Review – SteelSeries Sensei Mouse
The SteelSeries Sensei mouse, first and foremost, looks and feels great. There’s a nice weight to it that makes the mouse feel less like a piece of plastic and more like a tool. It has a sleek, smooth design that leaves out a lot of the more awkward ergonomic features other mice try to use for comfort. While the idea of comfort is subjective, the odd shapes of other mice tend to get uncomfortable after an hour or more of playing. The Sensei has the same problem, but the symmetry of the design means that a player can choose how to hold it instead of being forced into one single awkward wrist position. It’s not perfect, because that very same symmetry means that the Sensei has a couple of oddly placed vestigial buttons on the right side of the mouse that are completely useless for anyone but a professional contortionist.
One of the first things a new owner will have to do with the Sensei is install the engine. It’s a quick download, and the drivers install quite fast as well, meaning from unpacking the mouse to getting it up and running, it’s a matter of a few minutes. It’s possible to just unpack and go with the automatically installed drivers, but that won’t allow the player to truly explore the possibilities of the Sensei. Thankfully, the work that went into producing the mouse shows. There are no bugs or glitches that come along with it that might get in the way of a gamer’s success. That alone is a big difference from your average plastic, discount, three-button mouse most gamers are using.
As a professional gaming mouse, the Sensei has a dizzying array of specifications that are infinitely customizable. SteelSeries decided to give each of the settings a unique SteelSeries-only name (ExactSense, ExactAccel, etc), and they all correspond to common adjustable options on other professional mice. Sensitivity, acceleration, precision and other more esoteric settings are all set to slide bars to fine tune. The LED lights on the mouse can also be customized for brightness and color. Just about everything on the mouse can be changed to suit a player’s needs. The Sensei comes further equipped with onboard memory, allowing a player to save their profile right on the mouse, which is handy for use with multiple computers, or when the player upgrades their computer or reformats a hard drive. It’s a minor feature, but a clever one.
A number of custom profiles already exist, such as settings specifically for Counter-Strike, League of Legends, or StarCraft II. Even those separate profiles have two or three different settings, mostly adjusting how sensitive the mouse is to movement. All of those profiles are further customizable, however, so it’s mostly up to the player to decide which profile suits best for which game and fine-tune the settings accordingly. It’s a clever way to quickly swap between games with different play styles, such as going from Team Fortress 2 to League of Legends. The settings all start the same, so it’s up to the player to customize them the way they see fit.
In terms of web-browsing, the extra buttons actually come in handy. They’re pre-set for forward and back, and probably operate most efficiently as such, but they also come in handy for opening new tabs or any other mundane features for browsing. The sensitivity, acceleration and all the other gaming settings aren’t all that useful, but then again, very few people would invest the money it takes to purchase a Sensei for web-browsing. The minute adjustments, however, make it an easy switch from a game-oriented mouse to a browsing one by simply choosing a profile, a process that takes only a few seconds, instead of having to go back and adjust everything manually.
The Sensei, it must be said, is probably more suited to a gamer looking for a mouse for first person shooters than for World of Warcraft. There are only four extra buttons total, which isn’t ideal for hotkeying the array of options presented to a hardcore RPG player. For a game like Call of Duty or Battlefield 3, keying one of the side buttons to reload or fast weapon switch is extremely handy, and the Sensei is also nice for arena games like League of Legends. While not ideally suited for an RTS or MMO, the Sensei certainly isn’t terrible. The number of buttons, after all, is easily compensated by having a keyboard, so the lack of useful buttons is a very minor issue.
There is a concern with the price. The $90 tag is comparable to other professional mice, but it’s a long process to fine-tune the settings for each game, and the useless right-side buttons only get in the way sometimes. It might be a bit stiff for players even on the hardcore end of casual, but for someone who is truly serious about pursuing gaming as a profession, or at least with the intensity of a professional, the Sensei is a great pickup. The number of features a player can fine-tune alone justifies paying more than $15 for it, and the fact that there are endless possibilities for adjusting the settings to each game a player has makes the cost worth it. The Sensei is not perfect, but it’s a great mouse and definitely worth the cost for any player who can appreciate the possibilities it presents.
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