SteelSeries Prime+ Gaming Mouse Review
Great clicks and coating meet baffling everything else
If you’re looking for the mouse with the snappiest, most prominent clicks on the market today, you’d be hard pressed to do better than the SteelSeries Prime family.
Unfortunately, you’ll be giving up some ground to get them.
This latest mouse lineup from SteelSeries is branded as their “Esports” product family, and it’s just itching to draw some sort of trademark lawsuit from Amazon. Not content to launch one mouse, SteelSeries has launched three at vastly different price points. These mice mix together parts and design ideas from days gone by with new stuff that I wish lived inside a better mouse.
I decided to get the middle-priced one because it has a fun OLED screen on the bottom. Let’s dig into it.
Note: I bought this mouse at Best Buy entirely unprompted. I don’t get any sort of compensation if you buy one, and I had no contact with SteelSeries during the production of this review. I don’t use affiliate links in any of my stories. For more info about my policies, click here.
The SteelSeries Prime+ really does have that symbol in the name instead of the word “Plus,” and it sells for $79.99 (official site here). It’s a wired gaming mouse, featuring the SteelSeries TrueMove Pro + sensor, which is actually two sensors jammed together. A similar array was featured on the Rival 650. The Prime+ has an OLED screen on the bottom for configuring your settings without using any software, and it has a detachable micro-USB cable so that they could charge extra for USB-C on the wireless model.
If you’d like to ditch the OLED settings screen and the second lift-off sensor, then get the standard $59 Prime. It’s the exact same mouse otherwise. The Prime Wireless model bumps the price up to a flagship-level $129. It adds pure PTFE feet and a USB-C cable, and uses the same sensor and dongle from the mostly-excellent $99 Aerox 3.
The wireless model seems like a very bad deal, while the others are priced competitively.
Weights go up a bit for each level of mouse, with the + model I’m reviewing sitting at 71g, so this is definitely on the lighter side. If you’re a fan of “crispy clicks” and ergonomic palm grip shapes you’ll be in heaven, but if you want anything else from your mouse you should skip this.
The best thing about the Prime+ is the feel of the buttons. All three of these mice use SteelSeries’ new Prestige OM switches, which use optical technology for quick actuation and high durability. Some optical switches have a softer and less-satisfying click than their standard mechanical counterparts, but SteelSeries has designed a whole elaborate mechanism to counter this.
Rather than click the plastic button down onto the switch directly, it presses down onto a huge metal spring that’s perfectly tensioned and balanced with magnets, and this spring then activates the optical switch at the base of the mouse. The company promises that this gives the buttons a punchy and consistent feel that will last the entire life of the mouse, and they aren’t kidding.
The clicks here are tremendously clicky and satisfying. They’re also louder than most mice. They remind me of the excellent “Titan Clicks” found across several Roccat products, but with even more punch. If you don’t like prominent feedback, you’ll probably hate these, but as someone who gets a kick out of a clicky switch, they’re excellent.
Tracking performance is also great thanks to a modern PixArt sensor in SteelSeries clothing. On the + model, they’ve added a second lift-off distance camera and you can adjust it to ten different settings. At the lowest setting, this has perhaps the lowest lift-off distance that I’ve ever felt on a mouse, so that’s impressive. It’s so precise that I was having some brief cutouts in games not realizing that I was gently tilting the mouse.
The shape is large and ergonomic, and although it’ll technically work for fingertip or claw, I only really found it comfy if I went for a full-on palm. The sheer breadth of the frame makes the mouse feel larger and heavier than it really is, and you basically have to wrap your whole hand around it in order to flick it around.
I’ve loved the mouse wheel on other SteelSeries mice I’ve tried, but here they’ve inexplicably changed it for the worse. It’s higher and harder to click than on the Aerox 3 or Rival 3, or really any other mouse the company has released. I don’t know what the rationale for this is. It also has a slightly rough scrolling action that can be janky and unpleasant depending on how fast you move the wheel.
If you’ve hated the thin and long thumb buttons on other recent SteelSeries releases, you’ll probably hate the side buttons on the Prime as well. They’re not quite as long and thin as on some other mice in the company’s lineup, but they’re still much smaller than the current market average. They’re not the easiest to click, especially if you don’t like to constantly hover your thumb over them.
I compared this mouse for a while against the Kain 200, which has a similar size, performance-style coating, and ergonomic shape. The side buttons and the wheel on Roccat’s mouse crush this model. In fact, the Prime wheel is probably my least-favorite I’ve tried in the last few years. It’s just too high, forward, and weirdly tough to click.
I like the coating on the mouse, and the excellent clicks, but nothing else about the build is very exciting.
As mentioned above, the thick and unusual girth of the shape makes it seem a bit heavier than it is. The entire mouse is coated in a textured plastic that’s both easy to hold onto and easy to clean, which is great. It’s quite resistant to hand oil and sweat in spite of not looking like it will be.
The mouse wheel on my copy has a little bit of side wobble, and when gently shaking the mouse the sensor rattles a bit. I don’t do any sort of pressing or crushing tests, I just use the mouse like normal in games, and I didn’t have any major build issues.
Perhaps the most egregious thing about the build can be found on the front. The micro USB port is deeply recessed and sits inside a triangle-shaped bowl so that you can’t use any custom cables. I don’t understand this, except as a clever upsell scheme to try and get people to step up to the Prime Wireless for its USB-C connection.
The OLED screen on the bottom works well and it’s very bright. You can adjust everything about the mouse here, including some basic lighting options for the one RGB zone inside the wheel. The lighting is austere compared to other mice, and not all that bright.
A NOTE ABOUT VALUE AND THE PRIME WIRELESS
I think the Prime+ is priced just fine at $79. It’s a large comfy mouse with excellent clicks and some weird design missteps, particularly around the wheel and the cable port. But the $129 Prime Wireless is frustrating.
At that price, you could get the Logitech G Pro Wireless with its standard-setting performance, or the Kone Pro Air with its comfier shape, massively better wheel and side buttons, and Bluetooth support. The cheaper $99 Aerox 3 from SteelSeries’ own lineup also has Bluetooth, better lighting, and a lighter design with a more versatile shape for different grip styles.
Sure the Prime family has amazing buttons. But if you don’t mind the cable, the wired options are much better values. As is pretty much every other mouse that SteelSeries makes.
I love the buttons on this mouse and wish I could put them inside a different, better mouse. I’m sure that SteelSeries will have future designs that use these components, and I hope those mice will have USB-C ports, better wheels, and more flexibility for grip style and hand size.
If you’re eager to try a Prime, there’s no real reason to step up past the $59 base version. You’ll still get the excellent buttons and coating, and a capable sensor. I enjoy the OLED screen on the + version, but it’s not so fun that I’ll keep using this mouse with its stiff wiggly wheel over other better options in my small collection.
SteelSeries makes some excellent mice, and the Prime isn’t quite one of them. Unless this highly-sculpted mouse perfectly fits your hand shape, or you absolutely must try these newly designed buttons, you’re better off looking elsewhere.