Modern computer peripherals have become an essential part of every gamer's arsenal, especially those who dabble in competitive gaming. As such, it is important that gamers have the best computer peripherals for superior in-game performance.
However, there is no standard product that suits all gamers. A computer peripheral that works well for one gamer may not work as well for another.
With that in mind, today we will discuss gaming mouse pads, more specifically hard vs. soft gaming mouse pads, their differences, and which option may suit you best.
Gaming Mouse Pad Hard vs. Soft
When it comes to gaming mouse pads, there are countless options for gamers in the market. Since most gaming mouse pads can be categorized as either hard or soft, we will compare the two in key mouse pad aspects like surface texture, size, and edge.
Surface texture is the most important aspect of any gaming mouse pad. This is because it is the main part of the mouse pad that comes in constant contact with the feet of your mouse. Therefore, the surface texture dictates your mouse's feel, speed, accuracy, stopping power, and overall in-game performance.
The surface texture will cater to your unique mouse usage and style of gaming.
Modern gaming mouse pads come in two main surface textures, either a hard plastic coating (hard) or a tight weave soft fabric finish (soft). The former offers better speed and reaction times, whereas the latter is better for accuracy and precision.
Today, most gamers value accuracy over speed, especially for popular first-person shooter (FPS) games like Counter-Strike, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Doom, etc. This is why you will find that soft gaming mouse pads, like the Thasis, are the more popular and in-demand choice.
The growing trend of lower DPI (sensitivity) settings of mice for FPS games is also the result of gamers' preference of accuracy over speed. However, this isn't always the case. Some gamers play games that require speed and quick reaction times over precision and accuracy.
For such gamers, a hard gaming mouse pad offers better in-game performance, especially at higher DPI settings. It allows them to quickly move around without having to move the mouse around too much or putting in extra effort to do so, hence, improving their in-game performance.
This means that it all comes down to your preference. If you want accuracy and precision, a soft mouse pad is the better option, whereas if you require speed and greater reaction times, a hard mouse pad may just be the thing you need.
Typically, mouse pads come in 4 different sizes, small, medium, large, and extended (extra large). These size categories vary in dimensions from manufacturer to manufacturer. For gaming, small mouse pads are not ideal, as they can easily run out of space for movement, hampering in-game performance.
Since soft mouse pads are preferred for accuracy, gamers use them with lower DPI settings, which means they need more space to move the mouse around. Therefore, they prefer larger-sized mouse pads for their gaming needs to ensure they don't run out of space while gaming.
On the other hand, hard gaming mouse pads are better for speed, whereas gamers typically use higher DPI settings. This means they can make greater in-game movements, even in a smaller mouse pad area. This is why most hard mouse pads are usually not available in extra-large or extended sizes.
Gamers can make use of medium to large-sized hard gaming mouse pads without experiencing any negative impacts on their in-game performance. The relatively smaller hard mouse pads are also easier to fit into most computer setups of gamers, whereas larger soft mouse pads require more space.
Most gamers may not realize, but the edge of a gaming mouse pad is extremely important, especially for competitive gamers. The edge defines the relation between your mouse's chord and the mouse pad. Poor edges can result in chord abrasions that deteriorate the chord, or worse, it can cause cable drag.
Cable drag is a term used in gaming that refers to the drag on your mouse chord resulting from its friction against the edge of the mouse pad. This results in poor in-game performance because the cable drag deters your mouse movements, slowing you down or altering your movements in the game.
This is why high-quality edge designs like the precisely stitched edges of the Thasis, are incredibly important for soft gaming mouse pads. These stitched edges also prevent the fabric from fraying, improving the lifespan of the soft mouse pad.
However, hard gaming mouse pads offer the luxury of an "edgeless" design. Since there is no fabric involved, these hard mouse pads don't need stitching. They simply cut off at the edges, while some excellent edgeless designs add a slight downward curve at the edges to further reduce any cable drag.
When it comes to hard vs. soft gaming mouse pads, it all boils down to your preferences.
As mentioned, every gamer has a unique style of gaming and requires computer peripherals that meet that style. If you want speed and better reaction time at high DPIs, a medium to large, edgeless design, a hard gaming mouse pad is probably your best option.
But if you require accuracy and precision at ultra-low DPIs, a large to extended, high-quality stitched edge, soft gaming mouse pad, like the Thasis from MouseOne, is likely the best option for you.