SteelSerie­s Ri­val 500

An MMO mouse that ac­tu­ally makes sense

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB -

MICE DE­SIGNED around spe­cific game gen­res and ti­tles have al­ways con­fused us here at Max­i­mumPC. Af­ter all, ev­ery­body's dif­fer­ent, and we all use our PCs in a wide va­ri­ety of ways. Whether it’s for gam­ing, work­ing, brows­ing the web, lis­ten­ing to mu­sic, or all of the above, it’s easy to see why the PC as a plat­form is so at­trac­tive to any and ev­ery­one. And that’s the ethos that has, for as long as we re­mem­ber, been ad­hered to when it comes to the over­ar­ch­ing de­sign of most pe­riph­er­als. It’s about ver­sa­til­ity, not niche us­age. So, to buy a mouse ded­i­cated to one par­tic­u­lar game genre seems a lit­tle odd to us.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, pre­vi­ous MMO and MOBA mice have al­ways come across as a lit­tle un­com­fort­able, packed with way too many but­tons, which are of­ten too dif­fi­cult to place or feel, and don’t par­tic­u­larly help the user in any mean­ing­ful way, out­side of what you can achieve with a stan­dard key­board and mouse any­way. So, it’s safe to say that we ap­proached this re­view with a fair wad of pre­con­ceived opin­ions al­ready cir­cu­lat­ing around our heads. Af­ter all, the Ri­val 500 has one hell of a legacy to over­come—but, we’re glad to re­port, it does so with rel­a­tive ease.

Let’s start with the ba­sics. For $80, the Ri­val 500 comes with up to 15 pro­gram­mable but­tons, a PixArt PMW3360 op­ti­cal sen­sor, reg­is­ter­ing up to 16,000 dpi, two-zone RGB light­ing, to the sum of the usual 16.8 mil­lion col­ors, and an over­all er­gonomic de­sign that caters to the righthande­d palm, claw, or fin­ger­tip grip­per, depend­ing, of course, on the size of hand. Noth­ing out of the or­di­nary here, then.

So, what is it that makes the SteelSerie­s Ri­val 500 so much bet­ter than the other MMO mice of­fer­ings out there? Hap­tic feed­back. Yep, that. On a mouse. Odd we know, but this is ridicu­lously use­ful, es­pe­cially on a mouse with so many but­tons, such as this. Al­low us to ex­plain: In short, most mice with 10 or more but­tons take an eter­nity to mas­ter. Learn­ing ex­actly where all your but­tons are, and what they’re bound to, can take an ex­tra­or­di­nary amount of time, not to men­tion lin­ing up your var­i­ous in-game ro­ta­tions, too. Very of­ten, it re­sults in those but­tons be­ing aban­doned en­tirely, or de­moted to the use of silly point­less so­cial macros, to spam guild chat when they’re not look­ing. HAP­TIC AWESOMENES­S With the Ri­val 500, how­ever, you can as­sign each but­ton to a spe­cific style of hap­tic feed­back. Jumping into the SteelSerie­s En­gine, you can change how each in­di­vid­ual but­ton vi­brates when it’s pressed. Whether you want it to rum­ble once, twice, three times, for a long time, pul­sate—you name it, it’s there. What this pro­vides is a re­as­sur­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tion of ex­actly what you’ve pressed, which then con­nects with those neu­rons in your brain to as­so­ciate your fin­ger po­si­tion with the but­ton, with the vi­bra­tion, and with the abil­ity that has ac­ti­vated on screen. It’s ex­cep­tion­ally in­tu­itive.

On top of that, you have the op­tion to ei­ther dis­able or lock out the but­tons en­tirely, ei­ther via a soft­ware op­tion, or by a hard lock switch lo­cated be­low the mouse, which stops the but­tons on the left side ac­tu­at­ing, mak­ing this mouse al­most the best of both worlds.

Is it per­fect? Not quite. It still has a few nig­gles. For in­stance, not ev­ery but­ton is within easy reach; it still feels a lit­tle clunky and less free-flow­ing than some of the more sim­pli­fied mice de­signs; and it’s nowhere near as er­gonomic as some­thing such as Mionix’s Cas­tor or Cor­sair’s M65 Pro. But, damn it, it’s still im­pres­sive. The im­prove­ments to er­gonomic de­sign, the plethora of pro­gram­mable but­tons, and the pin­point ac­cu­racy of the PixArt op­ti­cal sen­sor round the Ri­val 500 out to be a class leader, as far as MMO gam­ing mice go, and that’s not some­thing we say lightly.

–ZAK STOREY

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