SteelSeries Rival 500 MOBA/MMO Gaming Mouse Review

Looking to buy a new MOBA/MMO gaming mouse? You owe it to yourself to check out the SteelSeries Rival 500.

Manufacturer: SteelSeries
18 minutes & 55 seconds read time
TweakTown's Rating: 99%

The Bottom Line

The Rival 500 is the best MMO/MOBA mouse we have ever been presented! With the addition of SSE3, this mouse is outstanding in its abilities and customization. Accuracy and control, all in a comfortable, affordable, and ergonomically designed layout.

Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing

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While many companies are fine with producing products for the masses, a select few have jumped on the eSports stage and have run with the ball since its inception. SteelSeries is one of the companies which have decided to develop products for both camps, while delivering their products to the elite gamers of the eSports realm to abuse said products to find flaws or defects, allowing SteelSeries to better their products, and give everyone a leg up when it comes to gaming. In this aspect, while there are many FPS tournaments, it is evident that MMO and MOBA titles are just as strong in the eSports community, and SteelSeries is now driving for that market as well.

We have all seen the various ways manufacturers have tried to develop a mouse with multiple buttons, which were supposedly easy to access and feel around for without glancing at the mouse. In our experience, mice like the Razer Naga solutions, or something like the Roccat Nyth, were all solid solutions to the quest for the perfect MMO/MOBA mouse. However, we did find them odd to use and spent too much time fumbling around looking for the correct button to cast a spell or deliver a killing blow when needed. This is where SteelSeries is stepping in, building off past products, but doing it in a way that we have not seen before.

For those of you who like MMO and MOBA games, but feel the average mouse does not have what it takes to be successful, there is an entirely new beast to solve this for you. SteelSeries has developed a gaming mouse which takes the natural movement of the thumb into consideration, and rather than a grid style setup of extra buttons, offers seven buttons on the left side of it in a radial orientation, eliminating the confusion of earlier designs seen in the market up to now. That is not the only thing that will set the SteelSeries Rival 500 apart from the rest. SteelSeries has also added a few more buttons to the top for easy access, but best of all, there is a vibration feature in the Rival 500 to alert users that the cooldown time has expired with a tactile feel when the vibrations alert the user of it. Those of you out there who want the most of what a mouse can bring to any gaming situation, take notice, as SteelSeries has a huge advancement in mice waiting for you to buy.

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In the charts taken from the SteelSeries product page, we see that the Rival 500 is built with a matte top cover, it is oriented for right-hand users, and is perfect for palm, claw, or fingertip grips. There is a total of fifteen buttons found on the top and the left side of it, and the main pair of switches are rated for thirty million clicks worth of life. The Rival 500 weighs in at 129 grams, and is also 118.75mm from back to front; it is 78.34mm from side to side, and from the bottom to the top, it is 43.34mm. The cable which attaches it to the PC is two meters in length, and is rubberized on the outside rather than sporting a braided sleeve.

Inside of the Rival 500, SteelSeries has chosen to use the PixArt PMW3360 optical sensor, which should make many potential users very happy. The sensor can be set as low as 100 CPI, all the way up to 16,000CPI, in 100 CPI adjustments. The PMW3360 can track movements of 300 inches per second at 50 Gs. The polling rate by default is set to 1ms, the Rival 500 has zero acceleration added, and the tracking accuracy is on a scale of one to one.

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We were also sent the QcK Prism Mousepad to test along with the Rival 500. This is not the average mouse pad either. Not only is this a double-sided mat, but it also has RGB lighting which can be addressed in software to display almost anything you can think of within the surrounding ring of light. One of the sides of the mouse pad is made of a tightly weaved cloth which is made for accuracy, while the other is polymer based, to be used when speed is required in movement. The base of the pad is made of silicone rubber to guarantee it will not move around on any surface. The pad is two pounds in weight, it is 292,4mm from front to back, it is 8.68mm thick, and it is 356.71mm from side to side. Allowing the RGB lighting to be controlled and powered, the QcK Prism has a 1.8-meter cable, which is also rubberized rather than cloth covered.

Since SteelSeries displays prices right with the products on their pages, it is easy to ascertain the MSRP of both devices. When it comes to the Rival 500, we see that the MSRP has been set at $79.99, which may seem like a lot for the average mouse, but this is not an average product. Currently, Newegg is asking $48.99 for the Rival 500, yet at the same time, Amazon only requires $63.99 to be removed from your account to obtain it. As to the QcK Prism Mousepad, SteelSeries is asking a premium at $59.99, which is steep in our opinion. At this time, we see no deals to be had, as both Amazon and Newegg are sticking tight to the MSRP at this time. At near $140 to obtain the pair of products we are testing today, SteelSeries has a tough road ahead of them to impress us with the products, so let's dig right in and see just how well they do.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

Packaging, Accessories, and Documentation

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While the packaging of the Rival 500 may seem a bit bland, that bright orange stripe across it will attract the eyes. There is a large image of the mouse, shifted just left of center, which shows off the buttons the Rival 500 comes with. Along with the company and product names, there are notifications of the ergonomic side buttons, the tactile alerts, the Prism RGB illumination, as well as the fact that this is Windows and MAC capable.

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On this thin side of the box, the bright orange stripe continues behind a close-up image of the left-front of the Rival 500. The reason it is done is to address the reinforced left and right buttons and to tell us that the main switches have a thirty million click lifespan.

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The back of the box starts with a message that there is a lock under the mouse which will eliminate a pair of buttons and make for a solid thumb rest. On the right, we find a list of features found in, on, and around the Rival 500, while on the left, we see red dots denoting each of the fifteen buttons in two images.

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The last side of the box offers a close-up look at the logo on the heel which can be backlit by any of the 16.8 million colors the software delivers. Above the image, SteelSeries is sure to mention the tactile alert system they have built into the Rival 500, as this is a feature that will be pleasing to many gamers.

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The top of the box even gets into the information display game. At a glance, you can see mentions of the optical sensor, the fifteen buttons, thirty million clicks of life, 16.000 CPI, 300 IPS of tracking, and the Prism RGB illumination. We also find that here, there are shout-outs to the four teams who helped make this Rival 500 a reality.

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The packaging is designed with an external cardboard sleeve, which once removed, we find SteelSeries took the time to make a fancy inner package as well. The design mimics the outside, but there is "Rise to the Challenge" printed on the inner package.

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Inside of the box, we find that the Rival 500 is not covered in any plastic to protect the rubberized finishes, but the mouse is nearly fully enclosed in dense foam to help it to arrive safely. The cable is set into an open area, which keeps it away from the mouse, but we can see some blemishes in the rubberized coating of the Rival 500. The packaging is sufficient, but we do wish they took more steps to ensure the mouse was blemish free upon arrival.

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The Rival 500 also comes with a quick start guide, which covers little about the mouse. In it, it is explained how the lock works, how to connect it to the PC, and where to go for the software that gives full control of fifteen button Rival 500. There is a help and safety section, and on the last page are site addresses, should you need support, FAQs, or where to shop for more SteelSeries gear.

SteelSeries Rival 500 Gaming Mouse

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In this image, the Rival 500 is shown to be all and egg shaped. We also notice the rubberized coatings on the front section as well as on the heel, but the buttons are textured plastic. Going around the buttons in a clockwise manner, we see the B5, B4, and B9 buttons across the top. The B8 button is the textured on at the back, and below it is the larger B7 and smaller B6 buttons. As for the textured area with the orange accent, this is not a button, but where you grip the mouse to lift it.

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The heel of the mouse has the SteelSeries logo, which is lit up when powered, and the ergonomic section of the mouse is rubberized. Where the top and bottom sections meet, there is an insert with the RIVAL name cut out from the rubber insert. For a custom look, one can 3D print inserts with anything they want to put into it. To make life simple, SteelSeries also provides the 3D template on the site.

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The right side of the mouse is shorter than the left side, and where the rubberized heel cover ends, a second rubber section with texture is placed. The small round dots will give your fingers sure grip when you move or reposition the Rival 500.

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At the front, the camber of the Rival 500 is more noticeable. We find that there is a gap under the main buttons to allow them to function, and there is an indentation under them, where the cable is connected to center to the mouse.

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On top of the Rival 500, buttons B1 and B2 are for the main buttons. B11 and B12 are on the left of the main button, and B13 is found on the right side. The rubberized and segmented scroll wheel can press down and is marked in software as B3. This wheel can also tilt left and right, which delivers B14 and B15. As for the CPI selector button behind it, that is button B10

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The cable coming from the mouse is longer than most we test, at a full two meters of length. Since most are against the braided sleeve, SteelSeries send the Rival 500 with a rubberized cable, which terminates in a USB 2.0 connection with the logo present. We also see a tag on the cable, which is the second time we are told where to find the software.

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Flipping the Rival 500 onto its back, we located three PTFE feet for the mouse to glide upon, a large one at the front edge, and a pair at the back. The eye of the sensor is centered left to right but is slightly back of center in the other direction. We also see the switch, which when green allows for B6 and B7 functionality. Slide the switch to show red, and these buttons are locked from use and are locked solid for a thumb rest.

Inside the Rival 500

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We do find a PCB in the top half of the mouse, and this not only controls the lighting for the logo but is also where the CPI button and B13 send signals to. The lower section contains all of the rest of the functionality within the side button section at the left and everything provided in the main black PCB.

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Under B1 we find an orange switch which requires medium pressure to actuate and reports with a soft click sound. We are unsure of the OEM for these switches, But SteelSeries is sure to put their logo on the cover. We also can see a bit of the tilt mechanism for the scroll wheel, which uses large springs to help keep it centered.

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Placed just behind the scroll wheel is the optical sensor. Just like the literature explained, SteelSeries chose the PixArt PMW3350M, which is more than capable with up to 16,000 CPI, allowing users a wide range of sensitivity to find the perfect setting.

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The ARM processor of choice is the ST Microelectronics STM32F103-RCT6. This is a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor with a 72MHz clock, and is also where the onboard memory is located, which keeps your settings active after programming, even on another PC without the software installed.

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Back to the front, this time on the right side, we find that the switch under B2 is a match to what we saw under B1, as it should be. With thirty million clicks to use up, the Rival 5000 should be around with you for a long time to come.

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Once reassembled, we plugged the USB 2.0 cable into the PC and were greeted with the orange glow of the logo on the heel by default. The logo can be controlled to any particular color or can run through the gamut of color options, but the second light on the mouse does not function at the same rate.

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An independent LED also makes the center of the scroll wheel glow. By default, it is orange to match the logo, but it can also be changed, and when in ColorShift mode, it does change at a slower rate than the logo does.

SteelSeries Engine 3 Software

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After installing the SteelSeries Engine 3 software, we first were shown the devices, but with notations that both needed to take on firmware updates. After the completion of upgrades, we can then choose between the mousepad and the mouse, to begin customizations.

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After clicking on the Rival 500 in the last window, we get right down to brass tacks in programming. On the left, we can reprogram all seventeen functional buttons of the Rival 500, and just to the right of that list, the image will highlight which button is currently being adjusted. You can choose a pair of views of the mouse to aid in this. We see the current state of the button lock, there is a tab to address lighting at the bottom of the image, and to the right, we find three of the settings we can adjust, with the sensitivity of the two CPI selection options, and a place to set tactile timers.

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In this instance, by clicking on button three, we get another window to change what it does. The drop-down menu at the top offers keyboard buttons, Macros, media buttons, mouse buttons, the ability to deactivate it, launch applications with it, launch configurations, OS shortcuts, or the ability to go to the Macro menu, all as options to each button. At the right, you may address the frequency of the press, set a time, and enable the mouse to vibrate when it's pressed.

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The macro menu is as easy as it can be when it comes to recording actions. Click on the new tab at the bottom, and a new orange bar will appear, and it can be renamed, at that point you can set the way in which the Macro is to be recorded, with or without delays. If you screw up, there is a button to clear the main window.

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By clicking on the logo button from the main window, you may adjust the RGB color of the logo and the scroll wheel. The modes are set to Steady (static), ColorShift, Multi-Color Breathe, Trigger, or you can also disable the lighting. There is a slider to adjust the speed of the colors in certain modes, an adjustment scale of what ColorShift pattern you want to display, and you can also pick from the preset static colors. You can use the slider and map to click on a color, as well as the ability to use RGB color inputs in the windows to the right.

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The last thing we found in the software, is that by sliding the bar on the right edge to the bottom, we see three more adjustments we can make. By default, there is no acceleration or deceleration, but this can be addressed if you prefer they be used. Angle snapping is also off when the mouse is turned on, but should you find a need to use it, by all means, add some. There are also four adjustments for the polling rate, and since this is not wireless, there is no real reason to lower it from its 1000Hz.

QcK Prism Mousepad

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The packaging for the QcK Prism mouse pad is similar to what the Rival 500 shipped in. Large black areas with a bright orange section behind the image of the product, we see the names, we see a mention of Prism lighting, and we also see a notation to the cloth control side and the polymer speed side of the mouse pad.

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The back of the packaging is where all of the pertinent information is contained, as well as how you open it, via the tear away strip near the bottom. At the top, there are mentions that this is the World's first dual-surface RGB mousepad, with a never-slip base, and its intuitive cable design. To the right, the Prism lighting feature is described, in addition to Prism Sync, and GameSense lighting.

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Inside of the box, we find the QcK Prism wrapped in plastic, with a plastic band holding the reversible mouse pad into the base. The inner packaging is plastic to keep the pad in place, and the cable for it is wrapped around the top and sit in a depression below the mouse pad.

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The product guide that comes with the QcK Prism contains information on where to obtain the software, the package contents, engine requirements, and compatibility. It then progresses into a product overview as the features are pointed out, and concludes with a setup page. The guide is also multilingual, covering ten various languages.

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The QcK Prism is shipped with the polymer or plastic side exposed for use. This side is easier to keep clean, of course, but the reason for it is to allow the mouse to glide effortlessly when the speed of movement in a level is the priority.

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Flipping the mouse pad over, we are looking at a finely woven cloth surface now. This side is a bit tougher to keep clean over the long haul, but its intentions are for those who need more texture for the optical sensor to read, increasing control with use of this side.

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While we may have omitted it in the past few issues, we do find a tab in one corner which is attached to the mouse pad, which is where the USB cable is connected to it. Under the QcK Prism, we find that the surface is the same as the top edge, where silicone rubber is used to ensure that even on a textured desk, the mouse pad will not slip or move around.

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The cable which connects the QcK Prism to the PC matches what we saw on the Rival 500. It is rubberized, and the connection has the SteelSeries logo on it, but this time the cable is only 1.8 meters in length instead of two.

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Once powered, the QcK Prism displays light around the edge, current and by default, in the ColorShift mode. At this time, we are given a rotating spectrum of LED lighting which moves clockwise, and we have placed the Rival 500 in the middle of it for scale.

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Rather than dedicate a page to the software, we will cover it here. Under the word default, there are buttons which allow you to choose a single LED zone, multiple zones or group them by area and address the mode and coloration they will deliver. The options of color are Steady, ColorShift, Multi-Color Breath, Cooldown Timer, or disabled, and these can be synced to any other SteelSeries RGB product. There are also predefined templates available, which deliver lighting in additional modes which can be selected from the upper-right menu, and the intensity of the pad can also be changed.

Gaming and General Impressions

DOOM & Battlefield 1

In FPS games, the Rival 500 is not able to deliver everything it can, but at the same time, it is a very capable mouse for such game genres. Testing on both sides of the QcK Prism, we did end up preferring the polymer side for most of the FPS gaming we had done, but the cloth side has its advantages for those who prefer to snipe in games. Where the mouse came into its own is when we fired up DOTA. Yes, the game is old, but we were able to assign functions to the plethora of buttons and test out the Rival 500 for what it is intended for.

At this time, we appreciated the ergonomic layout of side buttons, as well as the extras we can use on the top. What took some time to get used to, was the tactile vibrations. At first, the feeling is strange, but as time goes on, an appreciation for not having to watch spells and abilities recharge is a huge advantage. You do not need to take your eyes off the action as a vibration will let you know when you are ready to recast. Thinking about what we liked with the QcK Prism, we found an advantage to both sides of the pad, as sometimes we liked to scroll the map with speed, but also see the benefit to the cloth when in close quarters battles.

Windows and Productivity

In our daily use is where we appreciated things like the zero-acceleration and lack of any angle snapping by default. As someone who spends hours upon hours working with Photoshop, the accuracy and ability of the pointer to be exactly where we expected it to be and move at all times is a huge advantage. Movements are smooth, accurate, and there are no signs of jitter or wander at even the highest CPI level.

The mouse is comfortable for the long haul, no matter the grip style, and it is large enough that we were not spilling over the mouse either. As for the mousepad, when surfing the web, the polymer side is better for flinging the mouse around for quick access to links or tabs, but in photo editing, the cloth side provides us with the best user experience.

Final Thoughts

We do feel that SteelSeries has provided us with the best mouse of this kind to date. Many have tried in the past, but all those designs were clunky and lacked much thought in the development process. SteelSeries has developed a mouse that is comfortable in all aspects, is a perfect tool for MMO and MOBA gamers, and the amount of customization possible is outstanding as well. The sheer number of buttons on the Rival 500 will keep anyone happy.

Being able to lock out B6 and B7 so you can have a thumb rest too, as well as a grippy coating and texture applied where they are needed most ensures you will not lose grip on the Rival 500 when it is needed the most. It is accurate, more so than quite a few other mice we have looked at recently. Pairing the optical sensor with the 32-bit processor ensures everything from your commands, your movements, your color choices, and your programming needs all have what it takes to get the job done and do it in a superior fashion.

The software can be a bit confusing or intimidate at first glance, but a bit of time playing around with the options makes the Rival 500 feature rich, and the only thing we found missing was the ability to create multiple profiles at once. They can be stored once each is made, but without setting a launch function, you will have to visit the software to change the functionality for each game you play. While it took us by surprise the first time we felt the tactile vibration, after time progressed, we got used to it and fully appreciated its addition to the Rival 500.

The QcK Prism is a handy bit of kit too. While it is pricey to obtain it, we do like the reversible nature of mouse pads, and while many other companies do offer this idea as well, none of them has added RGB capabilities to their products. The silicone rubber back never lost its grip on our desk, and the pad is easy to flip over when needed on the top. We do not mind the rubberized cable either, but there is one thing we feel the QcK Prism missed out on. A USB hub for the mouse to connect to. Wire clutter is usually an issue for many, and if you want to use this mouse pad, you are adding in yet another cable, where if it had a pass-through port, we could connect the mouse and clean up the desk space. Considering the amount of money one has to invest in the QcK Prism, we would have expected this feature to be present.

Thrown around in our mind, factoring in everything we just saw and our experiences with it, we feel that the $79,99 MSRP is not out of line one bit for the Rival 500. The fact that you can obtain it more affordable than the MSRP helps in the financial aspect even more. For nearly $80, you do get one of the best mice we have tested in quite a long time, with nearly everything any gamer could ever want in a mouse. While we do feel that the QcK Prism is a bit expensive for what you get, we can see many buying it to keep a theme of color spread across the desk. Keeping in mind that with any SteelSeries products, they can sync in the color or colors displayed, it may be worth the investment to some.

As it stands, as long as you have to money to shell out for this combination of products, we cannot see any way you can go wrong with that decision. The Rival 500 is spectacular is what it can do, and if you are into the fanciest of mouse pads, the QcK Prism is the obvious solution.

Chad's Peripherals Test System Specifications

Performance 100%
Quality 95%
Features 99%
Value 100%
Overall 99%

The Bottom Line: The Rival 500 is the best MMO/MOBA mouse we have ever been presented! With the addition of SSE3, this mouse is outstanding in its abilities and customization. Accuracy and control, all in a comfortable, affordable, and ergonomically designed layout.

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Chad joined the TweakTown team in 2009 and has since reviewed 100s of new techy items. After a year of gaming, Chad caught the OC bug. With overclocking comes the need for better cooling, and Chad has had many air and water setups. With a few years of abusing computer parts, he decided to take his chances and try to get a review job. As an avid overclocker, Chad is always looking for the next leg up in RAM and coolers.

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