R.A.T. M (Hardware) Review

Just like the real R.A.T, only smaller. And wireless.

If you’re not familiar with the RAT line of gaming mice (I’m lazy, so I’m just going to forego the abbreviations for this review), they’re some of the most impressive PC peripherals -bar none- that I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. I’m fortunate enough to have reviewed MadCatz’ RAT 7 a while back and I continue to be knocked over by the growing line.

The RAT 7 featured customization options the likes of which I’d never seen before in a mouse- and haven’t seen since. In addition to the usual cursor speed selection and added buttons and presets, the RAT 7 offered removable panels that could tailor the mouse to your actual hand size and preference. For instance, if you like resting your pinky on the side of the mouse (like I do), you could simply add on the optional finger rest. It’s a great mouse and a joy to use.

One of my only (slight) issues with it was that it was a corded mouse and I had moved to a wireless setup at the time. Now, it should be said here that a wired mouse is actually preferred by many gamers thanks to the fact that there’s zero lag and also no signal to get interrupted. My current setup consists of a RAT 7 and a STRIKE 7 keyboard, both of which are wired and both of which are highly recommended if you’re looking for higher end gaming accessories.

But now comes the RAT M; and with it comes a new take on the series that eyes the mobile PC gamer with an amended feature set that still offers some of what I’ve come to expect from a RAT. At the same time though, the RAT M brings something new to the table that the line hasn’t seen in the past.

RAT, meet RAT M. Now play nice you two.

Probably the first thing you’ll notice about the M is that it’s smaller than the 7 or any of the other RAT’s out there in the gaming wild. I mentioned already that this RAT was made with an eye towards gamers on the move and it definitely shows with the smaller form factor and generally lighter feel.

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While that’s not to say it feels chintzy in the hand, you won’t find any optional weights to add onto the body of the RAT M, nor will you find any of the ‘snap on’ or movable pieces that the other RATs offer. What you will find though is no less impressive of a package- just a different one. True the RAT M feels a little like a light weight when compared to my RAT 7, but remember that this is a mobile mouse first and foremost, so there’s a reason for the reduced ballast and size.

In the realm of physical customizability, the RAT M hasn’t left everything that it’s bigger brothers offer back in the lab. The back end of the M actually slides out a good deal (just like my 7) to accommodate hands of all sizes. It’s not quite the massive slate of options that those other RATs offer, but it’s pretty darn good considering that the M is what it is. I’ve used several mobile-minded mice over the years (none of them branded ‘gaming mice’) and none of them have offered anything like this, as simple as it is when compared to what the 7 can do.

Cover that up, your dongle is showing

The RAT M is also wireless via Bluetooth connectivity (with a nano-sized dongle) and boasts a year long lifespan on just two triple A batteries. Those are some pretty nice features to have on a mobile mouse. I do think I’ve become spoiled by using a wired mouse though as I have other wireless accessories on my desktop at home and some of them were running interference with the RAT M’s signal. After moving a few things around and changing lines of transmission everything seemed fine, but it’s probably something that’s worth mentioning here anyway.

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The RAT M also has a very nice eye for a mobile mouse. At 6400 dpi with twin lasers it’s no slouch and even features a dual speed selector that’s great for flipping between standard desktop chores and fast-paced shooters. The main body of the mouse houses that selector square in the middle, just under the nice grippy (and clickable) scroll wheel. That center cluster is situated between the standard mouse 1 and mouse 2 buttons- so no surprise there.

Much like the other RATs, the M also features a ‘wing button’ that just to the left of the mouse’s top. It’s great to have a third button on the face, but it did feel a little hard to hit during a game as I kept pressing the other peripheral buttons with my thumb, as I often had to grip the RAT M tighter for leverage. It would have been nice if the wing button were a little easier to depress so the extra strength wasn’t needed.

Buttons, buttons, buttons

‘What buttons were you pressing’ you ask? On the side of the M is a thumb rest (and it’s great that MadCatz was able to keep that) and just above it is a side console that houses a trio of buttons. There’s a page forward and a page back button, which I personally love for web use, and a round central located multidirectional switch – that was the one I kept hitting when I meant to press the wing button. In all, that’s a lot of controllability for a mobile mouse- and for most desktop mice as well for that matter. The result of all that is that it can get a little bit crowded at times, though I’ll take an embarrassment of riches over a lack of options any day of the week.

The software suite is just as easy to use as MadCatz’ other offerings, and is fairly user friendly. I say ‘fairly’ because I had a bit of an issue getting it up and running after downloading the application on my Windows 8 machine. I ended up having to remove the program and reinstall, at which point it worked fine. Why that was I can’t really tell you, but I’m just going to go ahead and assume it was something I did or some little glitch in my system as the RAT M worked fine thereafter.

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Final Thoughts

I feel like I’ve said this before, but I love this mouse.

The RAT M is easily the best mobile mouse I’ve ever used and actually would make for an excellent desktop unit as well – if I didn’t already use the RAT 7 that is. If you use (or have used) mice in the RAT line, you will notice the difference in the form factor. There’s no way around that as this is a physically smaller mouse that’s had much of what makes the RATs so special removed for the sake of mobility.

‘Much’- but not all. Remember that, because the RAT M is still a great gaming (or general use) mouse that’s head and shoulders above a good chunk of what’s available and it shouldn’t be faulted because it has the misfortune of being in the same family as its big brothers. Also, it bears bringing up that something like the RAT M would be perfect for gamers looking to use a mouse with a PC connected to a television. Though Steam-boxes are really being promoted for use with a controller, a mouse and keyboard are way more preferable for certain game types and the RAT M could be a great option for that.

Projections aside though, at it’s core the RAT M is a winner of a small form factor mouse that should make gamers very happy indeed – either abroad, or in their home command centers. It’s customizable, it’s easy to set up and use, and it’s a RAT. What more do you need to know?

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