After Mad Catz filed for bankruptcy back in 2017 it looked like we'd seen the end of the hardware manufacturer and its uniquely futuristic designs. Then, early last year, the company returned from the dead and announced it had some new products in the works, and now, another year on, we've finally gotten our hands on one of them, the mid-priced R.A.T. Pro S3 gaming mouse. The question is, then, is the company's return a triumphant one?
Maybe "triumphant" is too strong a word, but we're pleased to say that the Pro S3 is at least a decent piece of kit, and after spending the last week or so with it under our right hand, we have to say that we've grown quite fond of the little desktop critter.
Let's start off with the basics. The Pro S3 is the mid-tier cousin of the more luxury Pro X3, and as befits the considerable price difference, this more modest device is a stripped down alternative with fewer bells and whistles. Bells and whistles is actually an apt idiom to mention when discussing the R.A.T. series because they have always been among the most adjustable of gaming mice. That's not really the case with the Pro S3, however, and the £60 price tag means that the flexibility of the top tier model (and, indeed, a number of classic models) is somewhat reduced.
In this instance, the Pro S3 is limited to an adjustable palm rest at the back that can elongate the unit (it can also be repositioned at a slight angle), and even if you've only got mid-sized hands, you're going to want to extend because the mouse is actually very compact. Considering the robustness of the build, it's also surprisingly light in the hand, but thanks to the pads on the underside of the mouse (Mad Catz calls it Pro Slide Technology) there was a really smooth glide across our gaming surface. That said, if you're used to having a heavier mouse and you're looking for something with a bit more heft, this probably isn't the one for you as beyond the extendable palm rest there's no way of bulking it out.
Another niggle that we experienced came because of the button placement. The stripped back and mechanical style of the R.A.T. means exposed parts (or, at least, the impression of exposed parts), and in the case of the mouse buttons on the Pro S3, it means a little recess underneath the buttons. Now, this won't impact everyone, but we regularly use a wired headset when working and playing, and we found the trailing cable would get caught underneath the buttons. It wasn't enough to stop the mouse buttons from depressing, but the extra resistance was noticeable and distracting. Otherwise, the Omron switches are as reliable as ever.
So it's light and compact, but the design and feature set has some implications. On the bright side, as is so often the case these days, there are some RGB customisation options. The mechanical style means the colours glow from inside the device, which is a pleasingly thematic choice, and you can pick your colour scheme via the free software available via the official site. You can also use the software to save up to four profiles (which you can cycle through using a tiny button found underneath the mouse), mapping the buttons as you see fit. You can even adjust the report rate and DPI settings to suit your personal tastes, although you can also adjust cursor sensitivity using a button mounted behind the mouse wheel if you prefer.
The wheel itself is robustly designed and doubles as a button, plus there are more inputs on the left-hand side of the mouse above the thumb rest (the fixed nature of which makes this mouse almost exclusively designed for right-handed players). The S3 boasts a respectable number of input options, certainly, but if you're a serious MMO player looking for a vast array of customisation options, you're not going to find them here.
Still, it's a fun little mouse and it felt responsive to use across a range of games. We'd argue that the quintessential R.A.T. style is so distinctive that you're either going to love it or hate it, but if you like the look, this stripped-down mid-tier option certainly impresses where it counts, with a smooth action that leads to accuracy and control (helped, no doubt, by the Pixart PMW 3330 optical sensor at the heart of its design). The customisation options might be limited in some regards, especially when you compare it to its more expensive sibling, but you can tweak things where it really matters.