The Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 is the latest desktop addition to join the war for your hard earned cash. Drawn together by the smiths at Mad Catz, forged with the finest aluminum and double shot injection plastics, this brand-new weapon might very well be a perfect addition for the keyboard warrior. Join us as we swing it wildly at our enemies, then stop fooling around and get to typing instead.
The fall and resurrection of Mad Catz is probably well known to any of you already reading this article and the brand has been busy relaunching its line of peripherals with entries like the Mad Catz RA.T. 8+. Now the Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 brings the same striking visuals and quality components to a range of keyboards, perfectly placed to complete a fully fledged Mad Catz desktop.
The Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 is already available at major retailers like Amazon and comes in at around $130-150. It sits firmly a the top of a series that includes the S.T.R.I.K.E. 2, another board which brings a membrane setup to the entry level. This price point also puts it up against some quality competition, such as the Corsair K95. Thankfully, Mad Catz do come up with a decent contender for the rest of the industry’s established options.
- Features MX Cherry Red Switches
- Up to 50-million keystrokes per key
- Double shot injection molded keycaps
- Mad Catz Flux Software
- Braided Cable
- 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 the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 out the box is a seamless experience with minimal packaging to get in the way and a straightforward setup. The keyboard comes with a braided 1.5 meter USB cable firmly embedded into the chassis and a nice gold plated USB connector at the end. As you might expect, initial setup is plug and play with most of the fancy additions hiding behind the Mad Catz proprietary Flux software.
The angular edges of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 and its full-size array of keys come in two polarized shades, black and white. While the two choices might seem somewhat generic there’s something special sitting under the hood of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4. Beneath the double shot molded keycaps, each of the 105 keys laid into the base of this peripheral houses its own Cherry MX Red switch and every one of these independently actuated components is illuminated by a customizable RGB setup.
Lighting up a storm, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 is hard to miss when it is dressed to impress. 18 different lighting patterns are available to choose from and each of the keys can also be separately coded to one of the 16.8 million colors. A number of lighting schemes can be switched on from an ambient hue to a rainbow ripple that pulses faster as you pound the keys. It’s hard to pin down exactly how many combinations this opens up but that’s mainly because I just don’t have that many fingers.
Sitting above the flashy effect is an array of keys that feel just as good as you might expect. Cherry MX Reds are something or a defacto standard for gamers and there is a definite reason why. These keys come with excellent response time and a linear movement that makes them fantastic for double tapping or mashing your enemies to bits. It also means that the anti-ghosting features are a welcome necessity for any keyboard like the S.T.R.I.K.E 4.
The array of keys that make up the teeth of this monster are supported by a solid base that allows these keys to bottom out with a resounding clang. Compared to my CM Storm Quickfire TK, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 is particularly loud when bottoming out, slightly undermining the key’s less aggressive profile. Still, it does remind players that insist on hacking away that the key is down.
The overall dimensions of the S.T.R.I.K.E 4 make this addition to your desk nearer to a full-size keyboard than some of its more compact competitors. All 105 keys all have adequate room and a good amount of travel. The addition of a full keypad, cursor keys out the side, and function buttons is a welcome one. Some extra additions hide among the periphery of this layout too. Screen functions, navigation buttons, and even illumination controls are embedded into the keyboard's bag of tricks. This isn’t to say that you have to settle for these pre-configured options, however.
The Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E 4 software allows gamers to configure a ridiculous number of the keyboard's components including key macros. If you’d rather one-touch control for windows media player or to make fishing even less intensive then macro records are as simple as pulling up the software, clicking on a key and recording the relevant actions. Impressively, every key can hold a macro, the USB polling rate can be modified and animated lighting can be redirected. All of these options are saved using onboard memory meaning that the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 can take its settings on the road.
After lugging the latest Mad Catz keyboard around with me for a day, however, I wouldn’t suggest that is what this device was built for. With elevated keycaps that easily pop off and a spacious enough setting, this is not one to LAN gaming.
A Rainbow of Software
You hardly need to drag the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 outside to hit its limits, however. These are evident very quickly. While the Mad Catz FLUX software allows players to configure an array of options, it appears that anybody expecting a fully integrated suite of options, in the vein of Razer's Chroma or Corsair’s iCUE will be sorely disappointed. Despite repeated checks, I had to load and configure two entirely separate apps with two obviously different UI designs in order to align my desktop RGB scheme. This almost feels like Mad Catz is actively trying to undermine the design of a very solid keyboard which I started to really take to after a couple of days use.
Another niggle that seems to undermine some of the positive aspects of this board is the noise of the keys. As I’ve discussed, the elevated caps are fantastic for cleaning and capturing the illuminated decoration of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 but the noise clang when a key bottoms out, meaning this might as well be packing blue switches if it wasn’t for the linear key motion of the Cherry MX Red components.
Finally, you just will not get a wrist rest on this device. The design of the S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 is as unique as the rest of the Mad Catz line up but that cool angular edge means it will never really fit additional support.
Putting these issues aside, the Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 4 is an impressive piece of kit. It is well constructed and has some fantastic aesthetic features. The number of available options is bewildering and I adore the animated illumination. I would question the investment if you have other Corsair, Logitech, or Razer peripherals in place. If Mad Catz can condense the software options this would be a shoe-in for anybody. For now, it is a solid option that really does set your desk apart. You can check out everything Mad Catz, including the full S.T.R.I.K.E. range at the official Mad Catz Website.
- Solid construction
- Great responsive Keys
- Every color imaginable
- Good layout
- Inconsistent software
- Loud bottom