The Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 gaming keyboard provides a modest feature set, well-placed macro keys, customizable backlighting, and striking colors — but it comes at a relatively steep price.
At around $99, the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 is the “entry-level” version of the S.T.R.I.K.E. keyboard series, aimed at LAN party gamers and/or those with pockets not deep enough for the S.T.R.I.K.E. 5 orS.T.R.I.K.E. 7. Granted, $99 isn’t really an entry-level price, but the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 is still the least expensive model in the lineup.
The S.T.R.I.K.E. 3, like many recent Mad Catz peripherals, is available in glossy black, red, and white.
The S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 is a standard rubber-dome, membrane-based keyboard, i.e. it’s not mechanical switch based. Regardless, it provides decent if relatively unexceptional responsiveness. In addition, the STRIKE 3 provides all the ‘core’ features common to most gaming keyboards, the highlights of which are:
- 12 programmable macro keys (M1-M7 near the W-A-S-D cluster, and C1-C5 around the arrow keys)
- Customizable LED backlighting to create any color
- A Windows key lock switch to disable the Windows key
- Media control shortcuts on the function keys
- Memory to store 3 separate profiles, each of which can have a different LED color and set of macros assigned to it.
The core S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 macro keys (M1-M7) are wisely placed within easy reach of the W-A-S-D key cluster, although they could have benefitted from a little more space in between each button. Although there’s a slight ridge on the right side of each key that acts as a sort of tactile separator, it’s still a little too easy to hit the wrong button.
The C1-C5 macro keys that sit above the arrow keys aren’t particularly useful for most games, but they can be used for less frequent tasks, tasks you don’t need to access quickly, or in keyboard-only games (which are relatively few) that may make use of the arrow keys.
The S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 software is intuitive and easy to use, and the keyboard comes with a variety of standard, preset Windows functions already programmed. Programming a new function into a key is as easy as dragging and dropping an icon onto the graphical representation of the key. You can also assign your own macros their own special icon, although it’s only displayed within the software.
The bigger problem with having more than 5 (or so) macro keys—and this applies to any keyboard fitting that description—is actually remembering what each one does.
Overall: 4/5 stars
The S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 packs all the essentials into an attractive, stylish package with adequate responsiveness and good driver software.The biggest potential ‘problem’ in recommending the S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 it is its $99 price, which puts it squarely within range of many mechanical gaming keyboards that may not boast the fancy LED customization or as many (or any) macro keys, but provide superior feel and responsiveness.
- Plenty of macro keys, most of them well-placed within easy reach
- Intuitive driver software
- Macro keys M1-M7 are a little too close together
NOTE: If you pick up this keyboard and find the responsiveness to be ‘off’, the underlying membrane may be out of alignment. This was the case with the initial review unit, and resulted in some keys being hyper-sensitive (the 1 key, for example) and others almost completely non-responsive (the W key for example).
If you experience this, return the keyboard and exchange it for another S.T.R.I.K.E. 3. Mad Catz kindly sent a replacement review unit that didn’t exhibit this behavior, so it was likely the result of a manufacturing anomaly.