Do Mouse Pads Matter When Gaming?

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Do Mouse Pads Matter When Gaming?

You may ask yourself whether a gaming mouse pad makes any difference, and the answer is a resounding yes. A pad made with gaming in mind will benefit any genre of the hobby, but will prove most helpful in fast paced, reflex-based first and third person shooters. Sports and racing games also need a good gaming mouse pad, but to say that there’s a style of game that doesn’t need one would be misleading. Whatever you play, if you’re a keyboard and mouse gamer, then you should get a mouse pad that was made for gaming. The smooth movement and vastly increased accuracy provided by gaming mouse pads prove essential to better enjoyment and success in-game.

What’s the Difference Between Regular Mouse Pads and Gaming Mouse Pads?

Good mouse pads for gaming undergo pretty strict testing to ensure a smooth and consistent surface, whereas for non-gaming pads, this isn’t that much of a priority. Gaming mouse pads employ specific surface materials and subsurface components to ensure high levels of consistency and a smooth platform for your mouse to work on, while regular pads just provide a plain old surface for the mouse, and often aren’t much better than using your desk. In fact, you may have noticed that a lot of your non-gaming mice work just fine directly on your desk compared to a generic mouse pad. Or even better than on that generic mouse pad. In that sense, regular mouse pads are often optional. Gaming mouse pads are not, that is if you want the best possible performance.

Gaming mouse pads exponentially improve mouse tracking, especially when paired with a high DPI, precision polling gaming mouse with a premium sensor. These pads also reduce unwanted surface friction, which causes inconsistent movement and drag to slow you down and create erratic response. If you’re interested in PC gaming, these differences are very important.

Why You Need a Gaming Mouse Pad? Benefits of Gaming Mouse Pads

  • Tracking:

Without good tracking, your gaming performance and enjoyment suffer. A good gaming mouse pad offers a more consistent surface with no dips or bumps even when placed on an uneven desk or other surface. However, you should still try to find a surface that’s as flat and uniform as possible for the best tracking, even if you invest in a top quality mouse pad. If you place a pad over grooves or sections of a desktop surface, you will get a compromised experience.

Good mouse tracking is closely linked to mouse pad stopping power, or the ability of a pad to prevent unwanted overshoot, movement, and slippage. Mouse pads with balanced traction provide a boost to tracking by having good stopping power, so you can pull off small flicks and movements without overshoot and inaccuracy. This is great in all games, but especially vital in ones where it contributes to better kill/death and win/lose ratios. The main genre that benefits is shooters, with famous titles like CS:GO, Call of Duty, Valorant, Apex Legends, and Fortnite being prime examples.

  • Wrist Comfort:

This isn’t unique to gaming mouse pads, as good office and productivity mouse pads also take wrist comfort into account. But a good gaming mouse pad certainly strives to keep carpal tunnel syndrome away. This is why the gaming mouse pads you’re looking for are made from ergonomically-focused materials that respond to your arms and hands and aren’t too stiff or abrasive. If they have dedicated cushioning, all the better. This is one of the main reasons good mouse pads are large, so that they cover more space and allow you to rest your wrists on the pad while still having plenty of room for mouse movement.

  • Increase Mouse Skate/Feet Lifespan:

Cheapo mouse pads wreak havoc on the skates of your expensive gaming mouse, causing them to quickly deteriorate or even fall off altogether due to being “grabby” and suffering from too much traction. Enter gaming mouse pads with their better materials and smooth glide. They work in harmony with gaming mice, optimizing mouse skate longevity and better protecting your investment. If you spend good money on a quality gaming mouse, you have to pair it with a good gaming mouse pad, else it’ll not perform as intended nor last as long as you’d like.

Is a Gaming Mouse Pad Worth It?

If you’re into gaming, for sure. They’re not even that expensive these days. The improved control, accuracy, and mouse longevity are all factors to keep in mind and do make a big difference. For keyboard and mouse gamers the answer is once again a clear yes, a gaming mouse pad is worth it.

What You Should Look for in a Gaming Mouse Pad

  • Size:

Obviously, where you intend to use the mouse pad matters most here. The gaming mouse pad must correlate in size to your desktop space. Only go with small mouse pads (under 300mm x 200mm) if you’re really pressed for space. In any case, there are plenty of options, from desk-covering 900mm x 300mm/400mm extra large mouse pads to sweet spot ZOWIE pads sized at up to 470mm x 390mm. That’s a good balance and not too large, offering plenty of room for even the most sweeping mouse movements. Extended or extra large pads take up lots of room and may cover a big chunk of your desktop, so plan accordingly.

Mouse pads, including ones for gaming, come in different varieties of pliability, made of combinations of cloth, plastic, rubber, and even glass or metal. While all gaming mouse pads reduce unwanted traction (or over traction), the soft ones have more traction than the hard varieties. Obviously, a hard and smooth surface offers much more glide and less traction, but can feel too fast and floaty to many users. Most people prefer the sweet spot offered by modern gaming mouse pads, which balance traction and glide.

Cloth gaming mouse pads with this balance are best for shooters like the ones listed above. They offer great control without the risk of overshoot, which is a problem on harder and very smooth pads. Hard mouse pads don’t go so easy on your wrists, either, so there’s comfort and health to keep in mind in favor of the soft variety. An additional plus for softer mouse pads is the lack of movement noise. Hard mouse pads have audible feedback every time the mouse lifts and comes back down again, which combined with your mouse clicks may cause enough noise to make people around you very annoyed.

The ZOWIE G-SR and P-SR are great examples of soft gaming mouse pads that have just the right amount of traction. They’re excellent for precision control, with optimal stopping power and glide. The ZOWIE G-SR-SE ROUGE is a little softer, but a favorite among CS:GO players because its design is perfect for long range sniping and small movements of the mouse.

So why even bother with a hard surface gaming mouse pad? Well, they’re excellent when precision and control aren’t priorities but movement speed is. It’s like ice skating versus football. There’s almost no friction with a good hard surface gaming mouse pad, which means stopping the mouse is much more of a challenge. Games that require sweeping movements may benefit from this, or you may just want to challenge yourself.

There is a middle ground. Newer materials in gaming pads like the ZOWIE GTF-X and PTF-X strike a balance between hard and soft attributes, so you may want to try them out.

  • Thin or Thick:

These days most mouse pads are roughly the same thickness, but there are still differences here and there and you may be wondering about the significance of that. Thin mouse pads are obviously lighter and thus easier to pack away. But they’re not very good at compensating for host surface imperfections, so if your desk has grooves, dimples, or bumps, you’ll notice it and they’ll affect your mouse performance. A thicker mouse pad will help you mitigate surface imperfections, but not overcome them. Regardless of which pad you go with, make sure your intended surface is as even as possible, as mentioned about in the tracking section.

Thick mouse pads also support your accessories and wrists far better than thin ones. But all told, it’s material quality that matters most. ZOWIE gaming mouse pads use the finest materials and pass extensive testing so that they’re right in the goldilocks zone between hard and soft, thick and thin. They employ durable cloth and dense rubber for the best experience possible, and work superbly even on slightly bumpy surfaces. Clearly if your desktop is a bunch of rocks that won’t do, but we think that’s not likely to be the case.

  • Stitched Edging:

While seemingly an aesthetic choice, mouse pads with good stitching don’t just look good, they last longer as the stitching prevents gradual fraying. But even good stitching may prove abrasive and cause irritation to your hands. If you find that edge stitching irritates the skin on your wrists as you move your arms over it, then it’s obviously time to go with a non-stitched mouse pad.

  • Product Durability:

Even on the lower price side of things, gaming mouse pads employ better material quality than regular home and office mouse pads. Good quality gaming pads definitely use more durable materials and manufacturing methods, resulting in products that easily last years without degrading or suffering significant wear and tear. Hard material mouse pads made of glass or metal are the most durable, so if that’s your style you’re in luck. Cloth ones can work great for many years, but not as long as their hard surface counterparts. With hard mouse pads you get longevity, but less comfort and control. Cloth and rubber are usually the combo to go for.

  • Glide:

The way glide feels on a gaming mouse pad matters big time, and is the most important factor in aiming. If you feel like your aims is lagging behind targets, then you need faster and lower traction gaming pads like the GTF-X and PTF-X. These pads help you keep up with crafty opponents that change directions quickly.

If twitchy flick shots aren’t a priority and you feel confident with your target tracking, then a gaming mouse pad that supports consistent rather than sudden movement is advisable. The ZOWIE G-SR and P-SR are slightly “slower” than some of their peers, but have excellent stopping power and still support micro adjustments in movement. Above all, they are the best at persistent tracking and staying on target, as opposed to quickly getting on target and moving to the next one.

ZOWIE gaming mouse pads for FPS Esports - various gliding experiences

  • Humidity Resistance:

Sounds odd, but when you use a gaming mouse pad for hours on end in first person shooters, things can get sticky. Also, if you game in a humid location, mouse hydroplaning is a thing. Moisture builds up on the surface of the mouse pad, affecting sensor performance and skate agility.

ZOWIE G-SR-SE ROUGE uses exclusive humidity-rejecting materials, and was designed with humidity resistance in mind, so that its surface doesn’t trap moisture even if it’s the height of summer, the A/C is off, and you’re sweating from hours of intense gaming.

  • Other Factors to Consider: Design and Easily Clean

As with everything related to PCs, RGB has made it to gaming mouse pads, with some of them looking a lot like a Times Square billboard when plugged in. Others limit the RGB to the edges. Again, whether you like this or not is up to you, but do remember an RGB gaming mouse pad needs a power source, aka a USB connection, so that’s more clutter on your desktop. ZOWIE mouse pads prefer to keep things neat, clean, and understated. Many brands offer this kind of look, with a simple logo being the only graphic. Others skip RGB but have elaborate artwork on the pad, like a Windows desktop wallpaper, in essence.

Ease of cleaning is another aspect of a gaming mouse pad to think about. Pads accumulate grime and dust with time, and those affect performance, meaning regular cleaning should be done. Cloth is the hardest surface material to clean, as it’s the most porous. For cloth you’ll need running water and then drying, or maybe a damp towel to wipe the pad with. If your mouse pad has a rubber or plastic surface, then it’s easier, as a slightly damp cloth will do fine. Of course, glass or metal are the easiest to clean. Overzealous or improper cleaning can easily damage your gaming mouse pad. Take a look at this guide to learn more.

What Type of Gaming Mouse Pad Should I Choose?

If you’re a serious gamer, you need a gaming mouse pad. And the one you choose depends most of all on how much desktop space you have and on your personal style. Don’t expect to become a pro esports icon overnight, but with a good gaming mouse pad you certainly have the foundation for getting there. You want to be accurate, comfortable, and have a pad that’ll get the most out of your gaming mouse. With ZOWIE gaming mouse pads, you’re guaranteed superb control, great stopping power, consistent tracking and glide, and a top quality dense rubber base for slip resistance and consistent uniformity on different surfaces.