MadCatz R.A.T. Air Review: An old mouse with new tricks

Madcatz R.A.T. Air
  • Madcatz R.A.T. Air
  • Madcatz R.A.T. Air
  • Expert Rating

    3.25 / 5

Pros

  • Wireless charging
  • Standout design

Cons

  • Dated specs
  • Cheap build quality

Bottom Line

The material design or software isn’t as clean and polished as comparable offerings from Razer or Logitech but the important stuff? The Rat Air gets it right.

Would you buy this?

  • Price

    $ 299.00 (AUD)

The Pitch

After filing for bankruptcy only a few years ago, the MadCatz brand is back in the gaming accessory arena. Their latest effort, the MadCatz Rat Air (technically, it's called the MadCatz  R.A.T. Air but for both our sakes I'm going to refrain from typing that out every time it gets mentioned in this review) pairs together an iconic and stylish design with cutting edge wireless charging. 

The results here are somewhat self-explanatory. This is a MadCatz gaming mouse, for both good and ill. The material design or software isn’t as clean and polished as comparable offerings from Razer or Logitech but the important stuff? The Rat Air gets that right.

As far as execution goes, the Rat Air veers closer to a B- than an A+. That's still a pretty good average, even if it leaves me unconvinced that you should buy this specific mouse. Sure, this mouse might bring the brand back into the conversation but it doesn't exactly come away looking like a victor.

For as much as it evokes and reminds you of the golden era of MadCatz accessories, it also highlights how little ties that identity together. It's one thing to buy a MadCatz mouse because you like the design or harbor a fondness for the brand but entirely another to spend this much money on a mouse that costs as much or more than most of its counterparts and doesn't hit the same highs when it comes to polish or performance.

Price when reviewed

In Australia, you can nab the Mad Catz Rat Air for around AU$299 through M-Wave

Specs

Sensor: Pixart PMW3360

DPI: 12,000

USB Report Rate: Up to 1000Hz

Tracking speed: 250IPS

Acceleration: 50G

Durability: Up to 20 million clocks

Programmable buttons: 12

Software: FLUX Interface

Cable: USB to Micro-USB

Design

The Mad Catz Rat Air manages to find a unique balancing in the juggling act of looking like what is unmistakably a gaming mouse while also looking distinct enough to stand out among the crowd. It looks unique enough that you're not going to confuse this for the latest from Logitech. 

Credit: Mad Catz

The new MadCatz looks like the old MadCatz. It’s ergonomic to use and delivers when it comes to performance but, at the same time, the form-factor here feels cheap to the touch. A quirk that’s not really to its benefit, the Rat Air is a $300 mouse that feels like a $100 mouse. It might let you cut the cord indefinitely but it doesn’t look particularly pretty while doing so. 

Then, there’s the other half the Rat Air package: the charging mat. This mousepad doubles as a wireless charger, allowing you to almost completely cut the cables out of the equation. You’ll still have to cable the mouse pad into your PC but the mouse itself is untethered and otherwise free from wires. 

The reverse side of the mat that sits inside the charging cradle has a slightly different texture to the default. Though both sides suffer from the same cheap sense of material design, the extra room for experimentation here is a welcome detail.

All things considered, MadCatz charging mat ends up a little smaller than Logitech’s solution when it comes to physical footprint but noticeably weaker when it comes to feel-factor.

There's an LED lighting zone that wraps around the edges of the thing. Unfortunately, in action, it doesn’t give off enough illumination to have much of a visual presence. It’ll slide into almost any existing desktop with ubiquitous ease but it stands out like a sore thumb next to ambitious lighting-laden accessories like the Logitech G915. 

Credit: Mad Catz

The MadCatz Rat Air is fairly plug and play but relies on a custom software interface when it comes to post-setup customisation. This interface lets you easily remap any of the programmable buttons on the mouse and also tinker with the lighting. You’re able to set different lighting and sensitivity profiles but you won’t find anything like the per-game configurations found in Razer and Logitech’s accessories.

When it comes to making the mouse your own, MadCatz cover the basics and little else. If you’re fine with that, good for you. Personally though, for the high asking price, it feels fair to expect a little more than that. $300 is a lot of money to spend on a mouse that’s only a little more customisable than an entry-level alternative. 

The Bottom Line

The Mad Catz Rat Air is one of those products that’s exactly what it appears to be. You get that tried and tested form-factor. You get the wireless charging tech introduced by the competition back in 2017. You won't get anything beyond and, after a few weeks with it, it feels foolish to admit I ever expected otherwise.

The MadCatz RAT Air is an old mouse with a few new tricks. There are more cutting edge options out there but, if you're here for that brand-specific nostalgia, you gotta do what you gotta do. 

Credit: Mad Catz

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Read more on these topics: Mad Catz, MadCatz, R.A.T. Air, MadCatz RAT Air
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