The bizarre-looking Mad Catz R.A.T. is one of my favourite gaming mice of all time. The original R.A.T. 7 took over from my beloved Logitech G9 thanks to its comfortable design, accurate sensor and reassuring weight. So when I heard there was a new, Tournament Edition (TE) R.A.T. design on the way I was intrigued.
I have to admit to being rather disappointed when I first got hold of the TE. Instead of the weighty, solid, metallic hunk of R.A.T. I was expecting, I found a lightweight, black and blue plastic mouse that felt like it had just dropped out of an Asda cracker one desperate Christmas evening.
That disappointment soon evaporated. This new R.A.T. TE may well be an incredibly lightweight laser mouse, but it's one of the most accurate I've ever used. Even though it's crafted entirely of plastic (to make sure it can be used as swiftly as the wrist will allow), it's still the same super-comfortable R.A.T. design that I love. The combination of speed and accuracy is a seriously potent one, and really justifies the TE's ambitions as an esports peripheral.
It's not priced too badly, considering the new 8,200dpi laser sensor inside. At the moment it's around £66 / $80, which is a fair bit more than the sub-£50 Shogun Bros Ballista Mk1 I love so well, but it doesn't get close to the crazy price stickers on some high-end rodents.
The new-fangled Philips Doppler laser sensor is the reason the TE feels so quick. I'm used to seeing Avago ADNS-9800 sensors in top-end laser mice of today, but this new tech feels even more accurate, especially at the top of its dpi-tree at 8,200. I don't even run my Ballista at top speed because it can feel a little twitchy, but I never felt the same with the new R.A.T.. The Doppler has also been designed with a really low lift-off height. When you're throwing your mouse around at high speeds it only operates when you're actually on a surface.
To begin with I thought the TE was another way to market the budget R.A.T. 3 design for a bit more cash, but it is genuinely one of the finest laser mice I've ever used. Personally I'm still sticking with the Shogun Bros Ballista Mk 1 because of the index finger sensor positioning and its cheaper pricing, but it's a mighty close-run thing, thanks to the classic R.A.T. design and the excellent Philips Doppler sensor.