Our man Nathan Wasson already reviewed SteelSeries’ Rival 310 a while back when he took a look at it alongside its TrueMove3-equipped sibling, the Sensei 310. As it happens, I also ended up with a Rival 310 recently, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on this rat, too. If you haven’t read his review of this mouse, click that link back there and have a look, because he goes a bit more in-depth than I do. This article is meant to be an alternate perspective guided by the experience of getting a different pair of mitts on the same mouse.
When I unboxed the Rival 310, I was struck by how uncomplicated it is. Looking at it from a three-quarter viewpoint like the above shows us most of the relevant bits from a user interface standpoint. You’ve got your standard two buttons and clickable wheel up front, back and forward buttons on the side, and a sixth button up top that rests between the main clickers. That sixth button toggles CPI presets by default, but it’s remappable if you want it to be. That customization is par for the course for SteelSeries, but not as universal as you might think.
Moving around to the other side we can see the RGB LED accent diffuser on the scroll wheel and the grippy rubber pad on the opposite side. The RGB LED accents on this mouse are simple: one on the mouse wheel and one on the SteelSeries logo on the back. They look nice for what they are, with vibrant colors, but like most mice I really don’t care about the RGB LEDs since I’m covering them up with my hand while using it.
Nathan’s chief complaint with the Rival 310 was that the mouse wheel sits very low among the buttons. I don’t find it to be much of an impediment, but I also don’t use the wheel for very long scrolls. If you’re fond of scrolling extremely long documents, the deep-set scroll wheel could be a disadvantage. Another downside of the low-set scroller is that you can hardly see the light ring on it, especially from the left side of the mouse.
The Rival 310’s grip pads on both sides might be its most distinctive feature. On a more fully-featured mouse, the grips might hardly even warrant a mention, but here they’re a huge part of the experience. They feel marvelous. The soft rubber pads are ridiculously grippy and yet super-comfortable to rest my fingers against. They’re probably the best mouse grip pads I’ve ever used. I do have concerns about their long-term durability, but keep your fingernails trimmed and they’ll probably be fine.
Flipping the Rival 310 over gives us a peek at the three PTFE-coated pads that it slides around on, as well as the eye of the PixArt PMW3360 sensor inside. That’s right—this mouse uses the very same sensor as almost every other decent gaming mouse on the market. That shouldn’t be a surprise, though. The PMW3360 family is simply the best bunch of sensors on the market. Whatever SteelSeries did to turn it into a TrueMove3 didn’t screw it up. You can read a bit more about the TrueMove3 in my Rival 600 review, and a lot more about it in Nathan’s review of this mouse.
Thirteen out of fifteen ain’t bad.
This probably doesn’t need to be said at this point, but I love the way this mouse handles. I spent almost the entirety of the last week playing action games with it, and it is just fantastic for shooter titles. Its light 88-gram weight is perfect for making quick snap shots. I can attest that in Doom, CS:GO, Vanquish, Overwatch, or even GTA Online, the Rival 310 will let you pop heads to the best of your ability. Of course, it won’t make up for a lack of skill. It sure is a comfy way to practice, though.
Leonardo da Vinci once said that “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” My grandfather offered a similar sentiment when he said “keep it simple, ya idjit.” (He was never one for acronyms.) “Simple” can be limiting or insufficient, but it can also be elegant and refined. Sometimes simple is exactly what you want. When you apply that idea to a mouse, you get the Rival 310.
I’ve been effusive in my praise of the Rival 310, and that’s because for what it does it’s basically flawless, at least in my opinion. Let me say it explicitly, though: it doesn’t do much. Aside from the CPI toggle, this is a basic five-button mouse with a really, really good sensor. It’s like bolting a turbo on your Civic—it doesn’t do anything it didn’t do before, it just does it better.
So with that said, my chief complaint about the Rival 310 is that it isn’t more than it is. I love my buttons and programmability, and if you want a gaming mouse for its programmable functions or fancy RGB LED lights, you should look elsewhere. The Rival 310 has those things, for sure, but firing up SteelSeries’ fine Engine software to customize a five-button mouse doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. If you want a macro on this mouse, you’re giving up something, whether it’s one of the basic five buttons or the DPI toggle function.
A lot of people probably don’t care about that, though. A lot of people want their gaming mouse to be nothing but really, ridiculously good at being a mouse. If you’re in that group, the Rival 310 is exactly what you’re after. SteelSeries asks about $60 for it, the same chunk of cash that Logitech asks for its functionally-equivalent G Pro mouse. While we haven’t reviewed the G Pro, I’ve mashed it around with my meathooks a bit. They’re both great mice, but I prefer the textured sides and ergonomic shape of the Rival 310 over the classic design of the G Pro.
The Rival 310 isn’t going to please everyone—it’s not to my button-hungry taste, personally—but simple things rarely can. For those who can appreciate the Rival’s restraint, or those who simply don’t have the patience to putter around in SteelSeries Engine making macros for hours, the Rival 310 is nearly the perfect mouse. With that in mind, it takes home a TR Recommended award from me. If you want a gaming mouse that does the basics really, really well, you can grab it at Newegg or at Amazon for about $54 right now.