Sure stuff like the keyboard, mouse, and headphones are important; but what about the mouse pad?
For all of their history mouse pads have been seen as the afterthought to the afterthought when it comes to what you need when you build a new PC. More often than not gamers and average consumers alike will take the money they’d spend on that and put it into the video card, opting instead to run their brand new, high-performance gaming mouse off the back of an old college textbook.
Thankfully, we’ve learned from the mistakes of our checkered past, and now every gaming gear company under the sun is offering up their own line of slim, sleek, and slick mouse pads that keep any gamer at the peak of their playing capacity.
A Primer in Pads
To start, you should know that all mouse pads fall into one of two categories: cloth, or synthetic. This refers the material the mouse pad is made out of, and while you’ll never experience a shortage of dedicated followers on either side of the argument, personally I’ve used both and believe they both have their own merits.
Cloth mouse pads are great because as long as they’re made out of a halfway decent material, the comfort factor provided to your resting wrist is more than worth any drag you might get after a few thousand hours of use. Not only that, but in specific circumstances that same drag which plagues one gamer can be a gift to another.
By creating increased friction between the mouse and the pad itself, gamers can react more efficiently to a frantic firefight without their cursor freaking out all over the place, a vital tool that can come in serious handy when your teammates are stuck in a pinch.
Plastic or synthetic mouse pads on the other hand are built for speed, but lack in the whole “control” department. Where cloth can give you a more precise outcome, the slick, flat surface of a high-end keyboard lends itself more readily to twitchy FPS titles like Counter Strike or TF2.
Turtle Beach Drift
There are a lot of great things about the future: robotic cars, smartphones, solar power. But above all, when it comes to mouse pads the primo number one bonus to being made in 2015 is the advancement of materials sciences.
No more torn, beaten two-dollar pads tearing around the edges and falling apart. These honed, carefully manufactured nanofiber thread surfaces aren’t anything like your grandpa’s mouse pad. Turtle Beach (also a winner in our Best Headphones of 2015 department), has developed a sturdy, smooth mouse pad that delivers expert levels of dominance over your domain every time you step up to the digital plate.
The Drift is universally renowned within the community, scoring high marks across the board on both Amazon’s review section as well as NewEgg’s. The low price combined with its sturdy durability has proven a hit with hardcore PC gamers, many of whom have left behind the tops of their desks in search of something better, only to find it already waiting for them in the Turtle Beach Drift.
You can grab your large Drift mouse pad today for roughly $25. Note that while the large is the suggested size to handle the demands of everyday gaming, the pad also comes in medium, extra large, and small sizes to accommodate the needs of any serious gaming sessions.Check Current Price on Amazon
Sold and sold. The SteelSeries QcK isn’t a mouse pad that gets caught up with the nonsense of texture matching optical DPI sensors to the micrometer or creating a surface so smooth that your hand can’t help but slip right off it.
The QcK is a simple pad that does a simple job, and holds up at least long enough until you can spring for something a little fancier. The pad is one of the more colorful of the bunch, being sold in the aforementioned Frost White, as well as a spooky orange and black motif in the one-size-fits-all floorplan of 13.1 x 0.6 x 10.8 inches.
You can get a QcK cloth mouse pad for just under $14 from the link found here.Check Current Price on Amazon
XTRAC RIPPER XXL
During my years as a gamer, I’ve seen nearly every different type of playstyle you can think of. High sensitivity and tight movements, low sensitivity and big, sweeping strokes, at the end of the day it all comes down to personal preference and the games you like to be best at.
That’s where the XTRAC XXL comes in. Oversized to the point of almost being absurd, the mouse pad is made for the gamer who may want to crank up their mouse precision for a quick game of DOTA, but also needs that broad stroke business for the next time they fire up their favorite FPS.
Measuring a whopping 17.8” across, the XXL will dominate any desk it sits on, but won’t hit you too hard in the wallet to make it happen. You can grab your own today for around $25 out the door.Check Current Price on Amazon
But who are we kidding here: games these days, they need us to be fast. One millisecond between me and the goal is one millisecond too much already, so let’s get to the ball before it’s gone.
If you’re one of the millions of gamers who bought their first synthetic mat and never looked back, you probably can’t even remember a time when you thought cloth was the right way to frag.
SteelSeries didn’t make it onto this list twice as some fluke. The company has time and time again proven its worth as a top-tier manufacturer of gamer gear, and has yet to disappoint in any department it sticks its tentacles into.
The Dex is no different, offering up the same build quality and dedication to producing a perfect product that we saw with the QcK and QcK+. The biggest (and most obvious) benefit that plastic or synthetic mouse pads have over their softer counterparts is spill resistance, a feature that some would argue is essential for any products the average computer user keeps in range of their favorite drinks like coffee, tea, or soda.
More often than not, a spilled drink for a cloth mouse pad can spell all out disaster, with no amount of washing or Windex able to get out that sticky sensation that was left behind when your Coca-Cola took a tumble during your last match of Starcraft 2.
Plastic mouse pads simply brush away this kind of distraction, and are back to new within minutes of undergoing a quick and easy wipe down. Add to that the Dex’s specially manufactured hexagonal layout, and you have a sultry combination of speed, accuracy, and survivability all wrapped into one downright gorgeous package.
You can get the Dex either direct from the SteelSeries website for approx. $40 (putting it in the same price class as our next option), or at an online marketplace for half the cost.Check Current Price on Amazon
Corsair Vengeance® MM600
Born out of some Frankensteinian doctor’s underground lair, the MM600 is a dual-sided hybrid mouse pad, with one half taking care of the speedy APM exercises, while the other textured surface brings out a greater level of precision and handling.
Due to its intensive manufacturing process MM600 comes in only one size, 13.9 x 10.7 inches, but this is still plenty enough to keep your gaming sessions on track long into the night. Rubberized corners line the outer shell of the mouse pad, built to create a stronger sense of stability and movement during particularly intense gaming sessions.
With all the premium frills, you can usually expect to see a premium price tag following not too far behind. The MM600 is around $35, but it’s important to keep in mind that it also gives you everything you could want from two separate mouse pads in one flippable solution.
And so, in the battle between cloth or plastic: it all comes down to preference and gaming style. Some gamers prefer control, while others are more concerned with just getting their pointer where it needs to go as fast as humanly possible.
Plus, if you’re really serious about playing every type of game there is, there are still plenty of hybrid options available that offer up the best of both worlds. When it comes to PC gaming, mouse pads are the easy part – the real test comes with the ticker counts down to zero and it’s time for game, set, match.Check Current Price on Amazon