(Dele Nordic provided review samples of the products.)
Gaming for everyone
Let’s get a few things straight first. In Finnish, there’s a term for people like me when it comes to mice and keyboards: kermaperse. Literally translated, it implies one has an ass made of cream, but more accurately, it just means I’m a snob. I spend an inordinate amount of time working, playing, and creating things digitally, and as such, I’ve grown accustomed to a certain standard that I need from my daily drivers.
With that in mind, would I use either the STRIKE 2 or R.A.T Pro 3 as my daily drivers beyond the last three weeks of testing? No, I wouldn’t. But that doesn’t make them bad in the least. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they’re the perfect first combo for any young gamer just getting started.
The R.A.T Pro 3
The R.A.T Pro 3 is a wild little thing. It’s impossibly light, almost to the point of distraction. There’s also the size. I have large hands and long fingers, which means anyone else with the same proportions will have an equally bad time. The R.A.T Pro 3 promises some modulation in form, achieved by an extendable armrest that adjusts to different grips and hand sizes. But I found the form factor still highly limited, and even at the highest extension, the R.A.T Pro 3 still didn’t feel comfortable.
But what it lacks in comfort, the R.A.T Pro 3 makes up for in accuracy. With an impressive 7200DPI, aiming and precision gaming is a joy. Playing fast-paced games like APEX LEGENDS was a genuine pleasure, and the highly customizable settings allowed me to adjust the experience precisely to my liking. Now, it didn’t make me a better gamer – it’s not made of miracles – but it did make losing feel less like a result of the instruments.
I also appreciate the lengthy and tangle-free cable, which is something even more expensive mice rarely have. The plastic outer shell isn’t my favorite, but I understand it’s there to keep the weight down. Personally, I’m a fan of heavier devices, and my current Logitech Hero has all the extra weights inside to lend it heft.
But if you have smaller hands and don’t want your mouse to weigh as much as a fat cat, the R.A.T Pro 3 is a perfect choice to start gaming with. It packs just enough of a punch to warrant some serious use in competitive circles but also works surprisingly well with third-person adventure titles as well as RTS games.
The STRIKE 2
The STRIKE 2 is a trickier proposition. It’s a hefty and extremely well-built piece of gear, one that feels way more premium than its relatively budget price tag would imply. The back and sides are hardened aluminum, both of which are pleasant to the touch even after long gaming sessions. There are also the expected anti-ghosting functions, and unlike other mobile keyboards, the Strike 2 features a full ten-key setup.
MADCATZ wants this to be the always around device that competitive gamers can use, and it’s certainly an enticing proposition. It fits nicely in a backpack, and thanks to the solid materials, I never felt like it was at risk of breaking. I took it along for a few remote sessions alongside my 13-inch portable, and each time the experience was convenient and pleasant. For LAN parties and expos, this feels like the ideal partner for anyone.
Like the R.A.T Pro 3, Strike 2 costs just 60 euros, making it one of the more affordable mechanical gaming keyboards around. At that cost, it’s basically the best deal around – if you can deal with a few important caveats.
Even though the build quality is stellar, other areas do display the budget origins. For example, the backlighting is nice and bright and allows for multiple colors through software settings. But it never gets bright enough, and the keys themselves occasionally washed together, leading to some fumbling in the dark if your low-light vision isn’t great.
The typing experience is also remarkably good for its price. Strike 2 comes equipped with Cherry-MX switches, meaning the keyboard provides a responsive, clicky, and tactile experience throughout. Over my two-plus weeks with the Strike, I found quick writing sessions to be genuinely pleasant.
But the keyboard lacks – for some baffling reason – all Nordic keys entirely. That means if you’re typing in any other language but English, you’re out of luck. The layout is US standard, and the Enter-key is distractingly small, often leading to misclicks for those unaccustomed to this variant. It took me forever to get used to finding any apostrophes, for example.
Is this an issue if you’re just using the keyboard for gaming? Absolutely not. For a singular use, the STRIKE 2 is a terrific all-rounder that does precisely what it needs to at this budget. But its limitations are notable enough that they warrant a disclaimer. Not everyone will have two keyboards, and nor should they. I can make do since most of my work happens on a laptop and the rest on my PC, but that’s not really a solution to a problem that comes with the hardware.
But if you don’t need to do any major typing on the keyboard – and in theory, you can remap keys to fit the Nordic letters in a few steps – STRIKE 2 is a good value. It’s just a frustrating caveat that really could have been avoided and probably will in the future.
At this price range, though, you can do so much worse than going with the MAD CATZ revival. For younger gamers, they’re an ideal pair of gaming gear that won’t break the bank. For everyone else, I’d even go so far as to recommend them as backups or remote tools for events.
As a comeback, MAD CATZ returns to this part of the world with a strong entry. I can’t wait to see what comes next.