You have your ultimate CPU, your top-of-the-line graphics, the perfect motherboard, and all other components are in place. You boot up, start-up Overwatch, CS:GO, or Battlefield V, but find that your experience isn’t as great as you though it was. Well, chances are, it’s not your box; it’s your mouse. The SteelSeries Rival 650 is what you’re lacking, and despite my early hesitations with it, it was really impressive.
The SteelSeries Rival 650 is a wireless gaming mouse, and I can already hear calls of “wireless is not good for gaming” (it was actually just people in the office). Well, before I used the SteelSeries as my daily and gaming mouse, I would have agreed. Wireless mice have unfortunately swapped convenience for input lag, causing those with wired gaming mice to have better response times, especially in twitchy FPS. SteelSeries has kept this in mind when designing the Rival 650, as it features a 1000MHz polling rate, providing a 1ms response time, both wired and wireless.
Thanks to their implementation of Exclusive Quantam Wireless™, SteelSeries can achieve incredible refresh rates for the mouse, probably better than the refresh rate in your screen. SteelSeries Rival 650 adopts the TrueMove3+ Optical System, offering a dual-sensor for accurate 1-to-1 tracking, which results in surgical precision in-game. The primary sensor is what does the majority of the tracking for you, with no acceleration, no lag, and no tracking errors, thanks to the TrueMove software. The depth sensor takes care of lift-off exclusively, in order to minimise lag input and ensure you get the accurate lift off detection to 0.5mm.
The sensors were made in collaboration with PixArt, who are industry leaders in reducing sensor distortion. Featuring a 12,000 dpi range, with customisation available down to increments of 100 through SteelSeries Engine 3. What this actually means, is that the SteelSeries Rival 650 will relay exact movements on-screen as it's tracked on the mouse pad, without interpolation, latency, or jittering.
The Exclusive Quantam Wireless™ also affects the charging of the SteelSeries Rival 650. Yes, I have heard the line, “wireless mice don’t have enough battery life, especially not with high-polling rates and RGB, especially”. Well, you will be pleased to hear that the Rival 650 offers 10 hours of gaming on a single 15 minute charge, and will offer 24 straight gaming hours, once fully charged. Testing the mouse all day with daily work tasks significantly lowered the battery drain on the mouse, where I got almost four days solid use out of it on a single charge, with the RGB on full blast. The mouse offers a smart energy saving programme, which you can customise, whereby the mouse will turn off after 5 minutes of non-use. However, a simple click of a button and the mouse reconnects in less than a second.
The SteelSeries Rival 650 sports an ergonomic design for right-handers, with the elongated RMB and LMB giving palm grip a more natural feel. However, I am a claw grip gamer, and it didn’t take me long to adjust, thanks to the massive area of responsive clickyness from the SteelSeries switches. The mouse comes in at 131mm long, 69mm at the widest angle, and 43mm at its tallest peak. Along with the standard two switches, and a clickable scroll wheel, the Rival 650 offers another button just above the wheel for on-the-fly CPI switching (DPI). The mouse wheel is comfortable, and SteelSeries has gone with a real ‘Dunlop’ look, really putting the ‘wheel’ in scroll wheel. However, it never slipped from my finger, was super grippy, and even with some sense of condensation on the fingertips, the mouse wheel was easy to use, without being so easy that I over-scrolled.
I wasn’t impressed by the fact there are only two modes to choose from, but SteelSeries has made these two modes completely customisable in the SteelSeries Engine 3 software. While there is still customisation available, I would have preferred to have more than two on-the-fly adjustments available.
The SteelSeries Rival 650 weighs between 121g and 153g, depending on the set up you have chosen. There are eight individual weights, each weighing 4g, which allows you to custom-tune the centre of gravity for your individual needs, with 256 weight configurations. The magnetic detachable side panels give access to the weight points, where you can adjust back, top, left, or right heavy (personally, I used all the weights). The Rival 650 has 8 individual RGB zones, each of which is fully adjustable independent from each other, or you could choose from one of the preset modes already installed in SteelSeries Engine 3. The mouse itself house a 32-bit ARM processor to save CPI and lighting settings, making the perfect set up one click away every time.
Enough technical mumbo-jumbo and specs, let’s get down to what really counts. The SteelSeries Rival 650 took some time for me to get used to while I gamed, but once I did, it was incredible. Designed as an FPS mouse, first and foremost, the 1ms refresh rate was almost indistinguishable from my wired Corsair M65 Pro. The Rival 650 felt like a wired mouse but with the freedom of having no cables.
Loading up Overwatch, the most twitch FPS shooter I own, and my horrible skills aside, my performance was relatively similar to how I perform with my Corsair. In fact, my K/D ratio was improved due to the fact that I didn’t have cables to fight with when trying to turn around. However, the mouse was just as responsive in terms of tracking, crosshair accuracy, and lift sensing (I lift my mouse a lot), but most of all, there really was no input lag, no jittering, and no acceleration.
The SteelSeries Rival 650 isn’t just a great FPS mouse though, but also a great RPG mouse. With three additional buttons next to your thumb – which are easy to press – switching weapons and assigning consumables is as easy as programming a few macros on the mouse and setting them in-game. I loaded up both The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4, to which I was able to swap weapons and assign the third as a consumables slot; I had more freedom to programme number keys for other features. Again, there was no input lag or acceleration, and combat felt like I was a tactical hand-master with the way I was clicking buttons.
After a couple of hours, the SteelSeries Rival 650 was still comfortable in my hand, except that my pinky was a little sore from keeping it off the mat. The Black Soft Touch material on the top of the mouse, as well as the side panels, made the mouse easy to hold and move without needing to grasp it firmly the whole time. The combination of the material, and the weight and ergonomics of the mouse, make it easy and responsive to being flung around, and my fingers on the keyboard actually gave out before the ones on the mouse.
A quick mention of productivity, the mouse worked rather well in my daily use. Web browsing was easy enough thanks to the scroll wheel, I never overshot links due to the lack of acceleration and jittering, and it was just comfortable overall. Working in programmes such as Photoshop was also fantastic as the adjustable CPI settings allowed quick scanning, and detailed etching.
Now, for the points I wasn’t too happy with. First off, the two-mode CPI adjustment is just not enough. Most gaming mice in the similar price range (R1999) have, at least, five on-the-move DPI settings for you to choose from. Also, there is no way to tell which mode you are currently in without waving the mouse around, as there is no way to colour-code different modes, as you could with other mice in the same tier.
Furthermore, in this price range, I would have hoped that SteelSeries had included a thumb and pinky pad, since the side panels are already magnetically detachable. While this may not be a massive deal to most people, I feel it needed to be pointed out, as it really would’ve improved the ergonomics of the mouse.
Overall, the SteelSeries Rival 650 is a phenomenal wireless gaming mouse. It superseded my expectations from when I initially started using it. The customisable CPI settings, the 8 individually addressable RGB zone, the functionality from all 8 buttons, and the dual-sensor system left me with an experience I had never encountered before. The Rival 650 has put my faith back into wireless gaming components, and despite minor issues I have with it, I might just make this my new toy.
Loves games with deep character development and a rich storyline. Also, shooty-shooties. Loathes microtransactions. Likes to use sarcasm and metaphors.
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