The peripheral market place has seen some pretty impressive technological advancements over the last decade or so, with mice, headsets, keyboards, and mousepads benefiting hugely in a number of different areas. And while mice now boast the ability to work on almost any surface, gaming mousepad manufacturers still market their latest offerings as "must-haves" for gamers.
The latest mousepads to be released come equipped with a bunch of gamer-related features that, until only a few years ago, didn't even exist. They also come in a number of varying materials and sizes that can now set you back in advance of $40 - a figure many would never dream of splashing out on a humble mousepad. Having said that, for users looking to take their game to the next level, a mousepad may actually be able to help in that quest for greatness.
In this article, we'll be answering the big question surrounding today's gaming surfaces - why should I buy a gaming mousepad? - while explaining some of the main features and benefits the latest arrivals have to offer. We'll be looking at some of the various options available, what mousepad features you should take seriously, and which you should treat as marketing jargon.
So, with that being said, let's dive straight into it.
Before we take a closer look at some of the different mousepads available in today's market, we should first take a look at some of the newer mice releases to see how the latest sensor technology affects mousepads of the 21st century.
Well, first of all, back when mice used old trackball technology - where maintenance started and ended with keeping the roller clean from dirt and grime - a mousepad was considered an essential tool in your gaming arsenal. Back then, the general theory on mousepads was, the better the surface, the better the gaming performance. However, since then, mice have moved away from outdated technology are now come equipped with pinpoint accurate laser/optical sensors which work on almost any surface. Meaning consumers are no longer plagued with issues raised from using uneven or poorly equipped surfaces.
So, with that in mind, why bother getting a mousepad at all? Well, let's explore that question.
As you can probably imagine, like mice, mousepads have also seen large improvements over the last 10 years or so - now offering all kinds of features and benefits that were previously unheard of. Having said that, what exactly do they offer today's mice that have the ability to work on almost any surface?
Firstly, when it comes to gaming, a mousepad isn't there to simply provide a surface for the mouse to work on. Nowadays, a mousepad is custom-designed to help increase a user's accuracy and the overall feeling while in-game. For example, a lot of today's mousepads come with their own proprietary surface texture - designed for what that manufacturer classes as optimal gaming performance. However, as with most things in life, there isn't a single unified surface that every gamer finds appealing. It all comes down to personal preference, one of the reasons why we still see a large number of gaming mousepads being released.
So, how do today's mousepads differ? Well, the main differences of a mousepad come down to surface texture, size, shape, and the edge. Below, we'll go into further detail on each, explaining how they can benefit you in both gaming and general-use scenarios.
As mentioned above, modern-day mousepads come to the table with a variety of different surface textures - all catering to unique styles and usages.
The texture of a mousepad is no longer important when referencing the sensor. Nowadays, the texture of a mousepad is designed in accordance with how it interacts with the feet of your mouse.
Underneath your mouse, you will see 2-5 feet which are usually made out of plastic - with most higher-end mice offering PTFE feet which have greater life spans. These feet are what come into contact with the mousepad at all times, making the textural feeling created between these two areas absolutely essential when designing a mousepad for gaming.
That being said, while modern mousepads come in a number of different styles, most either provide a hard plastic coating for speed and reaction time or a tight weave soft finish for accuracy. Many of the gaming tailored mousepads will offer the latter of the two as accuracy is usually prioritized over speed - especially when playing FPS titles such as CS:GO.
With that in mind, we concluded that the surface texture was the most important aspect of a modern-day mousepad. Finding the right surface texture for your specific needs pretty much comes down to personal preference - so, research and testing should be your first port of call.
Size is a fairly straight forward concept in any walk of life, and the same can be said when referencing mousepads. Having said that, we've definitely seen an increase in mousepad size over the last 10 years, mainly because of trends, but also because users are decreasing mouse sensitivity for better accuracy.
Games like CS:GO have seen professionals earn millions in tournament winnings and sponsorship deals, making gamers reduce their sensitivity to try and recreate what they see on Twitch. In doing so, gamers that utilize smaller mousepads are now running out of space, rendering their new ultra-low sensitivity useless. In order to make a low sensitivity work, most gamers need to invest in a much larger mousepad - queue the arrival of full-length desk mats.
Today, gamers can buy mousepads that fill the entirety of their desk. You can now theoretically turn your desk surface into a full mousepad, meaning you have a huge space to maneuver your mouse in.
Ultimately, the bottom line is, whichever mousepad you decide to go for will usually come down to what sensitivity you use while gaming. Higher sensitivity players may only require a small square, whereas lower sensitivity players may require an entire desk, it's personal preference once again.
The edge of the mousepad is actually a very important aspect of the mousepad itself. While many will overlook this aspect, it's really worth considering - especially if you're into competitive gaming like I am. The edge of the mousepad is usually designed using thick stitching which, if done poorly, can create a hell of a lot of abrasion with your mouse chord - especially if you're not using a bungee.
This abrasion can be a real pain when gaming as it can alter the movements of your mouse or slow you down. While many game genres won't see any impact in performance thanks to this occurrence, gamers of competitive titles such as CS:GO and Fortnite would never dream of using such abrasive materials together. It's simply not worth risking a loss because the edge of the mousepad wasn't optimized for your mouse cable.
Having said that, some mousepads do provide an edgeless design that takes all chances of abrasion out of the question. These mousepads are usually hard plastic though, which, as we've already mentioned, aren't great for accuracy.
Finding the right edge comes down to research and personal preference.
Why Buy A Gaming Mousepad?
Ultimately, it comes down to a couple of different factors.
The first (and probably least obvious reason) is for gaming purposes - well, they're all gaming reasons but this one affects performance the most. As we've mentioned above, a mousepad designed for gaming will provide a surface that is not only smooth but also provides enough resistance to allow the mouse to stop when you want it to. It aids in accuracy and makes the overall experience of gaming a little more forgiving - if you know what I mean. Comparing soft weave to a glass/hard plastic mousepad, for example, is like chalk and cheese. The hard-finish pads provide little resistance and holding the mouse steady feels much more difficult. However, thanks to the well-optimized materials used in a gaming mousepad, the entire act of aiming becomes a little less frustrating.
Next, we have cable abrasion. If you're using a mouse with a braided cable - i.e., many of today's leading mice - then your old mousepad may experience what we call cable drag. This is when the material used for the edge of your mousepad leads to friction with the braided design of the mouse cable. The end result being a lesser gaming experience and more inaccuracy while aiming.
Finally, we have stability. When we refer to stability, we're really talking about the use of a full-length desk mousepad that sits your monitor, keyboard, and mouse in. This can be a real life-saver if your desk has a glass top or shiny plastic coating. The keyboard can feel unsettled and the monitor can become unstable. Using a mousepad that covers both of these components will offer more stability and more confidence whilst gaming.
Best Gaming Mousepads
So, now we've explained some of the reasons why you might want to buy a mousepad and what features to look out for, it's probably a good time to showcase some of the best the market has to offer.
If you're looking for a cheap and efficient mousepad, then the Steelseries Qck Large will serve you well.
The ASUS ROG Sheath is perfect for both mouse and keyboard, giving enough room for even the lowest of mouse sensitivities.
RGB lovers will be a huge fan of the Steelseries QCK RGB Prism. It not only offers fantastic aesthetics but also comes equipped with a gaming-grade cloth weave that is by esports pros across the globe.
The PowerPlay wireless charging system is a 2-in-1 mousepad that not only gives your mouse a well-optimized surface for gaming but also charges your peripherals as you go.
So, there you have it guys, our complete guide on why you should consider buying a gaming mousepad for your peripherals. Hopefully, the answers weren't too obvious. The main goal of the article was to try and take some of the stigmas away from mousepads that once existed. Whilst yesteryears mice required a good surface to game on, that really isn't the case in the 21st century. However, if you want to take a step up in gaming performance, utilizing every tool possible, then a gaming mousepad is an excellent way to go about it.
Let us know what mousepad you're currently using by dropping us a comment in the section below. Better still, why not head on over to our Community Hub where you can discuss everything peripheral related with like-minded individuals.