The cost of a game setup can quickly increase. First of all, you need a laptop or desktop with a discreet GPU. From there, you want to invest in headphones, a mechanical keyboard, and, perhaps most importantly, a game mouse. That’s where the affordable Rival 3-Game Mouse from the SteelSeries comes in. This $30 wired mouse features a modern optical sensor in an attractive design with adjustable RGB lighting. This is our SteelSeries Rival 3 Review.
We put the Rival 3 to the test and were impressed with the sensor’s responsiveness and comfortable, stylish design. Except for a few desired additions – a braided cable and interchangeable weights – the Rival 3 is the perfect gaming mouse for people on a budget.
SteelSeries Rival 3 Review – Design
I noticed how premium the Rival 3 looks and feels after placing my hand on its smooth body. It may not have the soft-touch design of the Sensei Ten, but the Rival’s minimalist shape blends with tasteful RGB lighting to build an aesthetic as attractive as the more expensive models. The SteelSeries Rival 3 has a traditional “tear-drop” shape that matches the shape of my hand and gives me flashbacks to use the Sensei Ten.
That’s a big compliment when you consider that this $30 model costs less than half as SteelSeries’ flagship of the 10th Anniversary Mouse. Claw- or fingertip grip gamers will feel at home when using the Rival 3. However, the low-profile design makes it difficult to grip with a palm grip or one where your entire palm makes contact with the mouse. And while it may look like it, the Rival 3 is not a hermaphroditic mouse (sorry, lefties).
The Rival 3 resembles the cheaper Rival 110 but adds a few design elements you wouldn’t usually find on such an affordable mouse. Colorful and customizable RGB lighting sketches the bottom of the mouse and matches a radiant SteelSeries logo on the palm rest. The rainbow glow identifies the Rival 3 as a play mouse and gives it a specific cool factor. When it comes to looks, notches in the middle and edges make the mouse more aggressive than the Sensei Ten.
With 2.7 ounces (without cable), the Rival 3 is a very light mouse. It is also on the small side, at 3.8-inches long and 2.6-inches wide. The Rival 3 was the ideal size for my medium-sized hands, but people with large paws might feel cramped. There are six buttons on the SteelSeries Rival 3: standard left and right mouse clicks, two left-side buttons, an upper DPI switch, and a scroll wheel (clickable).
At the heart of the Rival 3 is the SteelSeries TrueMove Core sensor, which supports CPI (counts per inch) between 10 to 8,500 at a 1,000-Hz per-millisecond polling rate. IPS (inches-per-second) is set to 300, which means the Rival 3 can track accurately at 25 feet-per-second. That should be enough unless you swipe your mouse pad like crazy. If that’s the case, go with the SteelSeries Sensei Ten because of its 450 IPS. You can find a more comprehensive CPI range on more expensive mice, but few people except esports will have to go beyond the highest sensitivity of Rivalent 3.
Therefore, we suggest that you ignore other mice that claim to have a higher sensitivity – trust us, 8,500 CPI is enough. Despite its light frame, SteelSeries promises that the Rival 3 is made from “high-quality polymer” that will last for years and that the click switches are worth 60 million clicks. The Engine 3 software from SteelSeries has all the features one would want, organized with-in a clean interface. There are two main tabs in the Engine 3 software: Settings and lighting.
In the first one, I changed the default CPI of the mouse from 1500 to 2,000 and the maximum to 3,200. You probably don’t have to tinker with the other configurable settings – angular movements, polling rate, or acceleration/deceleration – but they are nice to have for more advanced users. As one can guess, the Lighting tab is where you change the RGB lighting of Rival 3. There are 3 zones you can adjust, and around 16.8 million colors to choose from. The three available lighting effects – Steady, Color-shift, or Multi-breathe, all of which look great.
SteelSeries Rival 3 Review – Performance
The Rival 3 draws a new performance standard for affordable mice. I was thoroughly impressed with the TrueMove sensor when I played some of my favorite games, including StarCraft II and Overwatch. Using the Rival 3 as my weapon to eradicate Zerg scum was a pleasure. The mouse did an excellent job following the precise movements needed to select marines and tanks and move them to an exact location on the map.
I’m pleased the CPI button on top of the mouse is easy to press, as I felt I had to increase the speed of my gameplay halfway through a lap when I was almost overwhelmed by a supply of Zerglings and Hydralisks. I also had no problem firing arrows at enemies like Hanzo in Overwatch, and I even fired some impossible shots, thanks in part to the Rival 3’s accurate sensor. Overwatch is a famous fast game, but I never felt that Rival 3’s sensor couldn’t keep up. I also didn’t notice any delay during my session. Best of all, I didn’t feel any discomfort in my hand after about an hour of play.
SteelSeries has done an excellent job of keeping the price of the Rival 3 low, but a braided cable would have been a significant improvement over the 6-foot rubber cord of the mouse, which feels cheap and sensitive to bending. That said, the lightweight cable has not caused any annoying resistance. I’ve read complaints from users that the Rival 3 has an inferior Lift-Off Distance or the height a mouse keeps when lifted from a surface. SteelSeries must have addressed this problem in an update because the cursor stopped following the Rival 3 when I lifted the mouse a few inches higher than my mouse pad.
The SteelSeries Rival 3 is an excellent game mouse for anyone who wants to save money without sacrificing quality. In terms of sensors, that of the Rival 3 is as good as this price. Yes, there are mice with better specifications (including some of the more expensive options of the SteelSeries). Still, the performance of the Rival 3 should satisfy all gamers except the most competitive. Combine the excellent sensor with a comfortable and attractive design, and just the right amount of RGB lighting. So, it’s easy to see why the Rival 3 is far above its price.
SteelSeries Rival 3 is close to making the perfect budget mouse, but there is still room for improvement. Changing the rubber cable with a nylon cable would be a welcome upgrade, even if it means a small price increase. I wish there were a way to change the weight of the Rival 3. But yet if those changes are made, the mouse wouldn’t be suitable for everyone, because it doesn’t have a two-handed design.
Overall, the SteelSeries Rival 3 offers excellent performance for a $30 mouse, making it one of the best mice available today.
SteelSeries Rival 3 is one of the best values in gaming mice, thanks to its accurate sensor and great looks.
- Accurate, responsive sensor
- Comfortable design
- Attractive RGB lighting
- Affordable price
- No adjustable weights
- Cheap rubber cable
- Not ambidextrous