SteelSeries Rival 700 Review (Page 2 of 4)

Page 2 - A Closer Look - Hardware and Software

Although I do not cover a whole lot of mice here at APH Networks like my colleague Aaron Lai, I have actually covered the entire SteelSeries Rival lineup. The first was the SteelSeries Rival back in 2014, which was later rebranded as the Rival 300, followed by the Rival 100 earlier this year. The Rival 700 in our review today is the flagship of the series. Built on a very similar shell as the Rival 300, the Rival 700 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 700, 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 124.85mm depth, 68.46mm width, and 41.97mm height, the SteelSeries Rival 700 is pretty standard when it comes to physical dimensions. However, the 135g 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. 135g is pretty light, which makes a lot of sense for what this mouse is designed for -- first person shooters. 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 700 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 anti-sweat finish, while both sides are made out of a textured rubber grip. If you do not like the stock textured finish, a swappable glossy cover purchased separately. 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 700 very comfortable to touch, and maintains great control and grip even if your hands are particularly sweaty during the summer.

At the back if the mouse is an interchangeable nameplate. By default, it says "Rival". The nameplate is held in the mouse by friction only, so if you want to swap it out, simply pry it out with your fingernails. The main marketing call for the interchangeable nameplate is you can make your own with a 3D printer thanks to an included model. I am willing to bet 99% of the users who have this mouse do not have access to a 3D printer, and 99% of that 1% who does have access to a 3D printer probably do not know how to use it, or will not bother to make a custom nameplate, but this is a story for another day.

In front of the forward button, and adjacent to the left click button, is a small 128x36 OLED display behind a glossy black finish. The OLED display is there not just for you to upload custom animated GIFs -- although you can definitely do that -- but also serves a practical purpose. In compatible games, it can show in-game statistics such as headshot percentage or gun accuracy. At any other time, you can customize the Rival 700's sensor sensitivity, lift off distance, view key binds, and swap between stored profiles completely independent of software by holding down the sensitivity toggle switch and navigate between menus using the scroll wheel. If none of these interest you, and you still only want animated GIFs, the OLED display can cycle at up to ten frames per second. It is a shame the resolution is not higher, and it is a monochrome display, haha.

With the detachable cable disconnected, does it make the SteelSeries Rival 700 a wireless mouse?

The SteelSeries Rival 700 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), followed by an auxiliary button next to the OLED screen, plus a sensitivity toggle 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. I found the shape and placement of the auxiliary button to be a bit awkward, since it sticks out all the time, and I can consistently feel it with my thumb. It is easily accessible and not easily actuated unintentionally, but for me, it makes the mouse feel less comfortable than it should be.

Beneath the buttons, the SteelSeries Rival 700 features proprietary switches that have a rated lifetime of thirty million clicks. The aim of these switches is not just reliability, but also a subtle audible mouse click in conjunction with quick and tactile responsiveness. To further improve the user experience, the 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 simply 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 crisper and more distinctive actuation makes it even better than the Sensei Wireless in my opinion. Overall, the SteelSeries Rival 700 is a very well built mouse; everything feels rightfully solid to behold.

The SteelSeries Rival 700 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 700 in the first place.

New to the game are Tactile Alerts. The Rival 700 has a vibration motor, sort of like your cell phone, that can vibrate in different preset patterns to provide you with information. Tactile Alerts can be bound with button actuation in addition to preset countdown timers. In order to prevent the vibrations from affecting your pointer precision, the pulses are directed up and down rather than left and right. To see if it actually works as intended, I tested it to find absolutely no unintended lateral movement even at 16,000 DPI sitting by itself with the vibration motor active. It is funny how in 2016, the age old force feedback feature has finally found its way onto a mouse, haha. SteelSeries has done a great job at implementing it properly.

A shot at the bottom of the SteelSeries Rival 700 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.

The SteelSeries Rival 700 is powered by a PixArt PMW3360 optical sensor capable of sensing up to a jaw-dropping 16,000 DPI (CPI in SteelSeries language) sensitivity, but can drop as low as 100 DPI at 100 DPI increments for those who want it. It promises true 1:1 tracking with zero hardware acceleration. 1000Hz polling rate is standard, but can be lowered to 500Hz, 250Hz, or 125Hz. If you do not like the PixArt PMW3360 optical sensor, you can swap it out yourself by buying a PixArt 9800 laser sensor module from SteelSeries for $25. This time around, there is onboard memory for up to five independent profiles, 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 detachable 2m braided cable leads out from the front of the mouse via a short cable guide. The cable is detachable to make way for a second one, a shorter 1m rubber cable, for use with laptop computers. This is the first time I have ever seen a mouse come with two cables, and I like it. A braided cable, beside aesthetic purposes, also has lower friction than rubber coated cables for performance benefits, but in most cases, it is not a big deal. While it would have been better if the second cable was also braided, I am happy for the fact a second one is included at all.

The Rival 700 connects to your computer via a 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; so 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 gold plated USB connector will not have any performance impact on the SteelSeries Rival 700.

The Rival 700 works along with the latest version of SteelSeries Engine 3, which has grown to a 106MB download from SteelSeries' 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 700's firmware; unless, of course, your Rival 700 is shipped with the latest firmware already.

The main screen of the software has two tabs. The first tab, labeled Gear, shows all your compatible SteelSeries device. The second tab, Library, allows you to automatically switch profiles when certain programs are launched. Our screenshot above shows the configuration screen for the SteelSeries Rival 700. 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