In October of last year, we had the chance to go hands on with Steelseries’ Rival 500, a neat little MMO/MOBA mouse that won us over from our number pad MMO mouse. This week, Steelseries reached out to see if we would take a look at the next mouse in the Rival line-up, the Rival 700. There are fewer buttons but more modularity, and a unique OLED screen to give the edge for the customization happy consumer. Does it fit the bill? Let’s see.
I have to admit, after using MMO mice for so long, I’m accustomed to having a number pad at my thumb. The Rival 500 nicely subverted that by having a radius of buttons around the thumb instead of the overkill that is a full grid. The Rival 700 aims at the wider gaming audience, cutting that button count even further to seven total and three around the thumb. It’s for the gamer that doesn’t need the world at their thumb tip, but still wants extra functionality in their high-end gaming mouse.
The Rival 700 is more refined than its predecessor and it’s made for modularity. Out of the box, you’ll have the choice of two swappable USB cables, braided and non-braided, and can purchase replacement top plates from the Steelseries store. While you’re there, $25 will even net you an upgraded laser sensor. If you have a 3D printer, the support page even offers the 3D files to 3D print a custom nameplate for the rear of the mouse. We only had the base package to try out for this review, but this guide from iFixIt shows how easy it is to replace each of these parts. Even the sensor is as simple as four screws.
It’s also a slimmer mouse, fitting nicely into a palm or claw grip. I tend to palm my mice, and with the Rival 700, my ring and pinky fingers rest over the side acting as anchors. At 135 grams, the heft is nice and only slightly heavier than the previous mice in the series. I’m also a fan of the hard plastic finish over the 500’s rubberized coating which tended to pick up dust.
It’s officially the age of RGB and the Rival 700 is proud to contribute to the cause. There are two zones of illumination, around the mouse wheel and the Steelseries logo under the palm. These make use of the company’s Prism lighting system, which allows your lighting profiles to integrate between devices. Applying the same color effects is very easy in the Steelseries Engine. You can also apply per-device effects, such as breathing and color-shifting that can be completely customized. Corsair still has the edge in this regard, as they do over every other RGB peripheral manufacturer currently, but Steelseries has a good selection of customizable presets to keep your desktop looking fresh.
As you would expect from a Steelseries mouse, every button is programmable. You can remap them to match any keypress, launch a program, or trigger a macro. Macro recording is easy as ever, and I actually find myself recording sequences outside of games for quick navigation or document editing.
One of the neater features of the 700 is its haptic feedback. This accompanies a custom timer system which where the huge array of vibration patterns to help you tell your cooldowns apart. They’re felt right in your palm and so can be more subtle; they’re a notice, not a disruption to your mousing. Depending on how you play, taking the time to set this up could absolutely save you staring at action bars to know when that next ability is ready to fire.
The 700 is also GameSense enabled, which allows compatible games to control your colors and effects - think fading from green to red when your health is low. It’s a neat idea, but its usefulness is kneecapped on a mouse. The selection of games is currently slim, but more importantly, your palm covers the largest color space for a game to actually use. In essence, you’ll only have the ring on your mouse wheel which fairly obscured by your fingers.
The most unique feature of the Rival is its OLED screen. It’s a great concept, but like GameSense, is currently held back by a lack of options. The company touts it as having an onboard Steelseries Engine (their PC software) and it does allow you to change a handful of parameters, like the first and second click CPI (100 to 16000) and how high you can lift it while still responding, but everything beyond these basics is only viewable. There’s no modifiable lighting settings, macro recording, or button mappings. You can, however, choose between five of your stored profiles with their own lighting and programming options.
On the PC, all of this is available, as well as the ability to design your own nameplate. What’s really cool is that you can upload tiny pictures or even GIFs to be displayed. Some games even use the screen to show ammo counts and the like. Realistically, this is all novelty stuff that’s cool to have but probably won’t be used very much. You’re looking at your monitor, not your mouse screen, when you’re gaming, after all.
At the end of the day, the Rival 700 is an extremely capable mouse. It has a huge sensitivity range that will accommodate any gamer in any game they choose. Losing so many buttons is a tough sacrifice for an MMO player, but the mouse is a great fit for games that don’t require more than a handful of keybinds. This level of modularity is still rare in the gaming mouse world and the easy customization of Prism are all welcome benefits. It’s screen, though… arguably its most interesting selling point - it’s certainly a conversation piece and fun bonus if you’re in the market for a unique, high quality mouse, but it still needs a few firmware updates to really live up to its potential.
The hardware discussed in this article was provided by Steelseries for purposes of review.