A large, gray desk mat on a wooden desk setup.

Mousepads vs. Desk Mats

When you have to work or game on your computer for long hours, computer peripherals or accessories play a major role to keep you comfortable, efficient, and productive. This is where mousepads and desk mats can be really helpful.

However, most people are under the impression that they serve the same purpose or are interchangeable. This is not true, as there are subtle differences between the two that separate one from the other.

Let's compare mousepads and desk mats to give you a better understanding of these two computer peripherals.

Mousepads vs. Desk Mats

Perhaps the biggest difference between a mousepad and a desk mat is that the latter is typically much bigger. However, when it comes to modern gaming mousepads, extended variants tend to be quite large. Still, the largest gaming mousepads are not nearly as big as the largest desk mats.

Let's dive deeper into our comparison, starting with the purpose and benefits of desk mats.

What Is a Desk Mat Used for?

The main purpose of a desk mat is to provide a flat, smooth, and protective surface for your desk, that is easier to work on than a hard or rough surface like a wooden desktop. They can also add aesthetic appeal to your desktop setup and some come with features to help you organize your desk items.

Benefits of a Desk Mat

As mentioned above, a desk mat mainly offers protection for your desk surface. Here are some key benefits of a desk mat to help you understand how it does that and more. 

  • Your desk surface remains safe from wear and tear of a moving mouse, keyboard, pets, kids, etc.
  • The flat desk mat surface allows for convenient writing
  • Prevents dirt, debris, grime, spillage, or crumbs from staining or dirtying your desk surface
  • Prevents things from slipping off a smooth desk surface, including the desk mat itself.
  • Additional features like USB pass-through and recessed areas for stationary can help keep you organized
  • Aesthetic features like solid colors, prints, RGB lighting, and others can add appeal to your entire desktop setup

What Is a Mousepad Used For? 

A mousepad is a flat, padded surface, specifically designed for using a computer mouse, or a gaming mouse in the case of a gaming mousepad like the Thasis from MouseOne. It can also protect your desk surface similar to how a desk mat protects your desk surface.

Benefits of a Mousepad

Here are some key benefits of a mousepad.

  • Protects your desk surface from mouse scratches
  • Provides a soft surface to rest your wrists as you use the mouse and may also come with wrist support
  • Prevents your mouse or the desk surface from picking up dirt, dust, debris, and grime
  • Improves your mouse movements and stopping power
  • Consequently, improves your gaming performance and experience
  • Mousepads with high-quality stitched edges or edgeless designs, protect your mouse cord from abrasions and prevent cord resistance
  • Additional features offer may things like wireless charging, US pass through, and more
  • Aesthetic features like solid colors, prints, RGB lighting, and others can add appeal to your entire desktop setup

Differences Between a Desk Mat and Mouse Pad

While mouse pads and desk mats both protect your desk surface, there are a few key differences between them. Typically, a mousepad is more padded than a desk mat to offer more comfort for your wrist and hand, whereas a desk mat may cover more desk area than a mousepad.

So, desk mats allow more coverage and protection due to their larger size, which also means you can place more things on them. Traditional mousepads, however, may only allow enough space for your mouse.

On the other hand, manufacturers create modern gaming mouse pads, in extended sizes. This means you can keep your mouse and keyboard on them, but not much else. While extended mousepads may match the size of a typical desk mat, they are not as big as some larger desk mats that can cover a much larger desk surface.

While they both may offer some common additional and aesthetic features, wireless charging is something that you may only find on a high-end mousepad and not a desk mat. Lastly, a typical mousepad costs less than a typical desk mat. However, high-end gaming mousepads can far exceed the price of most desk mats.

Are Mousepads and Desk Mats Interchangeable?

To some extent, a desk mat can be used as a mousepad and vice versa. However, neither is specifically designed for the other one's purpose. A desk mat is primarily for the protection of your desk surface and to provide a large, smooth, and flat working surface.

Whereas a mousepad is primarily designed as a surface for your mouse. They can both perform the other's task, but not as well. This becomes even more apparent if you use these computer peripherals or accessories as a professional.


The similarities of mousepads and desk mats lead most people to think that they are interchangeable, when in fact they are not, especially for professionals like graphic designers or pro gamers. Most times, you can use one in place of the other, but this is not recommended.

If you want to improve your gaming performance, mouse movements, or wrist comfort, you should opt for a mousepad, or gaming mousepad like the Thasis. Whereas if you want a good work surface that protects your desk surface and is large enough to place more items, a desk mat is for you.

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