Assuming you can run your chosen game acceptably, one of the first hardware upgrades you should look into should actually be a proper gaming mouse. Whether you’re just getting into PC gaming or simply starting to take it more seriously, a good mouse will make the biggest change in your ability to interact with the titles you want to play. It doesn’t have to be fancy; six or seven buttons and a top-class sensor are all you need. If you want to get fancy, though, there are options like SteelSeries’ Rival 600.
The Rival 600 is SteelSeries’ latest gaming mouse, released in January of this year. On paper it has a lot in common with a number of other mice I’ve reviewed recently, as well as SteelSeries mice that we’ve reviewed in the past. It has a subtly-slanted shape for improved comfort, and six responsive buttons plus a clickable scroll wheel. As a gaming device released in 2018, the Rival 600 obviously has RGB LED lighting, and like other Steelseries devices you’ll use the excellent Engine software to configure it.
Every setting for the Rival 600 in one intuitive display.
Steelseries opted to make the cable on the Rival 600 detachable, and I certainly appreciate that feature as it makes carrying it along that much neater. You can also replace the cable if something happens to it. I’m not wild about the micro-USB connector on the mouse end—micro-USB ports aren’t known for their durability—but I’m glad that it’s a standard connector and not some wacky proprietary thing. The cable fits very snugly into its specially-shaped socket, too.
The Rival 600 includes a handy case to contain your unused weights.
There are two standout features on this mouse: the unique adjustable weight system, and the TrueMove 3+ sensor. I’ll talk about those in a moment, but aside from the unique features the Rival 600 is an uncomplicated mouse. It has a refined shape that feels comfortable in my hands, and it should suit folks with larger hands as well. Palm and claw grippers will enjoy the Rival 600’s textured rear surface and rubber grip pads on both sides. Fingertip grippers will need to have very large hands or very long fingers to use the Rival 600 comfortably, as it is pretty long.
Steelseries Rival 600 with one side removed and two weights installed.
Gaming mice with adjustable weight are nothing new, but for this mouse SteelSeries has positioned the sockets for the weights along either side of the mouse’s central body. The sockets are concealed behind plastic plates that attach to the mouse magnetically on both sides, like the side plates on the Razer Naga Trinity. Also like those side plates, they’re super-secure and don’t slip around on the mouse—the sides feel just as solid as the chassis of any other mouse despite their modularity.
Out of the box, the mouse weighs 96 grams. That’s fairly light and feels great when whipping your crosshair around in something like Counter-Strike. With all eight weights installed, you end up at 128 grams—almost exactly the same weight as the Rival 500. It’s a bigger difference than you usually see in mice with customizable weight. SteelSeries makes much of the ability to customize the balance by installing weights on one side or the other, but testing that function I really couldn’t tell much of a difference based on where the weights were installed. Still, adjustable weight is always a welcome feature, and it’s decidedly well-done here.
One of many Mousetester results comparing the two Rivals.
More questionable are the benefits of SteelSeries’ TrueMove3+ sensor. TrueMove3 (sans plus sign) is what SteelSeries calls its implementation of PixArt’s PMW3360 optical sensor. Regular readers of my reviews will no doubt be well-familiar with that sensor and my fondness for it. The company claims that it has tweaked the TrueMove3’s firmware to improve its tracking accuracy over the standard PMW3360, particularly in the 2000-3500 DPI range.
I normally game with my mouse at 1600 DPI, but I raised the resolution on both my Rival 500 and the Rival 600 to 3200 DPI and couldn’t feel any noticeable difference, even in benchmarks. With the weights installed the Rival 600 feels almost completely identical to the Rival 500. SteelSeries calls the TrueMove3 (and by extension, its + variant) “the world’s first true one-to-one mouse sensor” and while that claim is obvious marketing fluff, they’re at least not fudging its capabilities—they’re just not unique to SteelSeries’ implementation.
The + at the end of “TrueMove3+” denotes a second sensor on the bottom of the mouse. SteelSeries says that this depth sensor allows the mouse to reduce the amount of unintended cursor movement that comes as a result of picking it up and putting it down to reposition it. The company also says that the depth sensor gives the Rival 600 the lowest lift-off distance of any optical mouse. If I’m honest, I really couldn’t pick out any difference between the performance of this mouse and my Rival 500’s standard PMW3360. That’s not really a bad thing—I love the way my Rival 500 handles—but it means TrueMove3+ isn’t going to sell me on the Rival 600 either way.
Of course, I’m not a competitive gamer. While I probably place pretty high on the axis of possible skill levels in the grand scheme of things, I’m no Jonathan “Fatal1ty” Wendel. It’s possible that if I were a pro FPS player I might appreciate the difference. Alternatively, it’s also possible that the practical difference that the depth sensor makes is very small. Either way, I wasn’t as taken with TrueMove3+ as I expected to be. In my hand, the Rival 600’s performance isn’t perceptibly different from any other PMW3360-equipped mouse, which is to say that it’s excellent. It’s just that every other mouse with this sensor has similarly wonderful performance.
The Rival 600 is a little bit of a weird product for me. On the one hand, it’s a mouse that completely achieves what it set out to accomplish. It delivers a top-notch mousing experience powered by one of the best software packages in the business. On the other hand, one of its big selling points—the TrueMove3+ sensor—doesn’t make a huge difference to the mousing experience. It’s not as if the extra depth sensor is a detriment, to be fair, and it is definitely true that this mouse supports a very short lift-off distance.
The worst consequence of the Rival 600’s extra sensor would be its effect on the Rival 600’s price. This mouse currently goes for a little under $72 on Newegg. That’s more than I’d normally recommend someone pay for a gaming mouse, but your money certainly isn’t wasted on the Rival 600. It has the best customizable weight system I’ve ever used, and its basic operation is flawless. SteelSeries’ excellent Engine software is a big point in its favor, too. I would have liked to have seen horizontal scrolling on this mouse, since my Rival 500 has it, but that’s a nitpick.
For professional FPS gamers or anyone aspiring to that level, the Rival 600 is a no-brainer choice. Likewise, for folks who play shooter games competitively—whether they’re competing for cash or just for fun—the Rival 600 should serve admirably. For casual gamers or kids who are rough on hardware I might recommend a cheaper and simpler device like SteelSeries’ own Rival 110 or Rival 310 mice. Still, if you don’t mind the expense, the Rival 600 will work great for them too. Because of its advanced capabilities and solid software, the Rival 600 takes home a TR Recommended badge.