Can cheap really coexist with mid-range in the gaming world? That’s the question SteelSeries aims to answer with their new Rival Optical Mouse, a enthusiast-oriented gaming mouse that sticks mostly to basics while raising the proverbial bar in other unexpected ways.
This is a company that’s all about gaming peripherals for computer and mobile devices on the higher-end of the pricing scale, be they headphones, keyboards, headsets, or gaming controllers. So imagine my shock – and pleasure – to discover the Rival is much better than expected as a low-cost pointer with higher aspirations.
In terms of looks, the Rival appears to be the real deal featuring a slight asymmetrical body that caters to the right palm, with the top shell and left/right click buttons and clickable scroll wheel all finished in typical soft matte material. And considering it weighs in at just 0.28lbs its not that hefty, either.
Honestly, they could have stoped there and the Rival would still have been a decent mouse. But they went a bit further and included three more buttons (one below the scroll wheel and two navigation buttons on the left side), added reinforced heavy rubber side grips, and the option of interchangeable nameplates. As far as we know, this is a pretty unique visual feature not often seen in other gaming mice in its price range.
On the performance side, the Rival is pretty darn robust with both two step and adjustable (50-6500) DPI settings, preset polling rates of up to 1000 Hz, and a quick moving 200 IPS (inches per second). These are numbers usually reserved for more hardcore (and expensive) mice.
Because of its long body and big rubber grips, the Rival has a distinct contrast of soft and textured surfaces; an unusual combination that feels refreshingly comfortable in large hands. Like most wired mice, the Rival is smooth on either a dedicated pad or directly on a desk, practically sailing across any clean workspace or cluttered gaming table. You won’t have to change your preferred stance despite the unexpected lightness of the unit (including the illuminated scroll wheel), as the Rival works for both casual gaming and everyday browsing.
Any worthy mouse can be tuned for personal preference and the Rival doesn’t (mostly) disappoint. The SteelSeries Engine 3 software is required if you plan on taking advantage of all the previously mentioned DPI, polling, button macro editing, and optical speed characteristics. So there’s enough essential touch to change and keep track of, including the ability to view recorded mouse clicks if you choose. And before I forget, there’s 2-zone LED lighting that can be changed to 16 million varieties too.
Unfortunately, overall compatibility between other SteelSeries products is spotty with the software, as my APEX [Raw] keyboard stopped working when trying to sync with the latest Engine 3. It’s actually a known issue, so you’ll have to install multiple and earlier versions if want all of your SteelSeries branded gear to work in synchronized harmony.
I honestly expected another bare-bones mouse that was all looks and no substance, but the SteelSeries Rival Optical Mouse was almost a shock. For the money you really can’t go wrong if you want a solid performer with the essentials in tow. However, the available drivers dampen the potential for a unified and cohesive peripheral setup that will bother the SteelSeries faithful. Complaints aside, the Rival is definitely recommended if you’re wanting quality PC gaming on a tight budget.
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