SteelSeries Aerox 3 Wireless review – lightweight gaming mouse with a funky design
At a featherweight 66g it’s certainly light, but has all that weight-saving caused any issues?
We were intrigued by the skeletonized design of the Aerox 3 wireless and had to get our hands on one for review. It boasts RGB lighting, is ultralight, and has three modes of connectivity. We’re skeptics, however, and thought the weight-saving measures might have affected either the mouse’s performance, integrity, or both. How did it stack up?
- Reliable sensor
- Excellent battery life
- Well-implemented RGB
- Good build-quality
- Minimal branding and overall smart design
- Mouse texture feels cheap
- No actual battery percentage is viewable
What’s in the box and setup
- Product information guide
- Aerox 3 Wireless gaming mouse
- USB Type-C dongle
- USB Type-C to USB Type-A Super Mesh data/charging cable
- Extension adapter
The setup process is remarkably easy. You simply connect the dongle to the included extension adapter (not necessary if your PC has a USB Type-C port), then flip the switch on the underside of the mouse to the 2.4GHz mode and it’s connected. Hassle-free and rapid, just how we like it. It’s worth noting that our mouse required a firmware update on first use which was a bit of a faff, but the SteelSeries GG software talks you through it and makes it easy, if a little involved, as it required repeatedly unplugging the mouse and flipping between connection modes.
This is the most notable thing about this mouse, Skeletonization to save weight is an engineering tactic that’s been around in one way or another for decades and certainly lends a utilitarian, yet aggressive aesthetic to the mouse. It’s not going to match everyone’s tastes, but we found it to be pretty cool. In terms of branding SteelSeries has treated us with almost none – there is a tiny logo on the left mouse button but that’s the extent of it. Additionally, the ambidextrous shape results in a nice symmetry in the overall design of the Aerox 3. We think SteelSeries has done well here.
The RGB lighting is also tastefully implemented. The LEDs face downward directly into a material that effectively diffuses the light, which results in uniform illumination around the perimeter of the base of the mouse. Some of the light also bounces back and is visible through the holes in the casing which is kinda cool as it allows you to get a glimpse of the internals.
The 2.4GHz dongle, USB Type-C cable, and adapter are also nicely designed. They’re all an innocuous matte black that will blend into your setup. The adapter allows those of you without a USB C port on your PCs to use a regular USB connection and position the dongle where you see fit. When the time comes for charging, you simply yank the cable free from the adapter and plug it into the mouse. It’s a slick, conscientious design that proves SteelSeries has put some serious thought into the Aerox 3.
There is an inherent issue with assessing the build quality of ultralight gaming mice as it’s difficult to get past the mindset that ‘light=cheap’, as overly light products in other categories are often symptomatic of poor materials and shameful cost-saving measures. So, going into it without that presumptuous attitude, how does the Aerox 3 fare? Overall, pretty good, but there’s a couple of downsides.
The plastic used in the outer shell of the mouse has an unpleasant, cheap-feeling texture that reminds us of the state-provided mice found in high school IT labs the world over. The texture is effectively grippy during gaming but it would have been nice to have a more premium-feeling material similar to that on the even lighter Cooler Master MM731.
The casing also creaks ominously if you squeeze it with enough pressure which is a tad worrying, but the construction will probably last unless you accidentally step on it. Other than that it’s good news all around – the rubber on the scroll wheel has the same grippy truck tire-esque texture that we were fans of when we reviewed the SteelSeries Rival 600 and it slots smoothly into position as you scroll. The included PTFE feet are black in color so you barely notice them as they help the mouse glide around with ease.
The quality of the wireless dongle and cable adapter is excellent too, with a very flexible braided cable that stays put. We are all familiar with the irritation that overly stiff cables cause with their tendency to pull what they’re connected to around the desk, sometimes even off the desk onto the floor.
The Aerox 3 Wireless has three modes of connection: 2.4GHz, Bluetooth 5.0, and wired via the included USB Type-C cable. In our testing, the mouse performed reliably and accurately, with no noticeable drops in connection or lag during both gaming and daily office use. We also got hands-on with the wired variant of the Aerox 3 and it has identical performance and features but is slightly lighter, weighing in at 57g/2.01lbs as opposed to this wireless version which comes in at 66g/2.32oz. When connected wirelessly it has a default setting to go to sleep after five minutes of inactivity which was irritating so we’d recommend that you extend this timer or turn it off altogether.
The battery life of the Aerox 3 is among the best we’ve tested. It was used for two straight days of office work and an evening of gaming and the battery level hasn’t dropped below the full three bars displayed in the GG software suite. Annoyingly you can’t see an actual battery percentage so we can’t get any more specific. The mouse is also fast-charge compatible and can recover over 40 hours of gaming energy in just 15 minutes of charging which is very impressive. It’s worth noting that the Bluetooth mode results in significantly shorter battery life, though it’s just as reliable connection-wise.
Both the accuracy of the sensor and reliability of the wireless connection was tested over a long evening of playing both Apex Legends and Valorant. The K/D was lacklustre but that’s not the fault of the mouse. The mouse performed well and the light weight is an advantage, particularly for those who like to play at a high DPI as it allows effortless movement.
The mouse is best suited for a fingertip-style of grip, but it also works well for claw-style. We cant recommend the Aerox 3 for palm users because of its short length (120mm/4.7-inch) and the prominent curve along the top of the casing which puts uncomfortable pressure on the palm. The 18,000 DPI sensor tracked well and no issues were noticed in the gaming performance – this was the case for all three connection modes.
The Aerox 3 impressed us with its ultralight construction and delivers a competitive gaming experience with very few compromises. The sensor is accurate and the battery life is truly standout. The design is distinct and polarizing, but we enjoyed it and the implementation of the skeletonized design combined with the RGB is a success. It’s let down slightly by a nasty texture and a couple of issues with the software, like the lack of a viewable battery percentage. For the $99 price point, we’d expect a bit more. Overall, though, we’d recommend the Aerox 3 for its supreme battery life, accurate sensor, and effortless ultralight gaming experience. The price may deter some, however.
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