The Steelseries Sensei has already carved out its place in the hearts of gamers. It quickly became the go-to mouse for many, but the $90 dollar price tag was more than a lot of people wanted to spend. While it’s hard to argue that it’s not worth the price, some folks simply aren’t interested in paying a premium price for features that they’re not interested in.
Enter the Sensei [Raw]. The Steelseries Sensei [Raw] cuts back on a lot of the “extraneous” features, opting to instead offer a simple, no nonsense little brother. It may not provide the same full experience, but don’t let that fool you. This is still a high quality product that is worthy of your attention.
Sensei [Raw] essentially tells you everything you need to know through its name. It’s a stripped down version of the original Sensei, offering a standardized experience. The fantastic feel and ergonomics haven’t been altered, and the impressive laser remains largely unchanged; however, all of the extras have been removed. The metal exterior has been replaced with a glossy or rubberized finish (for this review we used the rubber dome) and the 16.8 million color backlighting has been replaced with a single white LED. The LCD display has also been nixed, you’ll be limited to one profile as opposed to five, and the 32 bit ARM processor has been removed.
After reading the above list, it’s surely easy to think that the Sensei [Raw] is a cheap knockoff of the original, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The core components here are absolutely fantastic. The laser’s DPI ranges anywhere from 90 to 5760 DPI, which is a fairly extreme swing truth be told. You can also choose from 125, 250, 500, or 1000Hz polling rates. As such, it’s safe to assume that when it comes to pure performance, there are very few things that even come close to the Sensei [Raw].
The mouse itself is about average size, but is extremely light. Coming in at about 1.5 inches (38.7 mm) high, 2.7 inches wide (68.3 mm) and 4.9 inches long (125.5), my large paw ended up hanging over just a bit, so I ended up using a modified claw grip instead of my preferred palm grip. However, while weighing only 90 grams, it lacks that feeling of substance that I’m personally looking for. The Sensei [Raw] does feature three high performance UPE pads which take up 16% of the mouse base, and with the lightweight body, this mouse simply glides around the pad. These pads will wear out eventually and will need to be replaced, so it’s just a shame that a replacement set wasn’t included in the packaging.
One massive selling point that will be lost on most of the population is that it is a true ambidextrous mouse. The button layout is mirrored perfectly on either side of the mouse, and by spending just a few moments in the settings, this becomes one of the best left-handed mice on the market. I can’t personally attest to how it plays that way since my left hand has all of the dexterity of a newborn giraffe when it comes to gaming, but I can state that it fits in my left just as perfectly as my right.
While you are limited to a single profile, the button behind the scroll wheel will switch between low and high DPI settings, which honestly will be sufficient for most people I believe. Being able to have the high setting available for my twitch shooting and instantly drop the DPI dramatically for an improved sniping experience is an absolute game changer when playing something like Battlefield 3. The buttons themselves actuate fairly easily, so there was never a problem of me not pushing down far enough to fire a shot while in a panic.
The corollary to this is that the buttons are pretty easy to hit by accident while doing everyday tasks, and the increased DPI used for gaming is extremely hard to control during everyday use. This is where the ability to switch profiles on the fly would have come in handy as I could have something a bit more standardized for working, but this isn’t something worth getting extremely upset about.
The software bundled with the Sensei [Raw] is fairly minimalistic, but works perfectly for what it’s trying to accomplish. The first tab allows you to adjust each button on the mouse and offer some customization. This is easily the most important part of the application, as you can set individual macros, launch applications or even disable keys should you feel the urge. As mentioned earlier, you can reset all of the buttons to the opposite side, making this one of the finest left-handed mice on the market.
The next tab sets your DPI and polling rate options, as well as controlling the illumination settings. This is all pretty straightforward, and nothing we haven’t seen before as far as the actual settings go. Illumination can be set from low, medium, high, and off with a pulsation ranging from slow, medium, fast, or steady. Beyond that, the properties tab allows the mouse to choose from a list of profiles when certain programs are started. It’s not quite the same as being able to switch out yourself, but having a different profile available for StarCraft II and Team Fortress II is a nice little touch.
Lastly, there’s a statistics page. This will keep track of what buttons you press over time as long as you hit record. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out just why this exists and who would use it, and I’ve yet to be able to answer either question. If you can think of something, please let us know in the comments section so that I can stop wracking my brain about it.
At the end of the day, the Steelseries Sensei [Raw] stands as one of the finest mice on the market. It loses a lot of the added functions of its bigger brother, but the trade-off is a lower price point that will be more manageable for the average gamer. Furthermore, it’s sleek, powerful and comfortable, with some impressive customization options and a durable body. It isn’t a top of the line product, but as it stands, if you’re looking for something more middle of the road then the Sensei [Raw] should be on your short list of options.
This review is based on a product given to us for review purposes.