I’ve spent a fair bit of time with the Rival mouse from SteelSeries. From the mundane every day tasks of internet browsing to graphic design to gaming and I’ve found very little to complain about. At first glance the Rival looks just like a standard mouse. This simplistic design approach is soon revealed to be a carefully thought out plan to optimise usability and comfort. The mouse comes in two different designs. One with a matte black finish and the other with a glossy white finish. I will be focusing on the black variant as this is the one that I have been using.
On each side, the Rival sports rubber grips which have been injected into the device as opposed to being stuck on afterwards which gives the mouse a sturdier feel and I anticipate it will also add to the longevity of the mouse (There is nothing more annoying than rubber grips that peel off after a few months of use). Combined with the anti-sweat coating this offers improved grip on the device, especially if you get a little heavy handed with the mouse during gameplay.
The rubberised matte coating gives the device a nice sophisticated look with sleek curves that are perfectly moulded to match the natural curvature of your hand, with the SteelSeries logo located on the rear “hump” of the mouse. I can imagine this may not be quite as comfortable if I had bigger hands. It is also worth noting that the Rival has been designed for right-handed use only, so if you’re a lefty and you use your left hand for mouse use, this isn’t the right hardware for you. I did also find that the rubberised coating does scratch easily, especially if like me you like to use a mouse with your laptop as well as your desktop and you move it around a lot.
When gaming, especially in FPS games I like to use the scroll wheel to change weapons in a flash. The problem I have often faced with my previous mouse is slipping on the scroll wheel, or it being under/over sensitive. The Rival scroller features a nice rubber wheel with the addition of grooves in the material. While using the mouse during regular web browsing I found it operated smoothly and consistently and not once have I encountered any problems with fast weapon changes. I count this as a win in favour of the design.
The optical sensor, which unlike conventional laser sensors is invisible to the human eye, is capable of being altered between 50 and 6500 DPI. A lot of people favour this type of sensor when gaming, and before I would have been on the fence. I can honestly say the responsiveness is far better than any laser mouse that I have used before and after testing on a range of different surfaces my mind has been changed and I have metaphorically seen the light.
The Rival features 6 buttons. The two main left and right buttons. Two on the left-hand side of the unit, the scroll wheel doubles up as a clickable button and finally the sixth is located mid centre of the device. All bar the last of these are easy to reach and feel natural in their positioning. The sixth button defaults to allow the user to seamlessly switch between two user set sensitivity settings, so I feel the location was also well thought out. I’ve not yet managed to hit it accidentally but when needed it’s there. This is especially helpful when switching play types in games.
An issue I have encountered many times before with wired mice is the failure of the cord its self. The wire on the Rival is not particularly reinforced, however it does have a rubber support where the cable enters the device offering a bit of protection from wear and tear which could lead to failure. It’s a nice little touch that hasn’t gone unnoticed.
The next are cosmetic features, but that doesn’t mean they are any less favourable. Located under the SteelSeries logo and the scroller wheel are LED lights, capable of displaying up to 16.8 million colours. In addition to looking pretty awesome, you can also customise these to change colour based on which profile in the software is active. This is particularly helpful if you’re not able to use the automatic profile switching for a certain game.
There is also a removable rubber name plate located at the rear of the mouse. It comes with a couple sporting the names Rival and SteelSeries, but you are also able to go online where various websites are offering services to 3D print these with custom names. Furthering your customisation options.
SteelSeries have been careful to ensure that the Rival, just like any other USB mouse, works out of the box. Just plug and play. Of course, but doing this you will be missing out on a lot of features that make this such a great piece of equipment. By downloading and installing the SteelSeries Engine 3 you will be able to customise everything from your button inputs to the colour of the LEDs. In essence, it acts as the central nervous system for all of your SteelSeries gear.
Of course, you can adjust the standard stuff, like the sensitivity and acceleration but you also have the option adjust the polling rate. This adjusts how often the computer communicates with the mouse to reduce input lag. This is especially great for precision gamers as the Rival is capable of adjusting this to 1000Hz. This means the mouse is sending information to the computer every 1ms. Perfect.
The SteelSeries Engine 3 also has an option to adjust the angle snapping. This is where it locks your cursor movement onto either the X or Y axis. This is great in certain situations, as the mouse will help negate human error as long as the movement stays within a certain range. I liked that the feature was not simply “off” or “on” but rather you have the option to adjust it to your liking further customising your gaming experience.
The software also allows you to alternate profiles with different set-ups for each game. This can be done manually by selecting the profile within the software, or you can set the software to do this automatically when you load up a particular EXE. This will change your button settings, sensitivity, macros, colour options and more. It’s a nice little touch and lets you focus on what this mouse is for: gaming.
You can, of course, customise macros to your own liking. Setting up specific inputs for your own needs. I did notice however that there was no way to input a new action once you had saved your input, you will have to start again. This can be particularly annoying, especially if you have spent some time setting up the perfect sequence for your White Mage in Final Fantasy 14, only to realise you missed out a crucial input. Not that this happened to me… twice.
As I mentioned earlier, you’re are able to choose the colour of the LEDs. This could be to indicate which profile is selected or simply to look good. The software gives you the option to show a solid colour, to pulsate the light, or to fade between a pre-set selection of colours. You can, of course, disable this function entirely if you are that way inclined. I particularly like the colour fading effect, however, the software will only allow you to choose from two pre-sets. I would like to see an option added to be able to select my own colours. Though you can select your own solid colour.
By registering an account with SteelSeries you will also be able to take advantage of the cloud saving feature that the software offers. One of the larger issues I faced when playing games such as Final Fantasy 14 on multiple devices was the fact that my in-game macros were not available across computers. The SteelSeries Engine 3 has pretty much fixed that for me now. Instead of managing macros in game, I now let the software handle it for me and it syncs it from my PC to my laptop as well as my profiles and set-ups.
Overall the Rival mouse is a marvel of technology. SteelSeries have taken the simplicity of a mouse and packed a lot of features into its casing. As well as having a sleek design the designers have clearly taken great care not to impede on comfort for the sake of aesthetics. The custom name plate is a great added touch and the ability to sync your profile across your devices just keeps adding points in its favour. If you’re looking to upgrade your mouse, and you’re stuck for choice I would definitely recommend the Rival.