Steelseries has always been a rather unique brand in maintaining consistency across their products, thus keeping one loyal when it comes to picking their peripherals. Having said that, I have always been one to keep my preferences wide open in terms of peripherals. Thus, when I came across the Steelseries Rival 100, their latest entrant into the budget market of gaming mice, it arrived with not many surprises attached if one is accustomed to the use of Steelseries devices, but what was amazingly refreshing was its ability to achieve quite a lot for its price.
Beginning things off with its form factor, the Steelseries Rival 100 features a height of 120.6 mm accompanied by a width of 67.13 mm. While it can be best described as small-medium in terms of size, it is more about the ergonomics and universality of its near-flawless design that does it tremendous justice. Having a Razer Deathadder as my playing mouse for FPSes with a fingertip grip, I found myself experiencing almost none but one trouble (more on that below) in fragging down some in Death-matches. Incredible it felt for me to have such ease in changing from a mouse that I have been using for over 6 months to get accustomed with the ways of the Rival 100 in less than 2 hours. The mouse has been touted as to be able to play with all grips, and I tested just that. Usage in daily life demands a claw grip from me, while playing DotA requires a palm grip. And the Rival 100 passed with almost flying colors, but sadly failed to bring about perfection in each.
What particularly caught my attention about this mouse was that whilst playing, there was an ’emptiness’ that I experienced at the right side of the mouse. In attempting to be as a multi-grip user-friendly mouse, the Rival 100 falls behind when I attempt a palm grip owing to the void at the right side of the mouse which makes it near impossible to lay hands in complete rest. However, those who don’t feel the need to drop their last two fingers down while playing in a claw grip but keep one above no the mouse itself should probably experience no troubles of sorts.
The weight and the technicality which complements that factor, which is the lift off, are a rather interesting aspect of the mouse to discuss. Weighing just 120g on the scale and coming with 2000 CPI (more on that later), one is expected from the brand itself to be lifting off and turning the mouse in competitive Counter-Strike (for example). However, what proves extremely troublesome especially while using sniper rifles with scope is the fact that there is but no option to change your Z axis measures. There obviously is a consolation offered by Steelseries to this nuisance which lies in its best in-class sensors and tracking, but more on that later.
The overall build of the mouse is praiseworthy for a peripheral costing a meager INR 3500 on MRP. The plastic finish to the body does little to diminish the pleasure that is using the mouse. The rubber grips on the sides is something that is bare minimum in today’ mice, and the Rival 100 has it on both sides with ample space for the big fingered. On the botton of the mice, one can see 3 pads which are pretty well spaced to give good and equal-feeling movement across your mouse-pads without feeling a tilt on a side, which is something that has come to notice with the growth of ergonomics. The curve on the buttons however, feel pretty ‘steep’ as you spend more time with the mouse. As my hand began easing into it, I started noticing how I was becoming conscious of trying to click the buttons on the ‘sweet spot’, where the click feels true. This is something that I never noticed in an ergonomic mouse and again in trying to achieve comfort for all types of grips, the mouse fails again.
The buttons on the side of the mouse are small but not new to the world of Steelseries mice. Here again comes one’s personal preferences. I have enjoyed the large buttons of the Razer Deathadder as well as the comparatively small ones of the Logitech G402, however the ones featured in the Rival 100 feel to small for my liking, especially when I used it as my ‘push-to-talk’ button during DotA. For switching between sensitivities, the Rival 100 offers a button 3 below your scroll which allows you to toggle between two sensitivities. I did not find myself complaining about this feature when I used to to switch in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive during AWPing and rifling, but then again if you are a frequent switcher of your CPI, you surely would love the G402’s nonchalant DPI switcher. The main buttons have the ‘sweet spot’ pretty low on the mouse, and surely is not made for those looking to rest their hands while playing simple and casual games but for those who are always on their fingertips, literally.
The Steelseries Engine 3 is your software for using every Steelseries peripheral, and for the Rival 100, it has its own flaws and plus points. However, being a long time fan of quality mice, the first thing that caught my attention was the restrictive customization (which ironically is what a peripheral software is supposed to do) had to offer, at least in terms of the buttons. I always have preferred keeping my CPI cycle on the thumb button, but apparently Steelseries doesn’t allow you to do that as you can only switch CPI with the button in between. Talking about the aesthetics offered by the Engine 3, again the illuminations from the mouse which come from the mouse scroll and on the palm rest, there really isn’t enough variety in terms of patterns of breathing and setting of colors.
Coming to the more technical terms, the Rival 100 easily has the best in-class optical sensor to offer. Although, for it being an optical sensor, its trade off with excellent tracking does come at a heavy price of a rather high lift off for people who play at really low CPIs as mentioned above. The Engine 3 allows you to take the the CPI a few notches above its sensor’s power too. This however, is not recommended from us, as while playing StarCraft at 3000 DCPI and 0 acceleration, it was highly noticeable how jittery my movements had become. Nevertheless, the mouse also comes with polling rates from 250 Hz till 1000 Hz which is pretty standard is today’s era of lighting fast reflexes. But then again, the CPI is adjustable only in multiples of 250, thus making my preferred CPI of 400 for the multiplayer of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 impossible to achieve.
As final thoughts, the Rival 100 surely is one of the better mice to have come out in the budget market. For those who have their hands set on one particular grip and hardly ever change it, this surely is not your mouse. In case you wish to use this mouse for casual games as well as at work, the side buttons sure can prove to be useful then. This mouse, however, is surely a great deal for the money for MOBA and hardcore RTS players who play with acceleration and not with CPI’s exceeding 2000, and it still does have the potential to feature in a list of good ergonomics if you aren’t too big handed and use the palm grip.