The RAT 1 has seven possible inputs: left, right, and center click, up and down on the scroll wheel, plus up and down on the rocker switch. All of those save for the left mouse button (mouse 1) are fully configurable using the Flux software. At least, I think it's called Flux. MadCatz uses that nomenclature on all of the websites and product materials for the RAT mice, but the word "Flux" is nowhere to be found in the software itself.
"Fully configurable" isn't just marketing-speak. Any of the RAT 1's inputs can be programmed with a wealth of functions, ranging from keyboard keys and mouse inputs to commands like "Win 10 - Share Charm" and "Cortana (Voice)". These functions have to be assigned by dragging their icons over to the diagram of the mouse's buttons, which is serviceable but a little awkward. I would have liked to have seen an option to set favorite commands, or at least sort the available commands.
From one click, many
Users can also create "custom commands" in Flux—another way of saying "macros." The obfuscation is understandable, because the term "macro" has become somewhat dirtied in recent years as competitive gaming makes every attempt to ban the use of these kinds of assistive technologies. Even though MadCatz shies away from the term, the macro functionality of Flux is among the best I've seen, and I've seen most of 'em.
Macros in Flux can have separate commands defined to trigger on keypress, to repeat while the key is held, and to play when the key is released. The software lets you record macros with or without delays, and delays can be hand-configured as well. Macros can include any combination of keyboard keys plus mouse button and wheel inputs. Flux has the ability to define on-press or repeating actions as "open" or "closed," which determines whether the macro will terminate immediately or run to completion when the key is released.
Flux also supports creating macro profiles. The interface for creating a macro profile is quite simple: just click the menu button in the top left, and then the giant black "Create New" button. Actually selecting and activating a macro profile is rather unintuitive, though. As far as I can tell, there is no way to do it from the Flux software UI. Instead, you have to right-click the icon in Windows' notification area and select the profile from the pop-up menu there.
The macro function isn't perfect: it lacks the ability to incorporate mouse movements or joystick inputs. It also lacks the ability to define a toggle macro, or one that plays a set number of times on keypress. MadCatz says the final version of the software will include the ability to load a game's associated profile on launch, but I couldn't test that feature in the version of Flux I used. Korean anti-cheat software AhnLab HackShield (think PunkBuster) detects the macros as a cheat, too, so games that use it will disconnect you if you trigger a Flux macro. That isn't Flux's fault, though, nor is it exclusive to MadCatz's software.
Controlling the basics
Along with button assignments, Flux can also configure the mouse's basic settings. The RAT 1 doesn't have a lot to configure, but you can disable the super-bright red LED on top, adjust the DPI from 600 to 1600 DPI, and the polling rate from 125 Hz to 1000 Hz. The mouse defaults to 1600 DPI and 1000 Hz out of the box, so there wasn't much adjustment necessary. I did ascertain (using the excellent MouseTester Reloaded) that the DPI and polling rate adjustments work as advertised.
1600 DPI isn't an especially high resolution these days, but most TR readers are probably shrugging already. Mouse resolution is one of the biggest targets for spec inflation in PC gaming. A 12,000 DPI mouse sounds real fancy, but most people are better served with lower resolution settings. 1600 DPI is coincidentally not too far from the 2000 DPI I normally use, and I think it's a fine resolution for almost any kind of game. It's easy to balk at this relatively low number, but even Kim Rom, CMO of Steelseries, admits that "a higher DPI in a mouse doesn't offer a lot of value." Someone who really wants to game at 6000 DPI can probably stand shelling out for a more expensive rodent.
While the sensor's resolution isn't a major point of concern, I was disappointed to find that the RAT 1 can't change its DPI on the fly like some of its more expensive competitors, including my Corsair M95. I don't hold that limitation against the RAT 1, though. Dropping down from the $100-ish price bracket into the sub-$50 range means you're going to sacrifice some features, and one of those happens to be on-the-fly DPI adjustment. While using the RAT 1, I did miss the "sniper" functionality of my M95, but mostly for doing image editing work on the desktop. Once again, I'd expect nothing less for the territory.
So with all of that out of the way, how does the mouse actually work? Read on, my friends.