Welcome to T3's official Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS review. Over the past week I've been putting this wireless and modular rodent through its paces to see if it is worthy of entering T3's prestigious best gaming mouse buying guide, and what follows is my considered take.
And, to be honest, I've been intrigued to get hands on with the Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS, as the R.A.T. line of rodents is long running but, as of late, hasn't been as prominent in the market place. The general style of gaming mice today in 2021 is also markedly at odds with the R.A.T. DWS' aesthetic, too, which gives it a blast-from-the-past quality. Does this quality extend to its actual performance, though? Let's find out.
Before we get stuck into this Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS review, though, let's first deal with release date and price. The Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS price is $119.99, and it releases in February in the United States and March in Europe and the UK. No UK pricing has yet been announced.
It's probably also worth taking a look at the R.A.T. DWS' official launch video before we start with the review proper, too, as it neatly surmises the gaming mouse's design and key features.
Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS review: Design and hardware
Open the Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS box and you're immediately hit with its design, which is a jumble of sharp lines and contrasting shapes. Its profile is really low and flat, too, and thanks to this and its protruding barrel-shaped battery holder cap at the rear, looks like a futuristic starfighter.
Rotating the rodent reveals not only a smorgasbord of buttons (14 in all), including its famous barrel scroll unit, but also a series of hexagonal screw caps that, when removed, allow the mouse's thumb, palm and pinke rests to be removed and switched up for a different style (which are included in the box).
In terms of build quality, though, the Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS feels really solid and well made, with an exposed steel baseplate feeling cool and weighty to the touch. This keeps the mouse grounded really well, and imbues it with a sense of premium. The scroll wheel, which has a ridged rubberized center, shares this feeling, as too does the R.A.T. DWS's primary trigger buttons.
These primary buttons make use of Mad Catz' Dakota switches, which are guaranteed for 60 million clicks (good luck hitting that limit!) and deliver a rapid 2ms response time. I can confirm that these buttons actuate really strongly, communicating a precise linear travel and rewarding the user with a very audibly pleasing click each time.
Flip the R.A.T. DWS over and two of its party pieces are revealed. Firstly, the gaming mouse's dual wireless connection switch is visible, which allows the mouse to switch between a low-latency Bluetooth 5.0 connection to a PC and a 2.4Ghz wireless connection, the latter enabled by a small form-factor USB dongle.
And, neatly, that USB dongle is actually stored in the R.A.T. DWS and can be accessed from underneath in a recessed, press-to-release cavity. This is a really neat feature in my mind, as it makes transporting the DWS for use on the road easy and ensures you don't need a separate storage vessel for the tiny, easy-to-lose dongle.
I tested both connections during testing the Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS and can confirm that both took seconds to setup. 2.4Ghz connection just requires you to plug in the dongle, while the Bluetooth connection can be enabled simply by opening the Bluetooth options menu on your PC.
Gamers are going to want to use the 2.4Ghz connection over the Bluetooth, though. The Bluetooth connection is kinder to the battery life of the R.A.T. DWS, with up to 300 hours possible on a single AA battery, while the 2.4GHz connection means you only get up to 200 hours instead. However, the 2.4Ghz is more precise and stable.
I'd think of it this way: if you're using the Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS to edit some spreadsheets, then use Bluetooth, if you want to game then use the 2.4Ghz connection instead.
That 16,000 DPI sensor is a doozy, too, and combines really nicely with those super fast Dakota button switches. First person shooter fans are going to feel very much at home using the R.A.T. DWS in my opinion.
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Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS review: Software and features
The most notable feature of the Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS is that it comes with modular palm, thumb and pinkie rests. This means that depending on your preference, grip type or aesthetic choice, you can swap up the exterior look of the mouse. As I mentioned above, these extra pieces are included in the box, as too the tool to do so, and it helps add a little bit extra on top of the package in my opinion.
Overall, this software makes it quick and easy to setup button configs as well as determine the mouse's DPI setting, but isn't anything in itself to write home about, and is not as slick as some of its competitor's offerings. I feel Mad Catz could learn a thing or two from Razer in particular here, as the software's UI just knocks a bit of sheen off the package in my opinion.
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Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS review: Verdict
I hope that has given some insight into the Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS gaming mouse and what it offers.
From my perspective, I think the R.A.T. DWS makes a very compelling purchase, but that is taking into account that I actually dig the mouse's design. This is something that I am also sure will not be the case for other gamers, with the R.A.T. DWS' jagged lines and piecemeal aesthetic contrasting sharply to many of today's softly curved and sculped gaming mouse designs.
So has it always been with the R.A.T. line, though, and clearly plenty of gamers do dig the futuristic starfighter aesthetic as otherwise it wouldn't have endured.
From a tech and customisation perspective, though, the R.A.T. DWS will clearly appeal to all gamers, as the adjustable palm and pinke rests, as well as super fast and precise 16,000 optical sensor and Dakota button switches, making for an excellent gaming experience.
The R.A.T. DWS' dual connectivity options are also welcome, as too the neat design touch where the mouse's WiFi dongle can be stored and transported in the bottom of the mouse itself.
There's no doubting that the mouse does have quite a flat usage profile, though, so if you're used to a strong arch in your mouse's chassis then this will take a bit of adjusting to. And the fact that the mouse is wireless only will also no doubt cast a small barrier to purchase up for eSports gamers, who always prefer a wired connection.
But overall I think the Mad Catz R.A.T. DWS is great new addition to the gaming mouse scene, bringing the long-running R.A.T. range screaming back into the present with a host of advanced technology and customisation options on board. If you're looking to upgrade your rodent right now, then I feel you have to check out the R.A.T. DWS.
More information about the R.A.T. DWS can be found on Mad Catz' official website (opens in new tab).
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