greatness can deceive
two minute review
SteelSeries Rival 5 . is a mid-range addition to the rival series of gaming mice. At $59, that comes out to up to $30 (£23, AUS$46). rival 3 and less than $79 (£79, about AU$100) rival 600 and $119 (£119, AU$169) wireless rival 650. At twice the price of the Rival 3, the Rival 5 naturally offers some significant upgrades, and it doesn’t fall much short of its more premium siblings. Of course, the Rival 5 still faces competition from outside like versatility. Razer Basilisk X HyperSpeed At $59 (£59, AU$109), that trades in an RGB light and extra thumb button for wireless performance.
The Rival 5 continues its legacy with a look that closely mimics the more premium Rival 600. SteelSeries has reduced the gap between sections of the mouse, and the harsh, Batmobile-esque angles around the main buttons have been softened a bit. The shape remains largely the same, but it’s just a hair thicker in the front and thinner at the back. In the hand, it feels similar to the older rival, but it’s significantly lighter at 85 grams and doesn’t have the option of adding metal weights for those who prefer more weight. It also lacks silicone side grips, but the curvature and slightly rough texture make it easy to hold.
SteelSeries showcases the exceptional light show with four controllable zones with custom RGB lighting zones on the mouse wheel and palm rest, as well as two light strips on the sides of the palm rest, making a total of ten zones. The light areas on the strips tend to blend together a bit, but it still looks great. However, lighting tends to clash with shades of orange and green, so see if those are your favorite colors.
One major design change is in the button arrangement. The Rival 5 still has its main mouse button with a clickable scroll wheel and a DPI switch in the middle, though this time around SteelSeries has used an IP54 rated switch to keep out dust and liquids. The side buttons of the mouse are replaced. The Forward and Backward buttons have been left mostly unchanged, but the front thumb buttons have become a bit easier to reach. SteelSeries has also added another thumb button on the top of the lot which can be flicked up or down. This gives the Rival 5 a total of nine different buttons, with five only available to the thumb.
In use, the Rival 5 lives up to its family reputation. The lightweight design makes the Rival 5 easy to move around, as does the new Super Mesh cable, which can be a little lumpy but moves quite freely. The incredibly accurate tracking of the TrueMove air sensor inside the mouse and our aim in the game always seems to be just right.
We find the tracking to be smooth and consistent, allowing us to accurately position our sword swings and jabs at enemies, which is sometimes enough to jump by three enemies at once. Pinpoint targets and flickshots also hold up as we dig through tunnels and caves in Deep Rock Galactic, aiming at enemies’ weak spots to make every shot count.
All of the Rival 5’s buttons offer a consistent click that neither takes a lot of force nor feels too mushy, which is especially nice on the thumb button and even more impressive thanks to the scroll wheel. The on-board additional thumb buttons can come in handy, whether used for macros or assigned for general input. The front-facing thumb buttons are still not easy to reach in the heat of the moment, and two-way thumb buttons would be nearly impossible to use while lifting a mouse, so that would limit their usefulness somewhat, but they still do. Can work for in-game controls that are produced with a little more forethought. SteelSeries’ software also makes it easy to record and assign macros, and it lasts long without a hitch.
Without a doubt, the Rival 5 is a capable gaming mouse, and its looks and price aren’t half bad.
Buy it if…
you want a lighter opponent
The Rival 5 is like its premium sibling, but it comes in a lighter weight that gamers have been craving of late.
you like thumb buttons
There are gaming mice with more thumb buttons, but the side controls on the Rival 5 are fairly well-crafted and very consistent in feel.
You want excellent on a budget
The SteelSeries Rival 5 isn’t the cheapest gaming mouse you can get, but it offers a bunch of capabilities and nearly flawless execution—something the cheapest mouse can’t possibly match.
Don’t buy it if…
you want wireless
There’s no getting around it: It’s a wired mouse. The Rival 3 Wireless is a bit cheaper, but comes with some trade-offs, and the Rival 650 exists if you can afford it.
you need the lightest mouse
The Rival 5 is certainly lighter than the Rival 600 and 650, but it’s a few grams away from being an ultra-light gaming mouse.
You will not install SteelSeries GG
The Rival 5’s additional thumb buttons and optimized lighting necessitate the SteelSeries GG, two of its major selling points. If you’re going to skip the software, you can save some money with a cheap mouse that omits those features as well.