The Rival looks stunning, feels really good in the hand, is a bit heavier than most other SteelSeries mice, and offers a level of performance that I have not seen in any other mouse. This to me is a two pronged attack. Incorporating this new Pixart optical sensor adds speeds unheard of in optical mice. Now I cannot be certain if the maximum CPI is 6500, and the software just associates that to 9999 on the dial, but I can tell you, the pointer zipped across my screen with so little effort that I have to think it is surpassing the 6500CPI limits. The second prong of the attack on the market is the fact that the most used buttons on the mouse are so silent when using them. Typically there is a loud click associated with every bullet fired, every page looked at, and every time you open an application. Not here my friends, I would say 90% of your use time is silent, and while strange at first, it is easily something that you appreciate over time.
The other nice thing about the Rival is that no matter what mouse pad I used, the feel of the tracking was the same on all materials. What does change is the drag coefficient, and this is where more expensive mats come into play, but that is for another review. The Rival has a great feel when using it in the short term, or in long gaming sessions. There was no fatigue or odd feeling in the wrist from the camber and shape, but for my hand the Rival is a bit large. I did have issues reaching the page forward button, mostly due to the hump on the top forcing my hand to rest more to the back that it should. The added pads on the side with the multiple little rubber grips give you a very secure grip to fling the mouse around or lift it in the middle of game play.
While set to 9999 CPI in the software, it was much like trying to manage 8200 DPI on a laser mouse. While there may be some that can appreciate that level of operation, I found the range of 3000 to 6000, in what the SSE3 showed, as the sweet spot when editing images at the lower-end, and gaming at the higher setting. It is a really well designed, all around mouse, which will do anything you ask, splash a bit of light at you, and deliver a level of tracking control that nobody else has even thought to try.
All around, the Rival is worthy of its name in what it does, how it looks, and the levels of control offered for each individuals taste, color scheme, or perfect level of control down to 1CPI. There are only two things I found that I could even gripe about. One gripe is the oddly loud forward movement of the scroll wheel, since when moving backwards it is near silent. The second one is the discrepancy between the specifications and the software settings of the CPI level. Other than that, the Rival really does hit the mark on most levels. Keep in mind, if you missed it before. Those with medium to small hands will be forced into a claw grip style for full access to all the buttons at once.
For those with larger hands, this will be a perfect fit with proper access to all the buttons and a nice relaxed grip. With full CPI range beyond any other, new switches with a long lifespan to keep the Rival working silently, full lighting customizability, and the fact that you can swap out the name plates and even have some made from a friendly 3D printer buddy, SteelSeries did in fact make a better mouse, and while some may disagree, I think the Rival is in a whole new tier that the rest of the mice will be held to for a long time to come. The Rival shows they have definitely stepped up their game.