SteelSeries’ Rival 600 gaming mouse reviewed

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.

Conclusions

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.

Comments closed
    • YukaKun
    • 1 year ago

    Ok, absolutely off-topic, but I need to ask while in this context:

    My Cougar 550M decided to give up it’s middle button and I can’t get it to work, so I’ll need a replacement, but I’d like to have a couple extra buttons on the side. I’m eyeing the Corsair Smithar and the Logitech G502 and the stupidly expensive Razer Mamba (ugh; that synapse problem).

    Are there any other good choices for “multi buttoned” mice out there that any of you know of?

    Cheers!

      • RAGEPRO
      • 1 year ago

      Sure man, multi-button mice are my specialty. 🙂

      If you don’t mind the ADNS-9800 laser sensor (not as immune to tracking errors as the PMW-33xx family, but still very good) I definitely recommend the [url=https://www.amazon.com/Patriot-Viper-Gaming-Blackout-PV570LUXWAK/dp/B076HZJYKL/<]Patriot Viper V570 Blackout[/url<]. It's a great mouse with a really comfortable shape and excellent software. If you really want that IR LED sensor then try to find a Steelseries Rival 500. It's an amazing mouse with the best button layout I've ever used. Amazon frequently sells them for $60-70 which is well below MSRP but it looks like they've been sold out for a while. You can pick one up [url=https://steelseries.com/gaming-mice/rival-500<]direct from Steelseries for $80.[/url<] You might also check out [url=https://www.amazon.com/ROCCAT-ROC-11-852-Roccat-Leadr-Mouse/dp/B06XYHLZRJ/<]Roccat's Leadr mouse[/url<] which is very expensive but has great wireless performance and a ton of buttons.

        • YukaKun
        • 1 year ago

        Thanks for the suggestions. They’re really interesting mice.

        Roccat’s Leadr seems expensive just because of the wireless feature, but it’s wired cousin’ seems to be reasonable in price: the [url=https://www.amazon.com/ROCCAT-Tyon-Black-Action-Multi-Button/dp/B00MSOIUOO/ref=pd_sbs_147_2?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B00MSOIUOO&pd_rd_r=ded3a0c6-aa40-11e8-9f1d-0fdf2b561195&pd_rd_w=nvgCc&pd_rd_wg=2J6H5&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=0bb14103-7f67-4c21-9b0b-31f42dc047e7&pf_rd_r=X6A6TR1TD7EN3CV28JRP&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=X6A6TR1TD7EN3CV28JRP<]Tyon[/url<]. So, the only question I'd have left, out of all of them (that are fairly close in price and seem to do the job), which one would you choose? 8) Cheers!

    • TheMonkeyKing
    • 1 year ago

    Well, poop. Needed this review like last month. Amazon had them on sale for $47 and the beginning of this month. Still cheaper than Newegg but no longer this cheap.

    • deruberhanyok
    • 1 year ago

    Been using a white Rival 300 for a couple years now and I love it. The Rival 600 has gotten my attention as a possible replacement, and from what I’ve read it looks like it would be a good choice. But they’ve got to release it in white to get my money. 🙂

    FWIW, Rocket Jump Ninja posted a review of it as well and really liked it:

    [url<]http://www.rocketjumpninja.com/steelseries-rival-600-review/[/url<]

    • TheRazorsEdge
    • 1 year ago

    That lift detection might not be the easiest thing to test out.

    I mean… I’m already lifting my mouse enough to suppress unintentional movement. I’d have to relearn the movement to gain an advantage. I should be able to lift less and move it faster.

    That lower/faster movement could make a difference, but I don’t play at the level where it’s necessary. I have neither the time nor the need to “train” for a leisure activity.

    • ronch
    • 1 year ago

    Just gonna insert a tiny comment here.

    That scroll wheel either looks like a tyre or a brain. Not sure I’m happy looking at it.

    That is all. Thank you to everyone who took the time to read this short comment. May the Force® be with you.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 1 year ago

      [url<]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trypophobia[/url<]

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 1 year ago

      I’m going to go with tyre … which makes your finger the pavement … yeah, that.

    • Fonbu
    • 1 year ago

    With most of these mice’s quality assurance issues. You almost need to buy two just in case!

    • DancinJack
    • 1 year ago

    I actually think this looks halfway decent. If it were on sale, I might pick one up.

    I’m still a pretty loyal DeathAdder user. Been using a variation of it since launch. I just love the shape, the size of the buttons, and it’s just a damn good mouse if you put aside the Razer crap (QA/software). I just can’t bring myself to buy other stuff yet. I bought a higher-end Mionix and hated it, turned around and sold it to a happy home the next week.

    • DoomGuy64
    • 1 year ago

    Steel Series has a reputation for faulty hardware, firmware, and bad drivers. Just look up all the problems with the Rival 500.

    I bought a 500 on sale to try GameSense tactical feedback, and it quit working after being unplugged once, and hasn’t worked since. Not that Steel Series ever implemented rumble emulation, or supported it in any more than a few games. I have no idea if this problem is hardware or software, as it could clearly be either, and there is no easy fix for both issues.

    Also, I can’t use the dual top left side buttons for DPI adjustment, as there is only support for “CPI Toggle” on a single button. It should be possible to make incremental or custom changes, like other mice, but I don’t see that option provided anywhere in the control panel.

    The best mouse I have ever owned in quality or functionality has been the Logitech G700s, and I will most likely buy a second one to hoard, as there is no guarantee Logitech will continue selling it in the future.

      • RAGEPRO
      • 1 year ago

      I’ve heard stories like that about every manufacturer. QA on gaming peripherals is just not a real big concern it would seem. FWIW, I and lots of friends use Steelseries mice with no particular issues. But anecdotes are not data of course.

      Steelseries Engine doesn’t have the ability to define multiple DPI steps, it’s true. I don’t think that’s especially useful, but I do miss the ability to define a momentary DPI change (“sniper”) button. You can fake it well enough with the CPI toggle though.

      Sorry you didn’t care for your Rival 500. Mine is my favorite of all my mice. 🙂

        • DoomGuy64
        • 1 year ago

        It’s not a bad performing mouse for basic gaming, but imo the cons outweigh the positive aspects, and I wouldn’t recommend paying full price for one of their mice. Especially if you want to use gamesense in a variety of games, or have customizable DPI options. Other than that, it works good enough for gaming on my spare system.

        Some of my other nitpicks:
        *standard and stiff plastic coated mouse cord on a “premium” gaming mouse
        *difficult to access all the thumb buttons from one position. Thumb rest buttons are worthless and best left disabled. Right top edge button is stiff and isn’t particularly easy to use.
        *the general quality doesn’t match the asking price
        *the RGB lighting is overrated, and I only like the mouse wheel light.
        *mouse shell is cheap plastic, and I wish it was better rubberized or more textured. There seems to be some rudimentary rubberized surfaces on the sides, but they aren’t that grippy and feel like plastic, or cheaply coated plastic in the hand.

          • RAGEPRO
          • 1 year ago

          I have unusually stubby fingers and I don’t have an issue reaching any of the thumb buttons on the Rival 500 except the far-forward B5. Given that the mouse has no less than 17 programmable functions I don’t miss that one button too much (and I do use it, besides.)

          The cord on mine seems like a pretty standard USB peripheral cable. I can’t speak to Gamesense as I don’t use it, and I don’t care about RGB LEDs on a mouse either way, so those complaints don’t really resonate with me. As far as the shell, mine is fairly textured with a soft, vaguely rubbery finish, and the grips on the sides have raised pads that make the mouse really stable in my hand.

          To be clear, you’re supposed to rest your thumb against the side of the mouse, in the “notch,” shown in [url=https://techreport.com/r.x/2017_07_23_SteelSeries_Rival_500_gaming_mouse_reviewed/sidedark.png<]this picture[/url<] with the orange dot. Normally I'd assume by "thumb rest button" you meant the button just to the right of that, which is B8, but since you said "button[b<]s[/b<]" plural I assume you mean B6 and B7. I dunno, they're pretty far down there from where I usually put my thumb. Do you have a really big thumb? Or maybe you use a palm grip? I dunno, I mean, I don't really feel like any of your complaints hit the mark with me. Ultimately it seems like it just wasn't the mouse for you. You might like the Rival 600 more, since it has a more rubbery cable, no thumb rest buttons, and a more textured topside. 🙂

            • DoomGuy64
            • 1 year ago

            Yeah, palm grip, and it is impossible to use B5 and B9 at the same time. I also don’t have large hands, and it is pretty apparent you need LARGE hands, or a claw grip, to effectively use this mouse.

            I also don’t like how steel series doesn’t label their back and forward side buttons, back and forward, which made me initially think they didn’t support that function. Also, B5 is forward, which I have difficulty using.

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