Mad Catz RAT8 Wired Gaming Mouse REVIEW
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I’m reviewing the Mad Catz RAT8 optical gaming mouse. A highly configurable, reliable, and well built optical mouse. I will admit at first I was a little put off by its very industrial, almost steam-punk design. I found myself cracking up a little as I thought a mouse with all these features and customization couldn’t be worth the price or the hype. I spend my day using a mouse and keyboard in my software development job, and I thought I had all I needed out of a simple optical mouse, but the Rat opened my eyes to just how much this mouse can improve your experience gaming or be productive with your PC.
Out of the box you will find the mouse neatly packaged with replaceable components to suit your needs, an easy to follow but brief instruction manual, and a collection of stickers. I trust when you first handle this mouse, you will notice what I did. It is a bit hefty will all three weights in place, but it feels extremely well built and carefully designed. I also noticed the quality of its very flexible, fabric-covered USB cable. It won’t snag or get in your way, and I prefer the accuracy and simplicity of a wired mouse so this is a plus for me.
The manual directs you to download the 60MB software package which quickly installs and gives you a task tray icon to configure all the LEDs, macros, and advanced settings for the mouse. I am very thankful though that the software isn’t strictly required and you can use the mouse complete with its on-mouse DPI adjustments without it.
The simple instruction guide lets you know where all the buttons and controls are on the mouse which is nice because at first glance I didn’t see them all, especially the neatly tucked away profile selection button and the “back” and “forward” buttons which are set up out of the box for the back and forward operations of your web browser.
I found all the buttons and wheels to have a great quality feel to them. You won’t be disappointed.
The Rat 8 features 3 replaceable palm rests and 3 replaceable pinkie rests. You can mix and match these to find the exact feel you are looking for.
The palm rests feature a rubberized one for extra grip, a taller and wider one that gives you more support, and the in-between reinstalled one. To change this you simply squeeze a latch and slide it off. The attachment features 4 positions as well so you can customize this to fit your palm perfectly. I personally like the taller one, but the rubberized one has a nice gripped feel to it which many people might like.
The pinkie rests feature the smooth pre-installed one, a rubberized one, and one that features a tray for your pinkie to rest above the mouse surface. This last one is my favorite as I tend to drag my pinkie on the mouse pad, and this lets it rest without slowing me down. A small driver tool unscrews from the back of the mouse and allows you to change this one, and its very nice that it’s on-board so you’ll never lose it. The pinkie rest is the most difficult to replace, but even it isn’t hard. A tiny screw comes completely out to be driven into the new one you are installing.
After removing the driver tool from the back of the mouse, you can also unscrew a retaining nut and remove a simple spring to access the weights. You can slide one or more of these 3 weights off to customize the weight and feel of the mouse. This is a snap and is a really great option to have as I found the mouse just a little too heavy out of the box.
The thumb rest can be pivoted out at any angle you desire by using the driver tool to loosen it and positioning it where you want and then locking it down. You can also adjust a screw that moves the thumb rest forward and backward, again so you can position it exactly how you desire, and the visual instruction sheet lets you know right where to put the tool. This also lets you reach the cool “precision aiming” button which I’ll discuss later.
For all its customization, this is definitely a right handed mouse. If you like to mouse with your left-hand, look elsewhere.
The Rat 8 features 4 adjustable DPI levels which come pre-configured out of the box to a nice set of defaults but using the software you can tweak these all you want if you need something else. The mouse has 4 LEDs to indicate the current sensitivity level and right below the scroll wheel, a rocker button allows you to dial it up or down. I love that this is a hardware feature and not a software one. I can use this in the middle of a game to tweak the mouse sensitivity during games with no lag or extra needed programs.
The front of the thumb rest features the “precision aiming” button which greatly slows the mouse down so you can make precision shots in FPS games. It works wonderfully, and like most features of this mouse, you can tweak it to exactly the DPI you need during your favorite games. Also, this button is great for precision edits in paint programs and other design tools.
The mouse features 3 LED zones that you can configure across a full range of RGB values with the software we’ll go into next. At first, I said “why would anyone care to do this?,” but it actually makes for a great way to determine which of your profiles you have loaded at a glance, and it looks pretty cool I must admit.
If you install the software driver from Madcatz, you will be given incredible flexibility in customizing your mouse for different games and software. The mouse has 4 on-board profiles that you can load with macros, DPI settings, LED settings, and other advanced details. You can switch the profiles after loading them with a press of the “profile” button. The position of the profile button is such that it is hard to press with your mousing hand, but that can be a good thing. You probably don’t want the mouse switching to your Photoshop profile during a firefight in Call of Duty. A great plus here with these 4 built-in profiles is that they are stored on the mouse itself. Once they are configured and loaded, you can take the mouse to your gaming laptop or other PC and they are still there without the need for any special software on the other computer.
The macro editor allows you to customize every button and wheel (except the profile button) with a custom keyboard or mouse actions. These macros can be simple button presses or complex timed actions with multiple keys with optional repeats. It is far above what I expected and should allow you to use the mouse for productivity applications as well as games. If you are comfortable with zipping files and copying files to your user profile, you can take advantage of the huge library of profiles available from their website. There are custom actions they’ve prewritten for numerous games old and new, Photoshop, Windows, Chrome, and even Visual Studio.
The software allows you to assign custom profiles that immediately load and launch with programs you select. You can create a profile for DOTA or WOW and have that immediately load to the mouse when the game starts. You can do this for Illustrator or Photoshop or any other program you choose as well. You can have a custom mouse for any program you want. These special software profiles load into the first profile slot and automatically unload when you switch off the program or shut it down. Your original hardware profile in the first slot replaces it automatically. It is pretty surprising how seamless it is. If you have multiple configured programs open, it automatically switches the profile for whichever program is in the foreground!
Final Thoughts If you’ve been used to using a simple mouse that came with your PC, you will be pretty impressed with the Mad Catz Rat 8. For its price, you get tons of hardware and software customizations along with a well-built mouse that can be adjusted perfectly for your hand. I would recommend this to anyone who plays a lot of games or wants the flexibility of changing their mouse sensitivity effortlessly while using productivity software.
For more information, visit madcatz.com/rat8
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Originally published at macsources.com on January 19, 2017.