When dreaming up the perfect gaming battle station, most users spend the majority of their time thinking about their favorite keyboards, high-DPI gaming mice, comfy headsets and high refresh-rate displays. Often overlooked in a PC gamer’s peripheral budget, mouse pads are actually an essential part of the PC gaming experience. A fancy gaming mouse without a reliable surface is like a knight without his loyal steed. A high quality mouse pad goes a long way for any type of competitive PC gaming.
Nothing is quite as cringe-inspiring as a mouse paired with a random house-hold object or bare surface. So if you are still using an old soda-stained, dirt magnet of a mouse pad, consider treating yourself to a brand new one. We’ve spent several weeks researching and testing mouse pads from various PC gaming brands to cultivate our list of the best. Check them out.
Best cloth mouse pad
- Large surface area
- Excellent surface texture for control
- Nicely stitched edges
- Can be noisy during intense mouse movements
The most affordable and common type of mouse pad is the classic cloth one. They are primarily made of rubber composites with synthetic fabrics woven together to create a dense foamy structure with a soft top. Designed to provide a smooth, consistent, and durable surface, cloth mouse pads are highly preferred by gamers requiring pin-point accuracy with little friction. Most FPS professionals prefer large cloth surfaces, as they make large sweeping motions with low DPI mice.
While the majority of cloth mouse pads may look and feel the same, several features such as non-slip bases, stitched edges, and premium materials separate the best from the rest. The Taito Control from Roccat stands apart from all of the other cloth mouse pads thanks to its minimalist design, generous (but not excessive) size, and rugged materials.
Some peripheral makers (Roccat included) parade their logos across mouse pad surfaces, so we definitely appreciate the subtle approach the Taito Control takes. The stitched blue edges prevent fraying and provide a nice accent color that makes the mouse pad stand out without drawing too much attention away from the mouse on top.
Unlike other manufacturers that create a variety of sizes for their cloth mouse pad, Roccat has opted for a middle-of-the-road approach with the Taito Control. Its generous 400mm x 320mm (15.7” x 12.6”) size puts it slightly above competitors’ “medium” size but comfortably below their “large” or “oversized” options. This makes it a great choice for a wide range of gamers. The Taito Control is also thicker and heavier than most of its competitors, making it our top choice for both comfort and durability.
Although we’ve found that some of the other mousepads offer a comparable blend of speed and precision, the Taito Control offers a slight edge with its marginally rough surface. It isn’t the smoothest of cloth mousepads, but the slight friction of the Taito Control gives you more control without sacrificing speed. Combined with its non-intrusive design and premium construction, the Taito Control edges out the competition to top our chart as the best overall cloth mouse pad.
Best hard mouse pad
- Low friction surface
- Solid rubber base
When it comes to pure speed and low tactile resistance, nothing compares to a solid, hard surface mousepad. PC gamers requiring subtle but rapid mouse movements generally prefer these slick, low friction surfaces that allow them to glide their mouse with ease. While it does ultimately come down to personal preference, we prefer using hard mouse pads while playing RTS and MOBA type games where swift map navigation and tight mobility are crucial.
Unlike their cloth counterparts that use very similar types of textile materials, hard mouse pads are made from a wide variety of components and blends such as aluminum, plastic, and rubber. Varying dramatically in friction, weight and design, there is sure to be a hard mouse pad out there that is perfect for you. For us, the simplicity and ultra-smooth surface of the Logitech G440 make it our top choice when considering speed.
While some cloth mouse pads feature large graphics or logos sprawled across the surface, hard mouse pads generally feature a basic design to ensure better tracking with modern mouse sensors. The Logitech G440 is no exception as its minimalist design features a small Logitech G logo in the bottom right corner.
At a quick glance, the surface of the G440 might appear to be completely smooth but it is actually a polyethylene surface featuring micro textures that offer the perfect amount of resistance. The mouse pad provides a perfect amount of feedback without any excess noise generated from our rapid mouse movements. Logitech seems to have found the perfect middle ground between abrasive and smooth as we were able to seamlessly move and stop our mouse with ease during intense battles.
On the bottom, the G440 features a rubber base that prevents the pad from sliding around the table while making those speedy mouse movements. Combined with its generous 340mm x 279mm (13.4” x 11”) size, we found it effortless to stay focused on the game at several different DPI levels. If you’re looking for a durable, stable surface to zip across the battlefield, it’s hard to go wrong with the Logitech G440.
Best oversized mouse pad
- Biggest size
- Very smooth tracking surface
- Stitched edges
- Looks odd if used with other brand peripherals due to huge logo
If you’re the type of PC gamer that plays with lowered DPI and sensitivity settings, you probably give your wrist quite a workout. With the massive mouse movements required to make those precise headshots in game, an oversized mouse pad is a necessity. Only available in soft cloth form, extended mouse pads are sized to run all the way across your desk with enough space for both your keyboard and mouse.
While it may seem unnecessary to place a stationary keyboard on top of a mouse pad, these oversized pads are all about uniformity. By placing the keyboard on the same surface level as the mouse with tons of room to spare, you never have to worry about running out of space for your mouse. This is especially important because lifting your mouse off of the mat to make multiple movements instead of one sweeping motion wastes precious time and affects accuracy. Measuring over three feet in length, the best mouse pad in this category is Corsair’s MM300 Extended.
The MM300 is Corsair’s premium line of cloth mouse pads featuring a non-slip rubber base, stitched edges to prevent fraying and a sturdy thickness of 3mm. The extended version is the largest size available and designed to fit even the biggest gaming keyboards with plenty of room to spare. When combined with a compact, ten-keyless keyboard, the surface area for the mouse feels almost infinite.
Like most cloth mouse pads, the MM300 Extended features a smooth, textile-weave design that ensures gliding a mouse across its surface feels like cutting through butter. We found it easy to make pinpoint attacks in our FPS testing with a hefty amount of overhead for DPI adjustments thanks to the massive surface area. Whether you like to move your mouse all the way across the desk or just a couple of inches to make a 180 turn, Corsair’s oversized mouse pad has you—and your desk—covered.
Best RGB mouse pad
- RGB lighting with multiple LEDs
- Premium hard surface
- Syncs with other Razer Chroma products
With RGB peripherals becoming the latest craze, it was only a matter of time before a manufacturer decided to create an RGB mouse pad. Unsurprisingly, Razer was the first to the market with the Chroma controlled Firefly. The Razer Firefly is the only RGB mouse pad that is available for purchase at the moment, but TT eSports has recently announced their suspiciously similar Draconem RGB mouse pad that is expected to hit the market soon.
The functionality of a light up mouse pad is certainly questionable, but Razer has found some interesting uses for the Firefly. Despite initial appearances, Razer’s RGB mouse pad is more than just a lightshow. It features a hard surface that uses a similar micro-textured finish as Razer’s other hard mouse pads. This gives the Firefly the same level of speed and precision one would expect in a high quality gaming mouse pad.
When combined with a suite of Razer Chroma peripherals, the Firefly is able to sync up with the other devices to create a brilliant display of lights and colors. This might be more of a distraction in game, but we have to admit the Firefly adds a stunning aesthetic to your battle station with its myriad colors and lighting profiles.
One of our favorite features while testing with a Deathadder Chroma is the reactive lighting mode. This option allows you to configure the mouse pad and mouse to light up whenever a button on the mouse is pushed. This makes for an interesting display of lighting when playing a fast paced MOBA that we imagine would be pretty cool for spectators at LAN events.
The only downside—besides the price of course—is the introduction of another USB cable that needs to be plugged in, but it’s a small price to pay for a 24-hour party on your desk. While you can’t really expect any performance increase over a non-RGB hard mouse pad, the Razer Firefly is certainly one of a kind and a great addition for anyone that already owns an RGB keyboard and mouse.
Note: Since Corsair’s announcement of the MM800 RGB Polaris mouse pad, Razer’s Firefly now has some serious competition. We haven’t gotten our hands on one just yet, but the MM800 offers a USB pass-through port that immediately sets it apart from the Firefly. Combined with additional RGB goodness in the form of Corsair’s new RGB case fans, the MM800 looks like it may be the better contender.
How we test mouse pads and others options
Unlike most of the hardware we test, mouse pads aren’t nearly as mechanically complex. This means they don’t require rigorous switch testing or complicated software simulations, so we use more practical tests instead. When we receive a new mouse pad to test we do what we do best: Play lots and lots of PC games.
Since mouse pad preference between games can be highly subjective, we try to separate and categorize similar mouse pads for testing. First we put each mouse pad into its ideal gaming environment, noting where it excels and where it falls short. For example, an oversized cloth mouse pad would be paired with low DPI settings and a competitive FPS. We then switch between mouse pads of the same category and note the differences. Each mouse pad is tested with a minimum of two gaming mice (laser and optical) and put through several hours of gaming with multiple titles.
After examining performance in games, we test speed and accuracy with the use of a free training simulation for gamers called AimBooster. We run each mouse pad through the basic "Speed" training at 1920x1080 several times and note any variance in scores. The simulation is designed to improve your reaction times and precision, which makes it a great tool for testing how well a mouse tracks on a mouse pad. After thoroughly examining the performance of each mouse pad, we finally look at any additional features to choose our favorite. While most of our time is spent in our practical performance tests, we also take a great deal of consideration into specs and features such as slippage, weight, dimensions, and durability.
In the end, we always recommend gamers find the type of mouse pad that is most suitable for their gaming style before fully committing to an exact model. Some of the games we use to test mouse pads include: Starcraft 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, League of Legends, DOTA 2, and World of Warcraft.
When comparing mousepads between the top gaming brands, it’s hard to make a decision based purely on performance alone. Most of the big players in the market use similar high quality materials, so it’s often a small difference or feature that sets our best pick apart from the rest. Some of the other mouse pads we tested are worth a mention.
One of the categories we didn’t cover in this guide is double-sided mouse pads. These hard mouse pads feature two separate sides with varying surface textures that allow you to switch things up on the fly. After testing four separate models, we found very little difference in tracking on both sides, but Corsair’s MM600 pulled slightly ahead with its ultra smooth “speed” side.
Perhaps one of the most recognizable cloth mouse pads due to its simple design and affordable cost, the QCK is Steelseries’ bread and butter mouse pad and for good reason. While it may be lacking some of the bells and whistles of the other cloth mouse pads we tested, the quality of the surface and performance of the QCK definitely warrants mention.
Like Steelseries, Razer has consolidated all of its cloth mouse pads into a single line with varying sizes. While the Goliathus has similar high quality materials and features to our winning cloth mouse pads, the distractingly vibrant green design feels like a step backward from Razer’s transition to sleeker designs seen in its newer hard mouse pads and logo redesign.
The Razer Sphex is a very unique mouse pad that essentially turns an area of your desk into a hard mouse pad. Skipping the usual plastic core and rubber base, the Sphex is a textured surface with an adhesive backing that attaches to your desk, making it a cost effective way to mimic the feel of a hard mouse pad.
One of the many “off-brand” competitors found primarily on Amazon, Reflex Lab offers several cloth mouse pads that actually compete toe to toe with some of the more developed brands. Their large and oversized gaming mouse pads are very competitively priced but a chemical-like odor (that went away after time) and the amount of time it took to flatten out after removal from packaging makes their materials and quality questionable.
Roccat and Corsair both offer economic versions of their cloth mouse pads that feature thinner surfaces without the bells and whistles. Unfortunately, with such a minimal difference in cost we find it hard to recommend the lower end models when their premium versions are so well worth the spend.
With countless brands offering mouse pads from every corner of the world, it’d be impossible for us to test each and every one of them. We do try our best to include every new and popular model in our tests, but it’s still a massive marketplace that is always booming with new players.
That being said, we are always on the lookout for new models and features that catch our eye and will continue to update this story with new developments. Your feedback and suggestions are also always welcome. Some of the mouse pads we’ll be looking at next include the Corsair MM800 Polaris RGB, TT eSports Draconem RGB, and the Steelseries DeX mouse pad.
A note on affiliates: some of our stories, like this one, include affiliate links to stores like Amazon. These online stores share a small amount of revenue with us if you buy something through one of these links, which helps support our work evaluating PC components.