SteelSeries Rival 500 review: A MOBA/MMO mouse that also enhances productivity

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The Rival 500 is a great MOBA/MMO gaming mouse with its innovative button layout, and I’d definitely recommend it for day to day office use as well.

We’ve spoken a few times here at Techaeris about getting a leg up on fellow gamers with better game controllers, keyboards, and mice. MOBA/MMO gamers are no exception and while there are a number of multi-button gaming mice on the market, the SteelSeries Rival 500 takes a new approach to the multi-button gaming mouse design. Our Rival 500 review takes a look at what SteelSeries has done differently, and if it’s an improvement over the usual 12-button grid layout.

Specifications

The SteelSeries Rival 500 gaming mouse has the following features and specifications:

  • Material: Matte Top Cover
  • Ergonomic, Right-Handed
  • Grip Style: Palm, Claw, Fingertip
  • Number of Buttons: 15
  • SteelSeries Switches: Rated for 30 Million Clicks
  • Reinforced Left and Right Clicks
  • Weight: 129.7, 0.286lbs
  • Height: 118.75mm, 4.68in
  • Width: 78.34mm, 3.08 in
  • Depth: 43.34mm, 1.71in
  • Cable Length: 2m, 6.5ft
  • Sensor Name: PixArt PMW3360
  • Sensor Type: Optical
  • CPI: 100 to 16,000
  • IPS: 300
  • Acceleration: 50g
  • Polling Rate: 1 ms (1000 Hz)
  • Zero Hardware Acceleration
  • Tracking Accuracy: 1:1
  • Gamesense Support
  • Tactile Alert Customization
  • SteelSeries Engine Support: SSE3
  • Multiple CPI Options
  • Programmable Buttons
  • Onboard Profile Storage
  • Acceleration Customization
  • Deceleration Customization
  • Color Options: 16.8 Million
  • Printable 3D Nameplate

What’s in the Box

  • 1x Rival 500
  • 1x Quick Start Guide

Design

The SteelSeries Rival 500 MOBA/MMO gaming mouse is a bit wider than your usual mouse, but that’s not anything really new to gamers. When I first saw the Rival 500 in the announcement press release, my first reaction was to wonder why this hasn’t been done before. I’ve tried the 12-button layout mice in the past but could never get the hang of it, and at a first look, I felt like SteelSeries was on to something with the Rival 500.

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The SteelSeries Rival 500 top view.

Before we proceed too much further, I’ll be referring to the buttons with SteelSeries’ naming conventions as I describe them.

The top of the Rival 500 mouse has your standard left (B1) and right (B2) mouse buttons with a scroll wheel/button (B3) with LED lighting in between that also has a tilt left/right function (B14/B15). Another button (B10) sits just about in the middle of the mouse and by default is your CPI toggle button. This is where things start to get interesting. To the left of the standard left mouse button are two more buttons (B11 and B12), and there is another top button (B13) to the right of the standard right mouse button. Hopefully I haven’t lost you yet because there’s much more to come.

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Rival 500 button layout top view.

On the left side of the Rival 500, where your thumb normally rests, you’ll notice that there is no 12-button layout that is pretty much standard for MOBA/MMO gaming mice. Instead, the center area has a textured double-injected rubber grip surface which is surrounded by five more buttons. Towards the front and curving around to the top of where your thumb rests, you’ll find mouse button B5, beside that and right above your thumb is B4, and beside that curving towards the back of the mouse is mouse button B9. Still with me? The back half of the textured thumb rest is where you’ll find mouse button B8, but the real interesting configuration here is two buttons that curve out and allow you to rest your thumb on them. The first 1/3 of this thumb rest is button B6 and the rest is button B7. If you flip the mouse over, you’ll see a switch. This is the side button lock switch and when it shows red, the bottom two buttons (B6 & B7) are locked and unusable, when it’s green, these two buttons are fully functional.

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Rival 500 button layout left side view.

The right side of the mouse has another double-injected rubber textured grip surface. The rear portion of the top of the mouse features the SteelSeries logo, which also has LED lighting, and just under this is a removable 3D printable nameplate with the Rival wordmark on it. The bottom of the mouse is where you’ll find the Pixart 3360 Optical Sensor, as well as three plastic gliding feet — one long one that goes the width of the mouse near the front, and two smaller ones on each side near the back.

There’s definitely an ample number of buttons on your mouse, we’ll get into that in a bit. As far as comfort goes the Rival 500 is very comfortable to use, and in fact I’ve been using it for more than 8 hours a day five days a week and haven’t felt any cramping or adverse effects. The contoured shape of the mouse is pretty bang on, and the textured grips are in just the right spots for added grip.

My only complaint about the mouse is that it comes with your typical mouse cable and I would have liked to see a braided cable or even a detachable dual cable option like the SteelSeries Rival 700 has which allows you to choose your length and which cable type you’d rather use. It’s a minor gripe and doesn’t affect the performance of the mouse at all, but it’s definitely something I would have liked to see.

Software/Ecosystem

Like its sibling, the Rival 700, the Rival 500 takes advantage of the SteelSeries Engine 3 software. Once downloaded, it can be used to customize the buttons and sensitivity on your mouse, as well as customize the glow colours of the SteelSeries logo on the back and scroll wheel, and create macros. In addition to the default configuration, you can set up multiple configurations for each game. The customization is pretty deep, and you shouldn’t have any issues configuring your mouse for multiple games — or programs (more on that in a few) — exactly the way you want. In addition to setting up multiple configurations, you can specify which games or applications trigger that configuration at launch.

The Rival 500 also supports Gamesense which provides tactile feedback based on events that happen in game, however like I mentioned in the Rival 700 review only three games currently support Gamesense — Counter Strike: GODOTA 2, or Minecraft (through the use of a mod). That being said, the key marketing features of this mouse is the button layout, but it would be handy having additional Gamesense support for more games. You can, however, set up Tactile Cooldowns which are very helpful in MOBA/MMOs. In addition to setting up an alert that counts down and alerts you with a click, bump, pulse, or vibration when you press a specific mouse button, you can also bind these Tactile Cooldowns to keyboard buttons and you’ll receive the tactile alert on your mouse when the timer is up. If you play MOBAs or MMOs, you can see how useful this would be for helping alert you to when your cooldowns on specific skills are up. Tactile Cooldowns are easy to set up and you can specify the button/keystroke that triggers the timer, the duration, the vibration type, if it starts on button/key down or up, and if the trigger resets the cooldown.

At a glance, the SteelSeries Engine 3 looks confusing, but it is pretty straightforward and easy to use if you take your time.

Ease of Use

With 15 buttons, you’d think the Rival 500 would be complex to use, and it can be, but it can also be as simple to use as you choose. Simply assign the appropriate actions, keystrokes, or macros to your specific buttons and away you go. Each configuration supports two CPI sensitivities which can easily be toggled on the fly with the CPI Toggle (B10), or any other button you assign it to.

Starting off with a gaming example, I configured my mouse for use with Diablo III — not exactly a MOBA or MMO but still a game that can benefit from having actions assigned to buttons. In fact, I went a little overboard and assigned pretty much everything I could to the mouse and I could pretty much play using only the mouse — after some practice of course. I assigned the 1 through 4 actions to various buttons, as well as the healing key, and also assigned the Tactile Cooldowns to each of these — especially helpful with the healing potion cooldown. It really was an easy and straightforward process, and as I said, I went overboard and assigned the inventory, progress, and other shortcuts to the mouse as well. In the end, I took a more mixed keyboard/mouse approach and found a happy medium between the two.

My configuration for Heroes of the Storm was much the same, although with a different configuration, and in fact there were fewer keystrokes I ended up mapping to the mouse for that game. In both cases, after a bit of time, I did feel a bit faster with certain actions as a simple roll of the finger or thumb felt more effective than having to move my finger over 3 or 4 keys on the keyboard.

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A total of 15 buttons allow for some heavy customization/key binding for both games and applications alike.

Now to explain the title of this review — how the heck can a gaming mouse improve productivity? As I mentioned in the software section, you can assign a configuration to launch with any APPLICATION installed on your computer. After having spent a couple days with the Rival 500, I got to thinking and quickly bound CTRL+C (copy), CTRL+SHIFT+V (paste without formatting), and CTRL+I functions to the additional mouse buttons to the left and right of the standard left and right mouse buttons. These are keystrokes I commonly use each day, and I quickly became so accustomed to using them that I started to feel a bit lost when using another computer with a regular mouse.

Taking it one step further, I set up a number of Photoshop shortcuts that I use quite often to some of the extra mouse buttons as well, and again felt like I was able to work a bit faster by using a single mouse button click to export an image or even run a batch process on images.

The Rival 500 is definitely easy to set up, and very easy to use in both games and other applications.

Performance

The SteelSeries Rival 500 responds nicely, and as it is heavily customizable you can really get it to perform as you like. Once you have it set up the way you want, button clicks were smooth, and Tactile Alerts were noticeable without being distracting. The Rival 500 quickly became my mouse of choice for all types of gaming, as well as day to day office work.

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The Rival 500 mouse is comfortable, easy to use, and has excellent performance.

Price/Value

With an MSRP of $79.99USD, the Rival 500 is definitely fairly priced and whether used for gaming or office work, offers great value for the price.

Wrap-up

There’s no doubt the Rival 500 is a great MOBA/MMO gaming mouse with its innovative button layout, but I’d definitely recommend it for day to day office use as well. The button layout feels natural and is easy to pick up, and every button is easily accessible with your thumb, index, or middle finger. The SteelSeries Rival 500 is definitely a Top Pick of 2016 in my books.

SteelSeries Rival 500
5 Out of 5
Nailed it
Easy to use, great customization features, comfortable. Has the ability to bind games and applications to configuration setups. Useful for both gaming and office applications.
Needs Work
A braided cable, or swappable cables like the Rival 700, would be a nice addition. Only three games work with Gamesense.
Bottom Line
There's no doubt the Rival 500 is a great MOBA/MMO gaming mouse with its innovative button layout, but I'd definitely recommend it for day to day office use as well.
Design5.00
Software/Ecosystem5.00
Ease of Use5.00
Performance5.00
Price/Value5.00
*We were sent a review sample of the SteelSeries Rival 500 for the purposes of this review.
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