Hard vs Soft Mousepads

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Updated November 28, 2022

Getting your hands on the best computer mouse is a matter of self-reflection. You have to consider your needs, situation, and purpose before purchasing. For example, an excellent ergonomic mouse will look different than the best gaming mouse. But even after you finish with those decisions, there are other areas to consider. What about the mouse pad? The mousepad type can affect overall performance depending on your use, especially for gaming. So, below we’ll compare hard vs soft mousepads and what each type means for gamers.


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If you want more help finding that perfect mouse, feel free to click on our other articles to learn about trackballs vs traditional mice or how a heavy vs light mouse can affect gaming performance.

Insider Tip

Because a hard mousepad offers little wrist comfort, many gamers who use hard pads also incorporate a wrist rest.

Differences Between Hard vs Soft Mousepads for Gaming

Gaming is a sport; setting yourself up with the right equipment is necessary to achieve the best results. A mouse pad is just one example of gaming equipment. There’s a wide variety of gaming mouse pads, but each falls under the category of either hard or soft. Depending on your choice, the physical difference can be crucial to success.

For more background information, you can read our additional resource explaining what a gaming mousepad is. In terms of gaming, particular mouse pads are designed to increase reaction time and overall performance. But still, a gaming mousepad can be either hard or soft.

A hard mousepad is a smooth surface, often made of plastic, glass, or metal. On the other hand, soft mousepads have a textured surface and are made of a rubber base covered in cloth; these cloth mouse pads are often the image we conjure of a traditional mousepad.

Each of these mouse mats has its advantages, and it ultimately comes down to game type and personal preference on which you should pick.


It’s commonly accepted that hard gaming mouse pads are better in speed, reaction, and precision. The smoother plastic or metal makes it easy to move the cursor in large motions. Soft mouse pads create a lot of friction, which hinders the speed and range of mouse movements.


Hard mouse pads can be uncomfortable if used for long periods.


A soft padded surface is usually considered easier for aiming. This is because most are familiar with using mice with textured surfaces. So for the untrained mouse user, accuracy is more manageable, albeit slower, with a soft mouse pad.

STAT: The mousepad was invented in 1968. (source)

Hard gaming pads with a smoother surface can be challenging to control, especially when just switching over. For more info on how different kinds of mouse pads can affect performance, we have an additional article comparing a desk mat vs a mouse pad.

Hard vs Soft Mousepad FAQs

Does the size of a mousepad affect gaming performance?

If the game you play requires broad movements, getting a pad that covers the entire surface of your desk can be worthwhile.

Does the type of mousepad depend on my mouse sensor?

Optical mice cannot be used on a mousepad with a reflective surface, like glass or shiny metal. However, laser mice can be used on any surface.

Do all pros use hard mousepads?

Pro gamers mostly use hard-surfaced mousepads for any scenario involving fast-paced gameplay.
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