The SteelSeries Sensei Pro: Bring it back or let it go?
The SteelSeries Sensei Pro was released into the market as a high performance, accurate, professional grade gaming mouse. Designed in collaboration with competitive teams such as Na’Vi and Fnatic this mouse is targeted at both competitive players and amateur players looking to get the edge over their opponents in high intensity FPS and MOBA battles. As expected, the Sensei boasts an array of features that we’ve come to expect from the Danish peripheral powerhouse and with a name that conjures up images of an ancient Japanese sword master, we expect the absolute best. Its high quality laser, on board processor and robust design makes this gaming mouse a must have despite being designed over 6 years ago. But at a price tag far higher than other competitors, is this still the king of the competitive mice? Here is my take on the SteelSeries Sensei.
There is always a lot of controversy surrounding the sensors used in gaming mice. For most users this conversation is fruitless and the difference between optical and laser sensors is miniscule, but we are talking about a pro grade gaming mouse here. Generally optical mice have a lower DPI sensor and work on a wider range of surfaces. Lasers on the other hand have much higher DPI sensors and are generally regarded to be more precise when compared to optical. The SteelsSeries Sensei boasts an extremely accurate laser, so accurate that it even detects how far away the surface is from the laser. The Sensei’s supports up to 11400 DPI which should be more than enough (even if you want to hit that 1080 no-scope off Favela). The laser sensor has a polling rate of 1000Hz (which means the data is sent 1000 times per second to the computer) and has a 1ms delay. Despite being released in 2011 the SteelSeries Sensei still stands up to the performance of mice in the market today, even at its high price point.
CPU & Onboard Memory
Another dominant feature is the on board 32-bit ARM CPU which means the Sensei has even more sensor-based customisation. Yes… you read it right, this mouse has a processor in it. The onboard processor allows the mouse to compute the sensor information and relay it back to the computer. In practice this allows users to bump up the sensitivity from 5,700 CPI/DPI to 11,400 CPI/DPI. With its on-board memory your settings can be replicated without having to manually configure it on a new computer. All you need to do is install the SteelSeries engine software. This model allows you to store up to 5 profiles, which is extremely useful when setting up for a LAN event. Each profile can have 2 different DPI settings which can be changed by the DPI button and each profile can have different macros for all 7 buttons (DPI switch cannot be changed). To select your desired profile all you need to do is hold down the DPI button for 3 seconds, then use the scroll wheel to select the profile you want, the names will be displayed on the bottom LCD screen. You can also configure the Sensei for different types of surfaces, for instance on a cloth, rubber or metal mousepad.
The Sensei’s mechanical switches are custom made by SteelSeries and are rated to withstand 30 million clicks. The click has quite a nice haptic effect it doesn’t make too much noise (The Zowie FK1 makes more).
The software allows the user to integrate their own customisation. This ranges from the sensor settings to the colour of the lights. The RGB has three dedicated areas; the SteelSeries logo towards the back of the mouse as well as the scroll wheel and DPI switch supports full spectrum RGB. Even though the Sensei’s release date was 5+ years ago, the RGB lighting is still up to the same standard as the more recent (2018) peripherals.
The Steelseries Sensei is a well-designed mouse. This mouse is the perfect mix of simplicity and low-profile design that is ideal for either claw or palm grip. Its sleek silver colour makes it home to just about any set-up from red/black to white/blue while having just enough customisation with 2 dedicated RGB spots. I would guage my use of this mouse at 1000+ and the mouse has understandably become worn and now is shiny chrome with some slight chipping in the paint. Nothing to really complain about here and this sort of wear is consistent with this amount of usage. Another huge benefit from the simplistic design is that it is ambidextrous even the side buttons are in the same symmetrical positions. This is a mouse that most people should be comfortable to use; it accommodates people that have any of the main mouse grips (claw, palm and fingertip). It comes in at 102g which sounds like a lot but considering decent amount of low friction surface on the bottom such as the SteelSeries DEX, this shouldn’t cause a problem. The cable is braided and sturdy, barely developing any wear over its lifetime.
Typically, this wouldn’t even be a section in my review. In fact, I wouldn’t have put this in if it wasn’t such a consistent problem for this mouse. I have personally had 2 of these mice. One lasted around a year before the switches died and the mouse was rendered useless without a left click. The second lasted a similar amount of time and completely died, no USB recognition, no lights turning on. My friend also had this mouse and it died after 2 years. That makes the survival rate of these mice around 25% with one sticking through for this review. ¼ isn’t a good hit rate for a mouse that costs over $100 AUD. If you want a mouse that’s going to stick with you time and time again, this is not it. We reviewed this product for a very long time and so many other reviewers haven’t reported these issues, so perhaps I just got unlucky but from a test group of 4 mice, this really isn’t good enough from SteelSeries. The warranty is a year on this product for the Asia/American market, and two years for the European market. SteelSeries support is good so if it breaks within the one year period (for Australia). You should expect a full refund, a new product or at least a repair.
I have personally owned a few Steelseries products as you can tell by our review backlog and they integrate easily with the software. The software is laid out well, it is simple and there is more information readily available for those who are having trouble.
Below is my default profile which allows me to quickly edit the DPI settings. On the top right are two dials one for CP1 and one for CP2 these buttons can be seen on the diagram, I have set mine to different colours, so I know which one is active when quick switching in game. Below the DPI settings there are the acceleration settings. Exact lift enables you to decide how far down the laser sensor will read, with this setting you can increase the accuracy of the laser sensor on soft surfaces and how your mouse responds when you lift it in games. Free move is a great setting if the mouse is used on a family computer, it just makes your mouse cursor easier to move and assists by snapping to certain things. This setting can be used to make your mouse movements more fluid but isn’t recommend in games as it impacts accuracy. Finally, the polling rate, this is best left at 1000Hz, there isn’t much point in decreasing it.
After customising your profile, you then can save it to the onboard profiles, once enabled it can be put into another computer and all the profiles can be accessed. This makes the mouse plug and play when attending LAN’s or when changing computers. Now you have your own customised profiles, you can allow them to automatically activate when opening the game/application. You can also add other SteelSeries devices, so they will all change once the game/application opens. Once again this is easy to do thanks to the well-designed UI. All you need to do is add the application you want, find the exe and then add the device. Once this is done you can select the profiles that you want the mouse to use when the game starts, and you are good to go.
If SteelSeries has any intention of discontinuing a product, then it shouldn’t be this one. Despite being 6 years old the SteelSeries stands up to the big boys today. If SteelSeries focused on their quality control, the value of this mouse would sky rocket and I would have no problem in giving it 5/5. In its current form it’s a killer competitive mouse with stunning software to go along with it.
✔ Low profile, simple design
✔ On-Board Profiles
✔ Unrivalled Laser Sensor Quality
✔ 2 Dedicated RGB Areas
✔ Great shape and feel
✔ Switches are crisp and responsive
✖ Display underneath feels redundant
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