Steelseries Rival 5 review: a colourful RGB mouse for fast-paced gaming

The Steelseries Rival 5 is affordable, reliable and has 9 programmable buttons

Steelseries Rival 5 review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

Anyone looking for a colourful mouse to play FPS style games should consider the Steelseries Rival 5. It’s well priced with 9 programmable buttons, 18K DPI, 40G of acceleration and a 1,000kHz polling rate. While it won’t blow you away with a premium build and high-end specs, it is very light and reliable.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Impressive RGB lighting

  • +

    18,000 DPI

  • +

    Comfortable and ergonomic

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Some of the buttons are a stretch

  • -

    Only enough storage for one profile

  • -

    No wireless option

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If you’re looking for a mouse for fast-paced games, this Steelseries Rival 5 review is the right place to be. This is one of the best gaming mice for FPS gamers who don’t just want a mouse, who want an extravagant RGB light show as well. 

Steelseries sure knows its stuff when it comes to gaming peripherals so here at T3 we have come to expect a lot. This gaming mouse is an affordable piece of kit that has 9 programmable buttons, and an impressive array of RGB lights. I gave it a full test run to help you figure out if this is the right rodent for you, or not. 

Looking to upgrade your whole gaming rig? Check out T3’s guides to the best gaming laptops, the best gaming headsets and the best gaming keyboards.

Steelseries Rival 5 review: price and availability 

You can buy the Steelseries Rival 5 starting from $50 in the US, £45 in the UK and AU$86 in Australia - you’ll be able to find some great deals on it so be sure to check out the widgets on this page for more up to date pricing from across the web. 

Steelseries Rival 5 review: design and setup 

Steelseries Rival 5 review

(Image credit: Future)

Designed with fast-paced games in mind, the Steelseries Rival 5 has 9 programmable buttons and a lightweight build. On the left-hand side, there are 5 switches to help you make quick adjustments on the fly, while on the top of the mouse you’ll find a DPI cycle button in between the left and right clicks, as well as the scroll wheel. 

Measuring 128.80 x 68.15 x 28.20mm, the Steelseries Rival 5 feels like quite a long mouse to use, and the placement of the buttons means you’ll have to stretch your thumb slightly to reach the furthest ones.

Even so, Steelseries Rival 5 is light and ergonomic, although admittedly it weighs 85g so it’s far from the lightest gaming mouse out there.  It is comfortable to use and fills up your hand, whether you’re someone with a claw grip, a palm grip or a fingertip grip, the Steelseries Rival 5 will be comfortable enough to use for long periods of time. 

Steelseries Rival 5 review

(Image credit: Future)

Made largely from plastic, this mouse doesn’t feel as solid or premium as others. But the hollow plastic design does feel sturdy and durable. It has been jazzed up with some pretty extravagant RGB lights which sit beneath the Steelseries logo, lining the edges of the mouse and framing the scroll wheel. There are 10 RGB lighting zones with 16.8 million vibrant colours to choose from. The RGBs default to a rainbow light show, but you can adjust it in the SteelSeries GG desktop app according to your setup or preferences. 

To connect it to your PC, there’s a 2m braided USB cable. It’s relatively flexible and has plenty of length to it so you’ll be able to move it around without any problems at all, although admittedly it could be softer.

Steelseries Rival 5 review: performance 

Steelseries Rival 5 review

(Image credit: Future)

The Steelseries Rival 5 uses a SteelSeries TrueMove Air optical sensor with up to 18,000 DPI, 40G of acceleration and a 1,000kHz polling rate. In use, the high-end sensor means this mouse has accurate tracking with next to no dragging, it feels effective and fast no matter what type of game you’re playing. Complementing that are the mouse feet which are so smooth you get the feeling you’re gliding across the mouse mat. I don’t have any complaints there. 

The SteelSeries IP54 Mechanical Switches will last up to 80 million clicks which means they are definitely going to last long enough. Overall the switches are responsive and firm, and I never found myself accidentally pressing or double pressing them. The clicks feel softer and sound quieter than on other gaming mice which isn’t necessarily what you want from your gaming kit but might be better for anyone who has to share their home office. 

To configure the mouse, you’ll need the Steelseries GG suite which includes the Steelseries Engine app. You’ll be able to adjust the DPI, change the button assignment, customise the RGB lights and change more advanced aspects of the mouse like acceleration and angle snapping. Bear in mind that you’ll only be able to store one profile on the mouse at a time though. 

Steelseries Rival 5 review: verdict

Steelseries Rival 5 review

(Image credit: Steelseries)

The Steelseries Rival 5 is a solid piece of kit that won’t cost you too much money. This mouse is for someone who wants a slightly bulkier and industrial style of mouse with a fast response. The placement of the 9 programmable buttons is quite different from the other mice you find on the market but even so it’s great to have so many within reach. 

This gaming mouse is far from perfect, with only enough storage for one profile, a low polling rate and a couple of small design flaws, it doesn’t tick absolutely every box. But on the flip side, it does boast highly customisable RGB lights and easy-to-use desktop software. Overall the Steelseries Rival 5 is excellent value for money and definitely worth considering.

Steelseries Rival 5 review: also consider  

The best gaming mouse for most people is still the Razer DeathAdder V2, considering how well priced it is, this rodent manages to pack in loads of impressive specs like 20K DPI, a max speed of 650 IPS and an acceleration of 50g, with a polling rate of 1000Hz.You’ll be able to configure it all through the in-depth Razer Synapse software, 

If you’re looking for a wireless gaming mouse, then take a look at the Roccat Kone Pro Air. It’s a stunning mouse that is exceptionally fast with 19K DPI and dual wireless gaming. The lightweight honeycomb build is really comfortable to use over long periods of time as well. 

Yasmine Crossland
Freelance Tech Expert

Yasmine is the former Reviews Writer for T3, so she's been knee-deep in the latest tech products for reviewing and curating into the best buying guides since she started in 2019. She keeps a finger on the pulse when it comes to the most exciting and innovative tech and is happy to tell you exactly what she thinks about it too. In her free time, you'll catch her travelling the globe – the perks of being a freelance tech expert – tending to her plants when at home and, but of course, planning her next big trip.