It might be the most mundane part of your gaming set-up: your mouse pad. It’s either a rectangular piece of cloth, or a chunk of plastic — but boy, do you rely on that rectangle. But what makes a mouse mat great for gaming? If you don’t know where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Throughout this article we will introduce you to some solid options when it comes to mousing materials.
Let’s be real: a mouse pad itself is far from high-tech. Some gamers might prefer the touch of a certain kind of cloth, others might go for hard surfaces. But in the end, it’s just a thin little slab to put your mouse on. As a gamer, you mostly want something that doesn’t slow you down, or throws your gaming mouse off. As long as a mat feels smooth to you — while it also maintains that feel over time — you’ve found yourself a match.
Don’t get too carried away on thread counts or big marketing promises, should you see any around. It’s mostly the consistency that matters, not exactly how the cloth was woven or what kind of super-machine molded the plastic.
The rest is mostly up to taste. A good mousepad for gaming can come in basically any color, with any kind of print. They might look extremely basic, others might have options for extensive RGB lighting around the edges. Styling differences like these can steer your opinion on mousepads, but they rarely make your mouse perform better or worse. Keep that in mind when browsing mousepads.
Not so much a matter of taste, but it’s an essential factor to any mouse pad: the size. You could argue that “bigger is always better”, but this too is fully up to the end user. If you mostly game on lower DPI settings, you might need something on the far end of the scale. If you’re used to medium or higher sensitivities, a small or medium size pad should do just fine.
In turn, the size can directly steer your budget, as well as your placement. Bigger surfaces simply cost more, while also being harder to place in cramped places. It’s not exactly rocket science, but be sure to keep that in mind. Most of our recommendations today come in alternative sizes, as well.
If you’re specifically looking for a mouse pad that also houses your keyboard — the so-called deskpad — that’s a subject for another time. For now, let’s narrow it down to mats that are exclusively meant for mousing.
Most people might not remember, but SteelSeries actually became the first manufacturer to make mouse pads for gamers. What the Danes started over twenty years ago, still reigns strong today. Gaming mice have grown more precise, but SteelSeries’s QcK surfaces offer extreme precision for any kind of gaming scenario. And yet, they are still rather affordable.
A SteelSeries QcK can come in many different sizes and feels, but they are single-mindedly focussing on precision. This ensures you’re never paying for unnecessary additions, while also making sure they look rather slick in any set-up. SteelSeries lets you opt for neatly stitched edges, for prices that otherwise wouldn’t net you that kind of durability. Apart from a few variations with RGB around the edges, of course.
Besides color and scale, even the thickness of the surface can be slightly enlarged. It won’t change performance, but it certainly doesn’t hurt durability either. Do note: not every type and size will always be in stock, but if you see something that’s up to your speed — you can’t go wrong with a QcK.
Razer might not be every gamer’s thing, but they do offer quite some interesting mousing materials. Their Gigantus V2 range is easily surpassed by SteelSeries, but the Goliathus pads make for a solid alternative, if you’re looking for a bit of additional luxury. The Goliathus range comes with a Razer Chroma enabled RGB edge, that only drives the price up a bit.
A neat little bonus can be found in the cabling itself. As the light-up edge draws power from a USB cord, the little console where the cable meets the pad, doubles as a small bungee-like attachment for your wired mice. It won’t give cabled mice the frictionless freedom that an actual mouse bungee provides, but it ensures your cabling will look organized, no matter what. It’s a neat little touch for gamers who’d like their desk to be as clean as possible.
A Razer Goliathus comes in many sizes, as well as alternative styles. The “Speed” variations usually define non-Chroma enabled brethren, but there are also some collaborations with other games and brands, out there. In the past, Razer made Goliathus mats with the likes of Overwatch, Bathing Ape, and Star Wars, for example.
Although we mostly know Cooler Master for their affordable peripherals, they sometimes experiment on the other side of the spectrum. Their MP860 is one of their more “out there” mousepads, delivering a cloth surface, as well as smooth aluminium backside. Depending on what you need, the mat can easily be flipped to get better results. And whatever way is facing up, you’ll get some bright RGB light either way.
Both sides of the MP860 offer smooth mousing results, but it does come at a cost. This peripheral only comes in one size (14.2 x 10.2 inch) and color, with little customization, apart from the RGB. If you scratch the cloth or the aluminium, there is no way of replacing it manually — those scratches are now embedded in your pricey mat. If you intend on settling for Cooler Master’s mousing experiment, you better be careful with the material.
The embedded RGB looks slick and incredibly bright, but it can only be addressed through Cooler Master’s own software. Not to worry: the drivers work perfectly fine, without slowing your pc down. It’s a shame certain profiles can’t be stored onto the mat itself, rendering the software mostly optional. It’s nitpicky, but for some RGB aficionados, this could be a dealbreaker.
Republic of Gamers is coming in hot, with their solid ROG Balteus mouse pad. Not only does this mat feature addressable RGB lighting, it also comes with USB pass-through, as well as wireless Qi charging. If need be, you can use one corner of the mat to charge your smartphone or any other Qi enabled devices, like some of ROG’s own gaming mice.
It’s definitely not a cheap option, but as of 2021, this might be the most affordable these specifications have gotten. If you’re not into any Qi charging, you can take that part of the equation away for a neat discount.
Even without Qi, you’ll still have a rather large mouse pad (12.6 by 14.6 inch) with adjustable RGB. Even the USB pass-through console remains, coming with a sweet little hotkey to cycle through your lighting profiles. You know what? We’ll take that “gaming mouse pad aren’t high-tech” thing back. ROG is out here, trying to pump as many features in a mouse pad as possible.
The orientation on the ROG Balteus might feel “off”, depending on your taste. Most gamers like their mouse pads to be in landscape mode — just like their gaming displays — while ASUS opted for portrait mode with this mat. This ensures Qi devices don’t get in the way of your mousing, but on the non-Qi version, it serves no particular purpose. Additionally, it only comes with a hard surface. The Balteus glides smooth and precise, but some might prefer cloth any way.
If you’re not into colorful RGB, big surfaces or hefty price tags, German gaming brand ROCCAT has got you covered. Their Taito range is on-par with SteelSeries’s QcK, while the mini-size Kanga paves a different path. This tiny pad comes at a remarkably low price, but still performs great during intense gaming sessions.
ROCCAT’s Kanga is simple and sleek, but above all, fairly small. Coming in at about 10.4 by 8.3 inches, it’s a great mousepad to bring along with you, for example. If you don’t need big surfaces to begin with, this might just be a great fit as your “main gaming mouse mat”. Additionally, the Kanga is incredibly budget-proof.
The only downside is the lack of any proper stitching on the edges. ROCCAT being ROCCAT, you know it’s durable enough. However, without any extra care on this 2 millimeter thin surface, the mat as a whole probably won’t outlast your mouse. Considering the lower-end pricing, that’s not a shame at all, though.
Not all gaming mouse pads are equal, but at least you’re acquainted with some of the best. This concludes our list of recommendations on mousing surfaces. We certainly hope it got you thinking and browsing in the right direction.
Is there anything you’re still unsure about? Or do you feel we missed a great addition to our list? Don’t be shy, and let us know. That’s what our comment section is for. We would love to help our fellow gamers out by talking more mouse pads, or by expanding on our list of picks.