Build Your Own: The Customizable, Illuminated Dream Machine

Keyboard: Mad Catz S.T.R.I.K.E. 7

There are a number of great keyboards out there with robust illumination controls, but we wanted something really special for our dream build. We found it in Mad Catz's S.T.R.I.K.E. 7.

The S.T.R.I.K.E. 7 is a modular gaming keyboard with several removable sections. On the left side of the keyboard is a function strip of four programmable macro buttons. The lower-left portion of the keyboard hosts a palm rest with its own thumb wheel and action button, which essentially turns the keyboard into a functional gamepad. To the right of the palm rest, you can see a pair of adjustable wrist rests, one of which corresponds to the keyboard and the other attached to the number pad (of course, that detaches from the keyboard as well). Finally, there is the programmable V.E.N.O.M. control module (enough acronyms, Mad Catz) with its own LCD touchscreen.

That's a lot to take in, so let's begin with the modular nature of this product. The main keyboard, number pad, LCD touchscreen, function strip, palm rest, and both wrist rests can all be removed and rearranged into a number of different configurations. The only obvious limitation we can see is that the palm rest is left-hand-only, leaving the left-handed mouse user out of luck.

In addition to being modular, the wrist rests are adjustable to fit different users, and the palm rest has height adjustment. Further customization is possible with a set of alternate WASD and arrow keys; one set is outlined with red rubber, while the other simply has arrow-shaped notches embedded into the keys.

If its modularity isn't enough to differentiate this keyboard from others on the market, the V.E.N.O.M. touchscreen control module certainly is. With it, you can adjust backlighting, launch apps, control media playback, adjust audio levels, set timers, take notes, and several other functions.

Images of eight of the bundled V.E.N.O.M. application screensImages of eight of the bundled V.E.N.O.M. application screens

But the control module's real power is its ability to program macros for specific games, using up to 12 touchscreen icons. This means you have the power to customize both the functionality and look of the touchscreen controls. Our only criticism is the lack of background options. It would be awesome to change the generic blue image to a specific game-themed one. Mad Catz claims to be working on additional functionality for the V.E.N.O.M. control module, so we hope that adding background options makes its to-do list.

The V.E.N.O.M's TFT LCD screen is about 3.25" (measured diagonally). And although Mad Catz doesn’t publish the screen's specifications, we believe its resolution to be 480x320 based on the image in the control panel software.

Here's a custom World Of Warcraft macro profile with imported icon art.Here's a custom World Of Warcraft macro profile with imported icon art.

Build quality is also top notch, as we'd expect and demand from a $300 peripheral. The main pieces are anchored by a metal frame, and even the keyboard risers are made of this material. The product is covered in a rubbery, yet solid matte finish. The color and brightness of the laquered, laser-etched keys' backlighting is adjustable via a V.E.N.O.M. app.

Given its price tag, this keyboard is not for the everyone, but it’s most certainly the right fit for our dream build.

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    Top Comments
  • kingnoobe
    Shame on you.. How dare you copyright stuff (at least that's what the video says).

    The case does look awesome, but it would be nice to see the video lol.
  • Other Comments
  • kingnoobe
    Shame on you.. How dare you copyright stuff (at least that's what the video says).

    The case does look awesome, but it would be nice to see the video lol.
  • stoogie
    iunno looks pretty lame to me, its just a couple of leds, i have 15 fans in my haf 932 and theyre all green and it glows alot more than the pc you have made here, if u want to customize, get leds/cathodes/lighting kits, and light up not only your case but the environment, or get watercooling with neon liquid of a different colour or even UV colour, make a custom glass case etc, thats how a dream 'illuminated' mod should be. for example the guy who created a glass desk which had the pc in it and was fully illuminated, THAT is what this article should be about, not about how to install a fan.
  • de5_Roy
    nice build. :)
    imo custom illuminated water cooling woulda been nice too.
    the fan controller was kick-ass.
  • abbadon_34
    reminds me of the combo beer holder & ash tray i had in my last comp's 5" bay

    edit: funny, that was thermaltake too
  • shikamaru31789
    I'm not usually a fan of lighted setups, most of them are really gaudy looking, but I actually like your setup. Maybe I'll try to make a tasteful lighted setup like this for my next build.
  • shikamaru31789
    BTW, when can we expect the Sub-$200 CPU comparison. Cleeve said we could expect it by the end of the month and it's now officially February (EST). Hope you guys post it tomorrow.
  • Rockdpm
    I have the NZXT hue and its worth every dime i paid for it
  • bit_user
    Stay away from blue lighting. It messes up your circadian rhythms. Blue light is how your brain knows that dawn is nearing. Whenever there's a blue LED on a device I use late at night, I put tape over it.
  • slomo4sho
    shikamaru31789BTW, when can we expect the Sub-$200 CPU comparison. Cleeve said we could expect it by the end of the month and it's now officially February (EST). Hope you guys post it tomorrow.

    I am looking forward to this as well... considering its been over two weeks since the best of Jan 2013 list that mentions this was posted.
  • Rockdpm
    There is a CPU cooler you can adjust the colors on.. Its called the CM V6GT...
  • amk-aka-Phantom
    Just get the NZXT Phantom 820. All-customizable RGB lighting integrated, plus that case is incredible.
  • plasmastorm
    dream build....uses air cooling.... hang your head in shame whoever thought of that instead of a custom watercooling setup with water addetives for the colour
  • The_Trutherizer
    PC's seem to be more about peripherals these days than back in the day when all you wanted was a rig (case optional) that could play Unreal Tournament. It's not a bad thing though. This will always be where PCs rule. And it's great to see the quality options that are available.
  • TheMadFapper
    I'm so happy to see this article. I haven't quite finished getting the base components in my PC yet but LED lighting is definitely down the road, so this will be very helpful. Thanks guys!
  • arkadi
    cool for kids....just think what you could do to your build instead of this useless crap..
  • Soda-88
    This video contains content from EMI, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.

  • mikenygmail
    Yeah, EMI Music Publishing and other organizations claim copyright infringement and basically block anything with any type of music on youtube, even if it's a piano piece you play yourself. You have to fight for a while in order to have almost any music whatsoever remain on youtube.

    While this sounds utterly ridiculous, unfortunately it's reality.
  • mikenygmail
    I am of course referring to the video at the end of the article, here:
  • WretchedSoul44
    I wouldn't buy Mad Catz anything. I tried out the R.A.T mouse and it worked fine for a while, but then one time I came back from lunch(I used it at work) and the tiny metal piece used to tighten the mouse on the side of it discharged on my finger. Ever since then the mouse would work very poorly, would have trouble moving and I had to click multiple times just to open something. 80 bucks down the drain. That Keyboard looks like a man or woman with carpet's nightmare, too!
  • mousseng
    I can't believe I wasn't aware of the NZXT Hue before. I've been looking into getting some LED lighting for my case, and if I weren't broke I probably would've gone for single-color BitFenix Alchemies (which are horrifically over-priced) or Ozniums. But for the same price as 2 feet of 1-color Alchemies I can have 6 feet of full RGB with a controller? Color me interested.

    Anyway, great read. I always enjoy articles that are about building systems (especially fun ones like this).