The SteelSeries Prime Pro Series Gaming Mouse has accomplished an impressive feat. Almost single-handedly (see what I did there) it has converted a wire-management-loathing, cord-free console gaming advocate like myself into a wired keyboard and mouse user, at least when it comes to the review workstation in my apartment den.
Don’t panic, I haven’t quite lost my mind yet. When it comes to gaming, I’m still firmly entrenched in the console and controller camp, but atminimum,m my recent experience using the Prime in place of my everyday wireless mouse has inspired me to let go of my prejudices against wires and shake things up with my productivity and streaming game.
If you’re like me and have come to know the SteelSeries brand primarily via its popular Arctis line of gaming headsets, you might be surprised to know that SteelSeries makes just as many if not more gaming mice and gaming keyboard variants too, and the Prime occupies a “prime spot” in the lower-mid range of those products in both pricing and features.
Donning a fairly unassuming look with a textured, carbon-black matte finish, the Prime is easily one of the most conservative eSports gaming mice I’ve ever seen, with a lonely twin pair of customisable RBG lights on the rims of the mouse wheel being the only source of outward flair. It’s a little odd, considering that there are a handful of other wired SteelSeries eSports mice in the same price range or lower that offer more dramatic lighting options, but not every gamer needs or wants accessories that stand out.
Ergonomically, there’s a lot to love about the Prime. One thing that I noticed immediately when resting my palm on it is how the sculpted, right-handed form factor and large footprint both feel perfectly suited to my hand for productivity purposes. I primarily use a laptop, so I tend to move around a lot when I write and as touched upon earlier I’d been using a wireless Logitech M325 mobile mouse almost exclusively for years up to this point.
I’d grown so accustomed to the M325 in fact that I just foolishly took it for granted that I shouldn’t expect to use anything more comfortable when at my desk. The larger palm rest on the Prime shattered that notion however and lets my mid-to lower palm do just that, rest, making for a much-improved pointing experience for writing-related tasks.
I’m also a huge fan of the included super mesh cable, which is so lightweight that it barely creates any drag on the mouse and almost feels like it is not there at all. At the same time, the detachable cord provides an ample length of 2.1 metres, which gave me plenty of slack to run it around the back of my setup without it getting snagged on the corner of my desk or side table. The connection to the mouse is unfortunately micro-USB, not USB-C, but given that the mouse is not meant to be wireless and that the cable is designed to be used exclusively with the Prime, this is hardly a concern.
Also, since the cable is detachable, it’s much easier to disconnect, gather and pack the mouse for travel without having to fish the mouse through a nest of other cables or risk causing wear-and-tear damage to either the cable or the connector port. When plugged in properly, however, the connection between the cable and the device feels as solid as if they were one piece. That’s a very good thing, as one small downside I found with the textured finish of the mouse is that, when combined with its extremely lightweight 69-gram frame, the Prime tends to be a bit slippery and easy to drop. Having the device tethered whenever possible will likely save it from the occasional unexpected fall.
As is the trend with most many gaming-dedicated accessories these days, proper operation of the Prime requires installation of the SteelSeries GG App, which grants access to the device’s custom settings. Assuming, one could forgo the installation and just tweak the mouse settings via their Windows or Mac PC’s default interface, but the resulting experience would probably be an extremely basic and unsatisfying one. That said, when initially plugging in the Prime to my PC, the mouse pointer movement felt extremely constrained and heavy until I was able to complete installing and configuring the custom software, so adjusting the default Windows settings temporarily until the installation is complete might be a wise idea if you don’t want to struggle with the pointer during that process.
Upon completing installation and opening the SteelSeries GG app, I was finally able to adjust the Mouse Sensitivity Level, which is measured in Counts Per Inch (CPI), in which a one-inch movement of the mouse moves the cursor X number of pixels, with higher numbers translating to higher sensitivity. Users can either fine-tune their desired CPI using a slider which ranges from as low as 50 CPI (the mouse pointer equivalent of running with cement shoes) up to 18000 CPI (your mouse is having a cocaine seizure), or alternatively pick from a handy selection of five popular CPI presets that can be customized further if desired. The five CPI settings (along with four different polling rates) can be cycled through using the on-board customization button found on the bottom of the mouse. I quickly settled into a range of 1500 to 2000 CPI as my go to, depending on which screen I was using at the time (laptop or desktop).
Of course, CPI is just one of several settings that the SteelSeries GG software allows users to adjust for the Prime, with Acceleration/Deceleration, Angle Snapping, Polling Rate, Mouse Wheel Brightness, and Illumination Effects among others. What’s nice is that just about every setting that isn’t self-explanatory has a little Question Mark box in the top right corner that when hovered over with the mouse provides an explanation of that that setting does, so even if you are a complete novice with gaming mice you can quickly gain an understanding of exactly what setting you are about to tweak.
As for the RGB settings (the fun stuff), it’s surprising how just one RGB light on a mouse wheel can jazz up what is otherwise a fairly boring looking device, honestly speaking. Users can opt for a solid, steady colour, choose from a selection of presets, or tweak them to create their own preferred patterns or sequences of colours. They can even fine-tune how quickly or slowly those color changes occur. Conversely, they can disable the illumination altogether and use the Prime as a plain-Jane black mouse. It’s all pretty nifty.
Honestly though, an RGB-equipped gaming mouse like the Prime is best paired with a gaming keyboard, otherwise what’s the point of having bling on your mouse at all? So in the interest of “research” as well as a fair assessment of the Prime’s aesthetic potential, I went out and picked up my own SteelSeries Apex 7. Unsurprisingly, I’ve concluded that they complement each other rather nicely!
What’s nice is that the SteelSeries GG app supports all the manufacturer’s accessories, so connecting a new SteelSeries product to the same PC just adds a new tab for that product to the existing App, rather than necessitating the installation of another separate one. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be any inherent synching between the connected devices, so any customized light patterns or effects assigned to a SteelSeries keyboard like the Apex 7 aren’t automatically inherited by the Prime, or vice-versa. You’ll simply have to match them up as best you can on your own.
I tested out the Prime with three games, Portal 2 via Steam, as well as Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Call of Duty: Warzone on Xbox Series X (the latter two titles being among the few FPS games that support KB+M support on Xbox). In all cases, the results were the same; my character movement using the keyboard was abysmal due to my “console kid” lack of coordination, but my aiming capabilities with the Prime were unreal. I even managed a few headshots in MCC, and with the 120fps performance enabled by the Series X in the latter two games, the speed of head movement, aiming and accuracy were incredibly snappy and simply unlike anything I was used to experiencing with a controller.
Simply put, the entire time I that I played Halo or Warzone I found it hard to believe I was playing on an Xbox and not a souped-up PC. I may have felt like a klutz during the online matches and yearned for my familiar Xbox Elite Wireless Series 2 controller with each and every humiliating death, but regardless of that the Prime had only two jobs to do, which were to aim and shoot, and it performed both those tasks flawlessly. Given time to create better key-bindings that my brain can make sense of along with a lot more practice, I could even see myself playing more KB+M games in the future.
“The SteelSeries Prime Pro Series Gaming Mouse is a light, well-built device “
There are only a couple of additional criticisms that I have regarding the Prime. The first is that although the Prime is advertised as being compatible with Xbox, there’s no SteelSeries GG app that allows for customization of the device on that platform. As far as I was able to determine, the Prime just retains whatever settings that were last programmed into it on PC, including the last used lighting effect. If users want to further tweak the Prime for best performance on Xbox, they’ll have to do it via the settings of each KB+M-compatible Xbox title in question, game by game.
Also, it’s a bit disappointing that the Prime’s On-Board Customization button only adjusts CPI or Polling Rate, rather than allowing users to switch between complete profiles, which I feel would be far more useful to me if I were gaming on PC, but I suppose if that were the case it would only take seconds to open up the app on PC and select the desired profile, rather than turning my mouse upside down and clicking through all of them. Each click of the OBC button cycles the mouse-wheel RBG through a set range of colours, but there doesn’t seem to be a straightforward way to specifically assign those colours to CPI or Polling Rate preferences, which is also confusing.
In any event, the SteelSeries Prime Pro Series Gaming Mouse is a light, well-built device that, while a bit tame in terms of presentation, still serves as a reliable wingman during fast-paced games as well as a versatile productivity tool. There are definitely flashier options out there, but if you are instead looking for more substance in place of the excessive bells, whistles and glowy bits that usually come part and parcel with gaming accessories, the Prime is an excellent choice.