SteelSeries Rival gaming mouse review - A contender to?

First Look

So, Rival comes in a mid-sized box with the rodent portrayed on the front. It also has a window strapped with a tiny Velcro patch. That’s it. Inside, you get the mouse, a sticker, some paperwork, an optional heel plate, and again that’s it. It might sound like I am bored when talking about the package, but SS Rival comes in a fairly standard box. There’s really nothing of note about how it’s wrapped (except the heel plate, but we’ll get to it in a minute), unless I should start talking about cardboard inserts and plastic shells.

 SteelSeries Rival - Front Image

Rival is a large mouse (almost as large G502), with a nice velvety feel across its surface, and textured rubber side-grips. There are no unnecessary angles, and frankly the mouse looks refreshingly simple. However, there are also some pretty lights to be had, mainly the scroll wheel and the SteelSeries logo at the back.For its size, Rival is somewhat light, even though it’s considerably heavier than other SteelSeries mice, like Sensei, for example.

 SteelSeries Rival - Rear End

SteelSeries has added one customization option for the mouse. At its back, there’s a small nameplate, which either spells Rival or SteelSeries if you insert the second heel plate. However, there’s also the option of 3D printing your own plate. Yes, the company has specifications and go to your local 3D printer and spell whatever you want.


The Pixart PW3310 optical sensor is positioned in the rodents' center. For each "corner" there are very small PTFE slippy pad. When I first opened the box however, these weren't glued on properly, and the top right one was missing (reason why it isn't in the shot below). 

 SteelSeries Rival - Underside

SteelSeries didn't add any weight customization to the mouse, since it's already heavy by default, clocking in at 128g.

The clicky action is also fairly impressive. The SteelSeries branded left & right click sound a bit duller than the D2FC-F-FN OMRON sensor, and it feels slightly mushier too. The back & forward side buttons have some of the best clicky action I heard for these buttons, and due to their build and positioning are almost impossible to press by accident.

SteelSeries Rival - Top Image

There is one slight problem here. The soft rubberised scroll wheel sometimes gets stuck when scrolling back, and I genuinely have to press on it in order to unstuck it. It doesn't happen often, but its a nuisance worth mentioning.

I tested the mouse on several surfaces, from easy to glide gaming mats like CM Storm Speed RX, TT eSports Pyrrhus, or rough ones like the SteelSeries QCK Heavy. Overall, those 4 PTFE pads were appareantly enough for the proper glide. In fact, it dashed across the QCK Heavy with ease, far better than G502 which has much larger pads on its bottom.

SteelSeries Rival - On mat

Tracking is also on par. There was almost no difference between the rougher surfaces and the "glidey" pads. However, if you ever dare to use this mouse on let's say desk with no mat, you're going to have a tough time, especially if said desk isn't black.


This is not an ambidextrous mouse. Nor is it a symmetrical one. As such, both sides have a nice injected rubber grips. On the left side, there are two large side buttons (for back and forward). I found these to be at the right angle of press, both being easily accessible to the thumb.

SteelSeries Rival - Left Side 

The fright side however has no side buttons, but the shape has a slope for the fingers to rest upon.

 SteelSeries Rival - Right Side


When I opened the package and first saw the cable, it dawned on me. Rival is not a premium mouse. It’s built like one, but it isn’t. Why do I say that? Well, you know, SteelSeries usually uses nylon braided cables for its premium-ish rodents.

 SteelSeries Rival - Cable

Rival isn’t braided, instead it uses a plain, black cable, ending in a gold-plated USB 2.0 plug. A tag attached to its end, lets you know that you should download the SteelSeries Engine, though the mouse works fine without it.

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