Mad Catz Cyborg Rat Albino first hands-on

Mad Catz Cyborg Rat Albino first hands-on

Mad Catz' aggressively named "Rat" mouse line already looks like an exploding space ship of awesome in the form of a humble human interface device, but why not give it a hint more futuristic edge? Enter the Cyborg Rat Albino, Mad Catz' alabaster successor to the Rat 7, hitting the scene looking sleeker, cleaner, and somehow ever-so-slightly more futuristic than its matte black brethren. Although the Albino is still technically a Rat 7 itself, this murine clicker squeaked into the Engadget game room to show us it had a little more to flaunt than just a new paint job.

It's clear that Mad Catz followed an old rule of thumb: don't fix what isn't broke. The Albino shares the same great design, function, and features that made the regular USB tethered Rat 7 and wireless Rat 9 mice such great pieces of hardware. Save for a new matte white finish, the Albino delivers a nearly identical experience. Like its predecessors, this melanin-challenged rodent rocks a versatile, transforming body -- fitting to the length and width of your hand and mousing style with only a few quick turn of its integrated hex key. Multiple components of the Rat's body can be elongated, adjusted, or simply swapped out for (included) pieces of different shape, texture, or thickness to create a frag machine suited to your own personal specifications. Even the pest's weight can be adjusted by adding or removing up to five six-gram washers from the device's undercarriage.

We found the buttons right where we left them as well -- like the Rat 9, the Albino features four customizable buttons and a horizontal scroll wheel, offering a total of six programmable inputs (two of which are represented in the left / right motion of the horizontal scroller) on top of the standard port and starboard clickers. Custom mapping is always cool, but anyone who's used a cyborg Rat knows its true hotness is embedded in the mouse's 'precision aim' button. Affectionately called the "sniper button," this little red toggle instantly drops the rodent's sensitivity to a customizable, easy-snipe level that's so good, it almost feels like cheating.

Speaking of that magic button, we've just come across our word of the day: sensitivity. As we said, the Albino is pretty much a repainted Rat 7, but it does have a couple of tricks that set it apart from its older brother, namely DPI. The standard Rat 7 and Rat 9 both use a (more than adequate) 5,600 DPI sensor, whereas the Albino knocks it up 800 dot-sized-notches -- totaling out at a max of 6,400 DPI. Discerning users can customize four sensitivity presets from anywhere between 25 DPI and the full 6,400, swapping between the quartet with the Rat's DPI adjustment rocker. The rocker is a Rat standard, however -- the only quantifiable upgrade here is the modest kick in sensitivity. Still, if we had to choose between 5,600 or 6,400, we couldn't think of any reason to choose the former. The revised Rat 7 also has the distinction of being the first mouse in the Rat line to ship with Mac support out of the box, lending a color coordinated excuse for that snazzy Apple white Albino skin.

At the end of the day, the Rat Albino is very much the Rat 7, and even bears the moniker of "R.A.T.-7" printed on its body. Its new color, Mac compatibility, and increased DPI may miss for all but the most discerning buyers, but if you're in the market for a new wired gaming mouse, the Albino is still a compelling choice. While it's hardly worth the "upgrade" for existing Rat 7 or 9 owners, at $100 the improved sensitivity (and baked in Mac compatibility) won't cost you a penny more over the MSRP of the existing black model -- and since the Albino is being sold exclusively through the GameShark store (or so we're told), you'll probably be the only kid on the block wrangling the milky-white rodent. In the end, this Rat is a wicked machine with superb performance, unmatched customizability, and a slight leg-up over its inverted brother. We can't say it better than we did in our Rat 9 review: we couldn't find a thing wrong with this sleek, transforming mouse.