Mad Catz Strike 4 Keyboard Review

Can the latest Mad Catz flagship keyboard propel the company above the competition and back into the big time?

Verdict

The Mad Catz Strike 4 boasts fantastic construction, quick keyswitches and intutive software, all for a great price.

Pros

  • Cherry MX Red RGBs are perfect for gaming
  • Doubleshot keycaps are a lovely addition
  • Aluminium top-plate feels sturdy and well made

Cons

  • No dedicated macro or media keys
  • RGB backlighting limited by software

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £129.99
  • Cherry MX Red RGB Switches
  • Multimedia shortcut keys
  • 16.8 million colours
  • Anti-ghosting
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What is the Mad Catz Strike 4?

The Mad Catz Strike 4 – stylised as ‘S.T.R.I.K.E. 4’ – is Mad Catz’s latest flagship model of the famed Strike series of mechanical keyboards. Its the bigger brother of the much cheaper Strike 2, and comes complete with Cherry MX Red RGB keyswitches.

Priced at around £130, the Strike 4 sits in a mid-range price bracket for mainstream mechanical keyboards, along with the likes of the Razer Blackwidow 2019.

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Design and build – The Mad Catz Strike 4 looks both premium and flashy

The Strike 4 is presented in a fantastic manner, opting for a ‘skeleton’ open-housed design. The 16.8 million RGB colour radiating from the backlight look all the more visible thanks to the skeleton design, which looks great when synced with all those RGB fans and RAM inside your gaming PC.

Lock lights are in the typical top-right location you’ll find on most keyboards, but Mad Catz has been smart with its design. As opposed to having the quite frankly useless ‘Scroll Lock’ light in its typical place, it has been replaced with a ‘W’ lock light, designed to signify the Windows keys being locked or unlocked, which should make life a lot easier for gamers.

The Strike 4 comes with a metal top-plate, as opposed to the plastics and metal-feel plastics some manufacturers offer – like that on the Alienware AW768, for example. Having a proper metal plate makes the keyboard a lot sturdier, minimizes body flex and feels premium.

Another major win are the doubleshot keycaps and plastics. Seeing two-shot moulded keycaps on a gaming keyboard such as the Strike 4 is pretty rare, harking back to the days when keyboards were much better built and lasted a lot longer. In a way, the Strike 4 could be seen as a throwback.

The advantage of having two-shot moulded keycaps means there is no printing or laser-etching needed in the manufacturing process, meaning letters will never fade or wear off. Unlike printing, doubleshot keycaps are made when two layers of plastic are moulded into one another, which makes for a more premium feel, especially considering the legends can’t be felt under finger.

Unfortunately, there are no additional macro keys, which are arguably must-haves in the modern market, especially with the scope of the competition. And while there are multimedia keys present, you have to hold down the Fn key to activate them, which is a pain when rival keyboards boast dedicated keys for pausing and fast-forwarding through media.

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Mad Catz Strike 4

The left hand side of the Strike 4 includes an open housing and aluminium top plate

Performance –  The Mad Catz Strike 4 keys are absolutely perfect for gaming

The Strike 4 boasts Cherry’s MX Red RGB keyswitches with clear plastic housings, allowing the RGB backlighting to shine through.

MX Reds are linear switches, meaning they have no tactile feedback, unlike the MX Brown’s ‘bump’ or the MX Blue’s loud ‘click’ that are reminiscent of older keyboards with either buckling spring or ALPS switches. There’s the standard 2mm actuation point and full 4mm travel, meaning there’s nothing fancy here, not that you’d need it.

The actuation force of these MX Reds is 45cN, meaning they’re light and easy to push down which is ideal for gaming. Indeed, in a few runs on CS:GO, and even trying out Assetto Corsa, the Reds worked like a dream, especially with the typo-detecting N-Key Rollover and anti-ghosting, allowing me to take out terrorists and run Ferrari F40s up the Goodwood Hill Climb with greater ease.

The MX Reds switches are ideal for gaming, although competitive gamers may prefer MX Speed Silvers switches. With a higher actuation point of 1.2mm, requiring even less effort to push keys down, Silvers tend to give people a competitive advantage. That being said, the Reds do the job perfectly on the Strike 4.

For general day-to-day typing, some people may find the Red switches a little too light, but that’s personal preference really.

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Mad Catz Strike 4

The Strike 4 comes with some lovely Cherry MX Red RGB keyswitches and doubleshot keycaps

Software and backlighting – The Mad Catz Strike 4 backlight offers a stunning 16.8 million colours

Mad Catz’s dedicated software for the Strike 4 is easy enough to set up. The ZIP file install is small, unlike that of Razer’s 300MB Synapse software. The software should be easy enough to use, allowing you to program every single key to a set list of system functions, or giving you the ability to set up your own macro keys. Granted, there aren’t any dedicated macros here, but one plus point is that you can create them pretty easily.

However, some users may find the software too simple, and one drawback I’ve found is you can’t program the lighting for individual keys. For backlighting, it’s a handy list of preset functions. What’s more, the backlighting feels cheap in this open-housed design, whereas in typically ‘closed’ keyboards it can look cleaner and slicker.

That said, the lights shine through the keycaps nicely and the scope of colour provided is excellent. Other manufacturers could learn a lesson in backlighting by going with clear plastic housing switches, as opposed to those with small LED mounted atop a black plastic-housed switch.

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Mad Catz Strike 4

A wider shot of the Strike 4 showing off its excellent design and brilliant RGB backlighting

Should I buy the Mad Catz Strike 4?

If you’re looking for a sturdy and well-made keyboard from a name you recognise, complete with some of the best keyswitches on the market, look no further than the Mad Catz Strike 4.

Verdict

The Mad Catz Strike 4 boasts fantastic construction, quick keyswitches and intutive software, all for a great price.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

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