SteelSeries Sensei RAW Frost Blue Mouse and Siberia v2 Frost Blue Headset Review Sarah Fox April 22, 2013 With a new white-gloss finish and electric-blue customizable lights, the “Frost Blue” collection aims to offer performance and style while staying on a budget. The duo are a minimalists dream, the simple design is clean and modern and the tech inside is easily enjoyed Themed accessories are always an extra touch of class over standard functionality, even though none of it improves performance. That being said, many people put as much thought into how their gaming platforms or peripherals look, as they do with the hardware inside of them. I also consumers should, the amount of money and time that the average gamer spends with these products, should demands that both style and quality be considered into the final design. On the style side, the new ‘Frost Blue Edition’ improves the drab styling of the original black and steel Sensei [Raw] models. It’s a welcomed change and a smart move by SteelSeries in general, the company’s flexibility from the standard black (almost the only option with some of its competitors) is what attracts a lot of people to the line. That and many times SteelSeries comes in at a fraction of the cost as some if its competitors. The ‘Guild Wars 2′ line for example, was one of the most popular themed-sets from last year, all in the same white-gloss but with the blazen red Dragon logo from the game. With the dragon out of the way, now there is the ‘Frost Blue’ mouse-wheel, CPI indicator and SteelSeries logo for the gaming-mouse. There are illuminated ear-cuffs of the headset underneath a steel-mesh grill. All of this illumination is customizable, an extra feature and a simple design choice. The pulsating earcuff lights or the lights on the mouse can be completely controlled using the software included. You can adjust how fast it pulsates, if it pulsates at all, or if you want to turn any of the lights off at anytime. SteelSeries Sensei [RAW] Mouse. One of the first thing you’ll notice about the SteelSeries Sensei [RAW] Mouse is how light it is (90 grams in total). It was startling at first, I thought that it would effect my gaming habits, but honestly it didn’t. This is because of how easy it is to customize the highly precise controls of the mouse. I could write up the specs for those of you that want to get technical (10.8 megapixel HD image correlation at up to 12,000 frames per second and the ability to handle tracking movements of up to 150 inches per second according to SteelSeries) but that won’t help the average consumer. What will help that consumer is explaining the controls and the UI. You have 6 customizable buttons on the mouse, (2 left-side, 2 right-side and the primary and secondary mouse buttons). Then you have the CPI high / low switch and the scroll-wheel. The scroll-wheel is customizable, though some groups debate about whether it is called “a button” so to avoid confusion I listed it separately. On any basic platform, you can plug the mouse or headset into your machine and start playing right away, this is even possible on a Mac. Even using standard, default-functions and presets the mouse and headset are above par for low-cost peripherals. If you are using a PC, then you can install the “SteelSeries Engine” software, this will give you total control of the mouse settings and the headsets presets, including lights. I mentioned before that the weight of the mouse was a concern before I started using it. This actually led me to a small epiphany about how I should look at mouse peripherals going forward. As many pro-users will tell you, weight and friction play a large factor in how a user may enjoy a mouse. I liked using a heavier mouse in the past. With the new lighter mouse, I realized that I really enjoyed the friction not the weight. Yes physics majors will tell you that more weight means more friction, but while using the SteelSeries Sensei RAW I decided that my mousepad was really what I should have been focusing on. Something so cheap and easily replaced (I’m talking about the mousepad) is far easier to change than finding a mouse that meets my exact preferences. That’s what I did with the SteelSeries Sensei [RAW]. Adjusting the sensitivity and a quick stop at a store for a cheap-o mouse-pad with more friction, completely solved my issues. If I ever switch out my mouse in the future, I can easily switch-out my mousepad to adjust to it. Just something for regular consumers to think about. None of this should really be an issue though since the SteelSeries Engine gives users such terrific control over how the mouse operates. Even better, the SteelSeries Engine software controls all of your SteelSeries hardware, allowing you to change your headset and mouse settings all in one place. All of this with one software download I should say. I have always loved the SteelSeries Engine UI, it’s not only extremely functional but it’s also illustrated and detailed, so anyone can start using it regardless of experience. There are no limits to macros or presets, so you can start working on a profile for each game if you prefer. An advanced user can do even more with the macros (this includes both keyboards an mouse functions) for mouse events you can program practically anything you can think of and use them in-game or switch to other profiles at anytime. There is even a Statistics module to record your mouse actions with a heat map, this will give you a detailed look at how, and when, you use your mouse. This helps you analyze how well you have customized your settings. Not necessary for everyone, but extra functions should not be ignored when being reviewed. The mouse offers some of the most robust features and precise hardware that are available for gaming mouse peripherals, yet it comes in at half the price of expensive brands (MSRP $59). This sits on par with average gaming-mice that don’t offer the same software support. Summary SteelSeries Sensei [RAW] Mouse At it’s price, the functions/hardware/support that consumers get with the SteelSeries brand is one of the best in the industry. The SteelSeries Sensei [RAW] mouse performs smoothly and is easily adjusted to meet your exact preferences. Although it saddens me that the SteelSeries Engine is not yet running on the Mac OS X, it did work straight out of the box on OS X 10.8.3 and Windows 8, even before installing the engine software. It’s an easy recommendation for me, there were no compatibility complaints or hardware complaints to speak of. I can’t make you like gloss-white or electric blue, but if you hated that combination you probably wouldn’t have read this far in the review. Just pretend it’s the ‘Game of Thrones: White Walker Edition’ like I did. Siberia v2 Frost Blue Headset Review Now that you have read all about the customized stylings of the ‘Frost Blue Collection’ in the paragraphs above, and the ‘SteelSeries Engine’ software that controls it, I’m going to go right into the headset quality in particular. First of all [comfort-sound-options] in no particular order, are my three rules of gaming headsets. I want to be clear on how I review headsets. You should know that failing any of these main points will cause me to hate a company’s design and mock their intent at selling a product. Luckily the Frost Blue collection passes these three challenges, though I am still upset about the lack of Mac software options because you can’t instal the SteelSeries Engine on Macs. In comfort, these headsets can surpass even some of the most expensive headsets that I’ve had the chance to review. This headset doesn’t sit on your head while squeezing itself onto your skull to stay in place. It’s one of the best features off the headset, and if you only read the description on the website you could have easily missed it. The main construction is the two soft but sturdy frames that give the headset its shape. What adjusts to your head is a soft strap connected with four metal-cables that stretch to adjust. This is one of the best designs that I have seen, it’s comfortable and the headset is very light-weight and won’t weigh you down even after hours of playing. Connected to the frame are the large over-the-ear earpieces, with soft ultra-plush cushions that don’t get hot even after hours and hours. The mic has a nice tucked-away feature. It pulls out like an antenna would, though it’s flexible and can contour to any position that you would like. When you are not using it, you can push it in and it will retract inside and is practically invisible. There is a built in sound-card that is part of the USB connection itself. Though this probably won’t be an issue for most people, if you are using a Macbook Pro (works right out of the box BTW) it was a tight fit while using the Headset and the Mouse together since I only have two USB ports side-by-side. Another nice was the free USB extension cable that came in the box. The headset uses an inline control to mute your mic or adjust the volume. What is really nice is that it’s a sliding click for mute, which means no accidental muting while you are playing and moving around. Summary Siberia v2 Frost Blue Headset I loved the lighting on the “Frost Blue” series, again I was thinking of White Walkers in the snow, but that’s not going to sell headsets on its own. What will sell is the design and how terrific the sound is. Spec-wise it’s stereo-sound not surround-sound, but the sound is rich regardless of the medium that you are using them for. Take them out of the box and they are terrific, even without the software that you can use to optimize them. It’s clear that SteelSeries can make terrific peripherals and it’s nice to see them improving my three main concerns with their new headsets. With an MSRP of $119.99 they can be on the high-end of your price-scale, though the design is perfect for the long haul. There aren’t any brittle parts or flimsy-connections that would be behind padding or plastic versions of corded-cables in other brands. Overall Frost Blue Collection Together the two make a terrific pairing, and a great way to add some style to your gaming sets. Look past the gloss and the lights and you have two terrific products at about $180 total. Which is still less expensive than a pair of headsets that you could spend hours optimizing and instaling. These are perfect for any user that expects quality and design at a decent price. Modern and functional with a minimilist approach, it can require a particular taste but something that I think a lot of people would enjoy.