For some, mouse pads are a relic of the past. For others, mouse pads are a vital computer accessory. Are mouse pads necessary? Do they provide any benefit?
We're going to explore the advantages of having a mouse pad, along with why you might decide to forgo one entirely.
Do you find that your hand is stiff after a full day of using your mouse? If so, it might be that your wrist doesn't appreciate resting against a hard desk or being at an awkward angle.
A standard mouse pad is great in itself, since it's much nicer to have your wrist on a soft surface than it is a desk.
However, you can take it one step further and buy an ergonomic mouse pad. These have cushions at the bottom that raise your wrist up to a more natural angle. It means you won't have to bend to use your mouse, resulting in a more comfortable experience.
Dragging a mouse across the same part of your desk for hours every day is eventually going to wear down the desk.
If you have a quality desk surface, like a thick wood, then you may never encounter this problem. However, the cheaper the desk materials, the more likely it is that your mouse is going to scratch or wear down the top.
Of course, mouse pads aren't invincible either. After a while, you might notice scuffs on these too, but it's far easier and cheaper to replace a mouse pad than it is the surface of your desk.
Over time, your mouse will pick up the dirt on your desk---dust, skin, and all that grub. This is either going to stick itself to your desk, the bottom of your mouse, or both. Whatever the case, it'll degrade the accuracy of the mouse.
Plus, it's gross.
Mouse pads can help with this. The pad contains your mouse to a specific area. While that dust and grime isn't going to magically vanish just because you use a pad, you will be more likely to remember to clean the pad.
It's really easy to clean a mouse pad too. For most of them you need water, soap, and a bit of elbow grease. Rinse it, then leave to dry for at least 24 hours. Some mouse pads can even be chucked in the washing machine (check your manufacturer's information before doing so).
If you like to play a lot of games that require quick and precise mouse movements, like first-person shooters, then a mouse pad can improve your performance. You can even buy gamer-specific mouse pads.
Mouse pads can have different surfaces, but the important thing is the texture is consistent and that's key for optical mice. Pads don't have the imperfections that your desk might have, which can interrupt mouse movement.
Mouse pads are also designed to stay in place and provide necessary friction, so your aim won't suddenly swing off unexpectedly due to an overly smooth desk surface.
Of course, a mouse pad isn't going to suddenly turn you into a professional gamer, but you might be surprised at the difference one makes.
Wireless mice used to be considered inferior to wired mice due to their slower response times. Nowadays, providing you're willing to pay for it, that's not an issue. You can even get wireless keyboard and mouse combos.
Wireless mice are excellent because you don't get that annoying cable drag, which increases the weight and impacts the smoothness of the mouse. They're also more portable and versatile.
That said, the biggest downside to wireless mice is that they need constant charging. If you forget to charge the mouse overnight, then you need to plug in the cable while you're using the computer and you're stuck with a wired mouse for a while.
Here's where mouse pads come in. You can buy mouse pads designed to wirelessly charge your mouse while using it, meaning you never have to worry about manually charging ever again.
There are pads like the Logitech G Powerplay (note that this is only compatible with some Logitech mice) and the Corsair MM100. All the benefits of a mouse pad plus wireless charging---it's a certified win.
There aren't many disadvantages to using a mouse pad. Those that exist might not even be a problem for you.
The first is aesthetics. A mouse pad can dominate the look of a desk, especially if you're using one that is huge to support a keyboard and mouse. If you've got a quality desk, chances are you want to be able to see it rather than covering it up with a mouse pad.
Second, mouse pads don't lend themselves to a portable lifestyle. If you work from a laptop and are constantly on-the-go, it doesn't make much sense to bring a mouse pad with you. At that point, it's just an additional thing to pack that isn't going to prove worthwhile.
Finally, mouse pads do need maintenance. You will have to keep your mouse pad clean, though you should be doing that for all your computer peripherals anyway. However, you may find yourself disappointed at how quickly some mouse pads wear away, meaning you need to replace them often.
If you're using a cheap one that might not be a problem, but it is if you've got a large custom-designed pad.
The ultimate question: do you need a mouse pad? Technically, the answer is no. It isn't an essential purchase, in that you can happily use and game on a computer without one.
However, try one out and you'll likely enjoy the advantages it brings. It's a low-cost improvement to make to your PC life.
If you're new to PC gaming, a mouse pad is just one of the peripherals you should consider. There's also specialist mice, keyboards, headsets, and more.