The Software

SteelSeries obviously tried to keep the software simple and easy to use, as everything is crammed into a single window. The actions of the buttons can be adjusted on the left side of the panel, including the programming/selection of macros. The user can program macros using the keys of the mouse and/or keyboard, as well as adjust the delays between keystrokes, but the macro recorder will not register the movements of the mouse.

The middle portion of the application window let's you adjust the illumination color and effects of the logo and the wheel on the mouse, as well as the ring on the dock. You can select any color you like, as the RBG design theoretically supports 16.7 million colors. As we've mentioned before, however, most of the changes with such lighting schemes are minor at best, and users will typically select from one of about 8-20 primary colors.

On the right section, SteelSeries places a column with all of the settings of the mouse: CPI programming, battery saver settings, sleep timer, acceleration and deceleration sensitivity, lift distance, angle snapping and, finally, the polling rate. The CPI can go up to 8200, a ludicrous figure, as a simple twinkle of your wrist sends the cursor flying across the screen.

Performance and Conclusion

In terms of performance, the Sensei Wireless delivers as promised. We found that the mouse would react perfectly on any surface, including wood, paper, stone, and even glass. A good mousepad however is strongly recommended, not for increased accuracy or anything like that, but simply because it will significantly reduce the gliding effort and will not damage the feet of the mouse.

The Sensei Wireless is very comfortable to use, even if you (like myself) are used to hand-specific ergonomic designs, but it is very lightweight and there is no way to adjust its weight. Some hardcore gamers like to adjust the shape of their mice, which is not possible with the Sensei Wireless. As far as battery life goes, the company promises sixteen hours of battery life; we were able to squeeze nineteen hours out of our sample, about five of them in games and fourteen on desktop use.

While working with the Sensei Wireless, we could see why many gamers liked SteelSeries' Sensei series so much in the past. While it may have a rather simple design, it is very comfortable to use and feels very sturdy as well. We should also remember our veteran mice, as the first and most widely used optical mice were symmetrical. Old habits die hard and we are almost certain that nearly every reader of this article who has seen more than thirty summers, at some point of their lives, has used a Microsoft Intellimouse or Logitech Cordless Wheel Mouse for at least several months. Those that grew up with and are strongly accustomed to the use of symmetrical mice will surely appreciate the comfort and feel of the Sensei Wireless.

On the other hand, the Sensei Wireless is being marketed not simply as a good mouse but as a top-tier gaming mouse. It is very comfortable for prolonged use and the sensor is excellent, while the software offers ample options. However, the Sensei Wireless is also missing quite a few things. While its light weight is very comfortable for prolonged use, hardcore gamers would at least appreciate the option to adjust its weight somewhat. Hardcore gamers would also most likely appreciate more buttons on the mouse, as four (and with two of them placed next to the small finger) might be a bit too few for some.

Nevertheless, these are all but insignificant issues next to the real problem this product has: its retail price. The Sensei Wireless truly is a very interesting mouse, of excellent quality and very comfortable to use; however, with a retail price of $159.99 / €159.99, the competition is tremendous. The Sensei Wireless is priced well over many other very popular wireless gaming mice; in fact, if not for a few Mad Catz products, it would be the most expensive wireless gaming mouse in existence. In many cases you could buy two or even three high quality gaming mice for the price of a single Sensei Wireless - e.g. one for the home, one for the office, and one for your laptop.

To summarize, the SteelSeries Sensei undoubtedly is a very good gaming mouse, but is it good enough to justify such a price premium? That's largely up to individual tastes, so you can decide that for yourselves. Personally, it's difficult to recommend at the current price, and most people would be unlikely to notice any real improvement in their gaming skills. It's a good mouse, sure, but $160 good? For most users, probably not, but there's a niche market of hardcore gamers that might (it's a long shot) be willing to pony up that much money for a wireless symmetrical mouse.

Introduction, Packaging & External Appearance
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  • Sabresiberian - Friday, May 2, 2014 - link

    Uh, don't know anything about Adblock, but Tomshardware runs a lot more crap than 4 advertisements. It is one of the most heavily laden sites, one that will connect you to more servers for whatever reason than most.

    I suggest you ditch Adblock and run NoScript if you want to know what's going on with your browser. (Only available for Mozilla browsers because all the rest have built-in mechanisms to prevent it from blocking sites.)

    There are some good editors on Tomshardware, but it is far from the site it used to be.
    Reply
  • The0ne - Sunday, May 4, 2014 - link

    You are correct. Tom's has many, many adverts and advertising. Noscript will will eliminate most of these for easier management and viewing. Reply
  • lyeoh - Tuesday, May 6, 2014 - link

    if you like what Anandtech is doing in general you should disable ad blocking for anandtech.com. That's assuming the ads aren't too annoying (so far the ads on anandtech don't seem bad enough for me to reenable blocking). Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    They're good at different things, though I agree that this here review was more of a product hands-on. Reply
  • CalaverasGrande - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    Anandtech is actually pretty famous for in depth reviews. Just not particularly gamer centric ones.
    Tom's Hardware used to be one of my faves but it just got more and more gamer focused over the last few years. While Anandtech has gone from being kind of a nice blog to a serious resource.
    I always head to Anandtech when I am going to make a hard drive, monitor or other hardware purchase. They cover a good middle ground between consumer toys and enterprise tools.
    Reply
  • E.Fyll - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    Actually, according to both SteelSeries's engineers and my testing, the Sensei Wireless does not have any "inherent acceleration". The acceleration is adjustable via the software and does go down to 0. Avago's 9800 sensor, the one used in the Sensei Wireless, is "inherent acceleration-free". "Inherent acceleration" was a "problem" with earlier laser sensors, which SteelSeries hasn't used since the Ikari, Kinzu, and Kana.

    Truth be told, every sensor has even a tiny bit of acceleration, including optical sensors, if you test them using actual lab equipment. People, of course, are not machines and there is a limit below which they will not discern any difference between 0 acceleration and just a tiny bit of it.

    Oh, and I personally consider the "inherent acceleration" thing a silly excuse of "gamers" when they are losing. :) The default software acceleration in Windows is many times greater than the inherent acceleration of the worst laser sensor. It would take much greater levels of acceleration to defeat eye response than the inherent acceleration any laser sensor.

    Nice try though. ;)
    Reply
  • F120 - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    ADNS 9500/9800 do have inconsistent acceleration on the order of ~5%. This is a flaw with the sensor firmware, something only Pixart can fix. However, there are sensors that are acceleration free even when testing with machinery, such as MLT04 and Logitech's new 3366.

    As for Windows' acceleration curve, most serious FPS players will turn that off...
    Reply
  • Omega215D - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    Yes, apparently negative acceleration on cloth pads at certain DPI and positive on all other surfaces and certain DPI above 450. Reply
  • Omega215D - Thursday, May 1, 2014 - link

    Yet plenty on the link I provided say otherwise. I have no issues with laser sensors since the Logitech G500 was one my favorite mice to game with but there are those high level gamers that will complain (and yes they are at competition level) Reply
  • althaz - Friday, May 2, 2014 - link

    Serious gamers disable the mouse acceleration in Windows completely - any that is re-introduced with a mouse makes it next to worthless for some gamers (Starcraft players will see the worst effects). Reply

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