Mad Catz Strike 7 – Divisive Design

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A keyboard that needs its own screwdriver, and possibly a PhD, to assemble

That fleshy, thudding noise you hear will be the sound of your jaw hitting the floor on seeing the price at the top of this review. Yes, this is a gaming keyboard that likely costs more than your current graphics card. But it's also a gaming keyboard with more features and functions than a truck load of Swiss army knives, so the STRIKE 7 really is trying to earn that price tag.

Mad Catz Strike 7

The startling visual design of the STRIKE 7 is immediately reminiscent of the awesome RAT gaming mouse. Such design is divisive though; where the shape of the RAT shouted ergonomic design and sat perfectly in the paw, the visual edge of the STRIKE 7 is all about image, not function.

The first thing you'll notice though is that chunky, almost military-styled touchscreen. There's none of the slick Apple design about it, with eight physical buttons arrayed around the edge.


Sadly, at the moment the VENOM touchscreen doesn't really offer a whole lot of exciting new functionality. There is a neat little integrated Teamspeak app, and ways to control different volume levels, lighting and Windows key disabling without going into any desktop programs. That means you can stay in the game and retain control over your machine. There are also timer and clock apps and simple macro creation, but it still feels like an underused feature right now.

When we spoke with the guys at Mad Catz, they were adamant that the VENOM touchscreen is not a closed system, and developers are in the process of creating new apps, but at the moment they can't divulge any details of what those might be. We're hope it’s talking to some hardware manufacturers -having monitoring apps on there, or something like MSI's Afterburner, would be great. What it has said though is that there are no plans to release the SDK to the public. Given it was the homebrew crowd that gave the Logitech G15 such a prominent place in PC gaming history, and it would be a shame if Mad Catz didn’t try to open things up.

At the moment then, it's tough to recommend the STRIKE 7 on the basis of that touchscreen, which isthe main thing that separates it from the standard keyboard competition. Once we've got an idea what functionality might be added to the VENOM app range that might change, but it's a tough sell right now.

There's also the added issue that for your $400 you're not getting the latest technology. The touchscreen is resistive, not capacitive and despite being a very good resistive screen that's a shame. I've also been spoilt by mechanical keyboards of late, and the dead action and squeaky space bar of the membrane switched keys leave me a little cold too.

But I love the fact that it's so configurable in terms of the modular layout of the board. Being able to ditch the Numpad for a small footprint is great, and while the design might be divisive, it's still got a certain flair that I can't help but find crassly pleasing. At the moment I couldn't recommend it over a mechanical gaming board, but should the apps list start filling up, that could quickly change.

Vital statistics

§  Price: $400

§  Manufacturer: Mad Catz

§  Web:

§  Programmable keys: 24

§  Backlight: 16m colour RGB

§  Keyboard tech: Membrane switch

§  Touchscreen tech: Resistive


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