Though it might not be the name you first think of, SteelSeries is a well-respected brand in the gaming peripheral market. In fact, the company’s last mouse to cross our desks, the snappily titled SteelSeries Xai, received our highest commendation. However, with even peripherals becoming ever more advanced these days (check out the amazing Logitech G19 gaming keyboard, which has its own CPU and colour screen, to see what we mean), it was arguably high time for an update. So does the new Sensei bring the necessary performance and features to steal gamers’ hearts (again)?
When you first see the Sensei, you would be forgiven for thinking that not really all that much has changed. Sure, there’s a new glossy metallic coat of paint, but this aside it’s the exact same ambidextrous shape and has the same eight-button configuration as its predecessor, down to the triangular dpi switch below its scroll wheel (unlike some gaming mice the Sensei offers only the option to toggle between two dpi settings out of the box, something the company found its pro gamer partners wanted).
However, under the hood this is a very different and far more advanced rodent. For it, too, has its own powerful processor! In fact, ladies and gents, we have a mouse with an original Pentium-equivalent CPU inside. This allows you to double the sensitivity from its laser sensor’s native 5,700 DPI/CPI to a whopping 11,400, among other enhancements. The Sensei also maintains the Xai’s LCD screen (at the mouse’s bottom). Even if it’s monochrome and can’t display more than a few lines at a time, that’s still rather impressive. Add in local storage, and this mouse is practically a computer in your palm.
Not to be outdone by Logitech’s G-Series (the G9 and G9x), which offer a tiny strip of LED lighting in whatever colour you wish, the Sensei boasts even more LED areas. This includes two rings to either side of the scroll wheel, a round LED between wheel and CPI button, and the SteelSeries logo. All three can be set independently to a selection of 16.8 million colour options. Though the logo part is obviously covered while gaming, either way it’s a glorious sight to behold. If you’re into LED bling, this is definitely the mouse for you, and if you aren’t, you can simply turn it all off. Incidentally, the inclusion of all this bling is something of a turn around from Steel Series' previous philosophy of cutting all the extraneous stuff and just sticking to the hardcore gaming basics as it did on the Xai (which is still readily available it should be noted).
Combined with features like ‘adjustable lift distance’, ‘advanced macros’, and FreeMove (which eliminates the dreaded path correction) - to name but a few - SteelSeries’ claim that the Sensei is the “world’s most customisable mouse” is probably no great exaggeration. What this gaming mouse does lack is a weights system (it weighs 106g and always will, unless you chop bits off) or adjustable grips, so if you’re after the ability to change your rodent’s shell, the G9x or Cyborg RAT might be more up your street.
It’s also worth mentioning that, like its predecessor, the Sensei was designed with the help of some of the biggest names in competitive gaming (eSports) across various genres, including the likes of Fnatic, Evil Geniuses and iNcontrol. Having a whole raft of people giving their input is a vastly preferable concept to being advised by just a single famous gamer (Fatal1ity, anyone?), who might have a distinct playing style and ergonomic tastes that won’t be for everyone.