SteelSeries Sensei Mouse Review
By André Gordirro on November 1, 2011
SteelSeries just released a new gaming-grade mouse inspired by the Japanese martial arts called the Sensei (master) that reaches 11,400 dpi of resolution. The Sensei is powered by a 32-bit ARM processor that controls the ExactTech settings for enhanced movement calculation without having to rely on installed software, even on the user’s PC. All this firepower is software adjustable, from button configuration to the choice of 16.8 million colors to personalize the lightning of the mouse. Let’s go over its physical aspects prior to reviewing its performance.
The Sensei has an ambidextrous design with two lateral buttons on each rubberized side. The upper body is made of silver-colored plastic with a prominent curve. This kind of body is best gripped with the whole palm resting over the mouse. On the top there are the illuminated scroll wheel, a status LED and a selection button. At the bottom of the palm area is an illuminated SteelSeries logo. All the lights can be turned off by the software.
There are three Teflon feet underneath the mouse, plus the laser sensor and a tiny LCD screen that can display an image of the user’s choice (more on that later). The user can also select his or her configurations for the Sensei through the LCD screen when not at his or her native PC. The selection can be done by the scroll wheel and dpi button.
The cable is cloth-wrapped and ends in a gold-plated USB connector.
The Sensei comes factory-ready to play with but, of course, you need to install the configuration software to access the more advanced features (there’s no install disc; you have to go to the manufacturer’s website). The interface is stylish, but the button configuration and macro recording are rather complicated and they take time to master through trial and error. It’s possible to create five different user profiles.
By using the software, the user can calibrate the controls powered by a 32-bit ARM processor. It runs the ExactTech, a system of settings for accelerating and decelerating the mouse, plus controlling lift distance and dpi resolution. All things combined, the ExactTech extrapolates when the user is actually decelerating the Sensei and focuses on its own velocity decrease, predicting the pointer/weapon aim trajectory. So, when the user spots a virtual enemy and begins to decrease the mouse movement to better aim at it, the Sensei begins a calculation to help decelerate more precisely (in general terms). For those who think this will hamper their gameplay or even be unfair during an online match, the ExactTech features can be turned off.
The Sensei software also controls the illumination and the personalization of the LCD underneath the peripheral’s body. It can display several options of bitmap images downloadable through the SteelSeries website or even personal art that the user can create on the website and then load on to the mouse.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Sensei is way ahead of its rivals. Yes, we do consider it unnecessary to offer such a high level of resolution, almost double the precision found in gaming-grade mice available on the shelves. However, the Sensei truly shines through the ExactTech system; it acts like a bionic enhancement to the user’s reflexes, a “digital doping,” so to speak. We tweaked the system several times, and the Sensei really followed our reflexes, advancing the aim further or tightening the precision. We tested the mouse with the new Battlefield 3. We set it with the highest resolution, but what the Sensei gains in speed, it lacks in finer aim control. Working with a 4,000 dpi tier is more than satisfactory for our gaming style.
On the physical side, we found the main left button a little hard to click (we got used to it, though). The body is indicated for big-handed users with a palm style grip; those who prefer a claw style grip will not be comfortable with the Sensei.
Don’t be fooled by the extra two buttons on the pinkie side. They are just there so the mouse can have an ambidextrous design, and it can be switched to a left- or right-handed configuration – the buttons cannot be properly reached by the pinkies, whether the user is left- or right-handed.
The main specifications for the SteelSeries Sensei mouse include:
* Researched at Amazon.com on the day we published this review.
The Sensei is really a top of the line gaming-grade mouse thanks to three factors: the ExactTech, the high level of resolution, and great configuration features. We do think it’s worth noting that the software isn’t user-friendly, and two of the side buttons are virtually unreachable due to the ambidextrous body design.