Despite what some might think, PC gaming is thriving. Companies like Corsair are gobbling up smaller outfits in order to create massive gaming hardware empires, while streamers are getting signed to big money contracts across multiple platforms. However, as gaming has outgrown its basement-dwelling image, the price of gaming peripherals has started to climb as well. So what are you supposed to do if you just want a simple, inexpensive mouse for gaming (and everything else you do)?
It’s priced at just $30, and while it might not be dusted with gamer girl bathwater, when it comes to a super affordable gaming mouse, the SteelSeries Rival 3 has pretty much everything you could want. As is popular on most new gaming mice, the Rival 3 is relatively light, weighing in at 77 grams, while its matte plastic body helps cut down on unsightly fingerprints and smudges.
But the key component that sets the Rival 3 apart from other budget gaming mice is its new TrueMove Core optical sensor which features 8,500 CPI (counts per inch) and true one-to-one mouse tracking which combine to deliver excellent precision. In this price range, a lot of other mice rely on less accurate sensors that can make your mouse movements feel sluggish or jumpy. But even when compared against mice more than twice its price including SteelSeries own Rival 600, it was hard to notice any significant differences in general performance between the Rival 3 and the pricier products.
However, because the Rival 3 only has one mouse sensor instead of two like you get on the Rival 600, it doesn’t have quite the same level of lift-off precision, which is a mouse’s ability to keep things stable and accurate when quickly picking up and dropping the mouse back down like you do when you’re panning across the map in an RTS or spinning around in a shooter.
Elsewhere, the Rival 3 features six fully customizable buttons including left and right mouse buttons, two side-mounted buttons on the left, a clickable scroll wheel, and a lone button on top that by default adjusts the mouse’s sensitivity. Like the rest of its buttons, you can change the Rival 3's top button to do whatever you want. However, I found that leaving it as a way to quickly toggle between two sensitivities (900 and 1300 CPI for me) was incredibly useful, especially in shooters when you’re using a gun with a scope. And for people like me who prefer to set up their mouse once and forget it, the Rival 3 comes with onboard memory so you save your settings once and use the mouse with other computers without having to redo everything.
On the bottom, I appreciate that Steelseries left little indents to help make the mouse’s slick pads a bit easier to replace, because with switches that are rated to last 60 million clicks (which is three to six times more than what you get from similar mice like Logitech’s $40 G203), the Rival 3 should last quite a while. That said, since the only thing that comes in the Rival 3's box is the mouse itself (and a small instruction manual), you’ll have to reach out to Steelseries separately to get replacement pads.
Finally, the Rival 3 offers three-zone RGB lighting which is frankly bright as hell. In my home office which is already filled with way too gadgets with RGB lights, the Rival 3 was easily the most dazzling thing in the room. Like all good RGB-equipped gadgets, you can customize the Rival 3's lighting to display a ton of different colors and patterns like breathing or multi-color illumination. But strangely, unless it’s buried deep somewhere in Steelseries’ app and I missed it, there doesn’t seem to be an easy way of adjusting its brightness, so its either a full-on technicolor blast of color or nothing.
Regardless, for a $30 gaming mouse, the Rival 3 punches way above its price tag. And when you consider that the cheapest gaming mice from competitors like Logitech and Razer start at $10 more (though the Razer Basilisk does come with a few more features and two extra buttons), while Corsair’s $30 Harpoon Pro has an older and slightly less sensitive sensor, the Rival 3 has where it counts—both in terms of specs and value.
- The Rival 3 features a right-handed design, which could be a bummer for lefties.
- SteelSeries new TrueMove Core sensors offer 8,500 CPI and true one-to-one tracking.
- The Rival 3 sports six total buttons, all of which can be customized in the free SteelSeries Engine app.
- The mouse comes with onboard storage so you can customize your settings once, and then retain those settings on any other computer without needing to reinstall SteelSeries’ app.
- The Rival’s three-zone RGB lights are super bright (750 nits), though sadly it doesn’t seem like there’s a way to adjust their brightness.