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. While we tested the size medium version, we particularly like that SteelSeries offers a variety of sizes from small to large to best fit your needs.
However, we do have a few complaints about this product. First of all, the edges are not stitched, leaving them wide open to peel and fray, and our pad arrived slightly frayed. While we appreciate the efforts SteelSeries made 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 and straighten out, if it ever does. All things considered, the SteelSeries QcK is a solid pad at a great price.
The Vaydeer Aluminum Mouse Mat is our favorite hard pad. We especially like that the pad is reversible giving you options on which surface you prefer, including both aluminum and PU leather. Each side is exceptionally smooth and most mice glide across the surface effortlessly. Additionally, this model is waterproof, making it virtually immune to spill damage and a cinch to keep clean.
While this model has numerous positive attributes, it does have a few drawbacks. We found that the Vaydeer is 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 easily stay in place while in use unless you use the included adhesive rubber feet. However, these feet 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 option 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 thinner cloth pads, making it easier to slide into a laptop bag and make any less than ideal work 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. 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 cheaper or worn out mice didn't glide as 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. Further, we found that using large mice on this pad is less than optimal and we felt limited on the movements that 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 than the 3M Precise Mouse Pad. 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 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 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 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, making it ideal for those that like to eat and drink at their desk and 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 t-shirt 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
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 5. After over 2 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 poor computer equipment can bring.
We started this review by researching over 40 different products and narrowed it down to the best eight options that are 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 how accurately mice tracked and noted if their quiet office was disrupted by the sound of scraping mouse feet.
Analysis and Test Results
To track down the best mouse pad, we focused primarily on the properties of the top work surface. We divided up 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 in order to help ensure impartiality. We used our expansive 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 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 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 both were exceptionally smooth. With cheaper mice, the Vaydeer's aluminum side felt scratchy.
Next, we have the AmazonBasics Gaming and the VicTsing Stitched Edge. If we were comparing only cloth mouse mats, these would finish 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 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. 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.
Mouse tracking isn't a big issue these days, 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 accuracy after accounting for normal 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