SteelSeries Rival 310 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software

The SteelSeries Rival 310 I am covering today once again completes my portfolio of products in the SteelSeries Rival lineup. I never miss out on taking one in the moment they are released. The first was the SteelSeries Rival back in 2014, which was later rebranded as the Rival 300, followed by the Rival 100 in March last year. The flagship Rival 700 was covered a few months later, while the Rival 500 was reviewed in November 2016. The Rival 310 we are looking at today is the midrange mouse of the series. Built on a very similar shell as the Rival 300, the Rival 310 comes in a relatively conservative contour shape. It is molded into a nearly ambidextrous design that is tilted slightly for right handed users. Therefore, while you can never get away with holding products like the Func MS-3 in a claw grip, the Rival 310, while designed mainly for a palm grip, can easily accommodate those who prefer to handle their mouse with their fingers if so desired.

Measuring in at 127.6mm depth, 70.1mm width, and 41.98mm height, the SteelSeries Rival 310 is pretty standard when it comes to physical dimensions. However, the 88.3g weight of SteelSeries's pointing device is not adjustable, so you will need to deal with whatever the company thinks is the best for you if this ends up on your desk. 88.3g is surprisingly light, which is great for competition games that requires lots of swift, quick movements. Based on these numbers, you can see the mouse is built for small to average sized hands. I am a palm grip type user myself, and the SteelSeries Rival 310 fits quite well. Just for fun, I gave it a claw type grip, and it is not bad to use it at all. My hand size is pretty average, so this is good news for majority of the users.

Its surface material is composed of a textured fingerprint resistant semi-rough matte top finish, while both sides are made out of a pure textured silicone grip. The rest of the mouse features strong and lightweight fiber-reinforced plastics. All surface material is part of the shell; in other words, they are not simply stickers -- the surface is molded this way from the factory. Overall, I found the Rival 310 very comfortable to touch, and maintains great control and grip even if your hands are particularly sweaty during the summer.

The SteelSeries Rival 310 does not come with a whole lot of buttons, but it does come with what most people will use every day. Combined with the previous image, you can see besides the standard left click, right click, and clickable scroll wheel, there is a forward and back button on the left -- which is arguably standard nowadays -- and a sensitivity cycle switch on top. The mouse allows only two sensitivity settings to be saved per profile, so having a sensitivity toggle switch rather than an increase and decrease setup makes quite a bit of sense.

Beneath the buttons, the SteelSeries Rival 310 features Omron mechanical switches that have a rated lifetime of fifty million clicks. The aim of these switches is not just reliability, but also a fast and consistent click feel. To further improve the user experience, the split-trigger design for its left and right click buttons are built with a special reinforced plastic. Not only does it improve durability, but also help to evenly distribute the force of each click. Obviously, these wordings are straight out of SteelSeries' product description, the real question is, are they any good in real life? Personally, I found them excellent. The clicks are subtle yet audible; giving it a substantial feel to it. They click very cleanly with proper response to follow, which is a desirable trait. The travel is a little longer than other mice I have owned, but its crisp and distinctive actuation makes it very comparable to the Rival 700. They are supposedly based on the same design, but the Rival 310's click tone is a little higher pitch.

The SteelSeries Rival 310 features the company's Prism RGB illumination system. It comes with two independent illumination zones. These two zones are the mouse wheel and the SteelSeries logo at the back. The LED light can display 16.8 million different colors, and can be configured in software. Different lighting effects can be set for different profiles. You can also choose from four different lighting effects for each zone. These are Steady (Shows a steady color), ColorShift (Automatically cycles between colors), Multi Color Breathe (Fade in and fade out between colors), and Trigger (Color changes on button activation). Personally, I found anything other than Steady to be quite distracting, but this is really personal preference. If you find any kind of lighting distracting, you can turn the lights off completely. The brightness can be adjusted by decreasing the intensity of RGB channels, but SteelSeries does not advertise multiple brightness levels on the Rival 310 in the first place.

A shot at the bottom of the SteelSeries Rival 310 optical mouse. Keeping the plastic base gliding above your mousing surface are three PTFE feet in total; also known as Teflon to the common man. In Organic Chemistry, ethylene/ethene indicates a carbon-carbon bond; with two carbons and a double bond (C2H4). Tetrafluoro replaces four hydrogen atoms with fluorine atoms, making it C2F4. In non-scientific terms, 'poly' just means a bunch of them linked together.

As a close cousin of the SteelSeries Sensei 310, the Rival 310 is powered by a PixArt PMW3360-based TrueMove3 optical sensor capable of sensing up to a jaw-dropping 12,000 DPI (CPI in SteelSeries language) sensitivity and 350 IPS tracking speed, but can drop as low as 100 DPI at 100 DPI increments for those who want it. It promises true 1:1 tracking up to 3,500 DPI with zero hardware acceleration, which is up from around 2,000 DPI with a standard PixArt 3360. There is no interpolation or jitter reduction. 1000Hz polling rate is standard, but can be lowered to 500Hz, 250Hz, or 125Hz. A 32-bit ARM processor lives within to keep the data flowing. There is onboard memory, so any custom settings you make will be saved on onto your mouse. Combined with SteelSeries Engine 3, you can synchronize it to the cloud as well, which is the best of both worlds in my opinion.

A 2m non-branded rubber cable leads out from the front of the mouse via a short cable guide. A braided cable is preferable, because beside aesthetic purposes, it also has lower friction than rubber coated cables for performance benefits. The Rival 310 connects to your computer via a non-gold-plated USB connector. When we bring about the question of whether gold plated connectors are actually useful or not, let us just say if it was the actual pins, then possibly -- since gold offers better conductivity than other metals. This theoretically establishes a better connection with your computer, but on a digital signal level, we must understand it is a discrete one or zero; if anyone tells you they can tell the difference, you can definitely defeat their theory with a double blinded test. Additionally, if you are referring to the gold part of the connector you see on the plug, I would like to point out it actually does not make any physical contact electrically with your computer. In other words, it is nice to have, and it is pretty to look at, but it is not anything significant on a practical level. The lack of a gold-plated USB connector will not have any performance impact on the SteelSeries Rival 310.

The Rival 310 works along with the latest version of SteelSeries Engine 3, which is a 105MB download from the company's website. It will prompt you to sign in or sign up when you first start the program. I like the fact you can synchronize settings to your account over the internet, so I will have to definitely give the company props to such a feature. The second thing it does when you first open SteelSeries Engine 3 is prompt you to update the Rival 310's firmware; unless, of course, your Rival 310 is shipped with the latest firmware already.

The main screen of the software has three tabs. The first tab, labeled My Gear, shows all your compatible SteelSeries device. The second tab, Library, allows you to automatically switch profiles when certain programs are launched. The third tab, GameSense, is where you configure compatible games such as CS: GO or Dota 2 for illumination and tactile alerts. Our screenshot above shows the configuration screen for the SteelSeries Rival 310. The graphical user interface is basically separated into three columns; the left side allows you to configure the function of different buttons, as labeled on the photo of the mouse in the middle column. Hit the Launch button next to the Macro Editor, and a new window will pop up to allow you to record your own macros. You can also configure the function of the buttons by clicking on the labels of the mouse itself. You can switch to a left view from the default top view of the mouse for a better view of the two side buttons. To switch between profiles or create new profiles, simply hit the "Configs" button at the bottom, and a fourth column will slide in from the left, as shown in our screenshot above. As far as lighting effects are concerned, the little square next to "B3" and "Logo" will pull up a dialog box for setting up illumination color and effect.

Lastly, the right column features a bunch of mouse characteristic controls, which should be pretty self-explanatory. Simply drag the sliders and dials to configure to your heart's desire. You can enter the sensitivity value directly into the field located at the center of the CPI meter, which is quite convenient. Overall, I found SteelSeries Engine 3 to be very straightforward and intuitive to use. The graphics are also quite appealing to look at, making the overall experience very good.


Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look - Hardware and Software
3. Subjective Performance Tests
4. Conclusion