Half the fun of building a gaming rig is designing your own desktop, and last week we decided that it was high time to stop worrying about sleek black tempered glass and slick RGB memory to deck out our desktop aesthetic here at Gamespace.
If you’ve been watching some of our recent unboxings, you might have noticed a difference to the desktop layout. I recently decided to ditch the small scale mouse mat and go all-in with a huge Gamespace gaming surface Ultimate Custom Mousepads and find out if a custom aesthetic is really worth giving up any pure performance from other potential options?
Select Your Weapon
Let’s be clear, there are plenty of gaming surfaces or alternative mouse mats on the market. Whether you’ve got a fully customize Snakebyte Game:Mouse Ultra, a Mad Catz R.A.T. 8+, or a trusty old Logitech G600, the supporting surface will either end up being hard or soft. To help us decide what’s more important here I pulled a selection of popular contenders out of the bag the provide an overview of the differences in price, performance, and customization.
Logitech G440 – The Hard Choice
The Logitech G440 is a typical hardstyle surface coming in at around the $30 mark for a low friction high durability desktop add-on that embraces minimalism. While you’ll easily be able to order some extra RGB if you’re willing to look at other manufacturers, most hard mouse mats are aesthetically simple beasts. The minimalist concept doesn’t do a huge amount for my own tastes and while it has a certain appeal, the limited size also means it will need to fit in among your other top side accessories too.
- Length: 340 mm
- Width: 280 mm
- Depth: 3 mm
- Weight: 229 g, approximate
- Material: polypropylene top layer with polystyrene core
- Base: Textured Rubber
Price & Performance
Of all the gaming surfaces we threw on our desktop, the G400 is the slickest of the bunch and an obvious contender for your cash, and that’s not just because it’s a seriously good gaming surface. Logitech’s long-standing veteran of the gaming wars is a bit on the pricey side, even though it’s not even as expensive as the Corsair MM600. If you end up with the G440 on your desktop then expect to fork out just below $30 for a total playspace of 340mm x 240mm, meaning you’ll get a bit more than an Ipad Pro of real estate, all of which will need to be accommodated for on your desktop too.
While this all means the G440 is good for a quick swipe left or right, the hard polypropylene top layer is all about speed. If you’re playing with a high DPI or need to get from A to B with inhuman urgency then this type of surface is worth considering. There’s a reason Lexip pair a hard surface with their class-leading ceramic mouse feet, after all. If you’re not flying across the Starcraft maps or whirling around a MOBA screen then it’s likely you’ll want something with a little more control for moving the Doomslayer around the pits of hell.
SteelSeries QcK – A Soft Cell
Cloth or cloth weave mouse mats are the only serious alternative for gamers who don’t need super speed. These tend to come with a rubber base and a cloth or treated weave top of some sort. Generally providing a comfortable gaming session and more flexibility than the hardstyle surfaces, this is the type of mouse mat most of us are used to using. You can grab them for a variety of prices, brands, and colors, but we pulled out a spare Steelseries QcK for this test. As one of the leading cloth-based gaming surfaces, it gives us a great baseline comparison to the offerings and harder mouse mats.
- Length 250 mm / 320 mm / 450 mm / 1220 mm / 1220 mm / 1600 mm
- Width: 210 mm / 270 mm / 400 mm / 590 mm / 762 mm / 800 mm
- Depth: 3mm
- Material: Cloth
- Base: Silicon Rubber
Price & Performance
Coming in at around a third of the price of an equivalent hard matt, the QcK cloth mouse mat uses an exclusive QcK micro-woven material that provides plenty of traction beneath mice for a range of situations. The versatility of these soft surfaces is obvious from the off. The low prices mean an acceptable level of speed is achievable with just a tiny fraction more mouse friction than the G440 manages. While friction might sound like the enemy of your mousepad feet, this can provide a little more control for any mouse movements and the rubber base grips the desktop as well as you might expect. The big difference with the QcK is versatility. Working well across a range of game types, it’s a solid everyman, but you don’t have to pick just one mat to fit them all.
Cloth gaming surfaces provide the opportunity to pick up a range of sizes, stitching, and designs that hard mouse mats rarely offer. While the QcK range has a few options, like the heavy series for a comfy all in one tabletop, you don’t necessarily need to settle for something as uniform as the big player’s series of surfaces.
Ultimate Custom Mousepads – All Your Own
While more established mouse mats might give you plenty of options and a reassuring gamer seal of approval stamped in the bottom corner of your designated mouse accessory, there’s also the option of ditching the branding and designing your own desktop. The ubiquity of micro cloth weaves that perform just as well as the branded versions meant we could unfurl something altogether our own. With the help of the team over at Ultimate Custom Mousepads, we uploaded our own Gamespace logo, chose a size, thickness, and stitching option then got to gaming.
- Length 300 mm / 700 mm / 800 mm / 900 mm / 1000 mm
- Width: 250 mm / 300 mm / 300 mm / 400 mm / 500 mm
- Depth: 2 mm / 3 mm / 4mm
- Edges: Stitched full color / RGB edging
- Material: Cloth
- Base: Textured rubber
Price & Performance
Without the cost of a branded logo set into the corner, we found that even a fully customized surface comes in at a comparable price to the more subdued SteelSeries QcK with all the same flexibility as any other cloth underside. The cloth weave provides the same mix of comfort and performance that is, in most situations, indistinguishable from the cloth coating of the QcK. What this means is that across a range of mice and DPI settings, the Gamespace branded mats gave a comfortable ride with a good balance of precision and speed.
Where the Ultimate Custom Mousepads accessories stand apart is the range of custom options available. A solid range of 5 sizes roll all the way out to a massive 1000mm. While that’s not as huge as the SteelSeries QcK 5XL, which tops out at 1600mm, you’ll notice that there’s enough room to fit all your gaming peripherals for plenty of uninterrupted movement while you move around the battlefield. Add your own custom image, and a choice of changing the stitching out to house a changeable RGB light strip, and you’re able to pack in the same performance that off the shelf options provide with something a little more you. You can check out the RGB variation we grabbed above.
What to choose?
Choosing the type of gaming surface that suits your needs isn’t easy. You might not even give it much thought until you’re pushed into something new. I’m not going to sit here and say everyone needs their own custom gaming surface because speed might trump price, fashion, and comfort for you. For me, I can’t understand why I would spend an age getting my go faster RGB perfectly synchronized and not take the opportunity to impress on the desktop too. If you want to drop something new on your desktop you can find out more over at the Ultimate Custom Mousepads website, while the Logitech G440 is available for you speed freaks over on major retailers now.