I imagine innovation in the mouse space to be rather difficult these days. Apart from sticking more buttons on it, what more can you do with your pointing devices? SteelSeries have answered that question by adding two rather unique features to the Rival 700: an OLED screen that can display images and in game statistics, as well as tactile feedback.
Out of the box, you get the mouse and two different cables with which to connect it to your computer, one standard cable at 1m in length and another braided cable which is 2m in length. Opting for the braided one, the connection to the mouse was a cinch and didn’t take any particular jiggery-pokery to get fitted. With SteelSeries’ Engine 3 installed, the mouse connected via USB and it's good to go. What’s nice about the dual cable set-up, is you can leave the other one with your laptop, for instance, and take the mouse with you to use elsewhere. Helpful if you have your desktop cables routed in specific ways...
From here, let’s break down the features into their individual components.
A mainstay of gaming culture these days - bright RGB LEDs within the Rival 700 housing allow you to light up the mouse-wheel and base with independent colours through the Engine 3 software. It looks the part and shows off the SteelSeries logo; when your hand isn’t on the device that is. You can make the illumination reactive to in-game events too, though most of the time they’re hidden by your hand.
One of the key talking points of the Rival 700 is the OLED screen on its side. 128 by 36 pixels of monochrome display space is yours for the taking. You can have this display logos of your gaming allegiances (see below image) or have it display statistics from your game, such as the number of head-shots you’ve managed to pull off. Whilst it’s an interesting innovation for the mouse space, I can’t help but feel that the angle it’s at hinders its effectiveness somewhat, meaning having to position the mouse in such a way to specifically look at the screen.
The other major selling point of the Rival 700 is the inclusion of a tactile feedback motor within the mouse itself, allowing you to get feedback from in game events directly in your hand in much the same way as your phone does when you get a new message. The feedback from the mouse is enough to let you know something is happening, but not too much that it throws the mouse out of place on the mat. Of the unique features on display here, this is the winner. Alerts via a small vibration from the mouse when a cool-down has finished allows you to place more concentration on the game itself, rather than the timer on your hot-bar.
By default, the Rival 700 comes equipped with the PixArt PMW3360 sensor, offering silky smooth tracking, regardless of the task at hand. Moving across your desktop is as beautiful a move as sweeping across the playing field to pinpoint the enemy's head in your iron sights. If you're a real laser connoisseur, you can upgrade the sensor to the PixArt 9800 for some extra money.
It fits well with my "clam" grip (a cross between claw and palm), and the clicks feel solid to the touch, the 'forward' button on the side of the mouse is a little far forward for the thumb - and the button labeled as 'B6' is difficult to get to, putting it out of reach for anything other than occasional use. Your mileage may vary here, as that may be down to my specific grip style more than anything.
There's a trick up the Rival 700's sleeve, if you're into customisation and own a 3D printer. The base of the mouse (where your palm rests) is swappable with a 3D printed part - one which you can customise to your hearts content. Put your gaming handle in there or your clan name, for example. That's up to you as the designer of the new part to choose. Lastly, you can also get a different shell for the mouse, in a black glossy plastic, if that's your thing.
SteelSeries Rival 700 Review
For me, the tactile alerts and silky smooth laser are what make this mouse stand out from the crowd, if SteelSeries can get more games into GameSense - enlarging it from the default three (CS:GO, DOTA2 and Minecraft) then they could be onto a winner with that technology. All round a great mouse and my new daily pointer.