SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless Review
The SteelSeries Rival 3 is one of the best bang for buck mouses on the market thanks to its light and ergonomic design that is a pleasure to use. When you combine this core design with 3 zone RGB illumination, TrueMove Core optical gaming sensor, and of course, its price — $80 AUD, you begin to see why the Rival 3 is one of the choice for many gamers, but how could SteelSeries possibly improve this mouse without compromising its bang for buck appeal? Did you say to cut the cord? The Rival 3 Wireless is exactly this; a wireless version of the popular Rival 3 that incorporates both 2.4Ghz and Bluetooth 5.0 technology. The Rival 3 Wireless transitions the proven design of the Rival 3 into the new age of wireless gaming, but just how good can an entry-level wireless mouse be?
The Rival 3 Wireless design remains loyal to its wired counterpart by maintaining the Rival 3’s simple six-button, right-handed design despite carry a little extra weight, 27% extra weight if I’m honest. Aesthetically though, it is the Rival 3 — Same dimensions, same matte black finish, and same two side buttons that are positioned perfectly for fingertip and claw users.
Hidden underneath its matte black plastic housing is a clever design that maximises the limited space within the mouse. Two AAA batteries fill the majority of the chassis with a subtle cradle hidden in between the two batteries for storing the wireless Nano Dongle. As simple as this sounds, I was quite impressed with this design as the Rival 3 Wireless can effectively carry all its accessories within the mouse itself — There are no additional cables to carry around for charging. And best of all, there is no need to panic when you can’t find your Wireless Nano Dongle as it resides within the mouse!
There is, of course, some negative factors to consider when using AAA batteries over the more traditional lithium-ion; no ability to recharge the battery and weight. The Rival 3 weighs 77 grams, which is one of the lightest mice on the market, the Rival 3 Wireless, however, weighs in at 106 grams with 2x AAA batteries installed (84 g without and 95g with one AAA). The lightweight design of the original Rival 3 was one of the biggest attractions towards the mouse, but in saying that I feel that the extra 29g is barely noticeable. You will often find a slight increase in weight for wireless mouses, but when you consider that the Sensei Ten weights 95 grams yet is a wired mouse of similar size, the Rival 3 Wireless is far from a heavy mouse.
Under the hood, the Rival 3 Wireless is a different beast. Instead of using the original TrueMove Core optical sensor featured in the Rival 3, SteelSeries has developed a new optical sensor purposely designed for low power applications, such as the Rival 3 Wireless called TrueMove Air. This sensor is based on PixArt’s 3335 low power optical gaming sensor and has been primarily designed to maximise the life of the battery, but thanks to its true 1-to-1 tracking, doesn’t compromise performance to achieve this. The TrueMove Air features a low power consumption of around 1.7mA, which is perfect for getting the most out of your AAA battery supply. To further increase battery life SteelSeries has opted to forgo the dynamic RGB illumination effects of the Rival 3. Instead, you only get the subtle glow of the mouse’s heartbeat from the scroll wheel. This RGB illumination can be customised via SteelSeries Engine 3, along with doubling up as feedback of the mouse’s status of the mouse such as low battery, ready to pair, paired etc.
Despite the TrueMove Air focusing on low power consumption, this sensor still delivers where it counts — On the battlefield. This is thanks to some impressive performance specifications such as 18,000 CPI, 400 IPS, and 1000 Hz polling rate. This provides a great balance between performance and reliability that can be neglected with wireless products. Its LOD is very respectable at around 3-4mm but as you would expect with entry-level mouses, there is no ability to adjust this distance.
SteelSeries‘ claim of a 400-hour battery life is a bold claim by any means, but one I began to believe in the more I used the mouse. I was using the Rival 3 Wireless for around 6-8 hours a day for work (via Bluetooth) and then for a few hours at home (via 2.4Ghz) each night and was amazed that after two weeks of usage I still had 75% battery life remaining.
Backing up the TrueMove Air sensor is Quantum 2.0 Dual Wireless technology. This is where the Rival 3 Wireless begins to form its own identity as not only does the mouse feature 2.4 GHz connectivity, but also Bluetooth. This allows the Rival 3 Wireless to be used for both business and pleasure and really pushes the limits of wireless freedom.
Quantum 2.0 Dual Wireless
Quantum 2.0 Dual Wireless connectivity has been designed and engineered to transmit an incredible 2 Mbps over 2.4 GHz wireless frequency. This speed is backed with automatic channel optimisation to ensure the reliability of this connection and prevent any interference. The results? Flawless — I never experienced any latency issues or interference during the heat of battle, now I just have to learn how to aim…
Having both 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth connectivity is a luxury most mice can’t offer. Having the ability to swing both ways (nothing wrong with that) thanks to a selector switch on the bottom of the mouse couldn’t be easier. The Nano Wireless USB dongle provides gaming-quality 2.4 GHz connectivity for your home PC, while Bluetooth means you can also pair the Rival 3 Wireless to your work laptop — This is a luxury you don’t expect for $119 AUD. I enjoyed the convenience of not having to remember to take Nano Wireless Dongle with me each time I changed workstation or wanted to game. Instead, I could leave the Nano Dongle in my PC and pair all my Bluetooth compatible devices with the Rival 3 Wireless. This meant I could finally enjoy pure freedom of my wireless peripherals, all with the added benefit of saving those precious USB ports for other devices.
Pairing the Rival 3 Wireless via Bluetooth is simple enough; The CPI switch doubles up as a pairing button and must be held when first selecting Bluetooth mode. This will cause the mouse’s scroll wheel to begin blinking blue indicated that pairing mode is active. The scroll wheel will illuminate orange once pairing is completed and now you are ready to go!
When connected via 2.4 GHz, SteelSeries Engine 3 is able to provide a decent amount of support for the Rival 3 Wireless. As you would expect though, there are minimal RGB effects on offer as the mouse only features a single zone, that being the scroll wheel. Other options to customise include the ability to adjust preset mouse sensitivity options, sleep timer, polling rate, high-efficiency mode, illumination smart mode, and the ability to remap your mouse’s buttons to include anything you want, even custom macros. These can be saved to one of the five onboard profiles to ensure those battery saving features are active when you don’t require them.
Unfortunately for Bluetooth users, SteelSeries Engine 3 doesn’t provide any software support for the mouse. This isn’t a complete shock as the majority of Bluetooth devices don’t usually feature software support, but it does mean you rely on the pre-defined CPI and battery saving settings, unless you customise your profiles using the 2.4Ghz connection first, which honestly isn’t much of an issue.
SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless Review
- PERFORMANCE - 91%91%
- DESIGN - 90%90%
- QUALITY - 83%83%
- VALUE - 92%92%
The Rival 3 Wireless ticks all the boxes for a budget-friendly wireless mouse that is a great option for both in the office and at home gaming. It features all the style and characteristics of the wired Rival 3, but with the added freedom of both 2.4Ghz and Bluetooth wireless technology. The all-new TrueMove Air optical sensor is able to provide precision accuracy and performance along with an incredible 400+ hour battery life. I love that the Rival 3 Wireless isn’t as flamboyant as the Rival 3, instead its subtle RGB illumination provides a more stylish and sophisticated approach that is well suited to office environments. For under 120 bucks, the Rival 3 Wireless proves that an entry-level mouse doesn’t mean entry-level features!
For more on SteelSeries, check out our previous coverage.