Steel Series Sensei RAW Mouse Review – Raw, what is it good for?

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So you want to be a PC gamer, do you? If there’s one essential tool that you’re going to need then, besides a rock-hard butt to endure hours of playtime, it’s a good mouse. But after spending a ton of cash of a decent rig, you’ve only got enough money to eat dog food for the rest of the month. Fortunately, Steel Series has you covered with a budget version of their iconic Sensei mouse. Here’s how the clicker handles.

Design

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The Sensei is pretty easy on the eyes. For our review, we got frosty with a white edition that features a glossy surface, an all around contained look in it’s top shell that features no straight-up segments and the glowing logo pulling up the rear.

Designed as a cheaper alternative to the professional Sensei mouse, it does have a slightly low budget look to it, but at least it doesn’t feel that way. Mouse clicks are easy to hit, and the neutral shape of the mouse ensures that those of us with devil hands, or lefties as the public calls them, are catered to.

A decent length of USB cord is thrown in for good measure, but of there’s one glaring aspect of this mouse that brings an overall good presentation down, it’s that friggin’ scroll wheel in the middle.

There’s no easy way around this: The damn wheel is horrible. If you’re going to be using the mouse as a pro gamer, chances are, you want a smoother scrolling experience. The wheel on the Sensei RAW leaves that itch unscratched, as it clicks along feeling rather cheap and annoying.

In essence, imagine dating a rather cute girl/guy that you fancy. Now imagine that they have a great big mole on their face. That’s what the scroll wheel on the Sensei RAW is like. Everything else looks eye-catching, except for that great big bloody mole scroll wheel.

Which is a shame compared to how wonderfully the rest of the mouse operates.

Functionality

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Straight off the bat, the glide on this mouse feels fantastic. Smooth and responsive, I tested it out on a range of games over the weekend. In Battlefield 3, it felt sublime and able to keep up with quick reactions easily, a fact that was echoed in a game of Command and Conquer 3 on a harder difficulty setting.

The Sensei RAW never skipped a click, and the programmable options for the four side keys, came in handy for the strategy games. And that’s part of the charm with this mouse. Because it’s not meant to be a premiere mouse for any one game, it does a pretty damn good job as a Jack of all trades input device.

Sure, it may lack having a ton of keys with which to perform certain game related moves, but the ability to program those custom actions in renders that argument moot. One aspect of these keys that did become annoying though, was the accidental clicking of them while using the mouse.

Whether that’s due to the size of my hand, or my actual mouse-hand posture, I don’t know, but it did happen frequently until I made a mental note to stop doing so. Still, it is a comfortable mouse at least. The hump feels right, the texture is smooth, and a day of use won’t leave it feeling stickier than a cinema floor.

Tech Specs

Weight: 90 grams
Height: 38.7 mm
Width: 68.3 mm
Length: 125.5 mm
Frames per second: 12000
Inches per second: 150
Mega pixels per second: 10.8
Counts per inch: 90 – 5670
Maximum acceleration: 30 G
Sensor data path: True 16 bit
Lift distance: ~2 mm
Maximum polling: 1000 Hz

Price

For 519 smiling Randelas, you can pick up the limited edition Frost Blue mouse for yourself on the Bravado Gaming website. But elsewhere? You shouldn’t have to pay more than R599 for this mouse.

Setup

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Easy as 1,2,3. Plug that USB in, wait half a minute and Bob’s your uncle who isn’t allowed around to visit anymore after that incident with a clown and a bottle of tequila. The Sensei RAW comes with the obligatory software as well, that allows you to map keys, set sensitivities and create a custom profile for that particular gaming contingency that you’re planning for.

But going in deep with the hardware, reveals a rather beefy side to this budget version of the Sensei mouse. You’ve got the option to adjust your CPI (Counts Per Inch), starting from 90 and cranking it up to 5670, a feature that makes all the difference with lining up the perfect headshot.

Everyday use

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I quite like it as an everyday mouse so far. I can left hand it, the sensitivity is fantastic when I need to do some last minute photoshopping and hitting the DPI toggle switch to slow the mouse down is handier than you would think.

As mentioned before, it’s pretty darn comfy to use, and seeing as how I’m in front of a PC from dawn until dusk, I feel confident in that statement. I’ve still got an issue with the damn scroll wheel, but the choice to program in some macros to launch programs for office work is genuinely appreciated.

You’ve got a programmable set of LEDs at the base featuring a familiar logo as well, but frankly, I just don’t see the point of even having it turned on unless you’re desperate to make certain that everyone around you knows what mouse you happen to be using. In fact, I turned it off after an hour of having it, because it was just plain distracting.

The Verdict

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I like the mouse. While I’m not enamoured with the horribly cheap scroll wheel, superfluous LEDs and at times annoying position of side-buttons, the good outweighs the bad by a far margin here. It’s a precise, accurate mouse with plenty of options for basically any game, and it’ll more than satisfy any desk jockey who needs to do some work first.

Ideally, this is going to be a backup mouse. A mouse that you can rely on when your more expensive brand decides to break down right before a crucial competition. High sensitivity, a decent clam-shell design and custom options also makes it ideal for someone who just happens to be getting into esports, and at the end of the day, that ain’t so bad at all.

You get what you pay for, and in this case, you get plenty of bang for your buck.

Last Updated: April 17, 2013

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