By now you have probably heard about the rise and Fall of Mad Catz. The brand was well known throughout the 90s and early 2000s, but in 2017 they shut their doors…for a short time. In 2018 they returned and since then they have been relaunching many of their peripherals. Finally, with the Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E 4 you’re one step closer to having a complete set of peripherals for your PC. But, before you run out and spend $150 to get it there are a few things you should know.
- Cherry MX Red Switches
- Up to 50-million keystrokes per key
- Double shot injection molded keycaps
- Mad Catz Flux Software
- Braided Cable
- Limited On-Board Memory for personal settings
- Chameleon RGB lighting with 16.8 million colors
- All-key roll-over anti-ghosting
- Dimensions: 50.4 x 21 x 4.9 cm
- Weight: 1.36Kg
Getting it set up is a breeze. The keyboard is plug and play, so if you’re in a rush to get started you can do so in a matter of seconds. It is only when you start wanting macros or color customization that you need to make use of the Mad Catz Flux Software.
Constant State of Flux
The Mad Catz Flux software for the S.T.R.I.K.E 4 leaves a lot to be desired as it is as basic as it can be. You’re only allowed 3 profiles, which is far too few for most gamers who like to have a different profile for each game they play. However, just about every key on the keyboard can hold a macro. But, with the limited number of profiles I have to say that if you’re someone who plays more than 3 games (don’t we all?) and likes macros then right off the bat this isn’t the keyboard for you.
What is perhaps the S.T.R.I.K.E 4’s most appealing feature is the gorgeous way it lights up. It has 18 lighting effects to choose from and Chameleon RBG lighting with 16.8 million colors meaning you have a ton of options. You’ll end up spending days finding the right customization to fit your tastes. Or maybe you’ll get lucky like I did and land on the one you like pretty much right away.
The board itself is quite solid with a brushed-aluminum base and solid chunky keycaps. While the blocky font they used on the keycaps lets quite a bit of light come through it’s a bit of an eyesore generally. It has two rear feet to allow for a better typing position but the feet are shorter than you might expect. This may be because the keys themselves have quite a high profile, so much so that you may find it uncomfortable to use the feet at all, I did. The keys resting high above the board does have the added benefit of making the keyboard easy to clean. Which as the proud owner of a feline keyboard napper has been something of a godsend. Each keycap has deep bevelling which can be uncomfortable for those who drag their fingers over the keys when typing or playing games. It comes with quite a long braided cable that has a built in guide, to help reduce strain on the cable. It has a gold plated USB connector which does give it a sense of being a high quality product.
Trying to Attract a Certain Audience
Just by looking at the design you can tell that they’re going after a certain kind of audience with this keyboard. They’re going for the cool gamers who want the full matching set with their race car style gamer chair who like things that go fast and look edgy. As someone who isn’t part of that demographic though it comes across as a bit try hard.
Cherry MX Reds
For gamers who love mechanical keyboards Cherry MX Reds are practically the default, and for good reason. The keys require very little pressure and have an amazing response time. However, the sound of typing can be heard clearly from any spot in my apartment, including the hallway in front of it. There is no sneaking around with this keyboard. When you bottom out a key, which will happen often, especially the space bar, everyone will know it. The S.T.R.I.K.E 4 is loud. After a few days, you’ll grow accustomed to the sound and you’ll learn not to bottom out the keys, with the exception of the space bar. For gaming, there is no denying that Cherry MX Red is fantastic, but if you’re primarily using your keyboard for typing, or maybe you’ve decided to write a novel, then you might find it is a bit less comfortable to use.
No Rest for the Wicked (or the Wrists)
The angular bottom of this keyboard makes it so that you’ll never be able to fit a wrist wrest up against it. While the design does give it an edgy look that some might find attractive it means that anyone who uses a wrist wrest is out of luck. Maybe in the future, Mad Catz could come out with their own wrist wrest for the S.T.R.I.K.E 4 but that seems pretty unlikely. They went for form over function this time around, you can decide for yourself if that is something that matters to you.
All in all, the Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E 4 is a solidly average midrange mechanical keyboard at what is approaching a premium price tag. The keyboard has little hints here and there of being a high-quality piece of machinery, even up against competition like the more reasonably priced Hyper X Alloy Origins we reviewed recently. It also turns around and falls flat in some of the areas that matter most, like the software. With a few modifications, it could be well on it’s way to being a top of the line keyboard worthy of being a flagship design.