Whew. It’s been a long time since I reviewed a gaming mouse, and even longer since I reviewed a mobile mouse. The Cyborg, no, wait, MadCatz R.A.T. “M” ( M standing for Mobile if you hadn’t guessed ) tries to be both of these, and doesn’t do a bad job of either.
The R.A.T. series is a slightly balmy range of gaming mice formerly from the MadCatz sub-brand Cyborg ( a brand that Saitek fans may remember fondly but which has now been quietly retired ), that delivers a visually striking and entirely particular adjustable form-factor coupled with your standard array of configurable buttons and high-resolution gaming mouse sensors.
I’ve wanted to look at a R.A.T. mouse for a while, they look cool, interesting and intriguing, but the R.A.T. M is the first that I’ve been able to get my hands on. I’m not disappointed at all.
The MadCatz R.A.T. M is lightweight, compact and, despite its angular looks and curious ergonomics, quite comfortable to hold.
Style and Ergonomics
I feel I should address the obvious elephant in the room first; the styling of the R.A.T. Simply put, it looks like a white Ferrari Enzo half-way through transforming into some sort of sentient robot.
At its base the R.A.T. M has a solid slice of aluminium that provides a well-placed weight. The 2 AAA batteries also contribute to the quality weightedness, but die-hard mouse adjustment fans will be disappointed in the lack of removable, re-distributable weights. Personally I always found them to be utterly pointless, but I’m not exactly a professional, or even a half-decent, gamer!
As you can see from the pictures, I received the white R.A.T. M and, without getting my hands on the other colours, could probably comfortably say that it’s the nicest. The trouble with white, sadly, is that it gets grubby very quickly and very visibly. Fortunately the R.A.T. M is very short on surface area, and even shorter on points where your hand is likely to come into contact with it. It’s not short on gaps for dirt to get impossibly smudged into, however, but these are all in the black areas of the mouse where it’s less likely to show up.
The scroll-wheel is interesting. It’s suspended between the mouse buttons and you can see it both from above, in-front and under the mouse making it almost a focal point of the detailing. Like the base, it’s top quality machined aluminium, although it’s large gear-like grippy grooves are somewhat less comfortable on the finger than your average rubberised wheel.
The Ferrari-Enzo-like styling at the front of the mouse looks delicate and breakable, but it’s also aluminium; indistinguishably colour-keyed to match the plastic components. This means it’s surprisingly solid and very definitely not a weak point.
The rear part of the R.A.T sports a spoiler-like adjustable palm rest which has 4 positions. I tend to prefer it fully closed so it’s out of the way, and I can maintain a dainty light grip on the mouse. It does support my palm when it’s fully open, however.
Buttons. All the buttons!
Endowed with buttons, the MadCatz R.A.T. M is clearly meant to be a gaming mouse. Despite its diminutive mobile form factor it manages to complement the left and right mouse button and scroll wheel classic combo with a sensitivity toggle, a “wing” switch, two extra thumb buttons and a 5-way navigator. The scroll wheel is, of course, clickable too. That’s 10 assignable buttons if you weren’t keeping count.
The 5-way navigator is perhaps the most impressive, and makes the R.A.T M the first mouse I’ve ever tested that includes, effectively, a joystick. Of course, the 5-way navigator is in no way positioned to be of any use in gaming and it’s actually extremely difficult to move it in any of the 4 directions without either my thumb getting in the way, or the mouse inadvertently being moved instead. Holding my palm down hard against the R.A.T. M makes it easier to use the stick, but anything but left/right and click ( the 5th way of a 5-way navigator is a push button ) feels unnatural and probably wont be of much use to me. Still, having 7 buttons under your thumb is pretty nifty if you need reasonably quick access to certain key-presses without lifting your fingers off WASD. It seems best poised to work well in MMORPGs, but I’m sure I’ll find a use for it in MMOFPS games.
The wing switch is another curiosity. It’s located in such a way as to, presumably, be pressable with a roll of your index finger. However, like the 5-way nav, I find that attempting to press it without a firm deathgrip of the R.A.T. tends to move the mouse around instead. With the R.A.T. M not sporting much room to grasp, it’s much easier simply to press directly down on the wing switch which works beautifully well but does lead me to wonder why on earth it’s sticking up at around a 45 degree angle.
Aluminium is the word of the day for the scroll wheel, which is a fairly solid hunk of the stuff. As mentioned it’s not exactly comfortable, and I’m slightly disappointed it doesn’t have one of those cool free-wheeling mechanisms with a clutch. Honestly, though, it’s not often I want to scroll down an absurdly long web page and need to freely spin a mouse wheel.
Rounding off the package are the two additional thumb buttons on the left. These are your standard browser back/forwards affair, found on more than a handful of mice. They’re easy enough to press and, using the software, can be bound to something far more useful than browser navigation in a pinch.
After heading to the Cyborg site itself in search of R.A.T. M drivers, and downloading a generic R.A.T. driver that simply didn’t work, my wild goose chase was set straight with the knowledge that the Cyborg brand has been quietly retired. Drivers for the R.A.T. can be found in MadCatz own download section. The R.A.T. actually has its own custom software and drivers, with a nifty drag-n-drop UI for binding keys, shortcuts or commands to any button you desire.
The software also includes a settings screen which will display the remaining battery life both as a percentage and an estimated time. At time of writing mine displays 85%, claiming a lofty 10 months, 10 days and 6 hours of life remaining. Whether or not it achieves this performance remains to be seen, and unless I publish my review 10 months from now I can’t really comment. Lofty claims aside, the R.A.T. battery life is definitely good, and much better than any wireless mouse I’ve used before. If it lasts for just a couple of months then I’ll be impressed. Obviously this usually depends on using good, non-rechargeable batteries in the first place.
Other settings include a D.P.I. L.E.D. Sleep timer, Mouse Response with two different profiles, D.P.I. cycle on/off ( this lets you cycle between the two different mouse response profiles, or not ) and “Precision Aim” which presumably interferes with the raw input of your mouse and is likely to raise the ire of more seasoned FPS gamers.
Interestingly the Mouse Response setting can be optionally configured for the X and Y axis independently, although I have yet to find a use for this. It feels weird having the axis decoupled when using a desktop OS, but I could imagine it being useful in some gaming situations.
Finally, the R.A.T. M boasts dongle-free, Bluetooth 4 connectivity. I couldn’t test this because I don’t have a compatible device, but it’s good news for those who don’t want to fiddle about with the tiny dongle.
Overall, this is simply the best portable mouse I’ve tried, if not the best gaming mouse outright. You could argue that its larger cousins should take that accolade, but I’m not a fan of big mice so, for me, the R.A.T. M embodies perfection.