Last week, I reviewed the SteelSeries Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Kana mouse. There were things I liked about it: the form factor, extra-large side buttons, the grip on the top of the device and the DPI toggle among them. The biggest complaint I had was that the sensitivity worked only as a tiered choice rather than a spectrum.

Thankfully, everything that I didn’t like about the Kana seems to be present in the Sensei Raw, a feature-slimmed version of SteelSeries’ popular Sensei mouse. In terms of performance, you’re going to get nearly as much out of the Raw version as you will out of the original Sensei. The big differences are the number of onboard profiles, the color options and the material and texture of the palm-side surface. Thankfully, SteelSeries was kind enough to create a comparison chart so I didn’t need to:

As you can see, the Sensei Raw sports seven customizable buttons plus the DPI switch, which resides right below the mouse button. Unlike the Kana, the DPI settings can be adjusted anywhere between 90 and 5,670 (as opposed to only offering discreet options). You can set two different sensitivities that can be toggled using the small triangular button on the top of the mouse.

This is great feature for those that like a little bit more precision when aiming through a scope. Sometimes, you want just a bit finer movement to pull of that headshot. There is a handy LED that signifies which preset is active.

Configuring the buttons and the sensitivities is a breeze with the SteelSeries Engine software, and even if you are a Mac user, those settings are stored onboard and carried back to OSX. However, you still can’t actually make those adjustments in Apple’s operating system. That all needs to be handled on a PC.

Unlike the Sensei, the lighting can only be configured for intensity and pulsation speed. Whereas the original can take on just about any color you can imagine, the Raw offers only white. Against the black rubber of the top surface and mouse wheel, it looks very cool. With the exception of the LED on the DPI switch, it’s simply cosmetic, though.

You’ll find two buttons on each side, offering an ambidextrous profile. These aren’t nearly as large as that found on the Kana, and the placement is great on the thumb side. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the two near the pinky. While I never found myself accidentally pressing the large button the CS:GO mouse I tested, all too often I’m accidentally pressing things on the Sensei Raw.

The problem is that this effectively neutralizes the value of two buttons. I admire the ambidextrous design to ensure usability by a greater portion of the population, however, the placement and size of these reduces the utility. If you are planning on purchasing the Sensei Raw, I suggest considering it to offer five customizable functions rather than seven. Should you find yourself not to suffer from the same affliction as I do, then you’ve picked up two extras.

The accidental presses aside, I find the Sensei raw to be supremely comfortable to use. As I mentioned with the Kana, the rubberized top surface offers the right balance between grip and comfort. It’s an extremely easy device to use, even though I find the height of the back not quite high enough for my taste.

The scroll wheel is one of the highlights of the device. It is surprisingly firm, which means that it’s suitable for weapon switching or other cycle-type functions that require precision. Along those lines, the wheel button is equally tight. This would be problematic and lead to errant scrolling if the wheel itself weren’t so well designed. The feet are the same as those on the Kana, gliding smoothly across the CS:GO QCK mat that I talked about last week and still use.

The Sensei Raw is a straightforward mouse. It doesn’t offer the profile switching of the original Sensei, and for that, you’re saving $30. If you’re the kind of gamer that sticks to one title at a time, doesn’t need to change DPI settings for every game or simply wants to set the device up and then handle button configuration from the in-game keybindings, this is a good fit. If you are a bit clutzy like me and think that the two pinky-side buttons are going to be more problematic than they are worth, you might want to look at the Kana, assuming you’re content with one of the few DPI settings that SteelSeries allows that device to use.


Here’s the Rundown:

+ Comfortable form factor
+ DPI switch is smartly positioned, and LED makes it easy to determine which setting is active
+ Good option for those looking for the button customizability of the Sensei, but who don’t need the multiple profiles
+ Mouse wheel is one of the best I’ve used
– Pinky-side buttons are a bit too easy to accidentally press
– SteelSeries Engine still not Mac-compatible 

The SteelSeries Sensei Raw retails for $59.99 and comes in rubberized and glossy varieties. A review unit was provided by the manufacturer to RipTen.