While I don't consider myself a "hardcore" gamer, I do spend plenty of time in front of the computer (or gaming console) playing various types of Racing, RTS, and FPS games. The last two of which are where a high-end gaming mouse can come in very handy. For these types of games, it's very important to have a precise mouse that's comfortable and customizable to your personal preferences.
First, let's talk about precision and customization. That's one area that this mouse excels in. I don't think I've seen any gaming peripheral that has so many features you can change. You can change between 2 different DPI (sensitivity) settings via a convenient button located below the scroll wheel. I personally have one setup for FPS and the other for RTS/Windows. Although you are welcome to create full separate profiles for your games, in case you'd like to have a sniping option, for example. You're able to change LED colors for the wheel, the DPI toggle button, and a nice logo towards the back of the mouse.
There are many other settings including acceleration, polling rate, and others that I found best to leave at their default settings. These settings can be changed from the software or the built-in LCD, which I'll go into later. You can of course customize the 7 buttons to do whatever you like, which is fairly standard with most mice. Speaking of buttons, this takes us into ergonomics, which is where it misses on perfection.
The mouse itself is comfortable and I haven't had any issues playing BF3 for hours. However, I do find that the hand-shaped Logitech G500 with its slightly larger size is nicer to use. It just fits my hand a little better. The buttons on the right side (I'm right-handed) also get in the way. I find that I keep accidentally clicking them while gaming. You can easily turn them off, as I have done, but the clicking itself is still slightly annoying. It's just a negative to having an ambidextrous mouse.
The last topic is going to be this interesting monochrome LCD on the bottom of the mouse. It's there so you can customize your settings on the fly. I've found this to be far more intriguing than actually useful. It's easier to simply alt-tab from a game into the mouse software and make the changes there. Since they are saved into the built-in memory, I really don't find myself changing them often. Perhaps if you travel to multiple game systems and didn't want to install the software. Then you could adjust settings directly on the mouse. Well, I'll leave that up to you if you have a use for that. :)
So let's start wrapping this up with the usual Pro's and Con's.
+ More customization than any gamer will ever need
+ Excellent mouse precision
+ Great build quality
+ Fun LED lights
+ Built-in LCD for on-the-fly customization
+ Improved my gaming experience!
- Minor ergonomic issues.
Otherwise the build quality and functionality are excellent. The LED lights are fun to play with. And you could spend all day customizing the various settings for each game. However, I do think the Logitech G500 offers most of the important features while providing slightly better ergonomics and a lower price point. With that said, I think you'd be very happy either product.
on March 2, 2012
After a lot of research I decided that this was the mouse for me. My two biggest criteria were adjustable CPI and buttons on both sides of the mouse (beyond left and right click, of course). The Sensei fit the bill and the size and shape were approximately the same as my beloved Intellimouse Explorer 1.0A.
I'm going to save some of you some reading at this point. If you don't already know why you're buying an adjustable CPI mouse for $80 then you really should look elsewhere because this mouse isn't for someone who doesn't enjoy tweaking their computer. If a term like "upgrading firmware" is something that you've heard your nephew or grandson talking about then save your money and buy a $10 standard USB mouse, you really won't be able to tell the difference.
If you're still with me then I'll dig a little deeper into this wonderful piece of hardware.
The only reason this is not a five star review is because the side buttons are smaller than I'd like which makes them a bit more of a challenge to access in my fingertip grip (I squeeze the mouse to press the side buttons without actually engaging them with a fingertip). That being said, it's a very simple adjustment for me to make to utilize this mouse exactly like my old one.
The buttons on the Sensei are firm and utilize microswitches that feel crisp and accurate. The mouse wheel is comfortable and precise. The switch to change CPI is in a somewhat awkward place, although this does appear to be an industry standard for the most part. You cannot re-program that CPI button, nor can you re-map another button to access that function. All of the other buttons are fully programmable and can be made to interface your browser's forward/back function (more on that later). That means that you have a true 5 button mouse (including mousewheel click) plus two key-programmable buttons but you can move the actual button assignments anywhere you like.
Once you get your mouse the first thing you'll want to do is manually upgrade the firmware using the latest update tool from the Steelseries website. Be sure to use a USB 3.0 port if you have one, Steelseries recommends this on their website. Read the instruction manual while it updates, it won't take long (there must be 85 different languages, don't let the thick manual fool you, there are only four pages of instructions in the box). I found that the Steelseries Engine didn't really seem to like trying to do the upgrade and it was much simpler to just use the separate tool and be done with it. If you can, don't unplug your old mouse until you've updated the firmware successfully. If, for some reason the upgrade fails (mine did the first time) then, surprise surprise, the Sensei doesn't work as a mouse and you can't click to close the dialog box telling you that it failed. Yeah, yeah, I didn't care to try to do it with the keyboard. Leave the old mouse plugged in, you won't regret it. Once you've got the Sensei working as a plug-and-play mouse then you can disconnect your old mouse and you're ready for the fun part: The Steelseries Engine.
The configuration software is, somewhat necessarily, complex. I would recommend reading the online PDF manual for the software, but that won't do you a lot of good. Steelseries has chosen to make the manual for the Steelseries Engine read like an advertisement. It simply touts all of the actual terminology for the fancy made-up names that they've given all of the features that made you want to buy an $80 piece of hardware in the first place. They spend no time whatsoever explaining what order you should do anything or where any of the actual controls are in their software. The claims in some reviews that the software is buggy seem to be unfounded, in my experience. I am running the software on Windows 7 Professional x64 and, at worst, noticed a couple of times where the software would seem to pause momentarily before loading a tab in the configuration or closing down. I assume this is due to it interfacing with the processor of the mouse (which it does liberally). In fact, it likes to interface with the mouse so often that even something as simple as trying to create a new profile for the mouse causes the Sensei to switch to that profile as you're creating it. There's nothing in the world like trying to back down the CPI from 8000 to something more reasonable while your mouse cursor flies around the screen like a mosquito on crack.
The Engine interface is divided up into several sections. Down the left side is your device list (I only have the Sensei) and below that is the profile list. Again, clicking on a profile will immediately (ok, not immediately, there is an agonizing delay from time to time) activate that profile on your Sensei. Only click on that profile if you really mean it. Once you have the profile selected that you want to work on then you can go to the tabs in the center section and choose from the following five options:
1. Buttons - This is where you do your basic and advanced button assignment. If you don't like how the buttons are configured (I like browser forward and browser back on opposite sides of the mouse contrary to the default) then you can just drag and drop the dash-outlined definitions to another button. This part is really nice. If you want to assign a keyboard shortcut then that is done here as well, along with macro programming (incl delays). All nice and straight forward. "Why are there color assignments for the buttons?" you may ask. Go ask someone else, I don't know why they have that either. The LED configuration takes place on a different page entirely and, as far as I can tell, those color and font assignments are only for inside the Steelseries Engine. Maybe if they had written a decent manual then we would know what they were thinking, but they didn't.
2. On Board Profiles - This should be the last tab, but it's not. Once you have your profiles all set up and ready to go then simply drag them from the left side of the engine into any of these 5 preset slots and they'll be uploaded to the Sensei's memory for recall through the mouse buttons, if you so choose. The only reasons I can think of to actually use the memory presets are if you are the kind of person who takes your own mouse over to your friend's house because his mouse sucks or if you'd like to rid yourself of the Steelseries Engine after your configuration is done. I'll explain shortly why I keep it running. It's worth mentioning here that updating a profile on the computer does NOT update it inside the Sensei. After you have made changes to one of your profiles you'll need to come back to this tab and re-drag it onto the mouse to update the stored profile.
3. Settings - This is the meat of why you paid $80 for a mouse. All of the fancy features that you've read about online and in the four pages of manual are here. Go to town, make it what you want it to be. Don't forget to save (it's pretty good about reminding you).
4. Properties - This page is the one reason to keep the Steelseries Engine running after you've finished your profile configurations. This page allows you to associate a profile with multiple executable (and other type) files. When they are the focus window then the engine automatically loads the associated profile. You're not limited to 5 profiles in the engine software and so far I've associated one of my profiles with 13 different programs. I'd tell you if there was a limit but the Steelseries Engine manual... oh, we've done this before. The automatic profile switching has been flawless so far. It's accurate, quick (it loads the profile almost instantly, no delays like when you click on a profile in the engine) and really fun to watch the lights change colors when I fire up a first person shooter after closing Photoshop. They did this so right that I'm perfectly willing to give all of the other flaws of their program a pass.
5. Statistics - This page is for the same people who like to sift through 4MB log files to find out how many times the vertical text spells a word. If you're one of those people then please, by all means, do a write up on this page. It appears as though you can start a monitoring program that will tell you how many times you click each button. I couldn't possibly care less, but if it floats your boat, have at it.
Once your configurations are complete, the mouse is a dream. It really is a nice feel on the mousepad (I use a 3M Precise Mousing Surface, not the Steelseries mats) and has tracked flawlessly in every application I've run it through. I love the shape of it, having gone directly to it from my Intellimouse Explorer 1.0A. The full configurability does make it 100% ambidextrous and the cloth-wrapped cord looks fairly durable, although I've met me, so no bets. The shell, despite some conjecture in some reviews is NOT metal, just a metallicized plastic. I haven't had any problems with it slipping, nor is it too big for my average sized hands. The adjustable CPI works exactly as advertised and has already improved my experience gaming, web surfing and photo editing. I couldn't ask for more (except maybe those bigger buttons on the side that I mentioned earlier).
So, there it is, everything you wanted to know about the Steelseries Sensei coupled with the Steelseries Engine that you couldn't find out by installing the engine ahead of time, reading the Steelseries website or reading the fake review that was artificially bumped to the top of Amazon's review list. I hope I've been informative and at least a little entertaining.
on January 14, 2012
I am very difficult to please when it comes to gaming gear, especially mice. When I unfortunately decided to get back into competitive FPS games (CS Source) I had to find a mouse that could replace my old G9 and support my unusual hybrid claw/palm grip.
On my search to find this mouse, I went through several other gaming mice including:
- Razer Death Adder: I found to be too large to support my hybrid claw grip.
- Zowie EC2: Slightly smaller than the Death Adder, but again could not support my grip.
- CM Storm Spawn: I went entirely in the other direction buying a pure claw grip mouse. I think this would have been okay if not for the damn pinky rest I could not get used to.
After buying the Sensei, I could not have been happier with its feel, and subsequent performance when I game. As any computer game player will tell you, the last thing you want to be thinking about is if your mouse is comfortable while you're playing. After a few days, it felt like an extension of my hand.
However... now that I'm out of my teens, I eventually decided to stop playing competitively, which leaves me with a really expensive mouse for day to day use and very light gaming. Without the need for extraordinary precision, I feel kind of gluttonous using it.
The last comment I have is it does attract finger prints, but I never found it distracting in the least and they wipe off easily.
on October 12, 2011
I used to be really, really good at starcraft2. Then I had a brain aneurism or something and I became incapable of winning a game. Recently I switched to the steelseries Sensei mouse, and just a few weeks latr I won an international tournament. The sensei's sensor and tracking are incredibly smooth and high quality, you get unparalleled accuracy and speed no matter what situation you're using it in. It's also very comfortable to use, it fits hands of all sizes perfectly and glides smoothly over any kind of mouse pad.
on October 29, 2012
Incredible mouse that allowed exacting precision and customization. The drivers are amazing. The constantly evolving drivers/firmware just keep making this mouse and the software even better. The ability for storing on device profiles by name makes LANing or using different computers a breeze. Once you get your on device settings correct there is absolutely no need to have the drivers installed as the on device settings take over. I've played games at professional level in my earlier days and I wish I had this mouse back then. Even for more casual style play I recommend this mouse. I've paired it with a hybrid mouse mat (Steelseries 5L), Razer Goliathus, Everglide (old thin speedy cloth mousepad), and an old Icemat - it worked like charm on all, with the Steelseries 5L and S&S really providing the best feel and accuracy/tracking. I still use my Razer Naga for MMO's and MOBA's just because of the ease of the side buttons, but for everything else including everyday use this is king. I have played and used previously almost all of the intellimouse line (my all time favorite being the IE 3.0a), MX510, MX518, G15 (the Logitech mouse with the weights, favorite Logitech mouse was the 510 by far), a razer death adder (original), a razer death adder 2nd edition, razer naga, and way back when a razer boomersland (razer's first mouse...it was awful) ... my favorite razer product was the naga...but only for MMO's and MOBA games....which it still reigns supreme for.... The Steelseries hands down beats all of these mice by a landslide for all uses except MMO's and MOBA's. My recommendation is that if you are a casual player, a competitive player with aspirations for success, or a professional gamer (or former pro, like myself) ... that you waste no more time and spend the chunk of change on this mouse. I wouldn't give my endorsement and recommendation without it being above excellent (especially for a gaming peripherial), and that it is!
Pair this with a Steelseries 5L for fast and responsive feel.
Pair this with a Steelseries qck+ or razer goliathus for a more controlled feel.
Hard mats are over rated for mice of this caliber, stick with hybrids or soft large mats.
on April 25, 2012
This is the best mouse I've ever used
I used to have Gigabyte GM-M8000 followed by Logitech G500
the Gigabyte was really awesome but then suddenly my friend stole it from me lol and Gave me his G500
the G500 was great too but a little heavy for me
then I got this which has a light feeling in my hand fits my hybrid grip greatly
has a feature I really liked which is FREEMOVE that reduced sudden pointer twitch when you get shocked by an enemy soldier being so close to you and madly fire at him lol
smooth, accurate movement you can feel it as part of your hand (seriously )
fits left handed people
nice shiny look thought it's a dust magnet
Driver installation could be buggy for some people
Used in combination with Razer Scarab BF3 Edition Mouse pad, my settings are:
Report rate: 1000
Overall... the best mouse I've had till today
on February 17, 2013
I have been using the left handed Death Adder since 2010 but recently the laser started bouncing around on its own and I had a few other issues with that one over the years. Two weeks ago decided to pick up this Sensei and I have been very happy with my purchase. It is by far the most multi-functional mouse I have ever owned, and the feel and movement of the cursor can be so finely tuned that is borderline ridiculous.
Being a south paw, I know how hard it is to get a good mouse that feels right for gaming and for every day use (I work from home doing video editing). This went well beyond my expectations. The only small gripe I have is the weight, but that is simply a personal preference on my part where I prefer a heavier mouse. The Sensei is pretty light, and I've always hated when a mouse is so light that the cord can move the mouse on its own if it drops behind your desk, etc. This is a VERY minor gripe though and once you have the cord positioned, it is not an issue.
The color is also a fantastic feature that also really went above and beyond what I was hoping for. I also own a Logitech G510 Keyboard that allows you to change the keys to any color and set profiles, the colors on the Sensei must be at least twice as bright as the G510, but either way it is pretty cool being able to set matching color profiles for your mouse and keyboard. The steel finish (not sure if that is really steel) compliments any color scheme you choose very well. It is true that the finish does seem to make your hand perspire more than usual, but the mouse itself stays noticeably cleaner than my Death adder, and it is just so damn cool looking...I'm staring at it right now!
I paid $69.38 shipped with my prime account and I think it was worth every cent, but I notice it has already gone up a few bucks. Hopefully that is just a stock issue and it will come down but if it seems to keep going up I would recommend getting one before the price gets unreasonable. I had a left handed Death Adder in the "Spares" list on my Amazon Wishlist and have recently deleted it and replaced it with the Sensei, eventually I will buy a 2nd just in case they stop making this incredible mouse.
on October 5, 2013
I've been looking for a good mouse for the past few weeks and decided upon the Sensei. Despite being two years old, it is still basically the best 9500 based mouse out there. Even though it is a laser sensor, the custom firmware SteelSeries developed makes acceleration almost non-existent. It isn't completely gone, though it's somewhere in the range of 1% or lower which is practically imperceptible. The ergonomics of this mouse are really good for being an ambidextrous design. I have normal average sized hands and never have a problem accidentally clicking side buttons. The weight is good, the balance from front to back is about even so sudden side flicks aren't either too sharp or dull since the mouse pivots naturally with your hand. The gliding pads are good, though I wish they were beveled, however no manufacturer does this so it's sort of a moot point. The cord is great, seems to be very high quality and the connector is gold or gold plated which is very nice. The main left and right switches are perfect. I can comfortably rest my fingers on them without activating them, though it doesn't require much pressure at all to press them. They have great feedback too, springy and loud but not overly so. I'm positive they're Omron switches though I don't believe the side switches are the same.
Now for the bad stuff, or rather, misleading stuff. The advertisements on the box, website, literature, whatever all say the same thing but some of it isn't true. First and foremost, there are only a handful of colors that the built-in LED's can produce. The LED's are blue, red, yellow/orange, and green. They can go half intensity or full intensity and that sort of limits the colors available. They can basically only display primary, secondary, and some tertiary colors. In the software you can set any color you want, however the mouse LED's will just produce the closest color to one you chose out of the aforementioned color combinations. Not a big deal, I do like the "white" since it's a swirl of light blue and light purple--which looks especially striking on the SteelSeries logo on the back. Second, the sensor is capable of going to about 5700 CPI, however it does so in steps of 90. In the software, you are able to set the CPI in increments of 1 CPI, so I guess they are going to the closest natural CPI and interpolating up or down to get the desired CPI. Again, not a major issue, but a little misleading. Finally, the Sensei can store five profiles, each profile having two CPI settings. However, the first profile slot is reserved for an undefinable default profile. Again, not a major problem. I play two different genres of games as well as use this mouse for work and I still have an extra profile slot left.
Now with those minor faults and with the mouse being two years old, I have one overwhelming reason to recommend this mouse: after you have your profiles customized, loaded, and stored on the mouse, you can uninstall the SteelSeries Engine and switch profiles using the LCD on the bottom of the mouse. This is a huge plus for anyone who has had to deal with Logitech's conflicting software, Razer's "cloud" software, or any of the other bloated and resource sucking manufacturer software packages out there. No driver crashes, no software freezes, no sudden resource usage spikes... I can confidently recommend this mouse if only for that reason.
on April 15, 2013
I'm a programmer and electronics enthusiast. When I saw the tech behind this mouse, I knew I had to have it. An on-board ARM CPU that handles all the fine details of smoothing out input, plus being able to make adjustments to tracking resolution and other settings without even needing the software, it was just too cool. But is it actually a good mouse?
I assume because of all the electronics inside, this mouse is relatively heavy. I like a heavy mouse, but you should be aware of this.
I'm not a big fan of ambidextrous mice; I wouldn't normally buy one. This mouse feels very good, but you need to be aware of your gripping style. If you use two fingers on the top of the mouse, such that your pointer finger is on the left button and your middle finger is on the right, your ring finger will probably be in a bad place, and you will accidentally hit the side buttons. If you hold the mouse with three fingers across the top, dedicating the middle to the scroll wheel and the ring to the right mouse button, you will not have this problem. I wasn't aware of the side button issue until I read other reviews, and deduced that that was how they were holding the mouse.
tl;dr: If you don't use your ring finger on the right mouse button, you're gonna have a bad time.
- High Resolution
The "CPI" settings allow for some pretty intense tracking resolution. In real world use, I keep this setting at less than 2000. The button on the top of the mouse lets you toggle, and you can set a color for each state in the current profile that the above it will show.
- Build Quality
Some reviewers complained of switch build quality. No issues yet, it has been extremely reliable for me. I typically play Counter-Strike and World of Warcraft. I do not play Diablo III or League of Legends, where players typically click constantly and rapidly, so it remains to be seen if the switches will fail.
Having so many color choices is very cool, and you can light the scrollwheel, CPI indicator, and logo separately from each other. It's worth noting that the LEDs blink briefly when you press the CPI toggle button, as if the CPU in the mouse has reset in some way.
I love this mouse. It has just enough buttons and the software works well for making macros. The on-board computer is fun to play with and having your own logo on the bottom screen is neat. Depending on your grip you may have serious trouble using this mouse. Do not buy this mouse if you use your middle finger on the right button and let the ring finger rest on the side of your mouse.
on July 26, 2015
This review is for the wired Sensei (not RAW) mouse. I had been using a Razer DeathAdder (Left-Handed) mouse, which had ceased to work reliably. I purchased this mouse as a compromise (it is marketed as being for ambidextrous use), since I was unable to find a dedicated left-handed mouse that met my needs. The product lost a star for not yet being compatible with SteelSeries newest software ("Engine 3"). I found the Engine 2 software to be confusing to use. There is an option for left-handed use, but it only alters the positions of the left click and right click buttons and does not alter the functionality of the thumb buttons. I needed to delete several non-functioning "profiles" in order to set up the mouse. There are no instructions, so it is a matter of trial and error. Nevertheless, after 10-15 minutes, I figured it out and was able to switch the buttons. Using the now-configured mouse is a dream. It is very comfortable for left-handed use. I am using it on a Razer Destructor 2 mouse pad. I have never had a mouse (including the Razer Naga) that appeared to float as easily when moved across the mouse pad, or work as well. The buttons are well placed and are responsive.
The Steelseries web site indicates that they are working to extend Engine 3 to the Sensei. When they do, I will re-evaluate the review.
Update Sept 17, 2015 Still no update. Not acceptable for their top of the line product.