Perhaps one of the most overlooked components for a gaming computer, the mousepad has the potential to enhance or hinder your gameplay experience. In my time as a PC gamer, I have had the opportunity to use many different mousepads from the average foam pad, to the “slightly bigger than average” pads by Allsop, to many different gaming mousepads from several companies. That said, I am always eager to explore a new products to see if they offer what I am looking for in a mousepad.
As an FPS gamer, what is it that I am looking for? I am looking for performance, size, value, and possibly a nice design. Razer has been in the mousepad business for a while with both hard and soft pads, and is no stranger to the game. Their new mousepad, the Sphex, is looking to bring a new dimension (or rather, subtract one) to mousepads. The entire-premise of the 12.6x9.1 inch mousepad is that it is, as they refer to it, a “desktop skin”. It is, (no pun intended), razor thin. Furthermore, it adheres to the desk surface, ensuring that it will not slide around.
My first feeling upon opening the packaging is one of excitement. If there is one thing Razer is great at, it’s packaging, and the Sphex features the flashy, edgy style that separates Razer from other gaming peripheral makers. No one even comes close in the attitude department. Holographic letters draw your eye to the name “Sphex” and lime green text challenges you to “feel the difference” and “zero in on your gaming”. We’ll see. As much as the packaging amps me up for what’s inside, I can’t be anything less than skeptical about a mousepad so thin it comes in an envelope.
The first look reveals a smooth, yet somewhat textured mousepad that is the thickness of construction paper. The mousepad is a very, very thin plastic. In many ways it resembles a non-laminated placement. Interestingly, it is smooth, yet very finely textured. By no means would I refer to it as a rough surface, but the texturing is noticeable when you touch it. I imagine that the texturing helps with tracking. After carefully examining the mousepad and its simple design I couldn’t help but wonder if I had paid for a piece of paper. At approximately 12x9 inches, it is wider than your average mass-market mousepad, but is smaller than many gaming mousepads I have used which have been 15, 17 or even 19 inches wide. This is a bit of downsize, but does it matter? The answer is that it depends. If you are playing an FPS with a medium or high sensitivity, you will not likely need that much real estate. If you prefer playing with a low sensitivity and larger movements, you may find yourself running out of room or hitting the edge (although with the thinness of this pad you may not even realize that).
In the design department, Razer has opted for a low-profile, low-flash design. Unlike the immediately eye-catching Razer Mantis, the Sphex is a subtle all-black pad with the lettering “Razer Sphex” in one corner and a small Razer snake logo in another. This down-low look will appeal to many gamers, though I am not particularly fond of it. I prefer the more colorful designs of such mousepads as the Puretrak Talent, Everglide Titan Fnatic, and Razer’s own Mantis. Again though, this is personal preference and the more conservative design of the Sphex will likely appeal to the majority.
As I peel the plastic backing away, I immediately see cause for concern; white goo adhesive covers the back. I am concerned that it will either stick to the surface of my Ikea desk or wear off eventually. As I stick the mousepad where I want it, one thing becomes immediately clear: this mousepad is going nowhere. Flip my desk upside down. Watch a tornado come. Let the SWAT team raid my house. This mousepad isn’t going anywhere. Blow up my room and the Sphex will be adhered to the chunks of wood flying through the air. A non-adhesive area sticks out the right side and helps you remove the pad without bending the corners, but otherwise the pad will not move at all. Aside from normal gaming use, several times I unsuccessfully put my hand on the pad and tried to forcibly move it around. On the flip side, it becomes harder for you to move it when you want to. It’s a worthy trade off however, as the mousepad can be reapplied and a mousepad that moves during gaming would be a much worse scenario. I am curious as to how many times it can be reapplied, but I have moved the mousepad several times without consequence. It also appears that my previous fears of goo left behind were (mostly) unfounded: there was no evidence left over on the desk, except for a very small spot one of the times I moved it.
Aesthetics aside, how does it perform? Of all the possible considerations for buying a mousepad, performance is obviously the one with which you should give the most weight. After playing with the Sphex for several hours, I have to say that I was very pleased with the performance of the Razer Sphex. I tested the pad with Razer’s DeathAdder and the Logitech G5v2. Of note is that of all the mousepads I used with the G5, none performed nearly as well as the Sphex. The G5’s laser sensor is notorious for its imprecision and skipping, neither of which is a problem with the Razer Sphex. The DeathAdder also experienced highly smooth and accurate tracking as expected. The mousepad’s surface tends to exaggerate the sensitivity, so you may have to lower it slightly to retain control. However, this also means that the mousepad is essentially as smooth a ride as a skating rink—you can give the mouse a slight push and watch it glide to the end.
I’ve gamed with many mousepads, and while I prefer cloth, this is definitely the best hard pad I’ve used, and unlike many of the mousepads I have tried that were not quite as good, I found that not only did my kill-death ratio improve, but I found that aiming was no longer the main cause of my death so much as situational factors. That is, if I was in a good situation with an opportunity for a kill, I would almost never miss. I ended up testing the Sphex with a variety of settings ranging from 400dpi to 1800dpi with the DeathAdder and 2000dpi with the G5. While I did feel like I was running out of width and needed more room on 400DPI, the Sphex did perform well even though its size feels geared towards higher DPI settings. The tracking was great on low, medium, and high DPI settings up to 1800. Once I hit 2000 the tracking still performed well, but it started to feel a bit “out of control”. Between 800 and 1800 seems to be the real sweet spot for the mousepad.
It also is helpful that the Sphex is far and away the most comfortable mousepad I have ever used. The slim (or rather, nonexistent) profile allows the wrist and mouse surface to be of level height. Too often with thicker pads I find that the height difference between my desk surface and mousepad annoy me and can make gaming uncomfortable (especially when I’m moving the mouse and my wrist rubs the edges of the mousepad). The bottom line is that gaming with the Sphex makes it feel like I’m gaming on my naked desk as if it were a mousepad.
BOTTOM LINE: The Razer Sphex is priced at fifteen dollars. Considering that you can pay ten dollars for an everyday mousepad, and can easily spend 20 (or even 40) for a good gaming mousepad, this is a great value. As a mouse surface, it is very cool, and unique, which are not the terms I generally use to describe gaming mousepads. I do wish the mousepad was a couple of inches wider, but it is big enough for most gamers and more space would have likely increased the price. The Sphex does not feature the absolute best tracking I have ever seen but it is definitely one of the best I have used and is a much better choice for the price.
I like to say that every good gaming mousepad has its purpose. This is a mousepad that is great for anyone who…
Where to buy: Razerstore.com