Its true that mouse pads are less needed than they once were. This is because old mice used a hard rubber ball at the bottom that would move as the mouse moved. This caused small wheels inside the mouse to turn and send signals to the computer for how far the mouse moved. The mouse pad was needed so the ball could grip it and move properly. The mice of old barely functioned without a mouse pad.
Today, we use optical mice that have a light that gauges the direction and amount it moves from the surface it is on. The mouse is used today to keep the mouse moving cleanly across a surface (no bumps, sticky spots, or roughness). The mouse pad can protect the bottom part of the mouse from wear as well as protect the desk from the mouse itself.
So should players still use mouse pads? Yes. While optical sensors are less vulnerable to surface imperfections of the old ball mice, mouse pads are still helpful. Optical mice can still pick up on problematic surfaces and effect gaming.
So now that we’ve established the need for a mouse pad what kind of mouse pad should you buy? Like other peripherals a lot of this is personal preference so we’ve detailed what to consider for a large variety of players.
There are two basic types of mouse pads with a few variations. There are soft (cloth) and hard (plastic or metal) pads. We recommend you buy soft pads for your program. Nearly all soft pads will have be mainly cloth with a rubber base for grip.
We don’t recommend buying hard mouse pads for a few reasons.
- Generally more expensive
- Most players are not comfortable with them; the overwhelming majority of people grew up playing on soft mouse pads.
- If used on any sort of uneven surface they will rattle and there’s not an easy way to straighten them out. A soft/cloth mouse pad does fine on a slope.
- A keyboard will not sit on the edge of a hard mouse pad as well if space is limited
- They’re louder. If a player has the tendency to pick up their mouse at all during play it will make a loud sound each time they set it back down.
There are mouse mats and mouse pads. A mouse mat serves the same purpose as a mouse pad it just covers both under the keyboard and under the mouse.
Now what kind of cloth pad should you buy?
The standard size for a computer mouse pad is around 7” x 9” . This is a little too small for gamers. Gamers who play on a low sensitivity need space to move their mouse further than the standard size mouse pad. Gamers will want a mouse pad of at least .
That’s really all you need to know. Find a mouse pad that is at least 12” x 10” and is within your budget. There isn’t much else to mouse pads. We have some recommendations below.
Our low-cost recommendations
SteelSeries QCK (Medium Size)
The SteelSeries QCK has a soft cloth top with a high thread count to help a mouse move smoothly across it with a stronger rubber base to keep the mouse from sliding. It is easy to roll up and transport as well as durable. It is also less than $10.
Size 12.6 x 10.6 x .07 inch.
Cooler Master MP510 (Medium)
Very similar to the SteelSeries QCK but slightly larger and thicker. Priced at $14.99, has been on sale on Amazon for as low as $9.99 at times.
Size 17.71 x 13.78 x 0.11 inch
Our higher-end recommendation
A full size mouse pad that covers both the mouse and keyboard. Similar to our other recommendations as far as material goes. A nice cloth surface with a rubber grip.
More expensive, but still reasonable at a price point of $29.99.
Size 36 x 12 x .11 inch
You can find plenty of mouse pads for over $100. These are priced so high for either LED light up features and/or wireless mouse charging features. We don’t recommend wireless mice so we don’t recommend buying the wireless charging pads and the LED light-ups are obviously just for looks.