When Douglas Engelbart invented
the mouse back in the late 1960’s, he couldn’t have imagined that his invention would become something like the Cyborg RAT 9 Gaming Mouse. There’s no way he could imagine that his simple wooden box with wheels would become the oddly beautiful combination of metal and black plastic that the folks at Mad Catz have churned out. Then again, it’s also unlikely that Mr. Engelbart would have for seen that has invention would be used to dismember virtual foes, navigate dark digital dungeons, and guide virtual armies into battle.
Describing the Cyborg RAT 9 Gaming Mouse is an odd adventure. Part of me wants to say it’s the mouse version of Christopher Nolan’s Batmobile while another thinks it belongs in Michael Bay’s new Transformer movie. The later is probably more appropriate as the mouse changes shape with a few turns of a few screws.
Changing shape sounds dramatic but it’s appropriate as you can significantly alter the feel of the mouse. The mouse comes with three palm and three pinkie wrests, allowing you to select your preferred size and texture for those surfaces. The palm rest on the mouse can also be moved be moved up and down, allowing you to configure how long the mouse is.
Mad Catz didn’t stop there as you can also adjust the angle of the of the thumb wrest as well as it’s position on the side of the mouse. These settings are tweaked via a small set of hex screws on the left side of the mouse. Thankfully a small hex screwdriver comes with the mouse and screws cleanly into the back of the mouse.
Finally the weight of the mouse can be increased/decreased by adding/removing 6g weights on the bottom of the mouse. Getting at the weights is a bit tricky as you have to remove the screwdriver and then unscrew another spring loaded retaining device. This does make the initial configuration of the mouse a bit of a challenge and the solution is not nearly as clean as the drawer system used by Logitech. That said it is one of those things you are probably only going to configure once or twice so it’s not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
It’s worth noting off the top that the RAT 9 is a wireless mouse (if you want a wired mouse, Cyborg Gaming has the RAT 7). Most hardcore PC gamers will immediately check out because of the lag that wireless mice supposedly introduce. I didn’t feel any lag when using the RAT 9 which either means they did a great job with their receiver or I’m not hardcore enough to notice it.
The heart of any gaming mouse is the resolution of the mouse and the RAT 9 features a 5600 DPI sensor which is three times the resolution of the mouse I normally use. The higher resolution took me about a week to get used to and I usually kept the mouse on the second highest setting (4600 DPI) most of the time I used it.
The RAT 9 features five input buttons (left, right, forward, backwards, and a “Precision Aim” button), a scroll wheel, a thumb wheel, a sensitivity rocker, and a profile button. The input buttons feel great and have a nice tactile feel to them. All of the buttons except for the Precision Aim button are easy to reach.
The purpose of the Precision Aim button is to allow you to lower the sensitivity of the mouse at the touch of a button without having to use the rocker (for those times when you want to snipe at long range and don’t want your scope to jitter around). It’s a nice idea but the button is so far up on the thumb side of the mouse that I had a hard time hitting it comfortably. To use a hockey term the button is on the toe of the thumb area but it would be better served to be on the heel of the area.
The two wheels on the mouse and accurate with a good “notchiness” to them. I never found a real use for the thumbwheel in the games I played but it does feel very solid.
The sensitivity rocker and profile buttons are where the real magic happens. I’ve used sensitivity switches on other mice but the one on the RAT 9 is the best implementation I’ve seen. Not only is the idea of using a rocker switch a great one the placement of the switch (just below the scroll wheel) allows you to change the sensitivity without having to hunt for the button.
The profile button is also another fantastic idea although it requires you to install the Cyborg software to use properly. Using the software you can create and store three profiles in the mouse and then use the profile button to change between the profiles. There are a myriad of things you can create in the profiles such as changing the assignment of the buttons or creating macros or key press sequences for certain games and once you have one saved you can just push it over to the mouse. Changing between profiles is just a matter of pushing the profile button and you’re good to go.
If you’re worried about accidentally changing profiles while playing you don’t have to worry as the button is out of the way and rigid enough that you’re not going to accidentally switch to your Starcraft II profile while playing Battlefield:Bad Company 2. I tried a couple of times to hit the button and it is nearly impossible to switch profiles without taking your hand off the mouse and pushing the button.
The mouse is hampered by a few interesting decisions. Depending on how you’ve configured the palm rest, getting the battery our of the thing can be difficult as it’s tucked in underneath the right side of the mouse. The battery is a long square box and I had trouble getting old battery out cleanly. Battery life is in the five to six hour range so if you’re going to be playing for longer periods of time you’ll want to plan ahead.
To be honest I’ve never got completely comfortable with the mouse but I feel like I’m getting there. I chalk most of that up to spending the last four plus years using the same Logitech mouse shape. For me it is mostly an issue of not getting enough support underneath my palm to rest it completely while using the mouse which creates some strain on my tendinitis ravaged wrists.
The Cyborg RAT 9 Gaming Mouse is an interesting value proposition as purchasing one is going to set you back around $100-$120 depending on where you shop. If you want a high end wireless gaming mouse this isn’t that bad of a deal. Of course you could save yourself about $20-$30 for the wired RAT 7 and still get all the great features plus the l33tness of saying your skills demand a hard wired mouse. Either way you’re getting one of the more unique gaming mice on the market.