- Mouse pad surfaces affect how your mouse tracks. Soft pads increase drag for more precision and hard surfaces allow for quicker movements, so the best mouse pad is down to the individual.
- However, we find the SteelSeries DeX, with its unique 3D texture that reduces drag so tracking is fluid and responsive, is the best mouse pad for most people. It may come from a gaming company, but this mouse pad is by no means garish — it’s so soft that it’s ready for hours of comfortable use.
Most people probably don’t think too much about mouse pads. Given modern mouse technology, this is actually quite understandable. Old-school ball mouses (remember those?) were barely usable without a good mouse pad, but the optical sensors on today’s mouses are much more forgiving when it comes to working surfaces. As long as it’s smooth and flat, it’ll probably work.
Nonetheless, if you’ve ever used an optical mouse without a pad for an extended period of time, you’ve almost certainly realized what you were missing. A smooth, tactile surface is still a necessity — even with the greatly enhanced sensitivity and accuracy of optical mouse sensors — whether you’re doing precise tasks like graphic design and gaming, or just tackling another long day of working on the computer.
Whereas ball mouses generally required a softer surface for traction, sensitive optical sensors have given rise to a growing number of mouse pad designs that offer different benefits. When it comes to pad surfaces, there’s a general trade-off between speed and accuracy: Softer or rougher textures will create more friction than a hard, slick surface, allowing for more precision (as well as creating more drag), whereas a smoother mouse pad will allow for quicker movements (such as while playing a fast-paced video game, for example) at the cost of accuracy.
In other words: Your mouse will move faster on a hard/smooth surface, thus making it easier to make large cursor swipes quickly, and it’ll move more slowly on a soft surface, thus giving you more precise control over your cursor. How much this matters to you really depends on your needs. Gamers are admittedly more fussy about this stuff than most people. Also note that softer mouse pads will naturally be more comfortable to use for long periods of time than hard ones.
Whatever your needs, we’ve covered just about all the bases below. These picks include everything from a no-nonsense budget-friendly mouse pad to ones featuring the latest innovations in surface design, so if you’re looking to upgrade your setup or just replace an old worn-out mouse pad, then be sure to read through them all to see which one is right for you.
Here are the best mouse pads you can buy:
Updated on 3/12/2020 by Joe Osborne: Moved a previous pick into our new pick for the best mouse pad overall. Filled its spot with the new budget choice: AmazonBasics. Updated language throughout for 2020. Checked all links for accuracy.
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