Easily one of the most distinctive-looking mice we've reviewed, the Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 9 is aimed at dedicated PC gamers. This wireless device boasts the highest degree of customizability we've seen in a gaming mouse, along with the highest price tag, coming in at $149. The price will drive off all but the most committed gamers, but for those willing to pay, the R.A.T. 9 will provide an unparalleled level of input control.
Even in an office full of seasoned tech journalists, the R.A.T. 9 spurred more than one person to exclaim, "Whoa, what is that thing?" Despite its mechanical appearance, this "thing" includes many of the familiar trappings of high-end gaming mice. It comes with a customizable 5,600-dots-per-inch laser sensor, a weight kit, a button dedicated to on-the-fly dpi adjustments, and a pair of thumb-side buttons to give you a few extra in-hand control options.
Mad Catz actually has a whole family of Cyborg R.A.T. gaming mice. The wireless R.A.T. 9 is the most expensive, but if you prefer wired mice, the R.A.T. 7 is otherwise identical and costs $25 to $40 less.
The R.A.T. 9 connects to your computer via a USB-powered RF receiver, which also acts as a battery-charging station, as well as a home for the tubular weight kit caddy. While some gamers, particularly competitive first-person-shooter players, have reservations about the response time of wireless mice, you can at least rule out the possibility that you'll miss out on a gaming session because of a low battery. Mad Catz includes two rechargeable battery packs with the R.A.T. 9, so you can always keep one charging while the other one's at work. The charging station comes with a convenient LED that changes from red to green when the battery is fully powered, and the lights on the mouse itself blink when the battery is running low.
The R.A.T. 9's customization software gives you minute control over the laser sensor's dpi settings, and the dedicated dpi-switching button underneath the scroll wheel lets you move between three different preprogrammed sensitivities. The software also lets you establish profiles for the mouse so you can swap between control mappings and dpi levels as you change game modes or applications. Mad Catz also takes that convenience further by including a dedicated button on the mouse itself for swapping between three of those profiles. That's a feature we hadn't seen before, and we can easily imagine using it in a game with multiple play modes, for example Just Cause 2 or the upcoming Battlefield 3, in which your character can go from running around on foot to driving a vehicle.
Beyond the sensor settings and the software customization, Mad Catz has also given the R.A.T. 9 a wider range of hardware customization options than we've ever seen. It includes a weight kit, a relatively pedestrian feature in high-end gaming mice. And with the exception of the two primary mouse buttons, if there's a place on the R.A.T. 9 that comes in contact with your hand, you can adjust it.
A post running underneath the wrist rest holds up to seven round 6-gram weights. To release the weights you unscrew a metal knob from the top of the post, but the knob itself is actually an Allen wrench that you use to make various adjustments to the mouse's grip. You can store unused weights in a small canister that plugs into the receiver/battery charger, and unless you use all of the weights, a small spring-loaded cap slides down on top of the post to keep the active weights in place.