Steelseries Rival 500 Reviewed

The mouse that does it all…

Steelseries isn’t new to the game.   In fact, they are trend setters.  Having been regarded as a quality leader in multiple segments, it should come as no surprise that the Rival 500 punches above its weight.  Retailing at $79.99, this mouse provides one of the most unique designs for MOBA, while offering one of the best optical sensors known to man for FPS.  This combination is perfect for people like myself.  I don’t play one game religiously.  I play a little bit of everything, and I do production work for the site and YouTube.  Having a mouse like this is a God send.

Profiles

I can set the mouse to have profiles for different games and applications.  What this means is my custom button mapping, and even the lighting, can match up to what I am currently interacting with.  Using Adobe Premiere?  Just map your favorite timeline and effects shortcuts to the mouse.  Playing Battlefield One?  One click and boom, your dual-stage DPI adjustment is on point for run-and-gun and sniping.  It’s this level of flexibility that greatly increases the value.  Because it can adapt to different games and programs, I don’t need to change the mouse out for one that better matches what I’m trying to do.  It also means I’m not missing out on anything by being stuck with one mouse either.

Hardware

As mentioned above, the sensor is no joke.  Armed with a PixArt PMW3360 optical sensor, tracking never skips a beat.  Fast swipes, quick scopes, and microscopic accuracy are all to be expected of this sensor, and man does this thing deliver.  Compared to other mice using cheaper sensors, the difference is immediately noticeable, especially when working with multiple monitors or gaming.  Weight is a bit on the lofty side (129g or .284 lbs) which may upset some FPS gamers if you prefer something light, but the bottom still promoted smooth gliding regardless of weight.  It didn’t seem much of an issue in most situations and because of the smooth bottom and effortless gliding, fatigue wasn’t an issue either.  The cord is 2m (6.5′) in length, which is pretty standard fair.  The wire is not braided, and that may be a good or bad thing depending on your preference.  I haven’t had too much of an issue with either, but it’s worth noting in case you have a personal preference.  The ergonomics of the mouse are very unique in that it’s not a standard 10-15 button grid array you typically find on other MOBA mouses.  Instead, you have a very natural (once you get used it) layout of buttons that produce much more accurate presses.  This helps to make sure you don’t cast a spell or reload when you’re trying to strike from a distance.

Software

Holy customization batman!  I could write pages and pages on how to set the whole mouse up.  To save you some time and sanity, I go into great depths on customizing the mouse in the video above.  It’s worth a look if you want to see what’s possible.  As a quick summary, here we go… The software allows you to control any and all things Steelseries.  If you only have the mouse, it will be the only device you see when launching the software.  After selecting the mouse to customize it, you will see a ton of different options.  The big ones are DPI, color profiles (two zones) and button mapping.  You can create additional mouse profiles on the left hand side, which allows you to set this all over again.  I strongly suggest taking the time to get this all set up.  You will have to fine tune your settings as time goes on, but it will be worth it in the end. I have a gaming profile, one for using Adobe Premiere pro, and one for general productivity.  With 15 programmable buttons, the possibilities are endless.

The finer details…

It’s obvious that no mouse is perfect for everyone.  I will say that this mouse isn’t perfect for me, but it’s still the one I use every day.  The customization and sensor really made a huge difference.  I can accomplish a lot with productivity, while also playing better when I game.  Those are two huge wins.  The shape is certainly unique, especially if you’re a palm grip holder.  I have large hands and I wish the bottom right side of the mouse was slightly wider, and the mouse as a whole slightly longer.  Those two combined would make ergonomics absolutely perfect.  Compared to my Mionix mouse, which is one of the most comfortable mouses I’ve ever used, you can feel the difference after several hours of use.  The Mionix does not use the same sensor, and small movement tracking tends to jump around compared to the deadly accurate Steelseries Rival 500.  I’ve tested this on a soft mouse pad, and the Razer hard-surface Firefly RGB.  If 15 buttons are too much, you can lock the bottom ones for your thumb and turn it into a thumb rest.  I strongly suggest doing this if you have no use for that many buttons.  The mouse scroll wheel has two-clicks, with the second actuation performing the “center-click” function.  This means you have to push a bit harder to use the center click functionality for things like web browsing.  One suggestion is to map the middle click to the upper click, and disable the second click all together.  I have observed that most buttons have good actuation but some feel slightly lighter/easier than others.  With a lot of use, I haven’t had a single button degrade or behave differently.  This seems to be inline with typical Steelseries build quality.

In closing

All in all I’m extremely happy with this mouse.  I haven’t seen any other company come close to offering this many buttons in such a well thought out layout.  Sure it takes some getting used to, as some of the thumb presses have a light actuation, but the core design is strong enough to be a market leader regardless.  I think down the road you can expect something from Steelseries that’s even better than this, but for the time being this is the one to beat.  If you have little need for this many buttons I would strongly consider checking out the Rival 700 instead.  The ergonomics should suite primary FPS players a bit better.  As for the Rival 500, we strongly recommend this mouse as long as you have a use for this many buttons and customization.

Specs:

Material Matte Top Cover
Shape Right-Handed
Grip Style Palm, Claw, and Fingertip
Number of Buttons 15
SteelSeries Switches Rated for 30 Million Clicks
Weight 129 g, 0.284 lbs
Height 118.75mm, 4.68in
Width 78.34mm, 3.08 in
Depth 43.34mm, 1.71in
Cable Length 2m, 6.5ft

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