Design & comparisonThe SteelSeries SteelPad 5L gaming surface is a giant compared to the Func and Razer pads. While both the Func and Razer pads have dual surfaces the SteelPad 5L does not. You will not be able to change textures with the SteelPad 5L. However if you are the gamer who does not care about multi textures, then this pad might be for you. What I have noticed is the rather light weight design and its colorful abstract surface print, which is kind of cool looking and does go well with the input devices we will be testing with.
For those of you who like big surfaces the SteelPad 5L will be sure to please. With real estate about 35% larger than the mainstream gaming surface's, you will have plenty of room for mouse negotiation. If you like lower mouse resolutions or have a laser mouse with adjustable resolutions, you can effectively use up all the surface depending on your personal resolution preference. At 800 DPI the SteelPad 5L is more than enough size for the most demanding gamer. However, if you are like me and run 1600 DPI and 2000 DPI resolutions, the size is overkill in my opinion.
Is thicker better? The SteelPad 5L is almost 2 mm thicker than our comparison products. Having been said this does not take away from the comfort or user convenience, as it is quite comfortable. One thing to note is you will not feel the cold aluminum trim as you will with our aluminum counterparts. You're wrist making contact with the metal on aluminum pads, could give you a cold sensation that might be distracting in some instances. You will not have this issue with the SteelPad 5L.
As you can see the design is pretty straight forward. The graphics are a bit on the wild side, it definitely appeals to a lot of young people, but I think that some people would like it better if it had been the simple, yet stylish black. The textures between our test subjects are drastic and each pad will give you a different "glide" experience. How will the SteelPad 5L stack up to the mega giants like Razer and Func? Let's find out.
TestingFor testing we are using two power house mice, the critically acclaimed Logitech G5 and the world renowned Razer Copperhead gaming input devices. These mice offer the highest input resolutions and will give us a good idea of how these laser mice track the SteelSeries 5L gaming surface stacks up to the competition. For starters we have on hand the Razer Exact Mat and the Func Industries Archetype MBA professional gaming surfaces, two of the big dogs in gaming surfaces. First thing we will do is test both competition mice on the SteelPad 5L and compare the performance and characteristics of them on all 3 mouse surfaces.
The zero acoustic Teflon skates (feet) of the Copperhead mouse, feel really nice on the SteelPad 5L. Smooth transitions from hand movements and inputs are effortless with this combination. The design of the mat goes perfectly with both the rough looking Logitech G5 and the Razer Copperhead input devices.
The polytetrafluorethylen used as mouse feet on the G5 works perfectly with the surface of the mouse mat, the gliding experience was precise and uniform. Friction between the mat and mouse was actually better than you would think, since the G5 has a somewhat softer mouse feet than its rival the Razer Copperhead.
I’ve put this mat through its paces in various games like Battlefield 2, and Counter-Strike:Source. And I was very pleased to see that the tracking was consistent and precise at all times, and that I did not at any time run out of mat.
One of the main issues with a lot of mats is comfortability, and this wasn't a problem. Probably due to the softness of the cloth in the mat and another plus is that it will not make your wrist go numb because it is only about 4mm high. Due to the softness of the mat it doesn't make all that noise when moving the mouse around, not even when it's covered with dust does it make a sound or cause vibration when in contact with the mouse feet.
At 800 DPI the tracking was smooth and true. No lurching pointer or jagged movements. However I found out with game titles such as Battlefield 2: Special Forces and other shooters that this was too slow and used up way too much surface to get those good 180° spot on turns and head shots. I found myself lifting the mouse to get faster input and this was a sign that I am used to higher resolutions on harder surfaces.
Ok now we are getting somewhere, at 1600 DPI the Copperhead is super responsive and very smooth. Less area is needed to command the same inputs. Now you get the feeling the speed at which you move the mouse (locomotion) and the speed at which it tracks is almost one of the same giving a nice feeling of control and speed at the same time. Input and reaction is very tight and responsive.
Ack! at 2000 DPI the Copperhead is too sensitive, the natural reaction at which you react to online gaming will cause you to over aim and over respond to fast pace situations. This leads me to believe I am not yet used to using 2000 DPI to make controlled inputs and responses. So if you are, then this might be your gig. At 1600 x 1200 resolution in BF2:SF, you only need less than 2 inches of space in all directions to manipulate the entire screen size.