Size and Portability
One of the most important considerations when choosing a mouse pad is size. While it’s easy to just hit the order button on the first Amazon search result that looks good, you don’t want to end up with something that’s too big or too small. A small mousepad can be frustrating to use, as you’ll find yourself constantly repositioning your mouse back to the center or having it swipe off the edge of the pad.
A large mouse pad is less of a problem for most people since you can always leave it hanging off the edge of your desk. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing, but at least you can always have more of the pad when you need it. However, if you can’t tolerate any overflow, then you’ll want to find a more accommodative size that doesn’t take up too much valuable desk space.
To be precise, grab a ruler or measuring tape and measure the area where you plan on placing your mouse pad. This will give you a good idea of how big or small to go. You should also think about other areas you’ll commonly use the pad, as well as items that might get in the way. These include a laptop, paper, a keyboard, or a monitor.
Regarding portability, the bigger your mouse pad, the more space it’s going to take up in your bag and at other working stations. If you travel frequently or want to be able to move your setup around easily, a smaller pad will likely be a better choice. It probably won’t be a good idea to bring a 40-inch mouse pad to a coffee shop. Conversely, if you don’t plan on moving your pad around much, then you can go with a larger size since you don’t have to worry about lugging it around.
HAVIT Large Professional Gaming Mouse Pad
A 40-inch gaming mouse that'll make sure you never run out of room again. Not for cramped coffee shops!
Hard or Soft
A mouse pad will either have a hard or soft surface. Hard pads are made of plastic, metal, or glass. Whereas soft pads are usually made of cloth. Both options are viable, so you should choose whichever you prefer.
Harder mouse pads are more difficult to control due to a lack of friction. With less friction, it’s harder to stop your mouse exactly where you want it. However, you’ll be able to move your mouse more quickly. Being precise and getting used to the speed may be difficult at first, but you’ll get accustomed to it. This is nice for gamers or creative professionals that make a lot of fast movements or large sweeping motions. Razer’s Firefly Hard V2 is a fantastic mouse pad to consider.
Mouse pads made of hard material are also easier to clean and will generally be more durable than their soft counterparts. There’s very little maintenance involved with keeping a hard mouse pad in good condition.
One of the major downsides is that hard mouse pads may wear out the feet of your mice, especially if you don’t have durable friction pads. The hard surface also doesn’t do much for ergonomics, so if you’re looking for a more comfortable experience, you’ll want to go with a soft mouse pad or get yourself an external wrist rest.
Soft mouse pads offer a much more comfortable experience and are great for those who spend long hours in front of the computer. They’re also much easier to control since there’s generally more friction. This results in more precise cursor placement and slower movement, which is easy to get accustomed to. With the soft material, it’ll feel nice to rest your wrist and hand on. You can also roll and pack soft pads on the go, unlike most hard pads.
Everlasting Comfort Gaming Mouse Pad
This extra-comfy, extra-large soft mouse pad comes with a wrist rest and LED lighting!
Some downsides of soft mouse pads are that they’re not as durable as their hard counterparts. They get dirty easily and are harder to clean. The fabric can also get bunched up or folded if you’re not careful, which will make the pad harder to use. If you’re looking for a more durable and long-lasting option, a hard mouse pad may be a better option.
One key feature to look out for in any mouse pad is that it’s slip-resistant. These mouse pads will have a non-slip, textured bottom to prevent them from moving around while you’re using them. This is essential for any computer activity, but especially gaming, because you won’t have to worry about the pad scooting around or bunching up in the middle of an intense fight.
A water-resistant pad is also nice to have, but it’s not essential unless you’re worried about spilling drinks. Although accidents do happen, at least you know your mouse pad won’t get ruined or start to smell. Of course, you could always give it a nice clean if that happens.
Fun and Useful Features
Mouse pads can come with a variety of extra features that might be useful to you. For example, most gaming mouse pads, like the Razer Firefly v2, have RGB lighting along the edges. However, since they’re USB-powered, you’ll have another cable to manage. The lighting usually isn’t customizable, but it’s still aesthetically pleasing!
There are also mouse pads with cable holders, which can help you organize your desktop and tidy up your cords. These pads are wonderful for those who have a lot of devices or peripherals plugged in. And if you prefer to avoid wires entirely where possible, you can opt for a mouse pad with a built-in wireless charger.
A premium mouse pad such as the Orbitkey Desk Mat comes with cable holding and charging features, including a hidden layer to tuck away paper! Yes, you’ll be paying far more than your average pad, but with the handy qualities, it makes for a great investment.