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Alex Castle Jun 11, 2010

World-Exclusive : The R.A.T.7 is the Best Gaming Mouse Ever

It can be sort of hard to review gaming mice. Problem is, all the major brands pretty much have it down—they make mice with excellent sensors, responsive hardware, and a set of feature that’s rapidly becoming an industry standard. They might have a couple of extra buttons here or there, or a superfluous LCD screen tucked away somewhere, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen something actually revolutionary. Well, here you go.

This is the Cyborg R.A.T. 7 from MadCatz. We’d seen early pictures of the mouse, and we had our doubts—to say it looked “gimmicky” is a bit of an understatement. Well, we’re very pleased to have been proven wrong. The R.A.T. 7 ‘s futuristic stylings aren’t just for show—they’re a product of a startling number of customization options and features. We’re going to walk you through these features, one by one. When we’re through, we think you’ll understand why this is our new favorite gaming mouse.

The Chassis

Normally, when reviewing a mouse, one of the make-or-break factors is feel. Does the mouse fit nicely in the hand? Does it get tiring to use after several hours? Are all the buttons easily accessible? It’s an incredibly important consideration, but it’s also one that’s hard to be objective about. After all, everyone’s hand is a different shape and size, and there are several different ways to hold a mouse. One person’s dream mouse could be another person’s last pick.

The R.A.T. 7 turns all that on its head. Rather than trying to pick a single shape that pleases as many people as possible, the R.A.T. 7 is completely customizable and adjustable, allowing you to swap out parts and adjust differences until it fits your hand perfectly.

The R.A.T. in all of its customizable glory

The base of the mouse is a solid steel chassis, which makes the mouse feel incredibly solid, and lends it a not-inconsiderable amount of weight. The R.A.T. 7 comes with additional weights, which can be slotted into the back of the mouse for some extra heft. We like ours heavy, so we used a couple of the weights, although the mouse is pretty weighty all by itself, so if you like a super-light mouse, you’re out of luck with the R.A.T. 7

The replaceable elements of the R.A.T. 7 are its palm-rest and pinky grip. The palm rest comes in three flavors—slick black,  grippy rubber, and elevated slick black (giving a taller overall mouse). The distance between the palm rest and the buttons can be adjusted by holding down a small lever, allowing you to make the mouse as short as 4 ¼” or as long as 5”. The included pinky grips include two regular side-panels (one matte and one grippy) and an oversize wing-style grip that makes the mouse look a bit like some sort of futuristic hovercraft. The wing grip is our favorite, as it allows you to use your pinky for a little extra precision in controlling the mouse.

The left-side panel, which contains three of the mouse buttons, is also adjustable. By turning a knob using the R.A.T. 7 ’s built-in Allen wrench, you can slide the whole panel forward and backward, allowing you to position the buttons perfectly under your thumb.

The R.A.T. 7 is, then, tremendously customizable in height, width, length, weight and texture. Of the people who tried the mouse out here, only the person with the smallest hands found it unwieldy. We think anyone with at least average-sized hands will be able to find a configuration of the R.A.T. that works for them.

Features

Although the shape of a mouse is important, it’s far from the only thing that matters. The other huge consideration is functionality—what set of features does the mouse bring to the table. The R.A.T. 7 manages to stand out here, as well, delivering all of the features we expect from a high-end gaming mouse, and a few very handy ones that we’ve never seen before.

First, the standard stuff: The R.A.T. 7 has a 5600 DPI laser sensor that’s exactly as precise (or imprecise) as you need it to be. The sensitivity can be adjusted on the fly (cycling between four customizable sensitivity levels), using a two-way switch located behind the wheel, and a red LED meter next to the profile button shows the current sensitivity setting.

The profile button switches between up to three different profiles, allowing you to bind different buttons to different keystrokes for different games. All the buttons on the mouse are extra-clicky and responsive.

That’s all well and good, but we haven’t seen anything new yet. Here are our favorite two new features seen in the R.A.T. 7 :

First, there’s the thumbwheel. Although the R.A.T. 7 isn’t the first mouse to integrate more than one scroll wheel, we think it is to do so in a way that’s as functional as this. The thumbwheel on the R.A.T. 7 is a big, ridged steel affair, with just the right amount of tension. It can be configured in the profile manager (clockwise and counterclockwise rotation can each be bound to a key), though we found that it was an excellent choice for switching weapons in shooters, allowing us to cycle through our options without getting in the way of us clicking to fire.

The other new feature that we love is the “sniper button,” a non-configurable button on the thumb panel that reduces your mouse sensitivity (you can choose the amount) for as long as it’s being held down. This addresses our biggest gripe with the traditional DPI selector button: in most games, you’re not going to be sniping all the time, and in the middle of a heated firefight in Modern Warfare 2, you’re not going to want to fiddle with the DPI selector every time you stop running and gunning and go for a longshot.

The sniper button is an excellent solution to this problem. Rather than having to commit to “sniping mode” or “action mode,” you simply press the button whenever you want to virtually hold your breath and line up a delicate shot. We hope this one becomes standard on all gaming mice.

Models

The R.A.T. 7 is part of a new line of gaming mice from MadCatz’ Cyborg brand. There will be 4 models total, the R.A.T. 3 , R.A.T. 5 , R.A.T. 7 , and R.A.T. 9 . At $50, the R.A.T. 3 has a lesser 3200 DPI laser sensor, and lacks most of the features and customization that we like about the 7. The R.A.T. 5 has a better sensor than the three, as well as the sniper button and thumbwheel, but lack the interchangeable palm and pinky surfaces. The R.A.T. 9 will essentially be the same as the R.A.T. 7 , but will be wireless. Currently, only the R.A.T. 5 and the R.A.T. 7 are shipping, with the R.A.T. 3 and the R.A.T. 9 planned for later this summer.

In Conclusion...

This is a bad-ass mouse. The $100 price tag puts the R.A.T. at the higher end of the gaming mouse spectrum, but you're not going to find a mouse that's more feature-packed or customizable than this.

THE VERDICT

World-Exclusive : The R.A.T.7 is the Best Gaming Mouse Ever

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