Gaming mouse pads help improve tracking and give you more control over mouse movement. Besides that, they can help you achieve pixel-precise shots when gaming, allowing you to crush your competition.
However, if you’re new to PC gaming, it can be difficult to choose the right gaming mouse pad if you don’t know what to look for.
In this guide, we’ll look at some of the factors you need to consider before buying a gaming mouse pad so that you can make the best decision.
What Is A Gaming Mouse Pad?
A gaming mouse pad is a special surface that is optimized to give your gaming mouse better tracking, control, and precision when playing games. The surface is usually made out of plastic, cloth, and sometimes metal, and the base is made of a non-slip material such as rubber.
What To Consider When Choosing A Gaming Mouse Pad
Consider the following 5 factors when choosing a gaming mouse pad:
- Surface Material
- Mouse pad extras
Surface Material: Hard vs Soft Mouse Pad
The surface material of mouse pads is defined as being either hard or soft. Whether to go for a soft or hard mouse pad is a matter of personal preference. But understanding the pros and cons of each can shed some light on which one you should get.
Soft Mouse Pads
soft mouse pads, also called known as cloth mouse pads, are made out of woven cloth fabric and have a spongy base. Due to their cloth nature, they provide some cushion under the mouse which most users find comfortable to rest their wrists on.
Another advantage is that soft mouse pads are foldable, which makes it easy to carry them around. Soft mouse pads also tend to be more precise because you get more friction as you glide your mouse, and therefore more control.
This is especially important when playing FPS games such as Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Apex Legends where you need more control over your crosshair and movement. In addition, you get less noise as the mouse slides on a cloth surface as compared to a hard surface.
Compared to hard mouse pads, soft mouse pads also increase the lifespan of your mouse feet. Their soft surface does not wear out the feet of your mouse as fast as a hard surface.
On the downside, soft mouse pads are harder to clean than hard mouse pads. And like most fabric material, they tend to collect small dust particles and other debris especially in the unused areas and hence need to be cleaned every once in a while.
Even though more friction means more control, it also means less speed when gliding your mouse. Therefore, a soft mouse pad is not for you if you want to be able to glide your mouse with speed and with as little effort as possible.
Hard Mouse Pads
Hard mouse pads are made out of smooth solid material such as plastic or aluminum. They are great for fast-paced gaming where speed rather than control is a priority. With hard mouse pads, very little force is needed to glide your mouse a large distance.
Cleaning them is very easy, all you need is to wipe the surface with a wet cloth and then give it a few seconds to dry. That’s it! Their water-resistant nature also makes them ideal for gamers whose hands tend to get sweaty after prolonged hours of gaming.
Furthermore, hard mouse pads work well with both optical and laser gaming mice. Using laser gaming mice on soft mouse pads can sometimes create problems for the sensor.
This is because laser sensors are very sensitive and tend to pick up too much information such as the reflection of tiny strands of fabric. However, on hard surfaces, they work just fine.
On the flip side, because they are very rigid, they cannot be folded and carried easily like soft mouse pads. You also get a bit of noise as your mouse glides over a hard mouse pad. Mouse pads made out of aluminum can also feel cold to the touch, which some gamers love but others hate.
Since there’s no cushioning material, a hard mouse pad can feel uncomfortable or cause fatigue after extended periods of gaming. Hard gaming mouse pads will also cause your mouse feet to wear out sooner than soft mouse pads.
Hard vs Soft Mouse Pads Comparison Table
|Hard Mouse Pads||Soft Mouse Pads|
|Are made smooth solid material such as plastic or aluminum||Are made out of woven cloth fabric and have a spongy base|
|High friction cases the them to wear out mouse feet quickly||They don’t wear out mouse feet quickly|
|Do not provide some cushion for your arm||Provide some cushion for your arm when gaming|
|Can easily be cleaned and very little time is needed for them to dry||Cleaning them takes a bit of time and you have to give them time to dry|
|Cannot be folded for easy carrying||They can easily be folded and this makes them more convenient to carry|
|Work well with both optical and laser mice||work well with optical mice but you can experience slight errors with laser mice|
|Are great for fast-paced gaming where speed rather than control is a priority||They are great where control rather than speed is a priority|
Size: Small, Medium, Large, Or Extended
Gaming mouse pads come in four different sizes; small, medium, large, and extended. Most gamers prefer large mouse pads because they provide enough space for mouse movement and work well with any playstyle.
You can make short or long mouse glides without worrying about touching the edges of your mouse pad. It also doesn’t matter whether you use the claw, fingertip, or palm mouse grip style, large mouse pads accommodate all grip styles.
Large mouse pads are also recommended if you play with a low gaming mouse DPI/sensitivity. A low DP gives you better control when moving or aiming at targets, especially in FPS gaming.
With that said, not every gamer needs a large mouse pad. A small or medium-sized mouse pad can work just as good if you are comfortable playing with a high gaming mouse DPI.
A high DPI means that the mouse cursor on your screen travels a large distance when you move your mouse a small distance. This eliminates the need for a large mouse pad.
Another advantage of a small gaming mouse pad is that it is small enough to fit on top of almost any gaming desk.
Also, If you plan on going to LAN parties or attending esports events, a small mouse pad is much easier to carry around compared to a large or extended one.
Thickness: Thin, Standard, Or Heavy
The thickness of a gaming mouse pad is determined by its base. You can choose a mousepad with a thin (2 – 2.5mm), standard (3 – 3.5mm), or heavy base (5mm). A thin mouse pad is usually more flexible and can fold to take the shape of the surface it is placed on.
For instance, if your desk has contours and deeps on its surface, a thin mouse pad will warp and fold to adjust to the surface of the desk, creating an uneven surface that is bad for gaming. But if your desk has a smooth uniform surface, a slim mouse pad will provide a solid feel.
Slim mouse pads are also very light which makes them very portable. However, this also means they can shift around easily on your desk if their base is not made of a non-slip material.
Standard mouse pads have a medium-sized base that is neither too thin nor too thick. They are preferred by most gamers because they are not too light to move around easily and are rigid enough to maintain a uniform surface.
Heavy base mouse pads are very thick. They are quite rigid which ensures you always get a uniform, flat surface even if your desk is uneven. Those made out of cloth provide a thick cushion that is very comfortable for resting your wrists on for long hours.
You also get a heavier mouse pad that grips harder onto surfaces, thus preventing any type of movement. But this weight and thickness can also be a disadvantage if portability is a priority for you.
Type Of Finishing At The Edges
Without any kind of stitching on the edges of cloth mouse pads, they will usually start to fray after extended use or several washes. This can reduce the lifespan of your mouse pad and also make your desk look untidy.
Therefore, if you choose to get a soft mouse pad, ensure it has stitched edges that will prevent fraying. The edges of hard mouse pads should also have a smooth to prevent shredding and scratches to your wrists.
Consider Extra Features
There are a few gaming mouse pads such as the Corsair MM1000 Qi and the Logitech G PowerPlay provide more than just an optimized surface for gaming. Some of the extra features offered by these mouse pads include:
Some mouse pads now come with wireless charging capability that allows you to charge not only your wireless gaming mouse but other wireless devices such as smartphones as well. This way you don’t have to worry about your gaming mouse’s battery life.
If you are a big fan of RGB lighting, then you can get a gaming mouse pad with this feature. It allows you to match RGB lighting colors and effects with your other gaming peripherals such as your mouse and keyboard.
Modern mouse pads also come with a built-in USB pass-through that allows you to plug in your wired gaming mouse closer to your mouse pad. The USB ports can also be used to connect other peripherals such as signal adaptors.
Other extras you might get with your gaming mouse pad include the ability to have customized game art on the surface, wrist rests, and water resistance.
Can You Wash Gaming Mouse Pads?
You can wash gaming mouse pads. Cloth mouse pads can be washed using water, dish/hand soap, and then lightly rubbing the surface with a soft brush or sponge. This is then followed by rinsing and air drying. Avoid using bleach as it can discolor the surface material.
Hard mouse pads are very easy to clean. All you need is a wet cloth with some soap and rub it against the surface of your mouse pad until the surface is clean.
Next, rinse the wet cloth and squeeze it to remove excess water then wipe your mouse pad one last time and give it a few minutes to dry.
Should I Get An Extended Gaming Mouse Pad?
Extended mouse pads are oversize mouse pads that provide enough space to place not only your gaming mouse but your keyboard as well. They are not mandatory for gaming and getting one is a matter of personal preference.
One reason to get one is if you need more space than the one provided by large mouse pads. Another reason is if you want your mouse and keyboard to be on the same level.
Extended cloth mouse pads can also help dampen the noise produced due to vibration when typing, creating a smoother typing experience. They also provide a more comfortable surface to rest your wrists when using both your mouse and keyboard.
How Much Do Gaming Mouse Pads Cost?
Gaming mouse pads cost between $10 and $80. The cost is dependent on the size, material, brand, and the extra features that the mouse pad comes with.
Below are some of the most popular gaming mouse pad brands:
- Hyper X
- Reflex Lab
Conclusion- What To Consider When Buying A Gaming Mouse Pad
You should pick a gaming mouse pad based on your specific needs. The ideal mouse pad is one that gives you enough room to move your mouse without running out of space.
If you decide to go for a large or extended mouse pad, ensure your gaming desk has enough room for it to rest on. Comfort, as well as the kind of finishing at the edges, should also be taken into consideration.
The good thing is that there are lots of gaming mouse pads from different brands for you to choose from. By keeping in mind all the factors mentioned in this article, you should be able to pick a mouse pad that best suits your needs.