can be found for $54.99 shipped on Amazon and comes with a 1-year warranty.
SteelSeries Rival Gaming Mouse Features:
- Up to 6500 CPI, 1 ms response time, ExacTech features and new SteelSeries switches deliver the ultimate in performance and deadly precision.
- All-new ergonomic right-handed shape features 6 programmable buttons and large rubber grips for maximum comfort and lift.
- Personalize CPI, polling rate, and more for a customized performance. 16.8 million colors in 2 illumination zones for a customized look.
SteelSeries Rival Gaming Mouse Specifications:
- 50 to 6500 Adjustable CPI
- 1 ms Response Rate / 1000Hz Polling rate
- 200 Inches per Second (IPS)
- 50Gs of Accleration
- 6 Programmable Buttons
- 16.8M Color Illuminations w. 2 Zones
- Soft-touch coating
- Injected rubber side Grips
- Cable Texture: Soft Rubber Cable
- Weight: 128 grams (0.28 lbs)
- Height: 45 mm (1.8 in)
- Width: 70 mm (2.76 in)
- Length: 133 mm (5.23 in)
- Cable Length: 2m (6.5 ft.)
- 1-year warranty
The Rival is packed into a compact box with a front flap that gives a peek at the mouse beneath. There's barely anything else that comes with the mouse. Just an additional mouse nameplate and a single sheet of paper printed with quick launch instructions on one side and safety information on the other.
Looking Around the SteelSeries Rival
The SteelSeries Rival follows some familiar design principles seen on some other gaming mouse. This is a right-handed ergonomic mouse with dimensions of 2.76 in (W) x 5.23 in (L) x 1.8 in (H) (70mm x 133mm x 45 mm) and a weight of 0.28 lbs (128 g.) Its length and height provide support for the palm of the hand, while the tapered width places the ring finger and pinkie onto the edge onto the right-side rubber grip of the mouse. Claw grip users won't have too much trouble using the Rival due to its light weight and skinny profile, but they may lose out on being able to use both side thumb buttons.
The surface of the Rival is a rubberized matte black coat that scratches fairy easily against hard objects. Our review sample was scratched by its own USB plug while carrying it on the go, resulting in faint lines crossing the matte black finish.
On each side of the mouse are textured rubber grips. They help keep the Rival under control even if the palm of the hand isn't making full contact with the dome of the mouse.
To the rear end of the mouse we see the illuminated SteelSeries logo and just below that the removable nameplate.
Two nameplates are included with the Rival and are rubber blocks the slide into a recess in the mouse.
On the right side are two hard plastic thumb buttons. Their tactility and responsiveness is surprisingly similar to that of the primary mouse buttons. Users who hold the mouse in the palm of their hand should have little trouble using both buttons, but those with claw grips may be only able to reach one button. Like all the other buttons on the Rival, the side buttons are fully programmable in SteelSeries Engine 3.
The rubber textured scroll wheel has a soft bump for tactility when rolled. In between the primary buttons and near the scroll wheel is a small button which by default toggles between the two user-defined DPI sensitivity settings. Both the scroll wheel button and the DPI button are programmable.
On the underside of the mouse is the IR optical sensor. The optical light source produces IR light which is invisible to the eye.
Four smooth plastic feet on each corner raise the mouse reducing the surface for friction.
The Rival connects to computers by USB. Nothing unusual here.
Software: SteelSeries Engine 3
SteelSeries Engine 3 is SteelSeries' unifying software and peripheral control panel. SteelSeries Engine 3 is not included with the 9H and must be downloaded from the SteelSeries website.
The MY GEAR tab lists recognized SteelSeries devices which can be clicked to access advanced settings or have a configuration selected from a drop-down menu.
The LIBRARY tab shows what programs trigger a configuration for each device. Configurations are created and edited within the device settings.
The setting page for the Rival features a table of current mouse button assignments on the left, an image of the mouse in the middle with labels to each of the buttons and light zones, various toggles to the right, and some more menu options on the bottom.
Here is the right side options scrolled down to the bottom. The mouse settings that can be changed are the two sensitivity (aka CPI or DPI) profiles, pointer acceleration and deceleration, angle snapping, and polling rate.
Here, most of those options have been triggered. We expect most people won't need to change the mouse settings over the default with the exception of sensitivity.
The table on the left organizes and displays all the assigned button commands. Clicking an entry will display a popup with a list of available commands.
A wide variety of commands are organized into four sections. This is one of the most customizable mouse control panels we have ever seen which includes keyboard and media commands.
The macro editor works by recording all keystroke and mouse button actions during a recording session. Multiple macro profiles can be created and managed. Each input and delay can be individually edited, though there is no way to insert a new blank entry – a macro will have to be rerecorded if the corrected macro needs more entries.
Clicking the Configs button on the bottom right brings up the Configurations sidebar. Configurations can be created, edited, or deleted. Each configuration has its own user-defined settings and can be associated with one or more program.
Clicking one of the two lighting zone labels on the big mouse graphic will bring up the Illumination popup. Three action settings are available in the dropdown and are Steady, Breathe, and ColorShift. ColorShift is the only setting that has multiple color options which are limited to four presets.
Click on a thumbnail to view a larger image
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Our experience with the SteelSeries Rival mouse was very positive, but there are some minor concerns. Our first criticism is that the mouse nameplate is an unneeded gimmick. This usefulness of this feature is overstated for a multitude of reasons, most of which should be obvious. Realistically, it is rare that others are going to care about the words printed onto a computer mouse especially when they're so small. More often the mouse will remain plugged into the computer at home than would it be shown off as a showpiece. Additionally, few gamers have a 3D printer or know where to find a 3D printing service in order to make a custom Rival mouse nameplate. While the customizable nameplate was very likely to be inexpensive to implement on the Rival, it is also unnecessary. Amongst the other two other concerns encountered was that we were able to scratch the textured matte coating with a hard object. This is not exclusive to the Rival and any mouse that uses this surface coating is at risk to having the pristine finish scratched. Lastly, the rainbow Colorshift LED color profile isn't fluid despite being the only lighting profile that changes colors along the entire color spectrum.
Nitpicking aside, the Rival does just about everything else right. The mouse remained comfortable to use after continuous hours of gaming whether that involved thrashing the mouse around in shooters or clocking several hundred clicks-per-minute in strategy games. Furthermore, the Rival was great to use even for tedious precision mouse work for such applications as quick graphic design projects. The mouse buttons are also praiseworthy. Every press gave certainty to our actions with a firm tactile click. A real surprise was that this tactility was also found on the side thumb buttons, something which we don't often encounter with other gaming mice. To clarify, these buttons are made of large hard plastic which is easy to leverage. Additionally, the thumb buttons are accessible to use, but also positioned so that they aren't at risk of being accidentally pressed. The scroll wheel has no surprises, but it does perform to expectations. SteelSeries has settled upon a right-handed ergonomic design that works.
SteelSeries Engine 3.0 is very complete as far as mouse control panels go. A wide variety of settings and macros are available and intuitive to set up. The program is not without its various and unpredictable bugs, but we've noticed SteelSeries release frequent updates ever since we first used it with the Siberia Elite headset a few months ago. It's great to see this much attention given for a peripheral control panel.
For $54.99 shipped on Amazon, the Rival's price puts is square in the pack of other top $50-60 mice such as the Logitech G500s, Razer Deathadder, and CM Storm Havoc. That's some big competition, but the SteelSeries Rival holds it ground with its own set of comparable specifications, a well thought out ergonomic design, and a set of fun features. Ultimately, this mouse deserves our recommendation.
Legit Bottom Line: An ergonomic design that works and solid features lend to the SteelSeries Rival's many strengths as a gaming mouse.