SteelSeries Rival 500 Gaming Mouse: A Review

A GAMING mouse is an extremely important part of one’s PC rig and everyone has their own preferences as to which one suits them best – and there’s a huge market to cater to that need.

As a gentleman with larger hands, I like a larger mouse with a bit more heft to it, and the subject of this review – the SteelSeries Rival 500 – fits the bill very nicely for me, packing a lot of features and buttons into an ergonomic and well-balanced design that ticks a lot of boxes.

Pitched as a MMO/MOBA mouse, it has 15(!) buttons, weighs 129.7g, measures 78.3mm across, is 118.6mm long and 43.3mm high, and is configured for right-hand use.

The buttons around the thumb area are all designed to be quickly and easily accessible.

The layout is geared around your thumb and has been designed to make it easy to access those buttons with a shift of said thumb – and they are.

The lower two buttons can even be turned into a fixed rest by flicking a switch on the underside of the mouse (which is the configuration I used), but the programmable buttons around the thumb space were mostly well-placed and easy to actuate if needed.

In general use the mouse is comfortable and fit my hand very nicely; once I dialled the DPI settings in it proved itself to a great mouse for gaming and work alike; I could switch between sensitivities with the press of a button and I was impressed by the precision I was able to achieve with the cursor in use, too.

The sensor specifications for the SteelSeries Rival 500

The SteelSeries Rival 500 features something I’ve never encountered in a mouse before: Tactile feedback.  You can customise this in a range of ways, including as a cooldown timer alert of buffs or ultimate abilities, to gently vibrate to warn or low health, or many other options.

Even more interestingly, the vibration appears to be up and down rather than side-to-side, so it doesn’t affect aiming – important when precision counts, since there’s nothing worse than trying to snipe a distant target and having the mouse move by a few pixels and cause you to miss.

The SteelSeries Rival 500 features customisable tactile feedback as well as the obligatory RGB lighting.

While some of the haptic feedback is only available in a few games, you can set it up manually to activate on button presses – I set mine to work when using the mousewheel button, which was very handy and helped me avoid the issue of accidentally scrolling to the next weapon instead of launching a grenade or whatever, because I knew when I felt that vibration I’d clicked the wheel in properly and it was explosion time. I was a touch disappointed it wasn’t a Console Controller Feedback experience, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction there.

The mouse build quality was excellent too – it’s a well-made peripheral and the ergomonics were very good for my hand; I never had any issues with maintaining my grip or slippage, even in Queensland heat when my hands get a bit sweaty.

While the mouse is designed for MMO/MOBA use, it works absolutely perfectly for FPS games (I played a lot of Cyberpunk 2077 using it) as well as sandbox games like Transport Fever 2, Jurassic World Evolution and Cities Skylines. In fact, it worked perfectly with every game I tried it with; Red Dead Redemption II, Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla and Age of Empires III: Definitive Edition included.

It worked very nicely for everyday computing and work, too – whether I was surfing the internet, editing photos in PhotoShop, making adjustments to Word documents, or organising files too. I’d be worried if it didn’t, though – but it still needed to be covered as part of the review. The mouse glided smoothly on my desktop when I needed it to, and stayed put when I needed it to do that too.

The buttons, DPI and RGB (among other settings) can be adjusted via the SteelSeries Engine 3 software.

I didn’t have any issues accidentally or inadvertently pressing buttons, and the SteelSeries Engine 3 software allows for a great deal of customisation, including deactivating buttons you don’t plan on using.

This customisation makes the mouse incredibly versatile; things like being able to rotate buildings using mouse buttons really helps with precision placement in sandbox games for example, and I an absolutely see how serious MMO or MOBA players would love to have so many options ready to go and their thumb-tip too.

You can also configure the RGB lighting as well; I’m using Roccat Swarm and it’s not compatible wth that (for obvious reasons) so I just left it on the default colour cycling– and there’s also the fact  it’s a bit hard to see the RGB effects on the logo when you’ve got your palm over it.

It’s quite a large mouse, which suits me very nicely – and it does a great job of fitting 15 buttons on it without having any of them feel obtrusive.

The only major weak point I experienced with the Rival 500 mouse was its cord. Whereas something like the Roccat Burst Pro has a flex material covering its cable, the SteelSeries Rival 500 has a conventional cable and I found it wasn’t as flexible at dealing with obstacles on my desk as some of the other higher-end gaming mice I’ve used.

Otherwise, the Rival 500 has made itself very comfortable on my desk and been giving an excellent account of itself.

While its large quantity of buttons may be too much for many gamers, if you want a programmable mouse with options – not to mention tactile feedback – or simply prefer a heftier moue in general, this comes highly recommended.