Rival 700 is the flagship in the new and slimmed down selection of mice from SteelSeries. It's the premier model of the Rival series, that now spans three models. We've previously tried Rival 300, a mouse that we found a bit lacking to be honest. The ergonomics were off, and it was borderline uncomfortable to use.
You might expect that the same would be true for Rival 700 as it's part of the same line, but that's not the case. Unlike SteelSeries Sensei, the three Rival models are not just different on the inside, they also come with differences in shape, layout, and other external details.
Rival 700 is a few millimetres shorter than its little brother, and while that may not sound like much, it makes all the difference in our hands. The strange pull we felt in our fingers with Rival 300 isn't there, and Rival 700 is a joy to use. It fits well in your hand, there is more of a quality feel to the buttons and wheels, and its weight seems perfect.
All the standard buttons are accounted for - left and right click, wheel, a button on top to shift CPI, and a total of three buttons for the thumb - one more than the other Rival models. If you've got access to a 3D printer you can print out a nameplate to put on the back of the mouse and the skull with the lit up SteelSeries logo can also be switched out for home printed components. Additionally you can switch out the sensor with a simple grip, but exactly what this is good for we're not sure as SteelSeries doesn't offer an alternative sensor. At least not for the time being.
The extras are also turned up a notch compared to other mice. The light in the logo and wheel can naturally shift colour, but there is also a small black and white LED screen on the left side of the mouse. By default it shows the SteelSeries logo, but you can design your own thing to go there. You can also use this screen to tune things like sensitivity and lift distance directly on the mouse, instead of using the software. Great if you're using your mouse on a different computer, but not of much use when you're using the mouse on your own machine.
This screen is even more interesting if you're playing a game that supports GameSense. What's GameSense? It's a platform SteelSeries introduced last summer, and simply put it allows the game to send information on what's going on in the game to your keyboard, mouse, and so on. In other other SteelSeries products this means that something like your health getting lower than a certain level will trigger the LED lights to shift colours. This also applies here, but the screen can also show stats, so in between rounds of Counter-Strike you can check your K/D ratio on the mouse.
To be perfectly honest this feels like a feature that's more for show. How often you do you look at the LED light on your mouse or do you even look at the mouse while playing? In our case it only happens on rare occasions.
But there is one other feature that makes the Rival 700 stand out from the rest of the mice on the market, and something that makes GameSense all the more interesting: The mouse comes equipped with a small vibration device, much like what you've got in your phone. This means it can vibrate and give haptic feedback. And for games that support GameSense this is, simply put, a "game changer".
For now only Minecraft (via a mod), Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Dota 2, support GameSense, but if you're playing the latter two you need to seriously consider picking up a Rival 700 next time you're buying a mouse. Both games send a wealth of information to SteelSeries' software and from there you can set up all kinds of responses on your mouse.
As standard in Dota 2 there is a setting that makes the mouse pulsate gently as you go below 20% health, and another setting gives off a distinct reaction each time you level up. You can set up responses to your cooldown timers, so the mouse hums a couple of times as your Q ability becomes available, or if you'd rather have it hum ten seconds before that happens. We put a small buzzer to alert us of the fact that we're respawning in ten seconds. The list of potential benefits is very, very long.
This is perhaps not quite as useful in Counter-Strike, but there are some benefits. For example it gives off a clear indication when freeze time is over and you can start moving around. All the movements caused by the small vibration engine happen horizontally and so they should not interfere with your aiming. That's what SteelSeries promise at any rate, and that was also our experience.
All the major peripheral manufacturers try and differentiate themselves with more intelligent LED lights, profiles, macros, and designs, but the vibrations of Rival 700 is the first time we've experienced something that truly and immediately makes a difference. It may very well be the greatest innovation since the introduction of the scroll wheel and the thumb buttons.
The only problems is that there are so few games that support the GameSense features, and for now you can only experience the advantages with Minecraft, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. Hopefully as GameSense is now used for something more vital than shifting lights that you probably don't pay much attention to during play, more games will be added.
Rival 700 is a brilliant mouse, regardless of whether it can tell you when your Ult is ready or not. But if you play a lot of CS or Dota 2, it's the thing that pushes it from being a brilliant mouse to being the one and only mouse you'll want to use. You need to consider it as you pick up your next gaming mouse.