SteelSeries Sensei: MLG Edition Mouse Review

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SteelSeries is one of the premier gaming peripheral manufacturers in the world, with products ranging from keyboards and headphones to mice and mouse pads. As one of the prominent sponsors for E-Sports (video games being held at a professional/tournament-level), SteelSeries brought in two dozen professional gamers to weigh-in on what features of a mouse are the most important. SteelSeries used this feedback to craft the SteelSeries Sensei — in this article we will see if it’s able to reach its lofty expectations.

SteelSeries Sensei - (Courtesy of SteelSeries)

SteelSeries Sensei – (Courtesy of SteelSeries)

Specifications and Features

Below is a list of the specifications from SteelSeries’s website:

MSRP $99.99 ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Buttons 8 (7 customizable, 1 CPI switch)
Weight 102 grams
Height 38.77 mm
Width 68.3 mm
Length 125.5 mm
Sensitivity 1 to 16400 CPI (Counts Per Inch)
Cord/Connection Braided 2 meter USB 2.0
Compatibility Windows, OSX

Marketing Features from the SteelSeries website

MLG Edition
The SteelSeries Sensei MLG Edition is the most award winning gaming mouse in history armed to the teeth. With upgraded armaments like a more powerful laser sensor and tournament grade button switches, we made no compromise when building a mouse for professional gamers looking to dominate the Major League Gaming circuit.
On-board memory means that no matter what championship you travel to, your profiles are loaded directly onto your mouse and ready to use. The black gun metal casing provides a bad ass look and a non-slip grip. Illuminated MLG logo lets the world know that you don’t just compete, but you support eSports, Major League Gaming, and the competitive spirit.
Best-In-Class Technology
Featuring an improved state of the art laser sensor that offers a consistent and reliable performance, the SteelSeries Sensei MLG Edition boasts 10.8 megapixel HD image correlation at up to 12,000 frames per second and the ability to handle tracking movements of up to 150 inches per second.
Advanced Macros
Thanks to the support of the SteelSeries Engine software, you can record even extremely long and advanced macros to the Sensei. The macros can be layered and can include keystrokes and precise timing. How you will decide to use this advanced feature is up to you (choose your configurations wisely and adhere to any rules that you may need to abide by during gameplay); we are only presenting you with the capabilities for endless possibilities.
To Correct or not Correct?
SteelSeries FreeMove eliminates path correction, which makes the mouse predict, correct and make your movement straight. With the SteelSeries Sensei, you can adjust the amount of path correction or completely disable it for 100% control of your movement.
32 bit ARM Processor
The processor in SteelSeries Sensei MLG Edition is a 32 bit ARM processor and it is as fast as the original Pentium 75 MHz processor released by Intel in 1994. That is fast, incredibly fast. This reference may sound like overkill, but it’s this type of power that allows us to do sophisticated calculations directly on the mouse – without the need for software drivers and without having to rely on the user’s computer.Our industry leading ExactTech settings, like ExactSens, ExactRate, ExactAim and more, are calculated directly on the mouse providing the user with a mouse movement that is completely free of any interpolation or extrapolation, without any delay, filtering and without using up memory or resources on the user’s computer.
ExactAim: Slow Down and Focus
SteelSeries ExactAim will allow you to be more precise. Headshots anyone? As you slow down your cursor the mouse will decelerate even more allowing you to focus on your target.
ExactAccell: Move Fast, No Even Faster
SteelSeries ExactAccel does just the opposite as ExactAim. As you increase the speed of your mouse movement, ExactAccel will accelerate your movements even faster in order for you to move across your game or page faster.
Glide Like the Wind
 Material: Gaming grade high performance UPE material covers 16 % of mouse bottom to ensure maximum glide. We recommend changing glides regularly as they will eventually be worn down
Make It Your Own
It also allows you to upload your own bitmap picture, offering a great way to personalize your mouse – and help prevent theft at LAN-events, gaming cafes and other public places. Design your own unique picture for the Sensei LCD display, download to your computer and upload to your Sensei via the SteelSeries Engine software.
Developed With The Best
We are proud to be associated with some of the best players in the world of eSports. We maintain strong relationships and have continuous dialogue with teams like SK Gaming, Fnatic, Evil Geniuses, Natus Vincere and others who help in the development and improvement of our products.To ensure maximum performance in all gaming scenarios we enlisted help from world-class StarCraft® II, Counter-Strike, DotA, League of Legends, Heroes of Newerth, WarCraft® III and Doom players. Click here for a list of the players who helped us with testing and refinement of the Sensei. We owe them a lot of thanks, so if you like the Sensei these are the players that helped make this mouse what it is.
Plug, Play, Win
There’s no need to install software of any kind in order to use the Sensei. The built-in driver can be adjusted through an LCD menu on the backside of the mouse. Simply plug in the Sensei and play. For the PC Gamers* who want really advanced customization options, the Sensei is supported by SteelSeries Engine technology. (See Note In Initial Impressions)

 

Product Showcase

Aesthetically, the Sensei is quite attractive. It features a shiny carbon/metallic finish and an ambidextrous design. There are also customizable LEDs on the device that allow you to make your mouse unique. Below are some pictures of the mouse:

Sensei Box - (Courtsey: SteelSeries)

Sensei Box – (Courtesy: SteelSeries)

Sensei (Top View)

Sensei (Top View)

Sensei (Left View)

Sensei (Left View)

Sensei (Right View)

Sensei (Right View)

SteelSeries Engine Software

The customization and features of the mouse can all be set using the SteelSeries Engine software package (available here). Below are some images of the customization and options available in the program.

Sensei Button Customization

Sensei Macro Creation

Sensei Macro Creation

Sensei Sensor Customization

Sensei Sensor Customization

Sensei Color Customization

Sensei Color Customization

Testing and User Experience

Test Setup

Games Tested

  • Battlefield 3
  • Guild Wars 2

My Experience/Impressions

Upon opening the box and plugging the mouse into a USB port for the first time, Windows7 had issues installing a driver for the device. Until I installed the SteelSeries Engine software/drivers and updated the firmware of the Sensei, the mouse would jump around on the screen and was very choppy. To verify the issue I tried it on my office PC and noticed the same problem, but after installing the drivers the choppiness went away, and the mouse began to work as expected. One other issue that I ran into was the mouse had trouble waking up after putting my system in sleep mode/standby. In order to fix this, I had to make sure that USB power saving was turned off (set to full performance) via the power options in Windows 7. As soon as that was rectified, I no longer had issues with the mouse not responding after waking the PC.

Once the software/driver issue was situated, the first thing I noticed is how much lighter and smoother the mouse moves on my mouse pad when compared to either of my Logitech G500 mice (with no weights installed). I then put the mouse to the test and loaded up Battlefield 3 to try out the default software settings, and found that the sensitivity was far too high for my normal play-style. Of course, the sensitivity level is all personal preference and is extremely customizable in the software. I hit the “ExactAim” (AKA headshot button) to turn down the sensitivity so I did not have to close out of the game, and it felt about right. Once I got used to the weight and smooth movement of the mouse I felt more and more accurate with my aiming in the game.

After that BF3 session I started playing with the software options and customization. My wife was nice enough to create an Overclockers logo for the LCD on the bottom (see picture below) and I began toying with the ability to create profiles. I created a profile for Guild Wars 2 which bound the two right-side buttons to the keyboard keys 8 and 9 so I wouldn’t need to stretch my hand to reach them.  Overall it was a very positive game play experience due to the smooth and accurate control and movement.

Sensei Custom LED - (Courtesy: Laura Fisher)

Sensei Custom LCD – (Courtesy: Laura Fisher)

Conclusion

From a software standpoint, the SteelSeries Sensei: MLG Edition is one of the most customizable mice that I have seen in quite some time. It features multiple profile options for sensitivity, path correction, macros, acceleration, mouse-lift compensation, and more. It lacks a couple features that some other gaming mice have, such as a additional weights or shape-customization to fit more than one hand size, but those should not be reasons to ignore this mouse. At just under $100, this is one of the more expensive gaming mice on the market. Therefore, it’s worth considering the non-MLG version of the Sensei for $10 less, which has almost all of the same features. Overall the SteelSeries Sensei: MLG Edition is a great peripheral for any gamer that has the cash to pick one up, and thus it earns the Overclockers Stamp of Approval.

 Click the Approved stamp for an explanation of what it means

– Don Fisher (Janus67)

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Discussion
  1. I have the Steelseries Xai which this mouse is largely based off of.
    I spent hours toiling to find a suitable mouse - Razors drive me nuts (they suck so much its not even funny), other mice are too plain or are one handed which I find annoying. I finally ended up on the Xai because it was literally the only mouse I could find that met my qualifications.
    The shape of this mouse is fantastic, and combined with their $20 mouse pad, it makes all the world of difference in games.
    The only issues I have with Steelseries is the quality of the materials they use, the springs in my first Xai died and I had to RMA it. Steelseries initially balked at my RMA request which is my second gripe with them. They give 2 year warranty in all countries except the USA which is only 1 year (my mouse was a month or two over a year old). I advised this is a poor way to treat a large portion of their customer base and they relented and shipped me a new mouse.
    The price is also a tad high but hey until they get competition, they can charge it.
    I would recommend this mouse to anyone.
    Edit: I did have problems with the xai in an older amd rig during boot it would lock up until I unplugged the mouse o_O, replace with POS old Razor and problem solved. I suspect the Sensai might have the same issue.
    Pierre3400
    I have to ask, what is the point in the lcd on the bottom of the mouse?

    It also allows you to upload your own bitmap picture, offering a great way to personalize your mouse – and help prevent theft at LAN-events, gaming cafes and other public places. Design your own unique picture for the Sensei LCD display, download to your computer and upload to your Sensei via the SteelSeries Engine software.

    - http://www.overclockers.com/steelseries-sensei-mlg-mouse
    Sadly, my Xai does not support it, and, sadly too, it just died today. Well, time to take the dust off of my G500.
    EDIT: That is not a retail Sensei, right? I am missing the stickers, the one with the S/N and such, and the one around the laser sensor. And, speaking of the driver bugs, have you tested it on a Linux box? If it is choppy when running penguins, I will not buy it.
    The mouse came in what looked to.be a retail box but it did come directly from SS so it is possible that it won't have any serial numbers for that reason.
    I haven't tested it on any Linux computers as I don't have any available to me... minus running from a live CD but I'm not sure how effective that would be.
    Janus67
    The mouse came in what looked to.be a retail box but it did come directly from SS so it is possible that it won't have any serial numbers for that reason.
    I haven't tested it on any Linux computers as I don't have any available to me... minus running from a live CD but I'm not sure how effective that would be.

    Running from a live CD would do.
    djscrew
    or in other words: nothing really

    The screen is helpful for changing to different profiles so you can see which you switched to. To switch them you hold down the button behind the mouse wheel for a few seconds then you use the moue wheel to select. As you scroll it shows the different profiles you can select from. Not exactly how I would have implemented it but it does work.
    If you only use one profile for all of your games it doesn't do much for you.