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SteelSeries revamps its $30 gaming mouse and sub-$100 keyboards

The company's cheapest gaming mouse sheds weight and the annoying switches for the Rival 3.

- 02:11

It seems like budget accessories are always the last to get updated. They're overlooked until the latest designs and features are well established in their pricier siblings before they finally get the new look. SteelSeries' $30 Rival 3 wired gaming mouse and Apex 3 and 5 keyboards -- $50 and $100, respectively -- have finally earned the new family designs of the company's higher-end gaming accessories. They're all available now.

The Rival 3 follows in the semi-ambidextrous mouse tracks of the Rival 110. It's symmetrical, but two of the six programmable buttons are on the left. It ditches some of the annoyances that made its more expensive sibling, the Rival 310, a superior option. New features include split-trigger switches (the same 60-million-click-rated ones used by the Rival 650, so they should be more durable) and more lighting zones (making three in total). 

But, in addition to losing some of the more objectionable aspects of the Rival 110, the Rival 3 debuts a new sensor called the TrueMove Core. Developed in conjunction with mouse sensor specialist PixArt, it's rated at 8,500 counts per inch (CPI) for more accurate onscreen movement and a top tracking speed of 300 inches per second. The Rival 3 also shed weight to get down to an unusually light 2.7 ounces (77g). It can store five resolution profiles in onboard memory, but otherwise everything needs to be customized with software. 

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With the keyboards, one of the best updates coming to the Apex 3 and 5 is the media-control roller wheel available on the higher-end Apex models such as the Apex Pro. The Apex 5 also has an accompanying status display. They also get useful three-way cable routing and magnetically attaching wrist rests. I find the latter a mixed blessing, as they (obviously) detach when you move the keyboard around a lot.

Taking on the distinctive feel of the Razer Ornata Chroma, SteelSeries' Apex 5 combines blue mechanical switches with membrane switches and 4mm travel -- the company calls them Hybrid Mechanical -- in the same aluminum alloy frame as the more expensive Apex models. The Apex 3 gets new switches compared to the older Apex 150, which SteelSeries says feel better, though they're still membrane. RGB lighting has been bumped up to 10 zones, and the keyboard is still splash resistant.