We researched over 40 mouse pads, then bought the 8 best products available for comprehensive side-by-side testing all to help you find the perfect pad for your home or office. We conducted extensive testing with each model using a variety of mice to see how they stacked up against one another. Specifically, we rated how well their surfaces performed, looking at their glide, noise, and tracking, as well as compatibility with different mice. Continue reading to find out which pad came out on top.
The Best Mouse Pads of 2020
Taking our top spot overall, the SteelSeries QcK Series is a unanimous group favorite. The micro-woven cloth material has gamers in mind, translating to excellent tracking and above average glide for a cloth mouse pad. The rubber base keeps this model securely in place and the entire pad is washable. We particularly liked that they offer a variety of sizes from small to large to fit your needs — we tested the medium version.
However, we do have some complaints about this product. First off, the edges are not stitched, leaving them wide open to peel and fray — our pad arrived slightly frayed. While we appreciate SteelSeries' efforts to conserve resources in their packaging, it doesn't always work out the best for the customer. The QcK Series arrives rolled up in a box and, if you're one of the lucky 95%, it will lay flat within a couple of days. Otherwise, it might take some time to relax, if ever. All things considered, the SteelSeries QcK is a solid pad at a great price.
The Vaydeer Aluminum Mouse Mat is our top pick for hard pads. We especially like that the pad is reversible giving you options on which surface you prefer — aluminum or PU leather. Each side is exceptionally smooth and most mice glide across effortlessly. Additionally, this model is waterproof, making it virtually immune to spill damage and a cinch to clean.
While there are numerous positives for this model, it does have its drawbacks. We found the Vaydeer particularly noisy with most mice, even when using the included sound dampening stickers for your mouse. Some mice were outright horrendous, resembling nails on a chalkboard. While being reversible is a perk, it does have its downside. Since this is a reversible hard pad, its underside is always slick and doesn't stay in place while in use unless you use the included adhesive rubber feet. They do not permanently attach and may fall off over time, and can impede your mouse movements. Overall, these faults are minor, especially if you have a quiet mouse, and we recommend the Vaydeer Aluminum Mouse Mat to anyone looking for a hard mouse mat.
Another top option for a cloth pad is the AmazonBasics Gaming Computer Mouse Pad. There are multiple size options to fit your desk and mouse sensitivity needs. This machine-washable mouse mat has great tracking and a rubber bottom delivering great work and home use performance.There are a few minor issues with this pad. We found that the edges are a little rough and would irritate our wrist or forearm depending on how each tester used a mouse on the pad. Additionally, our pad never laid completely flat, even after spending time in the hot sun or under a pile of books. That being said, we recommend the AmazonBasics Gaming Pad to anyone looking for a no-frills pad at a great price.
The Belkin Standard Mouse Pad is a blast from the past. Many Millennials will remember growing up with those thick pads and mechanical mice. Not much has changed with this model and there is a good reason. Its thick padding (around 5mm) is comfortable to use and makes it ideal for traveling. It isn't as flimsy as the thin cloth pads, making it easier to slide into a laptop bag and make any less than ideal surface you come across more manageable. The neoprene base is grippy, keeping this pad in place while you work.
While there are some great positives to this pad, it does have its downsides. There isn't any stitching protecting the covering from peeling up over time. We also read through tons of user reviews and found common complaints about an unpleasant stench that permeated their rooms, hands, and desks. Fortunately, for us, that wasn't the case. Even With our noses pressed up against the pad we were greeted only with the mild smell of "wetsuit", or neoprene. These drawbacks are easy to look past considering you can usually find the Belkin Standard on sale, plus it's hard to beat that nostalgic feeling.
Looking to combine a mouse mat and wrist rest all in one? Then look no further than the AmazonBasics Gel Computer Mouse Pad with Wrist Support Rest. This model combines a very comfortable wrist rest and a mouse mat at a price typically much lower than purchasing them separately. The rubberized base keeps this pad securely in place while you work.
This product does have a few minor shortcomings. Like most of the pads in this review, it doesn't have any edge protection, leaving the possibility open for the surface material to fray or peel. We also found that using cheaper or worn out mice didn't glide well, making for an unpleasant experience. All in all, the AmazonBasics Gel Computer Mouse Pad with Wrist Support Rest is a solid option if you are looking for a mouse mat with an integrated wrist rest.
The VicTsing Ergonomic Mouse Pad with Gel Wrist Rest is unmatched when it comes to surface grip. Its polyurethane bottom is so sticky you could almost scale a glass building with it and the built-in wrist rest. Additionally, its apostrophe design has a great balance between being compact and giving you plenty of surface area to move your mouse.
However, we did have some complaints about this product. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this product doesn't have any seam protection. Furthermore, we found that using large mice on this pad is less than optimal — we felt limited on the movements we could perform. Despite these small drawbacks, we think the VicTsing Ergonomic Pad with Gel Wrist Rest is a good option, especially if you like the space-efficient apostrophe design.
Searching for the smoothest glide around? Then look no further, the 3M Precise Mouse Pad is here. This model features a slick, slightly textured plastic top that is quick and easy to clean, from daily dirt and grime to the occasional spill. The non-skid backing keeps it securely in place on most surfaces.
There are some downsides with the 3M Precise. We found that all mice were innately louder on this pad compared to a cloth pad. Every pick-up and set-down of the mouse is much more noticeable. We also found that this model loses its effectiveness with optical mice once the surface begins to wear out. The 3M Precise isn't the best, but it is a great option if you find it on sale.
Peeling or fraying edges giving you trouble, but don't want the super slick surface of a hard pad? Then the VicTsing Mouse Pad with Stitched Edges has you covered. Stitched edges protect the cover from delaminating from its base, increasing its longevity. This pad is washable — ideal for those that tend to spill their beverages. VicTsing also offers this pad in a variety of colors: black, galaxy, and grey (a pattern that resembles the 3M Precise).
Our main complaint with this product is the edge stitching is noticeably raised above the pad, irritating our arm and/or wrist. We also found that heavy movement causes the pad to inchworm around our desks — even with the rubberized bottom. Additionally, the edges can start to curl, looking like the "bacon neck" in an old Hanes commercial. All in all the VicTsing Pad with Stitched Edges is a good option if you find yourself constantly needing to wash your pad.
Why You Should Trust Us
Our expert tester, Austin Palmer, has been using computers since his great grandmother introduced them at age 5 and has over 2 decades of experience building and diagnosing computers. He has logged well over 10,000 hours at a computer and is well versed in the frustrations poor computer equipment can bring.
We started out researching over 40 different mouse pads and narrowed it down to the best mice currently available. After purchasing these models we began putting our comprehensive test plan into action. Our panel of judges used each pad extensively, up to 12 hours a day, and compared how well and accurate mice tracked, as well as noted if their quiet office was disrupted by scraping mouse feet.
Analysis and Test Results
To track down the best mouse pad, we focused primarily on the surface. We divided the surface evaluation up into glide, noise, and tracking — each composed of differing side-by-side tests. We even blindfolded our judges for a handful of tests. We used our expansive computer experience and keen eye to evaluate each product to determine which came out on top.
Since the invention of the first mouse mat, the surface has been the main focus. When mice used a physical ball that rotated rollers inside the mouse housing it was important to have a smooth and clean surface to optimize tracking. That same thought process still holds true nowadays — for optical and laser mice --but now we get to add personal preference into the mix since technology has advanced.
Leading the pack for glide is the 3M Precise. The plastic surface material feels ultra-smooth to move across, even with the cheap mice or those with worn-out feet. It is so smooth, in fact, that if you have a stiff mouse cable and take your hand off, you might not find your mouse in the place you left it. Following not too far behind are the Vaydeer Aluminum Mouse Mat and the SteelSeries QcK Series. The PU leather side of the Vaydeer is slightly smoother than its aluminum surface and the QcK. Overall, we liked the QcK over the aluminum side of the Vaydeer even though they both were exceptionally smooth. With cheaper mice, the Vaydeer's aluminum side felt scratchy.
Next, we have the AmazonBasics Gaming Computer Mouse Pad and the VicTsing Mouse Pad with Stitched Edge. If we were comparing only cloth mouse mats these would be closer to the top. When using high-end mice the difference between the QcK, AmazonBasics Gaming, and VicTsing Stitched Edge is minimal, but when you are using cheap mice or mice with worn-out feet the difference is staggering. Dropping these two pads — the AmazonBasics Gaming and the VicTsing Stitched Edge — from above average to simply average.
Bringing up the rear, we have the AmazonBasics Gel Computer Mouse Pad with Wrist, the VicTsing Ergonomic Mouse Pad with Gel Wrist Rest, and the Belkin Standard Mouse Pad. High-end mice have noticeable more drag on these pads, while cheap mice performed abysmally. It felt like running through knee-deep water. Needless to say, these pads are decent with good quality mice, but we don't recommend them if you are using a cheap or worn-out mouse.
Most mice move silently across cloth mouse mats but hard mats can generate considerably more noise than you might want. A quality mouse tends to produce a lot less noise on hard pads than a cheap mouse, and with some mice it doesn't make a difference as they are inherently loud. It was the cheap and loud mice that made a huge impact on the noise level of our hard pads. The PU leather side of the Vaydeer is a bit louder than the cloth pads, followed by the 3M Precise. Lastly, the Vaydeer's aluminum side is the worst in our minds, sounding like nails on a chalkboard, thoroughly irritating everyone in the vicinity. We also noticed very little improvement even after installing the included noise-dampening feet on our mouse.
These days tracking isn't a big issue, especially with the fancy sensors a lot of mice come with, but we wanted to check anyway. We performed repeated accuracy tests on each pad with a variety of mice and noted if there were any discrepancies. As we expected, all the pads performed approximately the same — within human error. The 3M Precise is the only pad that gave us some small concerns. Its textured surface is susceptible to smoothing out over time and will likely cause trouble for optical and laser mice but shouldn't be an issue for mechanical mice.
A mouse mat that works well for you can be the difference between a good or bad time at the office. Moving your cursor should be as automatic as breathing. Not having to spend time concentrating on dragging your mouse through molasses or on a surface so slick it is uncontrollable makes a big difference at the end of the day. Hopefully, this assessment has been helpful when it comes to selecting and purchasing your next mouse pad.
— Austin Palmer