Steelseries Rival – Optical gaming mouse review

So, after the problems of getting the Mionix Avior 8200 to work properly, I had my Razer Taipan and my Zowie mouse. Yeah, I’m one of those that needs to have two mice. Mostly due to my hands being a bit tricky and clamping if they don’t get to flex and change the grip every now and then. So the Zowie was for adventure games, strategy and everyday surfing and working. But it had started to feel slow and not as responsive after you have the lightning quick Taipan – and the Taipan – let’s face it, it is not the ergonomic mouse of the year award for anything but FPS games. So, I had to find a new mouse and I tweeted Steelseries and asked them if the RIVAL was a hassle free mouse that had good drivers – explaining in short terms that the Sensei bloated drivers and setup was not what I was after. Sure they said, plug-in, download install and you’re ready to go.
Things never are “just” is something I have learned bitterly in my soon 40 years of this life. But, I got the mouse and everything worked smoothly until I got to do that damned mouse update and had to flash the mouse. Didn’t work. Had to read up on a solution – but this time the help and FAQ on official site actually helped. After that – no problems.

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So how is the mouse? Well, it is larger than the SENSEI, it is taller. It is rather narrow fit, coming closer to the look of their old Ikari mouse, but not that wedged and it feels taller still. The mouse has a rough nabbed rubber grip on the sides that feels very coarse, but gives you undeniably a great grip on the mouse. The rest is a smooth matte feeling rubber-coating. Great, but not stellar – after just a months use, the two buttons, left and right, is showing visible wear and tear. Really – 1 month of gaming? Sure, it has seen some 100 hours of gaming but still. No other mouse I have ever owned have shown that much wear and tear so early.
The form tends to favour palm-rest over claw. I guess that if you have long fingers and large hands, you could claw this, but for me, it is a no go. The two thumb buttons on the side are well placed, they have a dented kind of wedged design making them feel slightly awkward at first, but you get used to it. The scroll-wheel is of a well figured with good grip, but if you use it a lot your middle finger might feel a bit soar afterwards. The weight is OK, it is on the light side of a mouse without feeling like it is “floating”. It stays on the mat and flows nicely. Overall the ergonomics are just fine. I have had no troubles changing to this being my go to mouse for almost everything, even FPS works great for those long hours.

Once the hick-up with the firmware driver was done and over with, no complaints on the drivers or the driver program. I have to add that I don’t have tried binding any macro yet. I don’t play many games that requires macros and I’m just too lazy to have too many configurations on my mouse to switch between. The only thing I miss, is that Mionix have 3 DPI settings, and Razer – well how many do you like? Up to 5 or 6 or what it is. Anyway – they have more than 2. One high and one low or medium and if you want more, you have to switch profile. I would argue that 3 or 4 is the best – even if you seldom use all 4 – certain games benefit from it when it comes to my play-style. I prefer to have a standard config in the middle that is good for average FPS and most things. Then one slightly higher for intense combat, narrow spaces and quick turns. One slower for sniping, and then one crazy high for making that extra speed in BF3/4 tank turret controls.
The optical sensor in this mouse os working without problems. I have tried it on Razer mat, Steelseries hard mat, soft mat and now on an Infensus and it haven’t showed any problems so far. No drifting and I haven’t felt any acceleration problems. It feels simply great.

So is Rival a great mouse? Yes – if the size fits you it is a great companion. If it doesn’t fit you correctly, I think you will not like this mouse and soon start looking for something else. It fits me well enough and it took me some time to get used to it so I guess that some design choices are rather unforgiving. The nabbed rubber on the sides could very well feel too coarse for some and some might not like that feeling at all. The thumb buttons are also a bit quirky, but IMHO the best on a Steelseries mouse I have ever tried. While the mouse have small mouse feet, I haven’t noticed any problems like getting the mouse edges to scrape the mat or anything like that, but if you have bigger hands, that could become one issue perhaps.
The drivers are OK, better than the old Sensei drivers, but still not on par with Razer IMHO. The mouse looks real good though, a pulsating logo and lit scroll wheel makes it look a bit more ominous than other mice that looks like a Christmas decoration on speed.
The bad things, I don’t buy into too gimmicky things, and the mouse has a rubber “tag” on the back of the mouse that you can replace. You get two from the start, one saying “Steelseries” the other “Rival”. You can order your own, and while I would sure like to have something that said Bad motherfragger or similar silly – I just can’t see myself dishing out money and energy to get one….
I also mentioned that the rubber coating on the buttons shows wear and tear early on, and while I have never really experienced this before, I know that a lot of people have had similar problems with other gaming mice, that I haven’t, so this is a concern for me and could be for more people out there. The last problem is that I don’t feel so 100% of the overall quality. The mouse feels a bit iffy at some times, but mostly just like any other mouse. It could just be something I felt from going from the really tight sturdy Taipan to the Steelseries Rival. Could be. The left and right mouse button sometimes grate together when you press them down at the same time. Other than that – I can actually strongly recommend you to check this mouse out. Give it a try to make that try last a bit. It do feel a bit different at first – but don’t let that scare you away because you can miss out on a great mouse.

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About sketchywolf

sketchywolf(aka Foolwolf) is a blog where I will try different hobbies and document them on. Certain ramblings and may even start some story writing etc. I will also try to have a collection of my reviews of all things that I try and wants to share...
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