SteelSeries Rival 300 Review — 9/10
While SteelSeries has never been the head of innovation when it comes to gaming mice, they always seem to put out a good product. Laying low for a while, then doing everything everyone else does, only better. And that’s something I really admire about them. Now, here they come with the Rival 300. Admittedly, it is almost the same as the original Rival from a few years back, but the 300 serves as more of an update than a replacement. Anyways let’s get to the skinny of the Rival 300 review.
- Half the price of some mice just as good
- Looks great
- Perfect performance
- Works with any hand size, even very large
- Incredible options and customization
- No left handed version
- Not optimized for fingertip grip
When going up the Rival line, the 300 is the first real noteworthy mouse. The Rival 100 is okay, but you’d be better off skipping to the 300. (I guess that takes care of a Rival 100 review.) And it is very noteworthy! A strong entry in their lineup of mice to be sure. For this review, I got a black one, but I will touch on the others later on in the ‘Looks’ section down below. Alright. Let’s go!
Fresh out the box, the Rival is a quite stunning mouse. Packaged safely, the Rival 300 comes out ready to kill! I was already excited for this one before it started.
When you get your hand on a Rival 300, one thing you’ll probably notice the wonderful rubberized coating on the outside of the mouse. Taking from the other highly successful mice, this is becoming a more and more common feature among gaming mice. I welcome it with open arms! It feels great and provides all the control you could ever need. And on top of that, it acts as an anti-sweat coating for the mouse. Right off the bat, you can see how SteelSeries optimized this beast for gaming.
Now on to arguably the most important part. And this is by far the most impressive part about this mouse. The Rival 300’s shape is unorthodox to say the least. When you look at it, it looks lopsided. While the middle and front are narrow, the back is bulky and thick. The arch of the mouse reaches its peak at the rear. It is tall!
Now all this sounds like criticism, and in any normal circumstance, it probably would be. But this is no ordinary mouse. I don’t know how they did it but they managed to optimize this mouse for big and small hands alike. The tall arch and wide back end will compliment a large hand, while the fairly normal sized mid section and front compliment a small to medium-sized hand.
The back end doesn’t hinder my small hands at all. I really like the shape and comfort the mouse provides! It’s great to see a mouse that favors bigger hands. There aren’t all that many. And the Rival 300 does it all without excluding people with smaller hands! Quite the feat. Part of this is because of the smaller front contrasting the large back.
The only downside to this unique shape is that it hinders fingertip grip. Palm grip and claw grip will work fine with this mouse, but fingertip grip will only work for people with larger hands.
The way the right side of the Rival 300 supports the entire hand makes it very comfortable. Although awkward looking, the mouse is fairly ergonomic, which is impressive. The large surface area allows your fingers to go wherever they please, as opposed to directing them neatly into groves along the mouse as so many others do. Overall, the mouse is easy to use and puts you in control.
Yet again, poor lefties have to sit this one out. The Rival 300 could be used left handed, but the unconventional shape designed for right handed gamers really hinders this. A mouse this uniquely shaped and well received really should have a left handed version. Oh well. Maybe next time.
Contrasting the rest of the body, the sides of the Rival 300 have a rough rubber texture. It is quite different from anything else I’ve used, but I really like it. It makes picking up the mouse easier, and helps make your every movement accurate. They’re shaped in just a way to make it easy to lift.
The texture on the sides is one of 2 differences from the original Rival worth mentioning. The original, had a much bumpier texture than the 300, but it really didn’t add much to it. The Rival 300 has just as much grip without being abrasive to your fingers.
The left side is concave and easy to grip, just the way I prefer. But, the right side is convex. At first glance, I was a bit worried that it wouldn’t work out. I usually always prefer a concave curve to help with lifting. But the right side’s outward curve is there for a reason. The large back would have worked against an indented side. Your fingers would constantly be reaching in for a way to grip it. With the outward grip, and the rough rubber texture, you can always find a way to hold it.
Honestly, the sides do a fine job complimenting the the rest of the mouse. It’s different from what I’m used to, but it really paid off in the long run.
One thing let’s get straight. The advertised weight on SteelSeries’s website is WRONG. It claims that the Rival 300 is 130 grams. In reality, it weighs in right around 104 grams. Quite a bit lighter than the original claim. I don’t know what went wrong on their end, but they should probably change that.
Anyway, that weight is generally accepted as professional by many gamers. This is a great weight taking the size of the mouse into consideration too! Usually a mouse this size would be quite a bit heavier. Because of this though, it could feel a bit hollow to some. Sometimes a large mouse + light weight = cheap feeling. Regardless of whether or not it is cheap. This really comes down to personal opinion though. I thought it felt fine, but I know some people wouldn’t feel the same. This could have been solved with an adjustable weight system, but sadly SteelSeries decided not to go that route.
Generally speaking, smaller mice are more accurate in games. And the lightweight nature of the Rival 300 really gives it the accuracy of a mouse 3 quarters its size. This is subtle, but very nice.
Even though I prefer a heavier mouse, and was initially stoked by the error made on their website, I can appreciate a lighter mouse. When it comes to actual use, the mouse isn’t hard to lift, yet also not a feather. It’s just right for quick swipes and fast-paced gaming. Its comfort also lends itself to desktop use just as well.
I do still wish it had an adjustable weight system, yet it is a great mouse either way. But, I digress.
Wow, I will tell you, that this mouse really shines in some places. This mouse is as sturdy as they come. When squeezed, you cannot hear any squeaks or any sign of weakness. If you shake the mouse, you will hear no rattle. No matter how hard I shook it I didn’t hear anything. That’s really something! Especially considering the fact that you can get some of Logitech’s top end mice to rattle when shook. Even when tapping the mouse back down onto the mouse pad after a lift, not so much as a squeak! Honestly, I applaud SteelSeries for the great job they did here.
Maybe I just got lucky, because SteelSeries has had a history of quality control issues. But from what I’ve seen, most people are satisfied with the Rival 300’s quality.
The only complaint I have for this mouse is the sides. Even though I praised them before, the rubber on the sides has shown some wear over time. Especially if you tend to grip your mouse tightly. The rubber on the sides has shown to wear away after about 6 months. Disappointing, but not a huge issue if you don’t death grip your mouse.
The feet on this mouse are just as good as they come. Nothing special but definitely not much to complain about. They are a bit small, and not as smooth as they could be. They are very smooth and keep the mouse moving consistently across the pad though. One way to describe the feeling is sliding rather than gliding. Some feet are so smooth that the mouse seems to glide across the surface. This one seems to slide. You can feel the surface from below. But it really isn’t a negative thing. It is purely preference.
To some, the initial movements of a single swipe are a bit tough. But not everyone needs the fastest slickest mouse on the planet. I’d say that the effort to overcome the inertia really is average. If you are really looking into buying this mouse, you could always buy a mouse pad that is extra slick to help make the mouse really glide! I’d recommend an extra fast mouse pad like Corsair’s MM400 for the job.
When it comes to cables on wired mice, the debate of braided vs smooth is a unresolved. Personally, I personally prefer braided cables. Braided cables are more durable, and the drag introduced is negligible to me. Unfortunately for me, the 2 meter long cable attached to the Rival 300 is made of a smooth rubber.
But fortunately for everyone but me, the rubber cable won’t drag on your desk or anything like that. I know that the professional preference is for it to be rubber. I’d really have liked to see it braided. While it isn’t as sturdy as a braided cable, it does its job well though. The cable has little to no drag on my desk, so I have no real problem with it. This is mostly down to personal preference.
The Rival 300 is a pretty mouse as well! Its rubberized body really brings the matte black finish to the next level. It really looks great in any lighting and with any setup. I will warn you though, after a bit of use, I have noticed that the rubber gets fingerprints all over it after a few weeks of use. The once beautiful finish gets blemished quite quickly. This is a bit disappointing, but not a huge deal. Washing your hands before use will always help.
The only thing that bugs me about the looks is the awkward shape. It may feel and perform well, but it looks strange. Just my two cents. Definitely not a deal breaker, but it’s worth noting.
One interesting thing that came with the Rival 300 is a replaceable nameplate. One of the selling points of the mouse was endless customization, and they did not disappoint on that front. On SteelSeries’s website they have provided templates for you to customize and 3-D print just for your mouse. Of course this does require a 3-D printer, but this is a really interesting feature. It’s quite a bit ahead of its time. Maybe a bit too ahead. How many people do you know who own a 3-D printer? Regardless, it is a very cool and personalized feature. I can really appreciate them thinking outside the box.
As per usual with many gaming mice this side of 2015, you can expect to see a glorious 16.8 million colors spewing forth from the lit area of this mouse. The vibrant colors are beautiful and really highlight the matte black surface. There isn’t much you can do to make this look obnoxious or distasteful. The program bundled with the Rival 300 allows lighting customization on the big logo and scroll wheel independently. You can sync them up, or make them light up in contrasting colors. It’s all up to you.
One of the selling points of the Rival 300 was the Gamesense lighting. With this unique feature, you can link certain lighting to gameplay and it will change accordingly. You can make the lights on your mouse display current in game stats such as ammo, health, etc. Two points keep this from being the absolute bees knees though. The first; Gamesense only works with a handful of games as of now. Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and Minecraft are the only games that currently support it. Secondly, the visual alerts from the games could easily be covered by your hand. This is a slight oversight by SteelSeries but it’s forgivable. It’s a really cool feature and if you can find a good use for it, you’ll love it.
Along with the black version in this Rival 300 review, there are a few other finishes to choose from. The first I’ll go over is the highly praised Counter Strike: Global Offensive Fade Edition. Resembling the textures from CS:GO, the multicolored fade on the body is matte, yet fairly shiny. Honestly, after I got my black one, I was a bit jealous looking back at this one. The mouse is the same as the rest but the SteelSeries logo on the back is replaced, and there is an extra 3-D printable plate for it. Sadly, SteelSeries doesn’t manufacture them anymore. But if you want one, you can still get them on Amazon.
But alas! Very recently, SteelSeries has released yet another CS:GO themed mouse. The CS:GO Hyper Beast Edition has a beautiful design on the body. It also comes with the custom CS:GO plate and the Counter Strike themed logo on the back. Based on the Hyper Beast skin from CS:GO itself, it’s probably not gonna be around for a long time. Get it while you can I guess. I felt a little regret getting the black mouse when I did. This design is really colorful.
I don’t really know how many more finishes SteelSeries is gonna release for this mouse, but there seems to be no end in sight. Yet another is available if you want it. The Fallout 4 Edition sports a blue and yellow color scheme, referencing Vault 111’s color scheme from the game. Personally, the colors are a bit much for me. Kinda looks like a toy to me. But I can see why a diehard Fallout fan would want this. And it’s far from distasteful. Anyways, not sure when they’ll stop manufacturing these so, I’d act fast if you really really want one.
White and Gunmetal Grey
There are also 2 other colors that they still produce. The white version has a plastic glossy finish rather than rubberized and matte. The build quality is the exact same, but some people don’t like gloss. That’s understandable with black gloss, but white gloss doesn’t show fingerprints near as badly. Just as along as you keep your disgusting Dorito fingers away from the mouse, it will look great. In fact, it could be a great alternative to the easily blemished black model.
The gunmetal grey variant of the Rival 300 also has a glossy coat, but I have to say it doesn’t rock it as well as the white model. The darker color makes glossy fingerprints easier to see than any of the aforementioned models. Unless you are really going for a grey setup, I think you’d be better off getting any of the others. Just my opinion.
Right and Left Click
Rated for 30 million clicks, the right and left buttons are nice and fast. They might not be as responsive as some other mice like the Logitech G Pro, but the feedback is acceptable and very satisfying. The travel distance is a little bit more than I’d like, but once you get to the click itself, it’s nice and crisp. When actually using the mouse, the travel distance is barely noticeable, albeit a bit mushy.
Sadly, the buttons are attached to the body of the mouse. This can cause stress, and unneeded resistance to the left and right buttons, especially over time. It’s just a shame that SteelSeries let this slip by. It’s actually quite funny how some low end Lenovo office mice have this figured out.
To sum it up, you should take what I say with a grain of salt. I am super critical of right and left buttons on mice. The Rival 300’s feel great and honestly wouldn’t hinder anyone in game, I just with they went that extra mile.
In game the scroll wheel on the Rival 300 is as fast as ever, and delivers the accuracy you need. But, from a purely experience standpoint, it’s stiff, and really lacks any weight on each notch. Yes it is accurate and fast, but the wheel really has no accent to it. While it is better than the original Rival’s scroll wheel, they really failed to deliver anything special.
Each scroll is fairly mushy, but locks into place once it gets to where you need it to. It is accurate, just not as satisfying as other mice. It takes an incredibly small amount of time to get used to, though. I will give it that. Although not my favorite, it is very user friendly.
DPI Button (Top Button)
Although the right and left click and scroll wheel didn’t really work that well with me personally, the rest of the buttons were really really well done. The location of the button isn’t out of the way, but it is far enough away from the mouse wheel to avoid accidental clicks while scroll. The button itself clicks fantastically. There is no mushy feeling here. The travel distance is about the same as the right and left click, but feels fast and professional all the same. Well done SteelSeries.
Forward and Back Buttons
When I game, I like to map as much as I possibly can to the mouse. When I saw these wonderfully large and distinct buttons, I was excited for the possibilities. Even with big buttons, no matter what angle you press them at, they always go straight to the action. It’s hard to push them off center. Although some would view big side buttons to get in the way, the mouse is shaped with enough room on the side to keep your fingers from accidentally touching the buttons. But, they remain within reach.
Honestly, these are some of the best forward and back buttons I’ve ever used on a mouse before. They beat out a good chunk of the gaming mouse market. One thing to mention though is that the buttons travel a bit after being clicked. The distance to the initial click is short but they continue in if you give it some more pressure. I personally don’t like this too much, but in the middle of a game, I barely notice it at all. Like much else with this mouse, it depends on preference.
For a gaming mouse, the Rival 300 is soft. When tested against several other popular gaming mice, the clicks sounded muffled and subdued. If audible feedback is important to you, this might not be your kind of mouse. I personally don’t care, because I play with a headset so I can’t hear the mouse. It’s a small detail, and doesn’t affect performance at all, but it is very important to some gamers.
On SteelSeries’s website, they boast 1:1 accuracy. Rarely do you ever really get performance like that, but this time, I think it’s a little more than marketing. Looking inside the Rival 300, you’ll find the PMW3310 sensor, made by none other than Pixart. The optical sensor gives the mouse perfectly smooth movements with less than 1ms delay.
In the customization application SteelSeries provides, you can set the CPI/DPI from 50 to 6500 in increments of 50. 6500 isn’t the highest I’ve ever seen but for most gamers it’s more than enough. Although I don’t recommend going above 4500 or below 2000, the Rival 300 really lends itself to any type of gamer. In addition to that, the polling rate of the mouse is 1000 times a second, making your every move count. This can also be lowered, but the default is 1000.
Because of the high polling rate, my slow movements stayed accurate and with no errors to be found. In games and tests, there was no jitter or jumps. The cursor glided smoothly across the screen with no sign of error at all.
More: What is mouse jitter?
The lift off distance is thin as ever, and doesn’t throw my aim off at all when lifting, or setting down. And no matter how hard I try, the mouse wouldn’t spin out, at any sensitivity. Even a tilt slam test couldn’t get the better of this sensor.
More: What is mouse spin out?
Although you have the option to turn it on, the Rival 300 features no built in acceleration and no movement prediction of any type. Fast swipes are fast and slow movements are slow. The input is truly as raw as possible and as close to 1:1 accuracy as you can get.
Although I had no issues with my mouse, there have been reports of bad tracking on different surfaces. If you find any issues dealing with quality control, SteelSeries will most likely refund you or send you another mouse.
Lately, some of the customization programs for peripherals have been shoddy to say the least. But, the program SteelSeries provides for customizing the mouse is really intuitive and easy to use. After using some of the worst ones like Logitech’s abysmal MX Master “Options” program, this is a welcome change. Along with that, SteelSeries sends out frequent updates for the software, maintaining it and keeping it running. This is a great sign.
I said before that you can turn mouse acceleration. Although no practical use in games, this comes in handy for people who need it for accessibility. And along with that, angle snapping is also an option.
More: What is angle snapping?
When it comes to button mapping, the Rival 300 has pretty much everything you could want. You can set keyboard strikes to certain buttons. You can set media keys for easy music shuffling while gaming or doing other things. And the macro creation is some of the best I think I’ve ever seen. Small things like this really make a difference.
You can also set profiles for individual programs. The switch between program profiles is incredibly fast. By the time the window is out of the way with Alt+Tab↹, the profile has been switched to the next. It’s fast, easy to manage, and is a real boon to productivity.
Honestly the only thing that is somewhat of a disappointment, is that you can only set two DPI settings to change. I’d like to see more, but it’s a small gripe. The amount of options SteelSeries gives you is astounding. That’s what higher end peripherals should be all about. Lots and lots of options.
Who is this mouse good for?
One of the many strong selling points for this mouse is its ease of use for people with large hands. It’s hard to find a mouse with this in mind, but the Rival 300 is quite a good option. It has all the performance of a smaller mouse, but in a bigger package. This is probably the most impressive thing about this mouse.
And at half the price of some of the world’s high end mice, it really holds its own. It has all the features and specs of a high gaming mouse, at the price of a mid-range choice. I haven’t been impressed with a mouse in this price range for quite a while.
Honestly, almost anyone can find great use for this mouse. The software is easy to use, but holds just about any option you can imagine or want out of a mouse. While it might not be the best replacement for an original Rival, it wasn’t meant to be. It was intended act as an update for an already amazing mouse.
So in closing, I would highly recommend the Rival 300 to anyone looking for a great gaming mouse at a cheaper price. Really one of the best I’ve used in a while.
If you like this mouse, or hate this mouse, or just have any questions, leave a Facebook comment down below and tell me what you think.