SteelSeries Rival 100 Gaming Mouse Review
The SteelSeries Rival 100 is the latest gaming mouse aimed at those who don't want to splash out hundreds of dollars for accurate polling and a delicate sensor. At just $39, the Rival 100 undercuts many of the competitors and yet performs nearly as well. The mouse is mostly bare bones, but it adds a little spice that makes it perhaps the best low-cost gaming mouse on the market.
The super-light plastic body of the Rival 100 is pleasant to hold, although the shiny plastic of the side grips can get slippery. It's easy to lift, and the light weight means you don't need a tight grip to maneuver it around. The shape of the mouse works, but it may take some getting used to. While comfortable, it requires your ring finger to rest on your pinkie finger. The mouse is symmetrical, and should work for those who use claw, palm, or hybrid grips.
The left-click button is well balanced, light enough for fast presses but with a substantial amount of travel distance that makes it harder to mis-click. The right button is stiffer, and you may have to work it in a bit to get used to the pressure. The scroll wheel, usually a liability on budget mice, is very well done, with solid scroll-steps and a nice texture. Unfortunately, the middle click is very stiff and not easy to use for fast-twitch response.
The two-setting DPI shift button on the back of the Rival 100 is a useful addition, but it's too far back to reach without shifting your hand on the mouse. The side browser buttons are well positioned and have a solid click. Both the scroll wheel and the SteelSeries logo on the mouse are lit by RGB LEDs. While the logo illumination wasn't consistent, it worked most of the time and the lights are a nice feature on a budget mouse.
The Rival 100's cable isn't braided, but it is light enough to be unobtrusive. The mouse has Teflon feet the provide a smooth glide, and they can be replaced as they wear down (although no additional feet are included in the box).
The LED sensor, which requires a dark matte surface for best performance, is very good. There's no acceleration in the Rival 100, and it held up amazingly well during successive rounds of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Once you get used to the grip and the button pressure, this mouse is as effective as any on the market.
The biggest flaw in the Rival 100, and one that appears to be intentional by SteelSeries in order to add value to their more expensive options, is the limitation of its Engine 3 driver software. While it works well for button remapping and colour customization, adjusting sensitivity is made needlessly difficult. SteelSeries, which counts its sensitivity in counters per inch rather than dots per inch, only allows you to change sensitivity in 250-CPI increments. That's much too large for most people to fine-tune their preferences. The software also doesn't allow you to change the liftoff distance, which is a necessity for our reviewer's playstyle.
Despite those caveats, the SteelSeries Rival 100 is one of the best budget mice on the market and definitely worth the Hardware Canucks Dam Good Value award. The sensor and the ergonomics are excellent, and the price makes it that much better.
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