Plastic Mouse Pad vs Cloth

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Updated November 15, 2022

If you are new to the world of computer accessories, you may compare a plastic mouse pad to a cloth mouse pad. Even the best computer mouse could benefit from a good mouse pad, and plastic and cloth are good options. So what are the main differences between these mouse pads, and which is best for you? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Plastic mouse pads and cloth mouse pads are the two most popular types for gamers and casual mouse users.
  • Plastic pads increase movement speed due to the low amount of friction inherent to rolling across a plastic surface.
  • Cloth pads sacrifice a bit of that initial speed in favor of increased precision, no matter if you prefer gaming mice, laser mice, or optical mice.

Mouse Pad Cloth vs Plastic

The primary difference, as suspected, is the material used to make the mouse pad, similar to when comparing a desk mat vs a mouse pad. Plastic mouse pads are extremely popular, but cloth pads are gaining in popularity, especially when comparing speed vs control with mouse pads. Gamers find value in both types if you are comparing mouse vs controller accuracy.

Insider Tip

No matter which type you choose, be sure to keep it clean by giving it a quick vacuum every once in a while.

Beyond materials, the vibe and feel are important distinctions, especially when comparing a controller vs mouse and keyboard for Apex Legends. Here are more differences between the two so you can compare optical vs mechanical switches for a mouse.

Speed

If you want to zip around your mouse pad with reckless abandon, go for a plastic design. This is the tried-and-true formula that has been around for decades, and with good reason. Mice easily gain traction on plastic, and there is little friction to slow it down. To put it another way, a plastic mouse pad is your best bet if you are playing a game requiring large swaths of movement. The same is also true if you are doing standard office work or creative pursuits.

Precision

While plastic pads are the best bet for those with an insatiable need for speed, cloth pads are for those who don’t mind sacrificing a bit of speed for precision. The fibers that make up a cloth pad work to slow the mouse down a bit, so don’t go for large sweeping movements. However, the fibers also allow you to stop on a dime, making for an ultra-precise workflow that is perfect for gamers looking to get an edge or for a standard office worker looking to increase efficiency.

STAT: Mechanical mice, optical mice, and laser mice all work by using light as a reference point. (source)

Cost

Both types of mouse pads come in a wide variety of price ranges, so no one type has the leg up here. Comparison shop to find the correct mouse pad for your style of use, whether you choose plastic or cloth pads.

Mouse Pads FAQs

How do mouse pads affect mouse performance?

They can slow you down or muck up precision, even when using laser mice. Soft mouse pads are slower but more precise, making them popular for use as gaming mouse pads.

What are hard and soft mouse pads?

Hard mouse pads are plastic, whereas soft pads are cloth. They are both fine options for optical mice, laser mice, and mechanical mice. No matter which type of mouse pad you choose, including RGB mouse pads and gaming mouse pads, you will have a decent experience via the mouse sensor.

How to properly clean any mouse pad?

Use a microfiber cloth to wipe away plastic surfaces, including plastic mouse pads for use with laser mice or optical mice. Use a vacuum to clean up cloth pads and avoid damp cloths here.
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