Even if you’re new to the PC gaming scene– or just someone that works in an office– you’re probably using a mouse pad. After all, they’re not just important when it comes to gaming– especially competitive play– but also your comfort and (wrist) health.
If you’re not using one, you’re making a big mistake. Without a mouse pad, your mouse will have a harder time tracking movement as inconsistencies on the surface of your desk will cause your mouse to jump around.
Depending on your desk, this may not be a huge issue, especially if you only play casual, single-player games. But the flipside to this is that precise movements can be unneededly difficult, or just impossible.
So, will any old mouse pad get the job done? Not necessarily, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll discuss what makes a good mouse pad toward the bottom. But first, let’s go over our 10 favorite mouse pads.
So you finally caved and bought a PC, congratulations! Now you only need a few accessories to complete your ascension to the glorious PC master race. Many PC gamers focus on flashy mechanical keyboards or ultra-precise gaming mice. However, a good gaming mouse pad is often neglected despite being an integral part of a good gaming experience.
When looking for a gaming mouse pad make sure to take into consideration the following features:
Gaming mouse pads tend to cover more surface area than normal-use mouse pads. Smaller gaming mouse pads usually run around 12 inches wide, while larger mouse pads can reach up to 30 inches wide.
The main thing that determines what size you need is how much room you’re going to need for mouse movements. If you play on lower sensitivities, then a larger mat may be best so you can get a full range of motion. Additionally, with a larger mouse pad, you can also set your keyboard or laptop on top to keep them stable.
Alternatively, if you use high DPI precision mice and play on high sensitivity, you probably will not need as large a mouse pad.
Mouse pad surface material– specifically the material on the top that your mouse is actually going to be resting on– determines how smoothly your mouse glides across while playing. These run the gamut from soft cloth to hard metals and plastics.
In general, metal/composite and plastic based surfaces are smoother and allow for much quicker mouse motions. This is one reason why many gamers who play FPS and MOBA games favor harder mouse pads; the decrease in friction equates to faster movements and gameplay.
Some gamers prefer softer cloth and fabric mouse pads, which tend to make movements a bit slower. However, in some cases, this is a good thing, especially if you prefer to play on lower sensitivities and find the exaggerated motions of low friction mouse pads frustrating.
If you play a lot of games, then odds are your mouse pad will see a lot of action. Unfortunately, over time this can mean the degradation and fraying of sewn cloth edges. That is why it is imperative to buy something that can stand up to repeated use, which means finding a surface that will not wear over time and a core that will keep its flat shape.
In general, metal and plastic mouse pads tend to get less wear on their surfaces (provided you are not pressing too hard) but also suffer from the drawback that they can warp and become curled at the edges after repeated use.
Cloth and fabric mats, on the other hand, are better at keeping their flat shape (and are more flexible) but might become frayed at the sewn edges, particularly if your mouse movements frequently go over the side of the mat. Designs may also be prone to wearing away after awhile.
Some mouse pads combine the best of both worlds and feature a stable metal/plastic core covered in soft cloth fabric. Either way, check product reviews to make sure that the mouse pad you choose is made of quality materials that will last.
Frequent keyboard and mouse gaming can put a lot of strain on the wrists, especially compared to using a console controller. Many gamers position their wrist awkwardly while holding their mouse which, over time, can lead to the development of discomfort and ailments like carpal tunnel.
That is why many gaming mouse pads come equipped with wrist rests. These wrist rests are normally made out of foam or some kind of gel and are supposed to keep your wrist supported during long gaming sessions.
Although some gamers really appreciate the extra support and comfort of a wrist rest, others do not, as they believe the wrist rest restricts movement. Consider how much wrist support you need and make your decision accordingly. If necessary, you can always buy a custom wrist support pillow to fix to your mouse pad.
Stability and Grip
With all the quick mouse movements required for gaming, there is a risk of jostling your mouse pad side to side. While you don’t want it to stick to the table so well it’s hard to get off, you need some grip to keep the mouse pad firmly rooted during use.
Most of the time, a simple rubber base will do the trick, but, depending on the desk, you may need something with a bit of extra friction. Some mouse pads offer a textured underside with treads meant for gripping to a surface, or specialized pads on each of the corners.
USB Passthrough, LED lighting, etc.
Some gamers want a little more than bare functionality out of their mouse pads. That’s why many mouse pads come with extra features for a bit more flair and style. The most obvious example of this is the Razer Firefly that comes with a USB powered LED backlight.
Several mouse pads offer unique customizable lighting schemes that add to the aesthetic appearance of your battle station, while others have neat connectivity features like USB ports for charging and other peripheral connections.