Best Mouse Pad of 2021
The SteelSeries QcK Series is our unanimous favorite in this test group. It is designed with gamers in mind, and that fact shows in its performance. Its micro-woven cloth material provides excellent tracking and above-average glide for a cloth mouse pad. A rubber base holds this pad firmly in place, and the entire pad is washable. This mouse pad can be purchased in several sizes, from small to large. We tested the medium size but appreciate that SteelSeries has size options to fit a variety of needs.
We only have a few complaints about this product. The edges of the mouse pad are not stitched, which can lead to peeling and fraying; our pad arrived slightly frayed. Also, the QcK Series pad is rolled in its packaging. While we appreciate that this conserves packaging resources, it can cause some issues. The vast majority of users will find the mouse pad will relax and lay flat within a couple of days, but for some unlucky customers, it may take some extra time to straighten out if it ever does flatten. Overall, the SteelSeries QcK is a reliable mouse pad at a great price.
If you prefer a hard mouse pad, the Vaydeer Aluminum Mouse Mat is our favorite. It is reversible, which means you can choose whether you prefer to work on an aluminum or PU leather surface. Both sides are exceptionally smooth, with most mice gliding across the surface easily. We also appreciate the waterproof nature of this mouse pad, which makes it practically immune to damage from spills and easy to clean.
This mouse pad does have a few minor drawbacks. We found the Vaydeer to be noisy with most mice, even when using the included sound dampening stickers on the mouse. Some mice were worse than others, creating notable unpleasant noises. However, you may find this complaint to be insignificant if you have a quieter mouse. Additionally, this pad's reversible nature is a bit of a double-edged sword. Dual surfaces to choose from are a definite perk, but the underside of the mouse pad will always be somewhat slick and liable to move around on your work surface. Vaydeer does include adhesive rubber feet to combat this problem, but they can fall off over time, potentially hindering mouse movement. Overall, these are minor gripes, 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 Amazon Basics Gaming Computer Mouse Pad. There are multiple size options to fit your desk and your preferred mouse sensitivity. This machine-washable mouse mat has excellent tracking and a rubber bottom delivering great work and home or office 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. We still recommend the Amazon Basics Gaming Pad to anyone looking for a no-frills option at a great price.
The Belkin Standard Mouse Pad is classing design reminiscent of the pads of yesteryear. Many nostalgic Millennials will remember growing up using these thick pads and mechanical mice. Not much has changed with this design, and for a good reason. Its thick padding (around 5 millimeters) is comfortable to use and makes it ideal for traveling. It isn't as flimsy as the thinner cloth pads, so it's easier to slide into a laptop bag, and it makes any imperfect work surface more manageable. The pad's neoprene base is grippy and stays securely in place while you work.
While there are some great positive features to this pad, it also has some downsides. There isn't any stitching protecting the covering from peeling up over time. And with our noses pressed up against the pad, we were greeted with the smell of neoprene, though it was pretty mild. These drawbacks are easy to look past, considering the classic design and robust padding of the Belkin Standard.
Are you looking to combine a mouse mat and wrist rest all in one? Then look no further than the Amazon Basics 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 many other pads in this review, it doesn't have any edge protection, so there is potential for the surface material to fray or peel. We also found that cheaper or worn-out mice didn't glide as well, making for an unpleasant experience. All in all, the Amazon Basics Gel Computer Mouse Pad with Wrist Support Rest is a reliable option if you are looking for a mouse mat with an integrated wrist rest.
Are you searching for the smoothest glide around? Then look no further than the 3M Precise Mouse Pad. This model features a smooth, slightly textured plastic top that is quick and easy to clean, from daily dirt and grime to the occasional spilled drink. The non-skid backing keeps it securely in place on most work surfaces.
There are, however, some downsides with the 3M Precise. We found that all mice were innately louder on this pad compared to a more traditional 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 could be a great option if you're looking for a smooth glide.
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is lead by our expert tester Austin Palmer, who has been using computers since his great grandmother introduced them to him at the age of five. After over two decades of experience in building and diagnosing computers, he has logged well over 10,000 hours of screen and mouse time and is well versed in the frustrations that using inadequate computer equipment can bring.
After purchasing the top mouse pads on the market, we put 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 how accurately mice tracked and noted if their quiet office was disrupted by scraping mouse feet.
Analysis and Test Results
To track down the best mouse pad on the market, we focused primarily on the properties of the top work surface. We divided our evaluation of the surface into glide, noise, and tracking metrics and composed different side-by-side tests for each. We even blindfolded our judges for a handful of tests to help work towards our goal of impartiality. We used our extensive computer experience and analytical senses to evaluate each product and determine which came out on top.
Since the invention of the first mouse mat, the top work surface has been the main focus. When older mice used a physical ball that rotated rollers inside the mouse housing, it was essential 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 mouse 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 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, as well as the QcK. Overall, we liked the QcK over the aluminum side of the Vaydeer, even though they were both exceptionally smooth. With cheaper mice, the Vaydeer's aluminum side felt scratchy.
The difference between the QcK and the cloth Amazon Basics Gaming is minimal when using high-end mice. When you are using cheap mice or mice with worn-out feet, the difference is staggering, dropping the Amazon Basics from above average to merely average.
Bringing up the rear, we have the Amazon Basics Gel Computer Mouse Pad with Wrist Support Rest and the Belkin Standard. High-end mice have noticeably more drag on these pads, while cheap mice performed abysmally. It felt like running through knee-deep water. 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. The less expensive and noisy mice made a significant 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 minimal improvement even after installing the included noise-dampening feet on our mouse.
Mouse tracking isn't a big issue these days, especially with the fancy sensors many mice come with, but we wanted to check anyway. We performed repeated accuracy tests on each pad with a variety of mice and noted any discrepancies. As we expected, all the pads performed at approximately the same accuracy after accounting for typical human user 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. Nowadays, moving your mouse 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