Packing plenty of shortcut buttons, a generous CPI range and nifty RGB lighting, there’s little you could want from a gaming mouse that you won’t find in the SteelSeries Rival 5. It’s not drastically cheap, but it’s by no means pricey either. A great value-for-money mouse.
- Lighter than air
- Fair price
- Stylish RGB lighting
- No wireless connectivity
- Attractive priceYou get a lot for £59.99/$59.99
- LightweightThe Rival 5 weighs a respectable 85g
- Shortcut buttonsOn the side are five buttons for faster clicking
The SteelSeries Rival 5 packs a lot of features for a mouse at its price point. With five side buttons, a huge CPI range, and generous RGB settings, you won’t be left wanting here – unless, of course, you want wireless connectivity. The Rival 5 is wired only.
For some, it’ll be a slam dunk. Many, though, are probably better off going even cheaper. If you’re just after a reliable mouse fit for gaming and aren’t concerned about lighting or customising inputs for the most efficient tactics, consider something simpler like the Asus TUF M4 Air or Roccat Kain 200 AIMO.
But if you do want to take advantage of everything the SteelSeries Rival 5 offers, you’ll be very pleased.
- Wired USB input
- Comfortable generic shape
- Five shortcut side buttons
The SteelSeries Rival 5 won’t win any awards for design originality. A wired gaming mouse that connects over USB-A, it looks about as bog-standard as you can get: a matte-black plastic body, two strips of RGB lights and the SteelSeries logo, and a gradual arch that should feel comfortable in any hand.
On top is a firm, rubber scroll wheel and a CPI button. On the left-hand side, meanwhile, are five shortcut buttons. They’re laid out just like those on the SteelSeries Aerox 5 Wireless, with a forward and back button setting below a vertical toggle. Further up is a long silver button. It rests just at the tip of your thumb but, unlike the Aeroex 5, I found it to be within easy reach – though those with smaller hands could struggle to hit it.
The button layout is as sensible as it is functional. With the back and forward buttons placed above your thumb, there’s little risk of accidentally tapping them (an irritatingly common side-effect of some mice I’ve tried). The protruding vertical toggle and the silver button also have well-balanced actuation, meaning you won’t be accidentally summoning spells or performing abilities mid-game at the accidental press of button.
On the bottom, two curved guides help the Rival 5 slide smoothly, and I didn’t find any friction when using it. Ultimately, this is a clever if conservatively designed mouse. There’s nothing overly flashy here, but there doesn’t need to be. Everything is laid out well and despite the lightweight gimmick, it holds together nicely.
- 100-18,000 CPI range
- Only weighs 85g
- Great for all genres of gaming
The five side buttons will come in handy for any genre of game where fast-paced clicking is key. MMO and MOBA players will find it saves them from reaching across the keyboard, buying them a few precious seconds, and even RTS fans will find an advantage by assigning them to their most-used commands.
But this is really an FPS mouse. At 85g, it’s designed with flickshots and headshots in mind, letting you whizz the controller about at speed to cut down on reaction times.
The Rival 5’s incredibly high CPI range also supports that sort of fast-paced wrist snapping. By default, the CPI button can be pressed to cycle through five settings. They can all be set between 100 and 18,000 CPI in the SteelSeries GG app. It’s a generous range, but unless you have a 4K monitor, the top half of it will be all but unusable.
That’s not a problem in itself, though. Think of the Rival 5 as the kind of gaming mouse you can keep with your rig for years to come, even after you’ve upgraded your tower and other peripherals.
You’re also able to disable any CPI settings you don’t use. It’s a minor feature, but handy when you know for certain you want to flick between a couple of speeds quickly mid-fight rather than cycle between the whole lot. Playing a few multiplayer shooters, I found I only really used two or three settings, and disabled the rest.
Software and lighting
- Impressively customizable lighting
- Intuitive software
The SteelSeries Rival 5 outdoes itself on RGB lighting, especially considering its price. You’re able to set custom light modes for the mouse wheel, SteelSeries logo and two lighting strips individually, Plus, each strip is broken down into four separate zones, making for a total of 10 LED areas to light up as you like.
With steady block colour effects and shifting patterns to play around with, there’s a lot of zany, pretty as well as downright ugly possibilities at your disposal. Plus, you’ve always got the option to disable the lights entirely if you prefer.
Doing so is made nice and straightforward with the GG app. It’s laid out intuitively, performs fast, and has a live preview mode that lets you see exactly what changes you’re making to the mouse as you make them.
That it comes bundled with other, auxiliary features, like capturing gameplay clips or entering SteelSeries giveaways, is somewhat unneeded, but they’re easily circumvented and forgotten about.
Should you buy it?
You want a gaming mouse that’s great value for money: The SteelSeries Rival 5 boasts a lot of features at an affordable price.
You want a wireless mouse: The one major thing you won’t get here is wireless connectivity, so you’ll be limited to a cable.
The SteelSeries Rival 5 shows you don’t have to splash out to get a highly functional, very flashy and comfortable gaming mouse. At £59.99/$59.99, it’s certainly not the cheapest option around, but it surpasses many of its most lauded competitors at this price point.
Though think carefully if you’re actually going to use all its features. The five side buttons are nice to have for anyone who likes using lots of shortcuts in their games, and the mouse’s lightweight design makes it perfect for competitive twitch shooters. If you’re not likely to take advantage of those features, or aren’t taken by RGB glare, consider the Asus TUF M4 Air or Roccat Kain 200 AIMO instead.
How we test
We use every mouse we test for at least a week. During that time, we’ll check it for ease of use and put it through its paces by playing a variety of different genres, including FPS, strategy and MOBAs.
We also check each mouse’s software to see how easy it is to customise and set up.
Used as a main mouse for over a week
Tested performance on a variety of games
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In a word, yes. It’s lightweight, while the side buttons and custom CPI settings are all perfect for competitive and casual gaming.
The Rival 5’s polling rate can be adjusted up to a maximum of 1,000Hz