This wired gaming mouse from Mad Catz is like a robot from the future that has extra parts that can be swapped out to make it even more awesome. Those parts are also adjustable once they’re in so that the R.A.T. 7 fits your mousing style – and your hand – exactly. There are 18 different ways it can be adjusted, from its sensitivity to the placement of its various bits, which is what gives it a massive edge over other mice aimed at gamers.
Setting it up is pretty easy. All the bits that come off are secured with set screws, and instead of hunting down an Allen key every time you want to make adjustments, there’s one embedded in the back of the mouse. All you need to do is unscrew it, make the adjustments and put it back.
There are three major parts of the R.A.T. 7 mouse that can be adjusted: the thumb rest, a moveable cushion-like piece that rests in the palm of your hand, and a panel right near where your pinky lies naturally. Inside the box, you’ll find slightly-varied versions of both the pinky-panel and palm-rest, meaning they can be swapped out completely. The options are a pinky-panel with a smooth plastic finish or one with a rubber grip, an angled pinky-panel that actually provides somewhere to rest your pinky, and three palm rests: two of varying thicknesses, and one with a rubber coating.
The palm rests made the biggest overall difference to the R.A.T. 7’s feel, as they’re not just good for changing how the surface of the mouse feels, they’re also good at changing how the mouse is held. By moving it further back, you’ll notice it makes contact with a wider area of your hand, lifting your palm off your desk. By moving it further forward, the mouse naturally moves into the front of your hand and leaves the back of your palm resting on the desk.
This drastically changes how comfortable the mouse is to use, which in turn affects how your wrist and forearm feels after a few hours of mousing with it. We preferred the palm-off-the-desk setup as it proved to be the most comfortable by far, both during mouse use and after.
The thumb rest is a little more complicated. With Back and Forward and a dedicated Precision Aim button, its adjustments are more subtle – you can adjust the angle it juts out at to accommodate the natural lay of your thumb, plus you can move it further forward or backward to suit your thumb’s length.
If the whole thing feels too heavy for your poor little nerd-wrist (or if you just prefer a lighter mouse), there are five small weights that can be taken out individually so that you can remove them one by one until the whole mouse reaches your ideal weight.
Between these options, you should have no problem finding the combination that works for you using the R.A.T. 7. The most comfortable configuration we discovered (for our all-day-mousing lifestyle) was the rubber palm-rest with the angled pinky-panel rest thing, all the weights in position and the palm-rest set up as far back as it could be.
With the mouse set up to our liking, other strengths became apparent. Everything about how it clicks is just beautiful – it doesn’t take a great deal of pressing for each click to register and they are audible but not super-loud. We also liked that the buttons are a good length and width so our fingers never felt crowded.
The scroll wheel, which doubles as a middle-mouse button, also clicks quite nicely and is very pleasant to scroll through web pages and documents with. It only scrolls up and down, though, but there’s a secondary scroll wheel located just to the right of the thumb rest that can be set up to do that (and other things) if you really need it.
No gaming mouse is complete without a way to change its sensitivity on the fly, and the R.A.T. 7 doesn’t disappoint. A small rocker can be found just behind the scroll wheel that, when pressed, changes the sensitivity of the mouse cursor: up for faster, down for slower. A set of LEDs located on the left edge of the mouse shows what the current setting is. The fastest setting is a whopping 6400 dots per inch, which means tiny motions translate into big on-screen cursor movements. This is exactly the kind of thing someone looking to economise their wrist movements needs, and it makes a huge difference in real-time strategy games like StarCraft II.
Lastly, the R.A.T. 7 has a Mode button that can set the mouse into one of three separate profiles. The software, which has to be downloaded from the Mad Catz website, lets you configure the mouse’s buttons to do whatever you like. Of course there is more than one way to use a mouse so being able to switch between different configs for different tasks (gaming, spreadsheets, browsing) is not only necessary, but desirable. With the R.A.T. 7, Once you’ve set up the three profiles to your liking, all you have to do is press the Mode button to switch between them. Easy!
So, at the end of all this, did we like the R.A.T. 7 and did it make a difference to our mousing habits and gaming performance? Yes, we did, yes it did and yes it did, but not without a few caveats. Firstly, quickly pressing the Precision Aim button on the thumb rest in the heat of battle proved to be hard because of its awkward placement. Secondly, this is one expensive mouse – expect to spend over a thousand rand on it (the average price on Pricecheck.co.za is R1247) and lastly, while the design works in that the mouse rests against the parts of your hand that count and is generally comfortable to use, it doesn’t feel quite as nice to hold as a less modular, and more ergonomic mouse does.
None of these tiny issues are deal-breakers, though – the R.A.T. 7 is still a very good mouse, and one we’re only too happy to recommend to gamers looking for a secret weapon in their gaming arsenal that can and will evolve alongside their play styles.
Price: R1247 (average)
Sensitivity: Up to 6400 DPI
Modularity: 18 adjustable components
Connectivity: USB (gold-plated)
Scroll: 4-way scrolling
Buttons: 2-button mouse, with clickable scroll wheel and Forward/Back buttons on the side