SteelSeries Rival 500 Review (Page 1 of 4)

By: Jonathan Kwan
November 25, 2016

If you have spent some time studying biology, you will realize your thumb is the most important digit on the human hand. Because of its large range of movement and high relative strength, as well as the fact humans have what are known as opposable thumbs, we rely on it to do a whole lot of things. Particularly, we need it to grasp, manipulate, and handle objects well. To prove this theory, I just went around the office and tried to pick something up, write something down, and tie my shoes without my thumb. I either looked really funny, or it made the task nearly impossible. Interestingly, despite the biological importance of the human thumb, when it comes to computing, we really do not rely on it all that much, other than for the intrinsic biological factors such as the act of gripping the mouse itself. When I use my keyboard, the only time my thumb comes into play is when I hit the space bar. When I use my mouse, the only time my thumb comes into play is when I hit the back and forward button -- not too different than me using my pinky to hit the two buttons on the other side of my SteelSeries Sensei Wireless. If you are wondering why mouse designers are not doing more to take advantage of your thumb without resorting to the obnoxious grid layout, you are not the first person to ask this question. The designers at SteelSeries thought of the same thing, and as such, came up with their latest creation: The Rival 500. It is equipped with a whopping count of fifteen buttons, where six -- yes, six -- of them are placed around your thumb to "function with the natural movements of your hand". Did the final product work out? As an owner of every mouse in the Rival lineup, which includes the 100, 300, and 700, I took one in to find out.

Our review unit of the SteelSeries Rival 500 came in a medium sized, padded UPS branded envelope from the company's public relations firm. Unsurprisingly, the carrier that took the branded UPS envelope to us here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada was none other than UPS. As always, the man in the brown uniform got everything safe and secure to us as the mouse immigrated from the swing state of Florida using the Standard service. This kind of border crossing surely trumps the speed of human migration of those who are unhappy with the election results, especially since the Citizenship and Immigration Canada website crashed on the night of November 8th for reasons obviously no one could figure out why. Either way, let us move on to see if SteelSeries was successful in making the gaming mouse great again. I will also stop with the election jokes now.

The retail box design for the Rival 500 carries forward the company's latest design theme first seen in the Rival 100. The revised layout and format is more stylish and modern; the black and dark grey background is accentuated by a sharp orange band crossing at an angle, complete with predominantly white text printed on the box all oriented at the same 45-degree angle. A photo of the mouse itself can be seen occupying the majority of the box. There is one slogan that describes the SteelSeries Rival 500 in front, and that is "MOBA/MMO Optical Gaming Mouse" in two different languages. More detailed descriptions are at the back. If I were to see the SteelSeries Rival 500 in a retail store, I would not mistake it for any other brand.

Before we move on, let us take a look at the specifications of the SteelSeries Rival 500, as obtained from the manufacturer's website:

Material: Matte Top Cover
Ergonomic, Right-Handed
Grip Style: Palm, Claw, Fingertip
Number of Buttons: 15
SteelSeries Switches: Rated for 30 Million Clicks
Reinforced Left and Right Clicks
Weight: 129.7, 0.286lbs
Height: 118.75mm, 4.68in
Width: 78.34mm, 3.08 in
Depth: 43.34mm, 1.71in
Cable Length: 2m, 6.5ft

Out of the box, you will receive the SteelSeries Rival 500 mouse, along with a quick start guide, and that is about it. The software can be downloaded from SteelSeries' website. The file size of SteelSeries Engine 3.9.2, the latest version at press time, is 76.6MB, but I am willing to bet a vast majority of the users who are interested in this mouse will have a reasonably fast internet connection at home. Although it sure has grown in size -- it was only 40MB when it first came out a few years ago -- it surely came down quite a bit from its peak at over 100MB.

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