R.A.T. M Software
The R.A.T. doesn’t include a driver disk, so you’ll need to head to the Mad Catz website. This might be the only time you’ll see me write this, but I almost wish Mad Catz would have included the software in the box. Like many enthusiasts, I’m in the habit of downloading the latest and greatest drivers for my devices, but due to the many different brands and changes under the Mad Catz line the current website can be very frustrating to find what you are looking for. The R.A.T. M is listed as a Cyborg AND a GameSmart peripheral, but only the Cyborg website lists detailed features and contains the download link for the software. If you spend some time in the manual, you’ll see the link there as well.
With both the driver and settings software packages downloaded and installed, the R.A.T. is ready to program. As with most gaming peripherals, the R.A.T. M can be used as a mouse without the driver, but you will not be able to change or adjust any of the features. In this case, you will want the driver and settings software installed – the productivity features of the 5D button will not work without it.
The Mad Catz settings software uses a unique drag-and-drop interface to assign functions to each button, making it simple to assign functions to the ten programmable buttons (left and right click cannot be reassigned). A number of common shortcuts are contained in a list of icons to the right, but curiously absent are any gaming-related functions (DPI / profile switch, precision aim, on-the-fly sensitivity, etc.). It is apparent this interface was designed more for office and productivity functions rather than a gaming focus.
The included macro editor is decently powerful, even allowing you to edit out single commands if you make a mistake. Mouse buttons and scroll wheel movements are all usable as well, so this allows you to get pretty creative with commands if you’d like to.
This control panel must be duplicated across the newer R.A.T. models, because the Precision Aim section doesn’t seem to have a counterpart in the R.A.T. M (this ability is not listed in the drag and drop commands). It was confusing to see this option without any apparent way to activate it. In any case, DPI settings, battery life, and the DPI LED sleep timer are all set in this section.
The final section contains links to tutorials, manuals and the Mad Catz resources such as support and official game profiles. Overall, the Mad Catz settings software was simple to use and the drag ‘n drop interface contributed greatly to the ease of use. It isn’t as polished yet as some other manufacturer’s software, but that is easily changed with software updates. That last part worries me slightly – I’ve owned Saitek and Cyborg gaming peripherals in the past, and each time it seems I have to find drivers in a different place. This does not make me supremely confident going forward, but it appears efforts to reduce their product line segmentation are underway. Hopefully the release of the R.A.T. M and M.O.U.S. 9 products are the first step in that direction.