Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E.7 - A Modular Keyboard For The Gaming Crowd (Part 2)

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Touchscreen and Software

We mentioned the “V.E.N.O.M” panel earlier – the keyboard’s brain, touchscreen and USB hub. Almost every piece of the S.T.R.I.K.E.7 snakes its way to this touchable control center, making it an essential piece of greater setup. The unit looks like a mid-90s sci-fi device, with levers protruding outside the body and PC’s audio control buttons, switch between programmable profiles and home screen. Twelve toggles dance around V.E.N.O.M.’s small screen – two for additional volume and media control, 3 time-counting apps (a clock, a stopwatch and a page with three countdown timers), a toggle to disable the keyboard’s Windows key, a backlight control page, a journal, a TeamSpeak menu, an app launcher and a macro screen.

It quickly becomes apparent that only a handful of these channels will get much use. Touchscreen lag, for instance, makes believing in stopwatch and timer tools a tall order, and memo app only saves user’s note locally to the device, offering no way to export data to the PC if one want to save their mid-game musings. However, media and volume controls on the screen fare better, allowing users to see and adjust levels for microphones, web browsers and general volume options directly on the keyboard itself.

The screen works well when properly calibrated, but V.E.N.O.M. is still a resistive, single-touch experience and doesn’t responsive as we expected. The hub also adds some stylish flair, allowing users to customize the keyboard’s backlighting with 16 million colorful hues. V.E.N.O.M.’s macro menu stands out with its best quality thanks to its emphasis - like that of its host software - on customization. Combine with S.T.R.I.K.E.7’s companion software, V.E.N.O.N..M.’s macro app offers 36 touchscreen toggles across three customizable profiles. Each macro can play back delayed and timed key presses, limited mouse actions and can be personalized with a custom icon. The utility is only limited by the time and effort a user wants to put into it.

S.T.R.I.K.E.7’s touchscreen

S.T.R.I.K.E.7’s touchscreen

Unfortunately, compressing complex commands into a one-touch macro is not easy. Mad Catz tries to mitigate effort with standard profile editor, but the S.T.R.I.K.E.7’s myriad of sub-menus, icon editor and programmable modes overwhelms the obsolete software. It’s a shame when paired with Mad Catz’s Rat mousing peripherals, the profile shines. Despite sharing similar design language, S.T.R.I.K.E.7’s editor only offers more options than the program can handle, complicating what was once simple and intuitive software.

However, worse, the program’s potential is still unrealized. Profile editor can only reprogram macro keys that Mad Catz added into standard keyboard layout - 36 touchscreen macros, 4 function bar buttons and 5 toggles that surround the arrow keys.

It is good but all these arrow-adjacent buttons tease at a possibility that is blocked by a lack of software support: one-handed WASD gamepad. By increasing S.T.R.I.K.E.7’s detachable numbad with the V.E.N.O.M., control unit, four-toggled function strip and active palm rest, users can build a standalone left-hand control unit that could have acted as a substitute for the standard WASD gaming setup - the only problem is that the arrow keys cannot be reprogrammed to represent their alphabetic counterparts.

On the other hand, C1-C5 buttons surrounding can easily be changed to represent WASD’s adjacent keys as well as buttons on the slide par and the active palm rest. This software’s configuration is so obvious that the absence of software support is also shocking. Tenacious gamers could of course go through the trouble of manually reprogramming in-game control to use the arrow keys, but the exclusion of a simple software solution on Mad Catz’s part baffles us.

The competition

Gamers looking for a new keyboard won’t find themselves wanting for options, but products boasting the S.T.R.I.K.E.7’s unique feature set can be harder to come by. However, there’re still other options. Razer’s DeathStalker keyboard at $250 is an attractive option for V.E.N.O.M. control units, offering a gesture-friendly keyboard, strong interface and 10 macro buttons, each has its own LED screen. It also offers a more evolved software solution, allowing gamers to reassign any key onboard to whatever function they choose. On the other hand, players who are picky might be turned off the DeathStalker’s chiclet keyboard.

DeathStalker’s chiclet keyboard

DeathStalker’s chiclet keyboard

Mad Catz also offers S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 at $200, quite similar to S.T.I.K.E.7, except for lacking touchscreen. The “E.Y.E command module” that replaces it offers a built-in timer, media buttons, 3 game modes and 9 physical macro keys – and it could be just the right compromise for gamers who don’t need touch support on every single device at home.


Hardcore gamers know the hard facts that: picking out a premium piece of kit can cost a pretty penny, and S.T.R.I.K.E.7 is not an exception. If you are convinced by a strong metal frame and a unique touchscreen, your wallet will be $300 lighter. It is quite expensive – even with a senior gaming keyboard - and it’s hard to say whether it is worth or not. It’s clearly that S.T.R.I.K.E.7 has excellent build quality, fancy modular part-switching and membrane keys that are among the best non-mechanical actuators we’ve touched, but the touch screen hub the unit positions as its selling point isn’t worth $100 premium it commands. Despite a small handful of apps, a program launcher, and configurable macro settings, we found V.E..N.O.M.’s touch-based experience was just a little inconvenient, and slow in our gaming routine. Unless you have a particular infatuation with those touchscreen macro toggles, try S.T.R.I.K.E.5 – it has all best features of 7 and costs a third less.


·         Price: $300


·         Excellent build quality

·         Module designed, components are swappable

·         Touch capability is good with a membrane keyboard


·         Bad accompanying software

·         Unimpressive touchscreen

·         Restrictions of reprogramming hinder the potential.

Touch capability is good with a membrane keyboard

Touch capability is good with a membrane keyboard

Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E.7 technical specs

·         Size: 9.33x7.52x15.08 inches

·         Weight: 7.28 lbs

·         Compatibility: Windows XP/Vista/7/8

·         Ports: 2x USB 2.0 ports

·         Main keyboard module

·         Control Module TFT-LCD with 2 High-Speed USB ports

·         Macro key (function strip) module

·         Number pad module

·         3 Palm/Wrist rests

·         Additional key caps with removal tool

·         Adjustment Tool

·         3 Keyboard link cables

·         AC adapter

·         6 connector screws

·         Internet connection required for driver download



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