For many, mouse pads have become a commodity -- or even unnecessary -- with many optical mice claiming to work on most surfaces you throw at 'em. But when it comes to PC gaming, a mouse pad can be a crucial ally guaranteeing an level and/or extra-slick surface to ensure smooth, precise, error-free movements. And if you’re going to add an accessory to your RGB-enabled gaming setup, doesn't your best gaming mouse deserves something pretty to dance on too?
There is an ever-growing number of RGB mouse pads available online. But a lot of those come from vendors most have never heard of, and others may not have the features you have in mind. Mouse pads may sound simple enough once you’ve decided on a material, but when you toss in RGB lighting strips and customization software, it becomes easier to get buyer’s remorse.
Quick Shopping Tips
When buying an RGB mouse pad, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you have an available USB port? RGB mouse pads need something to power all those colorful lights. If you don’t want to sacrifice a port, look for a pad with a USB passthrough port or consider ditching RGB altogether.
- Hard or soft? Hard, plastic surfaces are more slippery, so your mouse will quickly glide across the surface with minimal force from your hand. These are best reserved for more competitive gamers (or at least those with a mouse with CPI control). Alternatively, soft cloth mouse pads generally offer more precise control.
- Does it come with software? If there’s no software, it’s likely that you won’t be able to customize the mouse pad lighting’s colors or effects, and if you are, the options will be limited. Most of the mouse pads on this list feature free software for controlling the lighting.
- How many RGB zones do you want? An RGB zone is individually customizable via software, so if you want to see more than one color at a time on your mouse pad, make sure you buy a pad with at least 2 RGB zones. Note that RGB zones are different than “RGB LEDs."
Best RGB mouse pads at a glance:
1. SteelSeries QCK Prism
2. Razer Firefly V2
3. Cooler Master MP750 (M)
4. Omen by HP Outpost
5. SteelSeries QCK Prism Cloth (XL)
6. Patriot Viper Gaming LED Mouse Pad
7. Thermaltake Level 20 Extended Gaming Mouse Pad
Best RGB Mouse Pads 2020
The SteelSeries QCK Prism is the best mouse pad with RGB. It’s not just a light show; the QCK Prism is fully outfitted for serious gaming. The square within the RGB border easily comes off, allowing gamers to choose between its hard polymer side for speedy gaming or the micro-textured soft cloth surface for greater control. It’s almost like getting two mouse pads in one.
When gaming, the mouse pad felt solid and reliable, thanks to its relatively heavy feel and thick rubber base that wouldn’t move an inch no matter how aggressive we moved our mouse. However, we noticed the removable area sticking up a tiny bit in the upper-right corner, which slightly cut into our view of the lighting in the upper-right corner when in a typical seated position. Plus, the plastic side easily attracted fingerprints.
The dignified, rubber black border framing 12 RGB zones provides a clean look that proves you can have colorful lighting without sacrificing class. The SteelSeries Engine software opens up waves of lighting customization options, but it’s also easy to get a mesmerizing effect without spending a lot of time in the app. There are eight well-designed presets that are attractive, including the sunrise-like 8:00 or the pink, orange and purple-themed Disco Mode. You also get reactive lighting around gaming scenarios, like low ammo or health with Dota 2, CS:GO, Utopia 9 and Neverwinter and the ability to sync lighting with other SteelSeries RGB products . SteelSeries also makes a cloth-only version of this mouse pad and an XL one, (which we've also listed below).
Most Colorful RGB Mouse Pad
If you’re looking for something that’ll steal attention, the Razer Firefly V2 is the most colorful RGB mouse pad we’ve tested. It has a whopping 19 customizable zones, and despite the thin lighting strips, the LEDs’ brightness visibly outshined competitors.
The mouse pad is fit for competitive gaming with what Razer calls a “micro-textured” plastic surface that feels slightly rough and enables speedy mouse movements but easily gathers fingerprints and smudges. Razer’s Firefly V2 is only 3mm thick, but its rubber base prevented any movement during gaming. Its cable catch, while a small detail, successfully kept our mouse’s wire in check.
Razer Synapse 3, the detailed accompanying software, gives RGB tweakers full rein over all those lighting zones. You get brightness controls, seven presets, including a Reactive one that works with supporting Razer mice, and can sync the lighting with other Razer RGB devices. We also appreciate the toggle to “Switch off lighting when the display is turned off.” The software’s Chroma Studio (pictured above) function is where the more advanced customization occurs with numerous effects layers and the ability to control the effects’ cycling speed, duration and intensity. But its complexity means it’ll take a longer to master than simpler apps.
If you can't image spending a lot on a mouse pad, the Cooler Master MP750 (M) was a mere $12 at the time of writing. Cooler Master claims the finely textured cloth offers a “slick texture and smooth maneuverability.” It proved sufficient for the average gamer but didn't immediately feel like anything special during teting. More unique is its spill-resistant coating. When I spilled water on it, the large droplet easily rolled off, and I could quickly clean up the remainder with a tissue. You can also unplug its MicroUSB to USB-A cable for times when you don't want RGB or a wire.
The MP750 (M)’s RGB border shines pretty brightly. A handy button lets you cycle through static colors without opening software. Unfortunately, black stitching interrupts the RGB frame, and I worry about getting things, like jewelry, caught between loops and causing damage.
Since there’s only one RGB zone, there’s not that much to do in the Cooler Master Master Plus software. There are four lighting modes -- Color Cycle, Static, Breathing or off -- and five speed settings via a toggle. Static and Breathing modes offer a color picker, but it wasn’t always accurate. For example, when I tried to make a peach and white breathing effect, I instead got white-ish purple flickering. And when I tried to make it flash white, I was met with various shades of blue. Note Cooler Master also makes large and extra large versions of this mouse pad.
Mice with wireless charging, like the Cooler Master MM831 and Asus ROG Chakram, are gaining popularity. They allow you to use your mouse wirelessly without ever having to plug it in for a charge, so long as you're using the right mouse pad. The Omen by HP Outpost is one example and can keep any mouse with Qi wireless charging going without missing a beat. Besides Qi wireless charging, it has a USB Type-A passthrough port and reversible surface. You’ll have to pay a lot ($90 at the time of writing), but it’s hard to find a rival with these capabilities. It also connects via USB Type-C but includes an adapter for USB Type-A ports.
The Outpost’s 5W Qi charging is conveniently at the pad’s upper-left area, so it doesn’t interfere with the gaming surface. It worked flawlessly with various devices, not just HP’s own mice. That makes it more versatile than some other mouse pads with this feature, but your devices will charge slower on this 5W charger than on many other Qi chargers, which are rated to 10 or 15W.
The pad’s sturdy and heavy (1.53 pounds) build wouldn’t budge while gaming. Like the SteelSeries QCK Prism above, its reversible surface has a hard plastic side for quick mouse movements and a cloth one for more control. But the Outpost’s pad is much harder to remove. Plus, we wonder about the longevity of the thin, octagonal sticky strip -- that holds the mouse surface down -- after many swaps.
You only get two RGB zones here, and one is a small Omen logo. Omen Command Center software lets you pick between static color (presets or a color slider with RGB values and intensity slider) or animations. There are three pre-made animations for the Omen logo and four for the second zone surrounding the gaming surface. We appreciate that each animation also has up to four color schemes: Spectrum, Ocean (our favorite), Jungle and Volcano.
The SteelSeries QCK Prism Cloth (XL) is the best large RGB mouse pad. Its “micro-woven” cloth surface stays in place thanks to a silicon rubber base, and its RGB lighting can be used as a gaming advantage, as its programmable to communicate things like game alerts (low ammo or health, for example) and Discord notifications. Its extra-wide surface offers room to keep your best gaming keyboard, but we wouldn’t mind a little more height. With our keyboard and wrist rest in place, there’s little vertical space remaining. Cooler Master’s XL RGB mouse pad is 1.6 inches (40mm) taller.
The QCK Prism Cloth (XL)’s two-zone RGB border shines evenly throughout. But it’s hard to miss its stitching, even though SteelSeries used clear thread.Plus, I can easily wiggle the stitches, which isn’t promising for long-term use during aggressive gaming sessions.
SteelSeries’ Engine software offers a decent range of customization options for the top and bottom RGB zones but not as many pre-made themes as with the reversible SteelSeries QCK Prism (listed above). You can control the speed in seconds and pick between Steady, ColorShift, Multi Color Breath, each with 3-4 pre-selected color schemes and the ability to control brightness. Among the large RGB mouse pads we’ve tested, none offer greater customization options than the QCK Prism Cloth (XL), which is even cheaper than some rivals.
If you’re eyeing RGB mouse pads, you probably appreciate boldness. While all the mouse pads above feature exciting LED effects, the Patriot Viper Gaming LED Mouse Pad ($32 as of writing) has a daring shape. Going past your standard rectangular design, Patriot’s pad is a dodecagon, a 12-sided figure. The Viper logo is also a bold stamp, evoking shameless memories of a Transformer or Megazord.
The Viper Gaming LED has a pretty large surface area of very rigid and slightly textured polymer plastic. It’s the hardest mouse pad on this list, and some hard, plastic mice, such as the Cooler Master MM711, made a rough-sounding noise running across it. But after over a week of use, the mouse pad fought off fingerprints better than other plastic mouse pads on this list. Meanwhile, the rubber spanning the entire back of the pad is textured, so it stays in place.
Patriot’s RGB mouse pad doesn’t have companion software. Instead, you control the RGB effects with a control box on the braided, detachable MicroUSB cable. One button browses through different light effects: single or multi-color breathing, a clockwise or counterclockwise spiral, steady lighting with one or rainbow colors and off. Even though there are six RGB zones, you can’t make each zone the color you want. Instead, the second button on the control box toggles through available color schemes for your desired effect. I didn’t have trouble finding a likable effect, but those seeking customization or advanced effects should look at something like the Razer Firefly V2 above.
If you can stomach a hefty price tag for a lot of mouse pad, the Thermaltake Level 20 Extended Gaming Mouse Pad ($60 as of writing) is packed with features. My favorite is its ability to communicate CPU temperature range by making the lighting 1 of 6 colors. There’s also a music setting, where the bottom left, top right and Thermaltake logo on the left flash respective colors in sync with audio from your PC. And voice assistant dependents will appreciate the ability to control RGB by speaking to an Amazon Alexa device. You can also do this through Thermaltake’s well-functioning and thorough software
But besides its flash, there’s substance. If you don’t like hyper-slippery cloth mouse pads, the textured weave pattern Thermaltake used here is a fantastic balance. Thermaltake’s extended mouse pad also provides 4 more inches of roaming room north to south than the SteelSeries QCK Prism Cloth (XL) above. It stays in place but notably takes in moisture from drinking glasses, leaving on a temporary damp mark. Visible stitching, meanwhile, makes damage easier. On the other hand, the mouse pad’s surface fights off stains, which I tested by eating many a snack over it.
If you have any Razer products using Razer Chroma, you can get the colors to sync for nice touch. I got it to work nicely with a Razer DeathAdder V2 Mini mouse. But if you like customizing, you’ll be frustrated with the inconsistency with colors selected in Thermaltake (or Razer Synapse) software. Trying to set it to a static yellow resulted in a multi-color effect that was mostly aqua green. The photo above shows what’s supposed to be red on top and orange on the bottom. It still looks beautiful, but if you want accurate software customization, look elsewhere
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