The peripherals you use for gaming play as much a part in how much you enjoy the experience as the game itself, if you think about it. Take the old-school DS Lite, for instance; I simply couldn’t stand the awful, mushy, inaccurate D-pad on that thing and it colored my impression of the system’s entire library for years. Only when the 3DS came out did I really start to love the DS’s games. Likewise, when you’re playing games on PC you’ll want the best peripherals you can get for the best feel and performance.
SteelSeries is one of the companies trying to push their gear as the best of the best, so let’s take a look at their Rival 700 Gaming Mouse and see how it stacks up.
The Rival 700 is a corded mouse that has the usual two primary buttons, as well as a mousewheel and associated button; on top of that it’s got three side buttons that can be programmed using the associated software. The most important thing when it comes to a mouse is how it feels, of course,and in this regard the Rival 700 excels. Both primary buttons have a nice, solid responsive click and it’s easy to reach the secondary buttons on the side of the device. The Rival 700 is also relatively weighty so it won’t gently slide along your mousepad when it’s not in use, which is deeply appreciated. All of this works well with the comfortable grip afforded by the mouse, so I found the Rival 700 to be a joy to use for both gaming and general computing.
Of course, this is a “gaming” mouse, so that means all sorts of gaming-related features. The SteelSeries Engine 3 software provides access to all of these. You’ve got your usual macros and button reassignments, but there are also more esoteric options like the ability to customize the device’s RGB lighting; by default the mouse cycles through a series of colors, which looks nice enough and I didn’t feel the need to mess with it, but it’s there if you want it.
Some games – in particular CS:GO, DOTA2 and Minecraft, none of which I play on a regular basis – will also use the RGB lighting to represent things like health ingame, but I can’t imagine you’d want to look at your mouse to check your health rather than just…checking your health. This seems like more of a cute gimmick than anything.
The mouse’s onboard OLED display is also a bit of a cute, useless gimmick. It’s on the front left side of the mouse, right in front of where your right thumb would sit when using the mouse, and you can configure it to display whatever you’d like; again, for certain games like the three mentioned above, it can produce a custom informational display that you’ll probably never get the chance to actually look at. In practice I found it’s useful primarily for telling which custom setting your mouse is on; since you can determine the sensitivity of the mouse yourself for two different settings, it’s possible to switch to slower movement for sniping or such then back again in a flash when it’s time to move. Creating custom OLED options showing which one you’re using can be moderately helpful, though you’ll probably be able to tell which one you’re on just by moving the mouse.
The last unique gimmick feature of this mouse is the tactile alert option, essentially causing the mouse to vibrate when certain events occur ingame. The main use for this is configuring the mouse to inform you when certain cooldowns are done in games like MMORPGs, and in that sense it’s probably the most valuable gimmick option available on the Rival 700. Tanks, for instance, might appreciate a tactile alert going off when their big defensive cooldown abilities are ready for use. It’s a nice touch and as customizable as any other aspect of the mouse while not necessarily being a make-or-break feature.
As mentioned, I don’t regularly play the three flagship games associated with this mouse, but I do play a hell of a lot of Overwatch. The Rival 700 works like a charm for that game; you definitely want a sensitive and responsive mouse for the high-speed action of Blizzard’s blockbuster, so that’s high praise. Less intense games like Armello worked as well as expected, of course, but you can play games like that with anything.
More importantly, when it comes to precise shooting the Rival 700 can keep up with the pack as you’d expect from a gaming mouse. Again, I appreciated the fact that the bottom of the mouse has a little weight to it, which I find is helpful for increased accuracy and smoother movement.
$100 isn’t a terrible price for a gaming mouse with RGB lighting options and a build-in OLED screen, even if those are both flair options rather than anything practical. With that in mind, SteelSeries’ Rival 700 Gaming Mouse is a solid, effective mouse that will be sitting atop my desk for some time. Fans of lighter models who’d prefer a minimalist design and are willing to part with most of the gaming-related gimmicks might be equally well served with the Mionix Castor; if you’d rather go the other way and layer on the bells and whistles, try one of Bloody Gaming’s solutions like their ZL5 Sniper Lazer Mouse. The Rival 700 strikes a balance between the former’s solid fundamentals and the latter’s glitz, so I think I’ll be sticking with it for a bit.