Maybe you heard, Mad Catz is again from the useless. And to this point it’s been a rousing return! We checked out the return of the famed R.A.T. earlier this 12 months and got here away impressed. Sure, it’s to not everybody’s style, however you received’t discover a mouse that modular wherever else. It’s a singular design, befitting a comeback.
But the S.T.R.I.Okay.E.? I admit, I don’t have the identical nostalgia for Mad Catz’s keyboard efforts. Nevertheless, we went hands-on with the Strike 4 (as a result of there’s no approach in hell I’m typing that as a faux-acronym each time) to see whether or not Mad Catz may turn into a multi-market menace, or whether or not it ought to keep on with mice to keep away from a second chapter.
Note: This assessment is a part of our best gaming keyboards roundup. Go there for particulars about competing merchandise and the way we examined them.
The market might have largely moved on from the “gamer” aesthetic that dominated peripherals for years, however Mad Catz has not. The Strike 4 is model new, however in lots of respects appears like a relic from 2011 or so. The outstanding Mad Catz emblem alongside the underside edge is effective, however the adjoining cyberpunk-looking circuit-board nonsense is totally pointless. The form is edgy and aggressive as effectively, and whereas I’m positive some individuals get pleasure from that type, I, for one, don’t.
Not usually, anyway. I admit, I really appreciated Mad Catz’s design efforts with the Rat, stating in my assessment, “The Rat goes to such an extreme, I find myself drawn to it. It’s ugly and unrefined, but in a way that feels purposeful and raw and intriguing.”
The Strike 4 “matches” the Rat, however it doesn’t obtain the identical sense of objective, doesn’t ask the consumer to query why a keyboard’s constructed the best way it’s, or whether or not we may maybe create a higher keyboard by divorcing kind and performance. Not within the slightest. It’s only a normal-looking keyboard with some awkward angles.
But you understand what? Mad Catz as soon as put out the Strike 7, a keyboard that appears like Megatron misplaced a combat with a rubbish disposal. So rely your blessings we received the Strike 4, I suppose. It might be worse.
In truth, all issues thought-about, the Strike 4 is a stable effort from Mad Catz. The uneven edge alongside the entrance, these garish strains, and even the squat typeface on the keys—once more, all harkening again to gaming keyboards circa 2011—are, ultimately, aesthetic criticisms, and wholly subjective.
Setting these issues apart, my solely actual grievance is the dearth of media keys. Worse, quantity controls are double-mapped to F2 by means of F4. Omitting devoted media keys is already a severe misstep given how prevalent they’ve turn into, however to then design a gaming keyboard the place adjusting quantity—simply a very powerful operate—requires each palms? That’s a significant annoyance.
The uncovered metallic backplate is completely trendy although, and offers the Strike 4 a fairly smooth profile. Mad Catz can be to be recommended for going with actual Cherry MX switches. That’s stunning, given Mad Catz’s status for less-than-stellar high quality. Deserved or not, I assumed Mad Catz can be a main candidate for Kailhs, Gaterons, or another Cherry MX knockoff.
The presence of the Cherry MX Reds most likely explains why the Strike 4 lists for $130. It’s a questionable transfer, because it places Mad Catz right into a bizarre no-man’s-land at that worth level—too costly to be entry-level, however not premium sufficient to compete within the $150-plus tier.
Still, as a Cherry MX devotee it was a pleasing shock to see Mad Catz persist with a dependable basic. I’ve grown to like a few of the Cherry knockoffs over time, however it’s nonetheless weirdly reassuring at any time when the actual deal exhibits up.
Cherry’s RGB lighting can be top-tier, although, per common, the “stem” design relegates the backlight to the highest of the keys. Thus the double-mapped Function keys are solely half-illuminated—and solely the F1 by means of F12 bits, at that. The essential elements (like the quantity controls) are darkish, which could be irritating at night time.
And since that is the primary Mad Catz keyboard we’ve reviewed for the reason that model’s resurrection, it’s price taking a fast have a look at the software program finish. One annoyance, up entrance: All of Mad Catz’s software program is segmented. Every model of the Rat has a unique software program set up, as does each mannequin of the Strike. It retains the dimensions down maybe, however feels very outdated.
Nevertheless, it really works. The Strike software program may be very primary, however has the same old collection of rainbow-colored presets. Some of the names are questionable, like “Lighting By Click” and “Swift Lighting Jump,” however you may normally parse the intent. There are some oddities although. Software colours don’t at all times match up with the real-world colours, with daring major colours usually exhibiting up as Easter pastels for me. The course of for organising per-key customized lighting can be a bit bizarre, hidden underneath the inconspicuous “Game Setting” preset.
Oh, and the macro interface is inscrutable at first look. I’ve by no means seen the phrase “Uptop” used to seek advice from shifting an motion to the highest of a queue earlier than, and clicking on “Clear” leads to a dialogue field that claims, “Really need to clear the macro action?” A bit localization work may go a great distance right here.
It’s completely practical although. Not the prettiest software program, nor probably the most intuitive, however presumably you received’t spend a lot time in it after the preliminary setup.
The Strike 4 is a superbly effective keyboard however nothing about it actually stands out. I discover that disappointing. The Rat mouse is so bizarre and distinctive, and I want Mad Catz may inject that very same high quality into its keyboard choices.
There’s loads of competitors these days, loads of it cheaper than the Strike 4’s $130 record worth. Mad Catz’s power is that it might probably get away with making an attempt all kinds of bizarre concepts, and it ought to use that to its benefit. I’m not asking for an experiment so daring it’s unusable, a la the aforementioned Strike 7—however one thing to level to and say, “Only Mad Catz would try this,” lest it turn into one other also-ran peripherals firm.