Gaming Mouse Pad Buying Guide: How To Choose The Right One

A gaming mouse pad is a special surface that is optimized to give your gaming mouse better tracking, control, and precision when playing games. If you choose the right one, it can help you achieve pixel-precise movement and shots, thus allowing you to crush your competition.

However, if you’re new to gaming, it can be difficult to choose the right gaming mouse pad if you don’t know what to look for.

Consider the following factors when choosing a gaming mouse pad: 

  1. Surface Material
  2. Size
  3. Thickness
  4. Edges
  5. Mouse pad extra features

1. Surface Material: Hard Vs Soft Mouse Pad

The surface material of gaming mouse pads is defined as being either hard or soft. It can be made out of plastic, cloth, and sometimes metal. Often, the base is made of a non-slip material such as rubber.

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 cloth gaming mouse pad

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 gamers find comfortable to rest their wrists on. 

Soft mouse pads are also foldable which makes them easy to carry to gaming events. They tend to be more precise because you get more friction as you glide your mouse, and therefore more control. 

This is especially beneficial 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. Compared to hard surfaces, their soft nature does not wear out the feet of gaming mouse fast. 

On the downside, soft mouse pads are harder to clean than hard mouse pads. And like most fabric materials, they tend to collect small dust particles and other debris, especially on 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 gaming mouse pad

Hard gaming 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 gaming 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 because they are very sensitive and tend to pick up too much information such as the reflection of tiny strands of fabric. But 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. Also, expect some noise as your mouse glides over a hard mouse pad. Gaming 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 compared to soft mouse pads.

Hard Vs Soft Gaming Mouse Pads Comparison

Hard Mouse PadsSoft Mouse Pads
Are made of smooth solid material such as plastic or aluminumAre made out of woven cloth fabric and have a spongy base
High friction causes them to wear mouse feet quicklyThey don’t wear out mouse feet quickly
Do not provide some cushion for your armProvide some cushion for your arm when gaming
Can easily be cleaned and very little time is needed for them to dryCleaning them takes a bit of time and you have to wait for them to dry
Cannot be folded for easy carryingThey can easily be folded and this makes them more convenient to carry
Work well with both optical and laser micework 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 priorityThey are great where control rather than speed is a priority

2. Size: Small Vs Medium Vs Large Vs Extended

gaming mouse pad dimension sizes

Gaming mouse pads come in four different sizes; small, medium, large, and extended. Most gamers prefer large mouse pads because they provide enough room for mouse movement and work well with any play style.

On a large gaming mousepad, 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 setting since they provide enough room to move your mouse around. 

With that said, not every gamer needs a large mouse pad. A small or medium-sized mouse pad can work just as well 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. 

An 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 compared to a large or extended one.

Should You Get An Extended Gaming Mouse Pad?

what makes a good 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 is 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 by vibration when typing, creating a smoother typing experience. They also provide a more comfortable surface to rest your wrists when using your gaming mouse and keyboard.

3. Thickness: Thin Vs Standard Vs Heavy

gaming mouse pad thickness

The thickness of a gaming mouse pad is determined by its base. You can choose a mousepad with a thin (2-2.5mm) base, standard (3-3.5mm) base, or heavy (5mm) base. 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. This creates 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, especially if the base is not made of a non-slip material. 

Standard gaming 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 so light that they move around easily and are rigid enough to maintain a uniform surface.

Heavy base mouse pads are quite thick and 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. 

Heavy gaming mouse pads also grip harder onto surfaces, thus preventing any type of movement. However, their weight and thickness can be a disadvantage if portability is a priority for you.

4. Type Of Finishing At The Edges

gaming mouse pad edges finish

Without any kind of stitching at the edges of cloth gaming 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 gaming mouse pad, ensure it has stitched edges to prevent fraying. The edges of hard mouse pads should also have a smooth finish to prevent shredding or scratches to your wrists.

5. Extra Add-On Features

There are a few gaming mouse pads such as the Corsair MM1000 Qi and the Logitech G PowerPlay that provide more than just an optimized surface for gaming. Some of the extra features offered by these mouse pads include:

1. Wireless Charging

Some gaming 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 battery life. 

2. RGB Lighting

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 keyboard and mouse.

3. USB Passthrough

Modern gaming mouse pads also come with a built-in USB pass-through that allows you to plug in your gaming mouse closer to your mouse pad. The USB ports can also be used to attach other peripherals such as signal adaptors. 

Other extras you might want to get with your gaming mouse pad include the ability to have customized game art on the surface, wrist rests, and water resistance.

Final Thoughts

You should pick a gaming mouse pad based on your specific needs. The ideal mouse pad is one that gives precision as well as enough room to move your gaming mouse without running out of space. 

If you decide to go with a large or extended mouse pad, ensure your gaming desk has enough space for it to rest on. Comfort, as well as the type of finishing at the edges, should also be taken into consideration.

The good thing is that there are lots of affordable gaming mouse pads from different brands for you to choose from. Keeping in mind the various factors mentioned above will help you choose the right gaming mouse pad for your needs.

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