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SteelSeries Aerox 5 Wireless review: Can a mouse do too much?

SteelSeries' Aerox line got off to a bumpy start, leaving the new Aerox 5 Wireless a lot to prove before it can earn its lofty price point. We look at its many features to see if it can get the Aerox line back on track as SteelSeries' new flagship mouse family.

SteelSeries has produced several iconic lines of PC gaming peripherals. Its Arctis headsets, Sensei mice, and QCK mousepads are legendary presences in a market that seems to recompile itself every year. It was into this reputation that the company's new Aerox lineup was launched. 

SteelSeries kicked off the line with the Aerox 3 as its initial entry. Unfortunately, the mouse received highly mixed reviews, being praised for its shape and weight, but panned for outdated, thin feet, and multiple build quality issues. Taking all of this feedback into account, SteelSeries has released a revamp of the problematic mouse dubbed the Aerox 3 2022 Edition that attempts to fix its initial missteps. 

It also took all of the same improvements and applied them to two new entries: the Aerox 5 and Aerox 9. Today we'll be taking a look at the heart of this new lineup, the Aerox 5 Wireless. Aimed at being a do-everything mouse, the Aerox 5 Wireless tries to balance low weight with RGB lighting and nine programmable buttons, all while trying to earn its $140 price point. Read on to find out how Steelseries' latest flagship gaming mouse fared at this complex task. 

8.1
SteelSeries Excellent

Like

  • Comfortable shape and versatile buttons
  • Nearly best-in-class feet
  • Sensible and fast USB-C charging setup
  • TTC Gold switches feel and sound excellent

Don't Like

  • Large size makes it feel imprecise
  • Bloated software tries to cram too much into what should be a simple app
  • A couple hard-to-reach or overly stiff side buttons

Shape

steelseries-aerox-5-wireless-top.jpg

Michael Gariffo

For good or ill, most mice tend to have a shape similar to an existing mouse. This doesn't do much to expand shape variety, it does make it relatively easy for reviewers like myself to help readers understand what a mouse feels like in hand.

In the case of the Aerox 5 wireless, the closest shape most gamers are likely to be familiar with is the Glorious Model O. Both mice are nearly identical in length at about 128mm and within 2mm of each other in width. However, their heights diverge a bit more; the Model O's tallest point is 38mm, while the Aerox 5's is 42.1mm

glorious-model-o-wireless-side.jpg

The Glorious Model O and it's similar curvature

Glorious

The Aerox 5 feels sort of like a Model O wearing platform shoes. All of the curves across the back and sides that contact the palm and fingers feel nearly identical, but the Aerox lifts all of them 4mm higher.

In some ways, this has little effect on the mouse's feel. It still has that gently sloping back end that's comfortable for palm grip users, but might annoy claw grippers that prefer resting the butt of their palms on their mousepads. Fingertip grippers, to be clear, need not apply; the Aerox 5 is simply too big and heavy for it. Not even SteelSeries suggests it as a viable grip in its marketing materials

g303-grips.jpg

A demonstration of the common grip types using Logitech's G303

Michael Gariffo

The extra height does provide a more comfortable resting area for your thumb. I always found the thumb side of the Model O cramped, with my digit constantly on the side buttons, risking accidental presses. The Aerox 5 Wireless provides ample room for your thumb, even with its double-stacked side buttons and fourth thumb button up front.

More: The best mouse: Top options that will click with any user

The result is a shape that, even in my average-sized adult human hands, feels pretty darn big. I believe having a mouse that fills your hand too completely limits the micro-adjustments that are possible with smaller mice. So, I found the Aerox 5 Wireless limiting to the fine adjustments you make while lining up a precision shot. That said, if you're an arm aimer that prefers a rock-solid grip, the Aerox 5 Wireless is perfect for you. 

steelseries-aerox-5-wireless-rear.jpg

Michael Gariffo

Along that same vein, this mouse is likely too large for anyone with a hand under 18cm or about 7 inches (measured from the butt of the palm to the tip of the middle finger) to use in claw grip. Palm grip users can comfortably handle this mouse with paws as small as 15cm or about 6 inches (measured the same).

If your hands are large enough, and you prefer one of the recommended grip styles, the Aerox 5 Wireless offers a comfortable and precise experience. However, its comfortable size and safe shape mean it's not well-tuned for the ultra-precise micro-adjustments most competitive FPS players prefer. But, that's alright. The Aerox 5 Wireless was clearly designed to be a mouse that works equally well across all genres. Like any jack of all trades, it was never going to be a master of any.

Features 

Weight

The Aerox 5 Wireless is meant to be a lightweight mouse. However, it's on the higher end of that spectrum at 74g. This puts it in line with older mice like the Razer Viper Ultimate and original Logitech G Pro Wireless, and above the weight class of newer offerings like the Logitech G Pro X Superlight and Razer Orochi V2. There are also countless wired mice lighter than it, thanks to their ability to skip the built-in batteries that drive up product weight. 

More: Logitech G Pro X Wireless vs Razer Viper Ultimate: Flagship gaming mice showdown

This middling weight mouse allows SteelSeries to limit the mouse's perforations to its back shell and part of its main buttons. This results in a comfortable grip, even for those annoyed by honeycomb shells. Further improving comfort is the fact that the Aerox's holes are finished well enough that you never feel a rough edge of a prominent seam. 

Lighting and buttons

steelseries-aerox-5-wireless-lights.jpg

Michael Gariffo

While companies like Logitech and Razer have proven it's possible to make a mouse under 70g made without any perforations, none of those models feature the long list of built-in RGB lighting zones and buttons the Aerox 5 Wireless does. 

Those three lighting zones can be set independently in the mouse's companion SteelSeriesGG software. I should note, I found the GG software incredibly bloated. It tries to be the umpteenth gaming hub installed on your PC, mixing in streaming assets, social sharing features, product promotions, and much more. I had to sift through it all when I opened the software, just to tweak a mouse setting. 

More: HyperX QuadCast S review: Light up your mic

Thankfully, once you find your mouse settings (which are nested in the Gear tab, itself located within the unintuitively named "Engine" section), it's a relatively easy process to change lighting and button settings. 

steelseries-gg-softwware-aerox-5.png

The "Illumination" section of the Aerox 5 Wireless section, in the "Gear" tab of the "Engine" section, in the GG Software. You get it...it's cluttered.

Michael Gariffo

Your lighting options include the typical selection of solid colors, breathing patterns, and rainbow shifts, made more vibrant by having three lighting zones. I will say that the front-most zone is largely invisible unless you lift the mouse and peer inside. However, the overall lighting was flashy, bright, well-saturated, and sure to please any gamer that demands RGB be included on every peripheral. 

As for the buttons, SteelSeries included a total of nine: left and right-click, a middle-click (scroll wheel), a DPI button (top center behind the scroll wheel), and four side buttons.

steelseries-aerox-5-wireless-left.jpg

The top button within that three-button cluster actually pivots up and down as a two-way button, not inward.

Michael Gariffo

The side buttons are where things get interesting. First off, they include a "sniper" or "DPI clutch" button. These became popular on gaming mice years ago, showing up on models like the Mad Catz R.A.T Mouse and Razer Basilisk line. They were designed to let the user momentarily drop their mouse sensitivity to a lower DPI, making crosshairs move much slower while that button was held, aiding with particularly tricky shots. As time went on, many games began offering a separate sensitivity setting for when the user was looking through a sniper scope, largely removing the need for this button.

The best gaming mouse: Click, click, BOOM The best gaming mouse: Click, click, BOOM These devices elevate your play to give you the edge you need to dominate.

SteelSeries, for some reason, chose to bring it back. I was never a fan of the concept, and I don't find its implementation on the Aerox 5 Wireless particularly useful due to how far forward it is. A button that should be available to press in a split second shouldn't feel like I need to creep my hand forward on the mouse just to reach it, but it does. At least it's completely programmable, meaning you can use it for something actually useful, if you can reach it.

Aside from the anachronism above, the side includes a standard back and forward button and a third, two-way button. Back and forward have excellent tactility, matching the sound and feel of the TTC Gold switches used in the left and right clicks. These are the only switches I've found that provide auditory feedback and precision on par with my beloved Kailh 8.0 switches, meaning the primary buttons and these two side buttons feel and sound excellent. 

More: The best gaming mouse pads: Elite mats for control and speed

Unfortunately, I can't heap the same praise on the two-way button above them. This stems from a combination of its level of resistance and its flushness with the buttons below it. 

First, the resistance makes it difficult to push the button up without lifting the entire left side of the mouse and messing with its tracking. The spring used here is so tight you need to push down with your other fingers in order to keep the mouse flat on the pad. While pushing down on the two-way button is easier, it's still a slow process having to glide your thumb up and over the back/forward buttons, find the top of the two-way button, and then press down. 

It may not have been as unique, but I wish SteelSeries had simply added a second row of two, separate, and smaller buttons above back and forward. They would have provided the same number of inputs without the unnecessary problems introduced by this design. 

Connectivity and charging

steelseries-aerox-5-wireless-front.jpg

The front-facing USB-C Charging port.

Michael Gariffo

The Aerox 5 Wireless uses Steelseries' 2.4GHz Quantum 2.0 Wireless technology or Bluetooth 5.0 to connect. Like most modern wireless technologies, the 2.4GHz connection provided here is good enough that most will be unable to detect any differences between it and a wired connection. While there is, of course, some latency, it's so small as to be irrelevant to anyone but the pro gamers that, frankly, never would've considered a mouse this heavy to begin with. 

Also: Razer DeathAdder V2 review: A gaming mouse workhorse for serious gamers

While the Bluetooth connection is a nice addition, it's nothing I'd recommend for gaming. It does add noticeable latency, so it should be reserved as a convenient way to connect to a second PC, or to take the mouse on the go with your laptop. 

steelseries-aerox-5-wireless-accessories.jpg

The charging cable (left), Mouse Extension Adapter (top right), and USB-C wireless dongle (bottom left)

Michael Gariffo

Charging is accomplished via the included USB-C cable, which can also double, thanks to the included Mouse Extension Adapter, as an extension cable for the Aerox 5 Wireless' USB-C wireless dongle. 

This is especially important if you have an older system that lacks built-in USB-C ports, as it adapts the connection to USB-A. The ability to immediately decouple the dongle and charge using the same cable makes the whole charging process painless, and the lightness of the included cable makes gaming with it attached doable, if not ideal. 

More: The best budget gaming mouse

Thankfully, the rapid USB-C charging means you can game for 40 hours after only 15 minutes of charging. So, you won't need to stay plugged in for long, even if you managed to chew through the entire 80-hour Quantum 2.0 Wireless or 180-hour Bluetooth battery life. 

Sensor and feet

steelseries-aerox-5-wireless-bottom.jpg

The much-lauded PTFE feet and TrueMove Air sensor, as well as the three-way switch that controls the Aerox 5's connection method.

Michael Gariffo

SteelSeries worked with Pixart to develop the TrueMove Air sensor used in the Aerox 5 Wireless. I found it reliable, accurate, and completely devoid of unwanted acceleration or anomalies. Basically, it does its job without needing to be thought about, as a sensor should. 

I did, however, frequently take positive notice of the 100% pure PTFE feet included on the Aerox 5 Wireless. After the ire caused by the generally awful feet on the original Aerox 3 mentioned above, it's almost comical how good the feet on this mouse are. 

More: The best gaming keyboards

Not only does the PTFE material glide as smoothly as offerings from aftermarket mouse skate makers like Hyperglide or Esports Tiger, but the feet are also exceptionally well-shaped. Each one, even the ring surrounding the sensor, features rounded edges that slide perfectly over even the roughest control-focused mousepads. Logitech could learn a thing or two from Steelseries on this point, given the unbelievably sharp edges that shipped on the G303 Shroud Edition's feet. 

All in all, the skates were a high point of this mouse's design. The only stock feet I've ever liked more were the Roccat Burst Pro's, and only just. 

Performance

steelseries-aerox-5-wireless-right.jpg

Michael Gariffo

Honestly, my "jack of all trades, but master of none" reference above could easily serve as a one-sentence summation of this section. Essentially, I found the Aerox 5 Wireless to be a very good mouse for every genre of game I tested, but I never found it to be perfect for any of them. 

In FPS (first person shooter) games, I appreciated the availability of extra buttons for mapping additional functions. In the ongoing Overwatch 2 Beta I used back for Melee and forward for push-to-talk voice chat (as I always had in Overwatch 1), but I also mapped the DPI button to the new ping wheel, and down on the two-way button to Use for quick Symmetra teleport activations. This gave me instant access to actions that would have otherwise required moving my keyboard hand from its position on the WASD cluster, which was a great boon. 

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However, when it came to aiming with the Aerox 5 Wireless, I ran into all of the issues I usually do with a mouse this large and heavy. Its fullness in the hand made micro-adjustments difficult, and gave an overall sense of sluggishness while aiming at hitscan heroes. The same was true in games like Apex Legends, Halo Infinite, and several other modern FPS titles that also require precise aim.

Of course, this experience is extremely subjective. I generally prefer smaller, lighter, symmetrical mice. If you're on the opposite side of those spectrums, you might feel right at home aiming with the Aerox 5 Wireless. But, for me, it hurt my aim more than helped it. 

Shifting to MOBAs and MMORPGs, the extra buttons were, once again, helpful. I could map basic functions like auto-run to my mouse hand, and I could handle things like target toggling, pings, and other skills with that same hand. This was great in MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2, but fell short of having a major impact on MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV

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For those titles, I'd recommend checking out the Aerox 9 Wireless instead. It provides a full dozen side buttons at the cost of some extra weight. While that makes it less of a jack of all trades than the Areox 5 Wireless, it brings it closer to mastering MMORPGs in exchange. 

Thankfully, across all of the genres I tested, the Aerox 5 Wireless' build quality improvements, exceptional feet, and awesome switches combined to create a user experience that was comfortable, reliable, and satisfying. Even when I wasn't aiming my best or was wishing for a few extra buttons, I could never fault the quality control of the Aerox 5 Wireless. This is truly its greatest improvement over its older predecessor. 

Wrap up

The Aerox 5 Wireless is a good mouse for just about everyone, and for just about every game. If you're the kind of user that prefers larger, heavier mice like Logitech's perennial G502 line, or even the Razer Deathadder series, it might even be a perfect option for you across the board. 

More: Logitech G502 Lightspeed review: The Swiss Army knife of mice 

Don't let small stumbles like the questionable ergonomics of a couple of the side buttons, or the bloated software stop you from giving the mouse a shot. And don't pay any attention to the Areox line's bumpy initial launch. As a total package, the Aerox 5 wireless is one the most competent options on the market today for gamers looking to span every genre with a single mouse.

Of course, I wouldn't recommend it for an FPS addict that never touches another kind of title, nor would I suggest it for the hardcore MMORPG raider. For them, there are much more purpose-built options that will serve as better tools for their competitive gaming goals. But, for the majority of us that have a primary genre we gravitate to, and a boatload of more casual titles we mess around in from time to time, the Aerox 5 wireless provides a great singular solution. 

More: The best cheap gaming PCs: Pro-level builds for less

If Steelseries had priced the mouse closer to $100, I'd tell everyone to go buy it immediately. As it stands at $140, I'd say find a store where you can feel it in hand, or at least buy it somewhere with a generous return policy. You may end up discovering your ideal mouse. Or, you may find it just tried to do a few too many things to get any single one of them just right. 

Alternatives to consider

SteelSeries Aerox 5: If you want the exact same shape, buttons, and lighting, but would prefer a lighter weight (66g) or just a cheaper version, the wired Aerox 5 knocks $60 off its purchase price in exchange for losing its wireless connectivity. 

Glorious Model O Wireless: If you'd rather keep your wireless connectivity and stick with a similar (albeit slightly shorter) shape, the Glorious Model O Wireless provides a very similar feel for the same price as SteelSeries' own wired version. 

Razer Basilisk Ultimate Hyperspeed Wireless: Maybe you like big mice with sniper buttons, but would prefer an option within the Razer ecosystem. The "snek" has you covered with its latest Basilisk, which includes the company's ultra-convenient charging dock. 

Logitech G502 Lightspeed Wireless: The latest form of the perennial king of ergo mice skips the modern trend of lightweight mice in favor of packing in even more buttons than the Aerox 5 line. It also has the unique ability to charge wirelessly with Logitech's PowerPlay system. 

Logitech G PRO X Superlight: If you're an FPS purist that just wants to nail headshots and couldn't care less about extra buttons or fancy lighting, Logitech's latest update to its flagship G PRO line remains king by coming in at just 63g, despite skipping the honeycomb trend.

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