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SteelSeries Rival 700 Gaming Mouse Review

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Testing the Rival 700

Rival 700 Testing Methodology

Over the span of a month, I used the new Rival for both office work (photo-editing, web browsing, etc.) and gaming (Mechwarrior: Online, ARMA 3, DOOM and Battlefield 4 are the current mainstays for me – of course, I had to add CS:GO due to the GameSense capabilities of the Rival 700).  Doom and BF4 cover the twitch-shooter categories, with ARMA 3’s infantry simulator / sandbox gameplay providing a counterpoint across a wide range of weapons and vehicles.

Mechwarrior: Online’s slower-paced, precision gameplay (which requires a very steady hand to keep a laser burn duration on a specific component while tracking a moving target) highlights intricacies of mouse tracking most other games don’t uncover, while also providing an opportunity to test the tactile feedback/timers for the various weapon cooldowns.

The new Rival was my daily driver throughout all of it.  I found no jarring issues with comfort even after extended use, although the “not quite claw/not quite palm” grip style of the Rival 700 took a little getting used to.

I used multiple mouse pads with the Rival 700– its optical sensor performed without an issue at 800 DPI on every surface I tried (Roccat Taito Control, Razer Goliathus Speed, Razer Destructor 2, Razer Sphex, Func Surface 1030r2, Roccat Sense). All testing shown below was performed on a Roccat Hiro mouse pad.
Rival700_MSPaint800

There are many tests that can be used to extrapolate sensor performance.  Other than using a mouse in your favorite application, drawing a few simple lines in Microsoft’s Paint program can readily highlight any glaring issues in tracking, accuracy or prediction.  At my usual 800 DPI, the Rival 700 felt as controllable as any high-end mouse I’ve used.  Movement was predictable and felt smooth and accurate.

Rival700_MSPaint2000

At a still-controllable 2000 DPI (sorry SteelSeries, CPI) movement was still very precise.  No obvious acceleration or prediction seemed to affect the results, although very precise movements become noticeably more difficult due to the increased speed.  Given that these types of speeds are more appropriate for displays in the 4K resolution spectrum this is to be expected.

Rival700_MSPaint10000

This one was admittedly a bit absurd – the sensor will track up to 15600 CPI, but I found that setting to be completely unusable on my 2560×1440 display (much less trying to draw on a < 400px area).  It seemed to track accurately, but “overkill” doesn’t begin to describe it – a user would have to add some negative sensitivity or acceleration to get any use out of that setting – and what’s the point of tracking 15600 CPI if you’re just going to cut the result in half or more anyway?  So here’s a snapshot of sensor performance at 10,000 CPI instead – it’s still accurate enough, but my hand most certainly isn’t!  For this setting, I definitely should have used a larger surface to draw on, but we can get an idea that the sensor is still tracking accurately at the higher settings.

Rival700_MouseRate

The polling rate is set at 1000 Hz from the factory, and the SteelSeries Rival 700 didn’t have any problems reporting at that rate.

Tactile Cooldown Timers

Allow me to nerd out for a bit, as this was the feature I was most excited to test out on the Rival 700.  First, a bit of backstory:

I’m a sucker for big stompy robots and lasers.  It’s just a truth I’ve come to accept about myself.  While I can’t say there’s an ideal experience out there for those that just want to stomp around in ten-meter tall machines of walking destruction, the 25-year old BattleTech universe seems to be the most fleshed-out franchise that feature these walking tanks.  Featured in the prominent-but-niche MechWarrior games since the late 90s, the PC platform was one of the first places that could begin to capture the stompy robot experience from the pilot’s seat.  Other than a few notable alternatives (EarthSiege series, Heavy Gear, Titanfall, Hawken), the MechWarrior games have been the only way to scratch this particular itch.

The latest iteration of this franchise is the online, multiplayer-only MechWarrior: Online which features many staples of the genre – multiple aiming reticules, heat management, configurable weapon groups and customizeable loadouts.  Managing up to six different weapon groups that aim at two different locations at any given time can quickly get complicated, making the right choice of peripherals critical in having many options at your fingertips.

Rival700_WeaponGrps2

That brings us to the Rival 700’s tactile cooldown timers.  Each weapon in MWO discharges upon firing one of the six weapon groups, where each individual weapon begins its respective cooldown/re-load time.  To add to the complexity, certain weapons will have a chance to jam if fired before their cooldown period is complete.  The ability to set a timer to coincide with a button press and have the vibration alert signal the end of a cooldown period would allow a user to keep their eyes on the action with clear advantages.  It’s an obvious fit for the Rival 700’s vibration alerts feature.

Of course, when the Rival 700 was released, the only place option to set these timers lay with GameSense-enabled titles.  With the release of SSE3.8.3, custom timers could be programmed and I set out to see if tactile alerts were as game-changing as they sounded…

It was certainly an advantage.  Not so much so that any player with enough practice could make up for it by getting a feel for it over time (and there are in-game indicators that assist with this as well), but the vibration alerts from the Rival 700 were much more noticeable than anything happening on-screen.  The cool-down bars and pips on the HUD are easily lost amidst frantic action – not so with the vibration alerts.  I grew to really appreciate the additional reminder that a certain weapon group was now ready to fire, as it allowed me to keep more mental attention on lining up the next shot.  I could immediately see the benefit for any application that has an ability/weapon/timed event on cooldown.

Is it an unfair advantage?  Not even close.  It doesn’t provide any notification that most games display for you anyway, and without GameSense they need to be individually programmed for each application.  For MechWarrior, this means a separate profile would need to be configured for each individual ‘Mech and weapon used in the game!  I can’t see too many players going through that much trouble for a slight advantage; for those competitive players looking to squeeze an extra percent or two out of their gameplay, it may be just the thing.


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