SteelSeries Rival review

SteelSeries Rival FPS Optimized Optical Gaming Mouse

  • PC and MAC
  • 6 programmable buttons
  • 50-6500CPI (DPI)
  • Optical sensor
  • Right-handed design
  • No hardware acceleration


SteelSeries was well-known for producing high quality ambidextrous gaming mice which could be used comfortably by anyone. Recently they went back to the drawing board to improve the design even more and set a new standard, the result was the SteelSeries Rival.

The most obvious change is that they ditched their signature ambidextrous shape for a right-handed one. Another change is that they finally fixed the positive hardware acceleration issues that plagued their older mice. Add to that plenty of new features and a solid price point and you very well might end up with the best gaming mouse from SteelSeries to date.


Steelseries went back to using an optical sensor, the Avago ADNS 3310 optical sensor if you want to be precise. You can set it to anything in between 50 and 6500 CPI, which is quite a large number for optical gaming mice. If you’re wondering what CPI means it stands for counts per inch, it’s pretty much just a more “correct” version of DPI that is mostly used by SteelSeries. The maximum polling rate, as with most modern gaming mice, is 1000.

Now older SteelSeries mice, including the Sensei, have always had a problem with positive acceleration. If you don’t know what that means, it makes your cursor move differently depending on your speed. For a gaming mice that’s obviously not optimal, as you need the tracking to be consistent, regardless of the speed you’re moving your mouse. Thankfully the Rival has finally done away with this long-standing annoyance, which allows for true 1:1 tracking.


Both sides of the Rival are injected with textured rubber to make sure you get the best grip possible. The body of the mouse also has a tall arch which means that it’s better suited for a claw grip. It’s still usable with a palm grip, but you’ll need rather large hands to be able to comfortably access all the buttons.

The heel has the SteelSeries logo on it which you can customize with up to 16.8 million colors through the SteelSeries Engine 3 software. The last notable part of the body is the rubber insert in the back. Two of these are included with the text “RIVAL” and “STEELSERIES”. You can pry these off and replace them with the one you made yourself using a 3D printer. Now I’m not sure how many people actually have a 3D printer, but i’m pretty sure it’s a relatively small minority, so this feature kind of perplexes me.

In total there are six different buttons, which includes the scroll wheel. Two of them are placed above the left side grip towards the back, with the front one being significantly smaller than the other. Then you got the sole rectangular button below the scroll wheel which is defaulted to the CPI switch button. The switches underneath them are supposed to last 30 million clicks, so the life expectancy of the mouse has been covered. The rubber scroll wheel is also going to last for a while with its nice notched design.

Overall the SteelSeries Rival feels excellent. The shape fits naturally within your hand and the rubber grips will make sure that you will maintain a tight grip. The body also has an anti-sweat coat which helps your grip even further.


steelseries rival software

After installing the SteelSeries Engine 3 software you’ll be ready to start customizing the sensor, among other features. You’ll have to install some firmware updates before starting though, any future updates will flash red after booting it up.

The appearance has gotten a nice overhaul, making it look much more stylish. You can program the buttons using the menu to the left, which includes changing the function of scrolling up and down. You’ll see the macro editor below this menu. You can record keyboard inputs with these and play them back later with the click of a button. The time interval between presses can be easily changed as well.

In the middle you’ll find a visual representation of the Rival mouse itself. Here is where you can change the color of the LED underneath the logo and scroll wheel. It supports up to 16.8 million colors with the RGB input options, then you also have the ability to assign various effects to the illumination. These effects include having the color be steady, having it pulsate in different speeds and have it go through a preset of different colors much like a rainbow.

Then all the way to the right you have your sensor options, which there are quite a few of. You can change your CPI to a maximum of 6500 as mentioned above, as well as the polling rate. Then you got quite a few ways of modifying the acceleration and deceleration through two sliders. As they just went through the effort of fixing the hardware acceleration I don’t see why you would willingly turn it back on through the software, but it’s there in case you want it for some reason.

Lastly you have the ability to choose how much “angle snapping” the cursor will do. This will make your lines perfectly straight. Just like with acceleration this isn’t a true representation of your mouse movements and is therefore turned off for games, although it can be quite useful in graphical applications. In the end the software is a good looker and lets you edit all the important things, mostly all of it within just one menu.


The Steelseries Rival is one of SteelSeries’ best. It has one of the most comfortable form factors along with a superb optical sensor. Not to mention the excellent asking price at $59.99.

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