We really, really want to love the SteelSeries Rival 310, a gaming mouse that is technically a budget piece of kit. For the most part, we totally do. The Rival 310 is a slick piece of hardware, an achievement for something with so few moving parts. There’s only one thing that’s really wrong with it, and that’s only because the reviewer’s a bit of an anomaly. If we could change one thing about the Rival 310, we’d make it ambidextrous.
The Right-Hand Path
The SteelSeries Rival 310 isn’t the largest mouse you’ll ever find. Or the smallest. It sits in the middle-group, where only those with the largest of mitts will find it getting lost in their palms. Just about everyone else should find it rather comfortable. There’s a slight curve to the hand-fitting body, just enough that you’re able to grip the mouse with your palm. There’s little chance of hand-cramping from trying to fold over an overly-raised lump of plastic.
Plastic is the main construction material. There’s a tough matte plastic over much of the Rival’s body, a stiffer set acting as the main mouse buttons and then a softer, grey, textured plastic on either side. Overall, the Rival is very lightweight — perhaps too much so. Some users prefer more heft, opting for a mouse with interchangeable weights, but here that’s not an option. What you feel is what you get. What you get is a very fast (thanks to the excellent low-friction pads on the base), very accurate mouse. One that is tougher than it looks, and even feels. Give it a squeeze. It can take it. Just don’t use a hydraulic press.
The Left-Hand Path
But, like we said, there’s a fatal flaw here. The Rival 310 is a single-sided design. If you’re a lefty, you might want to look elsewhere — though you’ll have your work cut out. The Cooler Master CM Storm Recon is a good option, if you can find it in stock, and Microsoft’s basic optical mouse is always a decent go-to, if you are looking to stay on a budget. Otherwise, there’s always modular (with a significant price bump).
Which is a pity because, even as a lefty using this unwieldy thing, we really, really liked the Rival. Its feel, the ease of movement, and the responsiveness of mouse-clicks are all excellent. The side buttons just happen to be on the wrong side. But this could also be a point in SteelSeries’ favour — if even the lefties like it, so-called normal people should be overjoyed. But, since we’re nitpicking, a braided cable wouldn’t have gone amiss. The standard plastic cable is decent enough but we’ve always been fond of something a little more… durable when it comes to peripherals. You may not think you’re going to need the reinforcement but when some clown is team-killing because he thinks it’s funny… well…
Movement is magic
The SteelSeries Rival 310, at R1,100 or so (pricing varies), qualifies as a budget gaming mouse. It occupies the same space as the Razer Deathadder, only not quite as green. But it’s not going to magically up your game. Even if the low-friction bottom and ease of use will feel as though it does. Cursor (or your crosshair, if you’re using it the right way and gaming with it) placement becomes a shade more intuitive, because of how smoothly the Rival glides over whatever surface it’s sitting on. No, sandpaper doesn’t count. We’re pretty sure that’s rodent abuse.
But scoring a win in Fortnite still depends on you, rather than your gear. If you were terrible at shooters before, you’ll be terrible at them afterwards. You’ll get your crosshairs into missing-position faster, though, if that helps? You can thank the esports-grade 350 IPS (inches-per-second) optical sensor SteelSeries have dropped into this thing for that.
And this all translates into normal usage too. Browsing online is a breeze. The two side-buttons can be programmed to refresh your social media. And one other thing, we guess? And the mouse wheel’s performance as a dedicated link-opener is second-to-none for folks who have upwards of 40 Chrome tabs open at a time. Again, though, button placement and the kidney-bean shape of the mouse means that lefties aren’t going to get much of out those side buttons. Unless, that is, they have very flexible pinky fingers.
Protective circle of software
Pairing the Rival with an existing SteelSeries keyboard automatically synced the mouse up with the keyboard’s lighting and pattern but SteelSeries’ SteelSeries Engine software is nothing if not adaptable. You can, of course, pick and choose your colour options as well as the type of light show you want under your palm. Or turn it off entirely, like a person who doesn’t like fun or other people talking near them.
You can also reprogram buttons to better suit your setup. Want your melee under your thumb or to map your jump somewhere your aiming hand can get to it? Well, a) you probably bunny-hop too and b) that’s totally an option. You can also crank the Rival 310’s speed up to 12,000 CPI (counts-per-inch), if you’re the type of player who needs to 360-no-scope with a twitch of a finger. Okay, it’s not that bad but the SteelSeries Engine lets you tweak the cursor to your exact specifications. From plodding to ‘I can’t even see it’, there’s a speed setting for everyone. SteelSeries claims 1-to-1 movement up to 3,500 CPI, which we can believe if not actually test. Stuff lacks the dedicated mouse-lab needed for that sort of pedantry.
SteelSeries Rival 310: Verdict
Looking to shave a split-second or two off your headshot reaction time? SteelSeries’ Rival 310 will certainly help you to achieve that, but it’s not going to magically stop your point of aim in the correct spot. It is capable of upping your game, if you’re willing to refine the mouse’s speed settings to a point that suits your gameplay style. It could give your a chicken dinner or two but more than that, it’s going to provide a smooth, comfortable experience. Some players won’t like the weight, and folks with big hands may find it disappears under the palm. Left-handed users are also left out in the cold here, at least as far as gaming goes. Which is a shame because the Rival 310 feels good enough during use that the lefties will envy what those right-handed folks have at their disposal.