Mad Catz's S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 gaming keyboard
was a pretty innovative, albiet expensive keyboard. What if you want the modular keyboard but don't want to spend $299.99. Enter the S.T.R.I.K.E. 5, which retails for $199.99. The S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 is a more affordable modular keyboard with some different features and changes from the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7, but retains some of the core elements that make it a nice little keyboard for gamers.
Let's start with what's not changed. The main keyboard, numeric keypad, wrist rests, and left button setup have all been retained in the S.T.R.I.K.E. 5. It's a membrane keyboard, which some folks won't like as they can be a stickler for mechanical keys. I, however, found it to be solid in typing with everyday usage and responsive in gaming. I won't go into more detail on the performance as you can read what I thought
with the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7, but having gone through both mechanical and membrane keyboards, I had no issues with Mad Catz's decision to go with the membrane here.
As with the previous keyboard, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 has a nice colored glow that you can adjust in both color and brightness. The membrane does make the keyboard coloring visually pleasing. Of course, this doesn't have any effect on the performance of the product, but it can make it pleasing to the eye for those who are into that.
Now here's where the differences come in. You won't have the option to switch out keys like the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7. What you see is what you get and while it's kind of cool to have different feeling keys in the WASD area, it's more of a luxury than a necessity. To help make the keyboard come in at a lower price point, the array of interchangeable keys has been omitted.
The biggest change though is the control unit. Gone is a very nice color LCD touchscreen and in its place is a control unit featuring a small OLED display along with many physical buttons. The OLED display does accomplish some of the things that the touchscreen did in that it will show you some of the information based on the application you are using. With the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7, I thought the logo was a waste of space. Here, the OLED display actually makes that area useful. Icons displayed are vibrant and colorful.
On the outer edge of the display is a dial that you can turn in either direction to adjust whatever setting is selected. For example, if you have the volume adjustment selected, you can turn the dial one way to increase the volume or the other way to decrease the volume. If you have the quick app launch selected, turning the dial will cycle through the various apps you have set up. The turning motion isn't as smooth as I liked and if you turn too fast, control unit will not register. While the dial is a good idea, the implementation has some issues to it.
Where the LCD screen was on the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 now holds a keypad with physical buttons. You can program what the buttons do with the Mad Catz software. Multimedia buttons are located to the left of the number pad. In a change that I do like from the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7, there are now physical keys to turn off the Windows key making it quicker to access as that was one function I turned on and off a lot with the previous keyboard. Also, there's now a physical key to adjust the backlighting on the keyboard. What is missing from the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 are the dedicated volume buttons, something I did use a lot. Yes, you can switch to volume controls with the EYE, but I rather liked that it was always accessible.
On the rear of the EYE OLED Panel, USB ports from the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 has been replaced by audio plugs. That was one feature I felt was missing from the 7, which were audio connections. It's good to see them here although it is a little disappointing to see the USB ports removed.
With the lack of USB ports and smaller display, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 doesn't need an external power supply. It's nice not having to find a power source to plug the keyboard in and it makes it a little more portable.
Performance wise, you can expect the same as the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7, which was a solid gaming keyboard.With the programmable keys, a solid feel, and good responsiveness, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 keyboard fared well in both gaming and everyday use. By day, I was hunkered down in Visual Studio and web sites doing programming work. By night, I was using it to game. I had no complaints on either side and just like the 7, the 5 worked great for me.
Mad Catz’s previous keyboard had a very high price point, and the S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 also does as well. But, at $100 less you are getting many of the features of the 7 and perhaps removing some that you’ll probably never use, such as the interchangeable keys. $199.99 will get you a lot of what made the S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 worked well in the S.T.R.I.K.E. 5. Now, we just need to see some more work done with the EYE to make it more useful and that’s one thing that’s going to be hard to predict when you have keyboards include features like this.