Two minute review
The SteelSeries Rival 5 is a mid-range addition to the Rival series by Gaming mice. At $ 59, it’s above the $ 30 (£ 23, AUS $ 46). Rival 3 and well below the $ 79 (£ 79, about AU $ 100) Rival 600 and $ 119 (£ 119, AU $ 169) WiFi Rival 650. At twice the price of the Rival 3, the Rival 5 naturally offers some considerable upgrades and is in no way inferior to its higher-quality siblings. Of course, the Rival 5 still has to face off against outside competition, like the versatile one Razer Basilisk X Hyperspeed for $ 59 (£ 59, AU $ 109) swap the RGB lights and extra thumb buttons for the wireless performance.
The Rival 5 shows off its legacy with an appearance that comes very close to the higher end Rival 600. SteelSeries has narrowed the spaces between the sections of the mouse and the harsh, Batmobile-like angles around the main buttons have been toned down slightly. The shape remains largely the same, but it’s just a hair thicker at the front and thinner at the back. In the hand it feels similar to the older Rival, but is noticeably lighter at 85 grams and lacks the ability to add metal weights for those who like more weight. There are also no silicone side handles, but the curvature and slightly rough texture make it easier to hold.
SteelSeries also staged the extraordinary light show with user-defined RGB lighting zones on the mouse wheel and the palm rest, as well as two light strips on the sides of the palm rest, each with four controllable zones, i.e. a total of ten zones. The lighting zones on the strips mix up a bit, but it still looks nice. The lighting does have some issues with oranges and greens, however, so watch out if these are your favorite colors.
One major design change is the key layout. The Rival 5’s main mouse buttons are still in the front with a clickable scroll wheel and a DPI switch in the middle, although this time around, SteelSeries uses IP54-rated switches to keep out dust and liquids. The buttons on the side of the mouse are changed. The forward and backward buttons are largely unchanged, but the front thumb button is a bit easier to reach. SteelSeries also added another thumb button above the lot that can be flipped up or down. This means that the Rival 5 has a total of nine different buttons, five of which are only available for the thumb.
In use, the Rival 5 lives up to its family’s reputation. The lightweight design makes the Rival 5 easy to move around, as does the new Super Mesh cable, which can get a little lumpy but moves fairly freely. Combined with the incredibly accurate tracking of the TrueMove Air sensor in the mouse, our aiming in the game always feels just right.
We find the tracking to be smooth and consistent so we can keep our sword swings and blows precise at enemies in Chivalry 2, enough to survive the occasional jump from three enemies at once. Pinpoint aiming and quick shots also hold up when we dig through tunnels and caves in Deep Rock Galactic, aiming for every shot to count on enemies’ weak spots.
All of the buttons on the Rival 5 provide a smooth click that neither requires too much force nor feels too mushy, which is even more impressive with the thumb buttons and scroll wheel. The additional thumb buttons on board can come in handy whether they’re used for macros or assigned to general inputs. The foremost thumb button is still not easy to reach in the heat of the moment, and the two-way thumb button would be nearly impossible to use when lifting the mouse, which somewhat limits its usefulness, but it can still work for in-game Controls that are created with a little more foresight. SteelSeries software also makes it easy to record and assign macros, and runs even longer macros with ease.
Without a doubt, the Rival 5 is a capable gaming mouse, and its looks and price aren’t bad.
Buy it when …
You want an easier rival
The Rival 5 is very similar to its premium siblings, but it has a lighter weight that gamers have been craving lately.
You love thumb buttons
There are gaming mice with more thumb buttons, but the side controls of the Rival 5 are quite clear and feel very uniform.
You want something excellent on a budget
The SteelSeries Rival 5 isn’t the cheapest gaming mouse you can get, but it comes with a range of features and near-flawless execution – something a cheaper mouse probably won’t match.
Don’t buy it if …
You want wireless
There is no getting around it: This is a wired mouse. The Rival 3 Wireless is a little cheaper but comes with some tradeoffs, and the Rival 650 is there 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 more than a few grams away from being an ultra-light gaming mouse.
You will not install SteelSeries GG
Customizing the Rival 5’s extra thumb buttons and lighting, two of the top selling points, requires SteelSeries GG. Skipping the software can save you some money with a cheaper mouse that skips these features as well.
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