Review: SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless Gaming Mouse

Computer Accessories Gaming Reviews Wireless Mouse
8.3

Great

When it comes to the best PC gaming experience, investing in a good wireless keyboard and mouse can help to get rid of the wires. However, wireless accessories could have some connectivity issues as compared to the traditional wired keyboard/mouse combo, which is why the wireless performance of these devices is a crucial point to consider. SteelSeries, which is one of the best manufacturers of PC gaming accessories, had recently launched the Rival 3 Wireless, a gaming mouse that takes advantage of the latest wireless connectivity technologies. And we got a chance to try out the new budget-friendly wireless gaming mouse.

Design

While most of the gaming mouses come with features that enhance the gaming experience of the user, we need to also check the design of the mouse and how comfortable it is to game with it. SteelSeries ensured that the new Rival 3 Wireless mouse is ergonomically well-designed to suit the everyday gamer. The device is constructed of ABS plastic and features a black-colored matte finish on the palm rest. While SteelSeries doesn’t mention anything of a fingerprint-resistive coating on the cover material, the matte surface should help to resist some degree of oil or dirt. Although, things could change in the long run. On the contrary, the SteelSeries Rival 310 does feature a matte cover and has resistance to fingerprints.

The SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless is designed in such a way it supports the common mouse grip styles that gamers are usually comfortable with, such as the “claw” or “fingertip” for right-handed gamers. The Rival 3 Wireless has a good length of 120.60mm, which should support gamers with larger hands, and also features a height of 21.50mm for a comfortable grip. We tried the mouse with both the claw and fingertip styles while gaming for a few hours and is comfortable to use without worrying about the stain on our fingers or the palm. That said, the mouse weighs only 106g if you count the two included batteries and 96g if a single battery is only inserted. The lightweight of the mouse also has to do with the fact that the device is made of the ABS durable plastic polymer.

The SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless gaming mouse has a total of 6 different programmable buttons, that include the primary left and right buttons, the clickable wheel, the CPI button that is between the two main buttons, and the remaining two buttons on the left side of the mouse. The left-sided buttons are easy to reach with our thumb without any issues. You can easily customize the buttons with the help of the SteelSeries Engine 3 application to assign and record macros for each button using the macro editor. SteelSeries mentions that the Rival 3 Wireless features mechanical switches that are rated to endure up to 60 million clicks. The mechanical switches ensure that gamers enjoy every shot they take while gaming and ensuring that the buttons are durable enough to last for years.

The scroll wheel of the mouse has an impressive gamer-centric design and is the only part an RGB LED is present. The LED is not only used for RGB lighting effects but also to showcase alerts for battery and in-game notifications. You can customize the illumination effects with the colors of your choice using the SteelSeries Engine 3 application. We have come across several mice and we feel that SteelSeries could have added some more of the LED lighting. One place that we think could have been easily possible is the SteelSeries insignia that is located on the base of the mouse.

If you go through the entire series of the Rival mouse portfolio, you can see what we are talking about when it comes to LED RGB effects. However, it’s possible that SteelSeries may not have given a lot of LED options on the Rival 3 Wireless since its budget-focused device and also to the fact that more LED could affect the battery life. But that could also have been solved by placing it as an option on the SteelSeries application. It would have been up to the gamer to decide whether he wants the effects left turned on for different parts of the mouse.

Users will easily be able to swap batteries by simply sliding out the base of the mouse. The battery compartment has also a place to store the USB receiver. So it’s easy to carry around the mouse without worrying about misplacing the receiver unit. The trigger switch that allows you to change transmission modes is located under the Rival 3 Wireless mouse. You will be able to choose between 2.4GHz wireless and Bluetooth connectivity.

Specifications

The SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless features an impressive specification under its hood. The device operates with the powerful and efficient TrueMove Air optical sensor, developed exclusively with PixArt, which is touted to be the world’s leading sensor maker. The TrueMove Air optical sensor was developed for precision-based wireless tracking without worrying about latency issues. The sensor can keep up with up to 400 IPS and has a resolution that ranges from 100 CPI and can be configured up to 18,000 CPI. That is the highest resolution of the counts-per-inch range among the entire Rival series of devices and is a surprise since the Rival 3 Wireless is marketed as a mid-range budget mouse. Regarding the inches-per-second movement count of the sensor, SteelSeries does mention that the sensor’s 400 IPS performance works at best with the SteelSeries QcK mousepad surfaces. That said, the acceleration of the sensor is rated at 40G.

And as for connectivity, the Rival 3 Wireless can be connected by either the 2.4GHz wireless connectivity or with Bluetooth 5.0. The Rival 3 Wireless is the first in the market to feature the Quantum 2.0 Wireless technology, an enhanced 2.4GHz wireless technology that comes with dual-channel optimization that transmits across 40 different frequencies. This ensures that even if one channel gets interrupted, the wireless transmission between the computer and the mouse doesn’t get affected, and no packet loss while gaming.

SteelSeries also worked on the ultra-low latency capability, where the wireless transmission is based on the over-the-air handshake protocol, ensuring that 100% of the full signal is sent by the mouse and received by the computer with 20% transmission improvement. SteelSeries mentions that this protocol helps to identify any potential packet loss before it could happen and automatically switch the channels. That’s a lot of wireless enhancements to ensure a wired-like mouse performance.  That said, the optical sensor also has a polling rate performance of 1000 Hz, which means that data from the mouse will be sent to the computer every one millisecond. This also plays a very crucial role in the low-level latency of the mouse while gaming, delivering a near-performance of a wired gaming mouse.

SteelSeries recommends using the wireless mode for the best low-latency gaming experience but it requires you to connect the USB dongle to the PC or laptop. While connecting to laptops is also possible with the help of Bluetooth 5.0, the polling rate is reduced to 125Hz, which means the data will be sent every eight milliseconds. As we reviewed the mouse, I had played with the wireless option enabled and polling rate left at the default 1000Hz. We did not enable the high-efficiency mode and played first-person shooter multiplayer titles such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.  Since multiplayer games require low-latency gameplay, a single second of packet loss transmission between the computer and the mouse can cost a shot on the gameplay. During our gaming, we did not notice a single drop of signal loss and the mouse cursor moved almost as good as when we use a wired gaming mouse. It’s as good as SteelSeries claims to be.

Application

The SteelSeries Engine 3 allows a range of customizations for all SteelSeries products, including the Rival 3 Wireless mouse. The Engine 3 application has the “Gear” section, the “Apps”, and the “Library” section. The Library can scan for the installed games and ensures that it changes the settings when the defined game runs in the foreground. The Apps section comes with programs that can basically interact with SteelSeries devices, such as the PrismSync that brings illumination effects for all SteelSeries devices. The Gear section is where you would be able to tinker with all the SteelSeries devices that are connected to the system, and in this case, it’s the Rival 3 Wireless mouse.

Using the application is easy and straightforward. On the main page of the application, you get to easily identify the mouse buttons and get to access the illumination effect option and the macro editor mode. The effects include Steady, Colorshift, Multi-Color Breathing effects, and Trigger-based effects.

On the right side, you get to adjust the sensitivity levels of the mouse and as we mentioned before, the resolution can be adjusted from 100 CPI and up to a maximum of 18,000 CPI.  There is also the battery saver options such as the sleep timer and the high-efficiency mode. The latter helps to extend the battery life of the mouse and when triggered, automatically turns off the illumination and also brings down the polling rate down to 125Hz for every 8-millisecond transmission. There is also the Illumination Smart Mode that basically turns off the LED effects when the mouse is in motion and the effects are reenabled when the device is left stationary. Personally, I would just leave it off as its the scroll wheel is the only part of the mouse that illuminates. You also get to adjust the polling rate that we have already discussed before. And then comes the Acceleration/Deceleration which has to do with the speed of your hand movement and the CPI.


Battery Life

The SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless mouse features special components that are optimized to draw lesser power up to 90%, resulting in uncompromising wireless performance and offering high-level efficiency while gaming. SteelSeries claims that by enabling the high-efficiency mode from the application, the battery life can be extended over 400 hours of usage. But as we mentioned before, the high-efficiency mode turns off the LED lights and clocks down the sampling rate to 125Hz.

The high-efficiency mode can be turned on when the mouse is connected with the 2.4GHz mode, and the settings are saved to the mouse. When Bluetooth mode when triggered, the saved settings are used. The Rival 3 Wireless allows you to insert two AAA batteries for maximum battery life and it even works with one if you want to reduce the weight. The Rival 3 Wireless does not have any sort of USB connectivity so do keep that in mind.

Verdict

While opting for a wireless gaming mouse or keyboard can get rid of the annoying wires of your device, the question always arises whether the performance will be as good as a wired unit. On top of that, the battery life of wireless devices can also be of concern as you don’t want your mouse to run out of juice in the middle of an online battle. The design of the mouse is also a point to be concerned as the shape of the mouse should be comfortable for the gamers for long hours of gaming sessions, without causing strains on the hand.

The SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless is an exceptional gaming mouse to consider if you’re on the lookout for a good wireless device. SteelSeries have featured the Rival 3 Wireless with the best of their technologies at an affordable price. For those looking for a simple yet ergonomically designed mouse without the crazy designs, the Rival 3 Wireless has got that covered. The design also is comfortable for those who prefer the claw or fingertip holding position while gaming. The device is made of ABS plastic polymer with a matte finish. The performance of the TrueMove Air optical sensor is exceptional and brings out the best, and allowing you to adjust resolutions between 100 to 18,000 CPI, based on your choice. As Rival 3 Wireless is the first mouse in the market to come with Quantum 2.0 wireless technology, the 2.4GHz transmission speeds ensure that there is no signal loss during gameplay. The RGB lighting is limited though but can be adjusted to your preference. The battery life of the mouse is also impressive, thanks to the power-efficient components used on the Rival 3 Wireless mouse.

8.3

Great