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Why the SteelSeries Rival 3 isn't for everyone, but still is an amazing budget mouse!

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

For just $30 US or £35 UK (Even though $30 should be about £24 at the time of writing) the SteelSeries Rival 3 is a fairly budget gaming mouse. It’s a step above the $10 mice from no-name brands on Amazon without reaching the more premium gaming mice. SteelSeries have a reputation for high quality products which is clearly seen in the Rival 3 despite its much lower price than some of their other options.

Shape, Size and Weight

The Rival 3 is a particularly small mouse, it is just 120.6mm in length and 37.9mm high at the tallest point. Width wise it is 58.3 mm wide at the front and 67mm wide at the base. From this it should be clear that those who prefer a larger mouse should steer well clear of the Rival 3. It has a symmetrical design however since the side buttons are only on the left side it can only be considered a right-handed mouse, or semi-ambidextrous at best. More on the side buttons later.

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Being a small mouse means it is also very light, weighing in at just 77g. For me this is a massive plus, however it is a feature that not everyone likes. Understandably for the price, it is not weight adjustable.

According to the SteelSeries website, this mouse is only recommended for people who use claw or fingertip grips. That being said, those with small hands will be able to use it with a palm grip, although it is not an ideal experience. Unless you know you don’t use palm grip, I would advise looking into a mouse that is more suited for palm grip.

The lack of a non-braided cable is a reminder that this is a budget mouse however the rubber cable is lightweight and does not push back on the mouse much. A quality rubber cable is better than a poorly-made braided one.


The Rival 3 is an optical mouse that use SteelSeries own “TrueMove Core” sensor with one-to-one tracking. It has a 1000Hz polling rate and a CPI range of 100 – 8500 which is more than enough for anyone. I found the sensor to be very accurate, precise and responsive. It was certainly better than I expected for a $30 mouse. Many others online also had the same experience with the sensor. The only issue is that the lift-off distance was too high in my opinion. It meant lifting off to reset my mouse position often resulted in unwanted movement or cursor jiggle. Users who lift off slightly higher may notice this less but as someone who has previously used mice with a lower lift off distance the Rival 3 took a lot of getting used to. The high lift off distance still compromises the experience of this mouse. I will take a further look at this in my video review.

The bottom of the mouse has 3 smooth feet - 2 small ones at the front and a large U-shaped pad at the rear. These allow the mouse to glide effortlessly across the mousepad. They also appear to be of decent quality and should therefore last a reasonable amount of time. Although no spare feet included, they appear quite easy to replace.

The primary mouse click buttons were very impressive. They had a distinct, consistent click that was very satisfying to use. For a budget mouse they were better than expected and are a great reason to make a purchase.

The scroll wheel has a nice rubber feel, a clear satisfying click and distinct, precise ticks. The only issue I could find is due to its sunken design and no gap between the primary mouse buttons, the distance you can scroll at once is particularly low. This was no issue in games, however it made scrolling web pages a bit cumbersome.

The side buttons are somewhere I found myself disappointed. They are thin and sharp which made it clear where they were positioned although I prefer flat smooth buttons. The main issue though is the force needed to activate the buttons. They felt like very good switches once clicked however doing so required more for than I’d like on a gaming mouse. Sometimes it would almost feel like there was a delay due to having to put that bit more force onto the button than I’d like.


Lighting and Software

The RGB lighting was bright across all 3 zones. The SteelSeries engine software was simple to use and despite a couple of crashes, it was a good experience. It allowed me to customise the mouse in ways I wanted. Each zone can be customised separately with any of the three options: steady (a single colour), colour shift, and multi-colour breathe. Within each option there is a lot of fine-tuning which can be done. Some of the options are a bit fiddly but it doesn’t take too long to get exactly what you want. The lights can also be disabled completely if you prefer.

In the box

The box was very simple. There was nothing spectacular about the unboxing, it was simple and easy. The mouse was secured by some cardboard and an instruction manual was included.

The Verdict

In conclusion, for $30 the SteelSeries Rival 3 is an excellent mouse. It isn't for everyone - if you don't like really small mice, lightweight mice or use palm grip, then I cannot recommend this mouse. But if non of these are issues for you then I would highly recommend it. If you are interested in purchasing this mouse it is linked below:

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