|Mad Catz Cyborg RAT 9 Wireless Gaming Mouse|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Input Devices|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Monday, 22 November 2010|
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Testing & Results
I used the Cyborg R.A.T. 9 mouse over a period of several days, on systems and applications ranging from Photoshop CS5 editing on a Mac to gaming on a Windows PC with Crysis Warhead, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, Wolfenstein, and Singularity.
The first thing I realized was that while 5600dpi seems to be the new de rigueur feature for high-end gaming mice, it's useless in the real world. Look at it this way: at 5600dpi, a horizontal mouse motion of less than 1/2" will send your cursor all the way across the screen of a 30" monitor at 2650x1200. There may be a real-world use for this high a resolution, but I cannot think of what it might be (and if there is one I've overlooked, I'm sure a commenter will not hesitate to inform me about it!) After some experimentation, I left my R.A.T. 9 at its default resolutions of 800, 1600, 3200, and 5600dpi, and wound up using 1600 most of the time, even in gaming.
As most users will do, I also experimented with the physical configuration of the mouse, rotating through the various replacement panels and adjustments. I settled on the checked-rubber palm rest and extended pinky rest, with the palm rest pulled out almost all the way to the back of the mouse, and with the thumb grip about halfway along its position and width settings. This configuration proved comfortable for extended periods of use, although the overall comfort of my Logitech Performance MX mouse (with its gently rounded shape) still seemed better. However, although I remembered the Performance MX mouse as being quick and responsive when I originally purchased it, after using the Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 9 mouse for a few days, the Logitech product seemed sluggish by comparison, with a very slight but noticeable lag between moving the mouse and seeing the response on-screen. I had not noticed this before using the R.A.T. 9.
The R.A.T. 9 features that turned out to be the most useful were the "Precision Aim" button, which was exceptionally handy for games like Wolfenstein, and the on-mouse ability to change resolution on the fly, which I found useful in Photoshop. While the main scroll wheel has a nice rubber grip and smooth, click-stopped action, I did miss the ability of the Logitech mouse to select between click-stopped and free-spinning action on the scroll wheel, the latter mode being convenient when web browsing. Many current mice also allow the scroll wheel to "tip" horizontally; but neither this nor a free-scrolling feature are particularly useful in gaming, which is what this mouse was designed for.
The switchable modes were also useful, but I found that pressing the Mode button (it's to the left of the left mouse button) required a strong and not-too-comfortable sideways movement of my forefinger. It was almost impossible to do without triggering the left mouse button unless I first removed my hand from the mouse; switching modes rapidly in-game simply wasn't possible for me. However, in my testing, I didn't actually run into any in-game situations in which a very fast mode switch was required (although I'm sure there are some situations in which it would be useful).
I experimented with the user-adjustable weights, and although I could tell the difference between no weights and full weights, it never seemed to make any functional difference to me, even in gaming. The mouse will go to sleep after a period of inactivity, which you'll be able to discern because the LEDs on the mouse will go out. To wake the mouse, you must click a button...just moving the mouse won't do it.
Battery Life and Tracking
Most wireless mice will run days or even weeks on a single battery or charge. Not so the R.A.T. 9, whose ultra-fast polling, mouse LEDs, and extra functions will exhaust one of its fully-charged lithium-ion batteries in less than a day of heavy gaming. Mad Catz claims 9 hours of gaming use or up to four days of normal use. Although the only way to get a detailed battery status report is to open the Profile Editor, the mouse LEDs will start blinking when the battery is down to about 15% remaining charge. In my use I got a minimum of 1.5 days to a maximum of 2.5 days. The short battery life is the price you pay for wireless mouse performance at this level, but since the battery is so easy to change— simply snap it out of the mouse and swap it with the one in the receiver, which takes 15 seconds, tops— it's not that much of a problem. However, you are limited to the proprietary Mad Catz batteries, which are unique to this mouse.
In Benchmark Reviews' previous review of the Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 7 mouse, we noticed some tracking issues when the mouse was picked up and set back down. My personally-owned R.A.T. 7 mouse will only track reliably on my desk surface, which would be fine except that I have a separate keyboard/mouse drawer with a textured black plastic mousing surface. Even third-party mouse pads (admittedly, cheap ones from Best Buy) didn't help: my R.A.T. 7 would lose tracking so frequently that it was all but useless. In normal use the pointer would randomly become slow or jumpy, and sometimes take several seconds to re-sync and start tracking smoothly again.
Although the R.A.T. 9 mouse appears to use the same sensor as the R.A.T. 7, none of these tracking issues occurred during my testing. The R.A.T. 9 tracked perfectly on a variety of surfaces, including my keyboard drawer's integrated mousing surface, the aforementioned cheap mouse pad, and anything else I tried. I can only hope that whatever fix Mad Catz implemented will find its way into the other members of the R.A.T. mouse family.