There was a time when mouse bungees cost $20 to $30 and were a novel invention. Thankfully, that time's long past. There was also a time when we reviewed Razer's eXactMat X (2009) and remarked that its $40 price-point was the most we'd ever shelled-out for a mouse pad, but followed-up that the purchase was well worth it for sturdy aluminum.
Razer's pad, by the way, is still in use and now has about 5 years of life on it. Aluminum lasts a lot longer than cloth -- go figure.
Thermaltake's new Tt eSports "Draconem" mouse pad is a 2mm-thick, dual-side mousing surface with detachable cable bungee. The smooth side of the pad is brushed aluminum and anodized, outfitted with decals in opposing corners for the Tt eSports logos; the rougher side is grittier to offer greater traction with the mouse's Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) feet, colored with a red dragon emblem off-center.
The Draconem is somewhat massive, scaling in at 360 x 300 x 5mm (14.1 x 11.8 x 0.2") and taking up significant desk real-estate.
Tt eSports Draconem Mouse Pad Specs
|Dimensions||360 x 300 x 5mm|
|Mouse Pad Base||2mm Solid Aluminum|
Brushed, Anodized finish
|Accessory||Mouse Bungee (Detachable)|
|Stoppers / Surface||Non-slip rubber stoppers|
Low Friction & High Control Sides
Tt eSports Draconem Hands-On & Video Review
Draconem Mouse Pad Thoughts
Aluminum mouse pads are generally worth the investment. They cost significantly more than their cloth counterparts, but when used in conjunction with a high-speed, high-quality mouse, the gains are immediate and noticeable. A specifically-built aluminum surface will tune better with gaming mice than the random cloth sheets accessible at your local big box mart. They're also going to last for eternity -- the aluminum Razer pad that we reviewed in 2009 is still in use, so we certainly got the $40 of value out of it.
The Draconem pad is big. It takes up a lot of physical real-estate on the desk. Very few mice will need more than a few square inches of space to move, but the aesthetics are appealing and the option for greater usable workspace is appreciated. I'd think gamers who run a lower DPI and prefer whipping the mouse around (see: SC2 scrolling) would make more use of the larger surface area.
Thermaltake's dual-sided mousing surface has practical uses for different approaches to gaming. The rougher surface sort of resembles a skateboard's griptape, aiding in traction and control when using lower DPIs in favor of longer physical strokes of the mouse. For those who prefer a mid-range or higher DPI, the smoother surface reduces friction of movement and enables smaller square area usage. It's also worthy of note that prolonged use of rougher surfaces will slowly wear away at the teflon feet; more usage-heavy gamers might favor the smooth option for this reason.
The aluminum surface itself isn't all that unique, of course -- everyone's done it before. Corsair has the Vengeance MM600 ($40), Razer's got their Vespula (eXactMat replacement - $35), and ROCCAT's Roc-13-400 Alumic ($40) mouse pad, which looks like it might be from the same supplier that Tt eSports is using. The unique edge granted to the Draconem is its inclusion of a mouse cord bungee. The bungee helps keep longer cables in check, clean up the environment, and ensures the mouse will have consistent response without unexpected snags. After using the bungee for a few gaming sessions, I've definitely become spoiled by its more predictable nature for mouse movement.
Despite its size, I'm pretty happy with the Draconem on the whole. The bungee is a good thought that most other surfaces don't include and has actual practical uses. Visually, the mouse pad has a clean aesthetic that fits nicely in a gaming cockpit, so to speak. I really wish the Draconem shipped with the gel wrist rest that ROCCAT and Razer both provide -- it's a demand for me to ensure my wrists don't get irritated from extended use. If you're fortunate enough not to run into such issues, then I'd recommend considering the Draconem pad. If a wrist rest is a must, consider aftermarket options or other mouse pads.
The surface has a smooth response and is accurate with laser and optical sensors. I had no issues with cursor skipping or stuttering when using both types of mice. Size is definitely a concern for those with less desk surface area to dedicate to a mouse pad.
At the end of the day, almost all aluminum mouse pads of this price range are going to output pretty similar performance for the sensor. It ultimately comes down to a question of size, accessories (do you need a bungee or a wrist rest more?), and aesthetics. The "magic number" seems to be about $40 for all competing aluminum mouse pads.
Some alternatives you might consider are:
- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.