If I was lazy (or at least, lazier than I am), I’d review SteelSeries’ Aerox 5 Wireless mouse by simply saying it’s the Aerox version of last year’s Rival 5. I’m not quite so lazy that I’d submit that and call it a day, but it’s a decent summary: the Aerox 5 is identical to the Rival 5 in form factor, but with all the weight-reduction features of the Aerox line. Or, to put it another way, the best of both worlds.
“… feels great to use: light, sturdy, responsive, and comfortable, with nice button placement that keeps its nine buttons readily accessible without much straining to reach or accidental clicks.” That’s what I wrote about the Rival 5 last year, and with the same shape and button layout, those comments are every bit as applicable to the Aerox 5, too. The body of the mouse rests comfortably under hand, with eight conveniently-placed buttons (and a ninth that’s a little less convenient): on top, there’s the the regular left and right, scroll wheel, and a slightly awkward button 9 behind the scroll wheel, and a five-button side panel.
The comfort of the Aerox 5 owes a lot to the layout of that side panel. There’s a decently-sized thumb rest, with buttons arranged around in: a large-ish one in front, two above, and a somewhat unusual flick-switch that you can flick up or down with your thumb—two buttons for the space of one, essentially. The latter takes a bit of getting used to, but it works nicely when you do, and the end result is a good way of getting a decent button count in without overcrowding or compromising a natural grip.
But where the Rival 5 is a comparatively hefty 85g, the wired Aerox 5 comes in at just 66g, and even with the extra weight of a battery, the Aerox 5 Wireless (the one I’ve tried) weighs in at 74g. Like the Aerox 9, the Aerox 5 uses a few tricks to get its weight down: a honeycomb shell, extra-thin circuit board, and a 6g battery (“14g lighter than those in other multi-genre mice”, apparently). It still feels sturdy and well-built, with the shell in particular having a strong frame reinforced by the honeycomb design.
Granted, 11 grams isn’t’ exactly a huge difference in the scheme of things. But when you want your mouse light—and when you’re the sort of person thinking of dropping a couple of hundred on a gaming mouse in the first place—every gram counts. It means more agile, precise mouse movements when you really need them—and in a fast, twitchy game, those few milliseconds can be crucial. But even beyond that, it just makes a more comfortable, convenient mouse for general use. Case in point, I’ve been switching back and forth a bit between the Aerox 9 and the comparatively lighter Aerox 5 Wireless; they’re separated by a mere 15 grams, but it’s enough to be noticeable, and the lighter one just feels that little bit nicer (for me, at least—personal preference obviously plays a big part, too).
Performance matches the Aerox 9 Wireless too. The sensor is precise and responsive, playing nicely on a wide range of surfaces—though a good mouse mat is best, it handles raw desktop or a flat couch arm well enough—and with CPI that can go as high as 18,000 without missing a beat. If there is any input lag, I couldn’t notice, and the switches are just the right amount of clicky, without being uncomfortably stiff. The battery life is impressive: 80 hours in 2.4Ghz mode, 180 in Bluetooth, or in more practical terms, you’ll get a good week of heavy play out of a single charge (which takes less than an hour). The Bluetooth mode has the same limitations as the Aerox 9 in terms of not being able to remap the buttons, but it’s a convenient way of using the mouse across multiple devices if you need to. Likewise, the dongle setup is USB-C, with the same slightly awkward cable-adapter-dongle situation if you want to use a USB-A port, but it works well enough in practice.
The end result? Like I said right at the start, it’s the best of parts of the Rival 5 and Aerox 9, rolled into one. It’s light, smooth, and responsive, with a layout that finds a nice balance between button count and ergonomic design, and an ultra-light build that makes it move like a dream. For the sake of convenience and comfort, it’s become my go-to mouse for pretty much everything, from everyday office work to games of all sorts—even for games like Final Fantasy XIV, I find myself using it as much as I do the MMO-oriented Aerox 9. For a lightweight, sturdy, versatile mouse, you can’t go wrong with the Aerox 5 Wireless.
Product provided to Shindig by SteelSeries for review purposes.
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