Mouse pads. A much overlooked part of the whole PC setup, what good is a speedy PC with the latest hardware inside if you can not control it accurately? The mouse has grown to be an extension to the human hand to interact with your PC, and companies making our PC rodents have prospered ever since. But having the best mouse alone will not help overcome a bad surface. Sure the average $5 mouse pad with funky Mickey Mouse picture will suffice. But experience the ease of working with a high performance mouse pad and you will never want to go back.
The custom mouse pads have been around for a few years now, when I first bought my Everglide Giganta for €25 people called me crazy, “why would you send so much for a mouse pad?” A few rounds of Quake later made them understand why.
Custom mouse pads are mainly geared towards the gamers out there, although it will also benefit those who require high precision from their mouse.
Today I’m looking at different mouse pads from X-Trac
, a company which is focused solely at providing the enthusiast and gamer a like with a fluent “mousing” experience.
In this review I glide my Optical mice over the X-Trac Ripper, Pro HS and Zoom mouse pads, each featuring different characteristics to set them apart from the other. I swapped mouse pads and mice during a total of 4 weeks, using them in total for over 400 hours.
During the day they were used mainly during web browsing, coding in Dreamweaver, painting in Jasc’s PaintShop Pro and during session in Office applications. In the evening/night the pads were furiously tested in single- and multiplayer games, a small selection listed here: Counter Strike: Source, UT2003 Instagib, Half Life 1, Halo, Locomotion, Mafia and GTA3: Vice City.
So let’s find out how each one did, pictured below with the Logitech MX1000 for size comparison.Mouse pads ahoy!
The biggest one is the Ripper
, it measures close to 43x28cm and is made from a soft material, and it’s completely flexible and feels quite smooth. It requires quite a bit of space to install, but being only 3.2mm it can slide under some things, although it will put your keyboard out of balance.
On this cloth pad it requires some force to move your mouse around, yet it provides a large “play ground”, and very precise work is possible as the movement of your mouse is tracked accurately. I would not recommend it for FPS gamers however as the Zoom and Pro HS outperformed the Ripper in this aspect by a large margin.
For daily usage (browsing, email, word, excel, etc) it is okay but when you open up Adobe Photoshop or AutoCAD it comes into its own. Set your mouse speed a notch down and enjoy full precision!
Retail: ~€14The Pro HS
is more conform to the regular sized mouse pads, it is not as flexible as the cloth Ripper, but it’s no Everglide either. This pad is aimed at the more demanding gamers out there, featuring a rich pattern to help tracking for optical mice. It was my favorite the first weeks, offering a very smooth glide through all office applications and helping with getting that vital headshot in Counter Strike. I like the "minimal amount of effort, maximum amount of mouse movement" which the Pro HS allows without being overly sensitive or inaccurate. It was closely comparable to the Everglide Giganta when it came down to gaming, but with the advantage of not being made of cold hard plastic, nor sitting several centimeters of the desk. The Pro HS is only 3.2mm thick like the Ripper.
Retail: ~€17The Zoom
was very aptly named; first time I put my mouse on there it simply flew off. Your mouse really glides over this surface as if it were on ice, not much force is needed to go from one end to the other. It took me some time before I was able to do my daily work routine on the PC without missing the “ok” and “next” button here and there. This mouse pad will not be for everyone but if you like to have a very smooth mouse surface, look no further I’d say. Gaming proved to be a challenge in the beginning, and I was having more success with the somewhat slower Pro HS.
But after 2 weeks of “training” to use the Zoom mouse pad I set aside the Pro HS and dived into a few rounds of Counter Strike without any of the issues I had experienced in the beginning. The tables were turned and the Zoom quickly became the favorite in this X-Trac roundup. At 1mm it slides under everything without problem, the only downside to the Zoom I could find that it is not too flexible, doing so (unintentionally during transport to a LAN party) caused the top cover to peel of at one of the corners. Luckily it only took a small drop of glue to fix it. So take caution when transporting this pad.
The Zoom product page
states that the pad does not work with recent Logitech mice, however I used the MX700/MX1000 and a generic Logitech optical mouse, all without problem or weird behavior.
How can you benchmark a mouse pad? How can you evaluate its performance without relying solely on the subjective opinion of the reviewer? Well turn the page to see if I can pull it of ->