Today we’re having at the first of a pair of Mionix pads, with a traditional form factor – the Ensis 320. The Ensis is an aluminium mousepad that looks nice, but how will it perform? Let’s put it to the test.
“Ensis 320 Aluminium is made of forged 1 mm Aluminium alloy for a strong but lightweight construction. The hairline brushed surface maintains the full metallic lustre of the alloy. With 1 mm natural rubber side provides non-slip grip whilst still maintaining a very low overall profile of 2 mm. The Ensis 320 Aluminium was designed with our Surface Quality Analyzer tool (8/10) and has excellent tracking with minimal data loss.”
- Material: Aluminium alloy
- S.Q.A.T. Value*: 8
- Surface: Hairline brushed / rigid
- Dimensions: 320 mm x 260 mm
- Thickness: 2 mm
- Backside: Natural rubber
- Compatibility: Optical and laser
* S.Q.A.T stands for Surface Quality Analyzer tool, a metric made up by Mionix to quantify mousing performance.
Like other metal mousepads, the Ensis 320 comes in a simple cardboard envelope. Again, we’ve got the traditional Mionix branding which I quite like for its simplicity – the name of the product, a picture of the product and a single line explaining the idea behind it, all on a black background with a Mionix logo.\
On the reverse, we’ve got features and specifications in 12 languages, as well as the celestial origins of the name, the model overview and specifications (as written above). Ensis is apparently the Latin word for ‘sword’, and is associated with the star west of Orion’s belt, Eta Orionis. The more you know.
Taking the mousepad out of the box and out of the protective plastic wrapping (remember to take this off!), we see a fairly attractive mousepad. The 1 mm aluminium is gently brushed and looks fine, with the Mionix logo and model name in the lower left. Again, the shape is not rectangular – there is a crescent cut out of the bottom, presumably for resting your hand upon.
Looking at the mousepad on its side, we see that we do indeed have a 1 mm thick piece of aluminium backed with another 2 mm or so of traditional rubberised backing.
Taking a look of that backing, we see a typical pattern with raised bumps intended to keep the mousepad in place.
As I mentioned on the prior review, there aren’t really many statistics, benchmarks or other quantitative means of judging the performance of a mousepad. This means the best thing to do is just use it. I used it for about a week and a half for work and play, including the following games:
- MechWarrior Online
- StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
- Day Z
- Borderlands 2
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown
- FTL: Faster Than Light
Now, let’s move onto the results.
The whole reason to go with a metal mousing surface is not comfort – see the next section. It’s all to do with accuracy and speed; with a brushed metal surface you can have a much smoother glide than you can over cloth.
Overall, the Ensis 320 was excellent as a mousing surface, as you’d expect. When paired with a high quality mouse with fresh feet, it took very little effort to mouse around – ideal if you use a claw grip and therefore use your hand instead of your arm. While there was a small danger of overrunning the mousepad if you use low sensitivies, for most players the 320 is large enough. That moderate size also ensures that you can fit it on your desk, without pushing your keyboard out of the way.
The one thing I don’t like about metal mousepads is that they are much less comfortable than ones made of foam or cloth. There is no give in them. The Ensis looks to partially obviate the problem with a crescent shape designed to rest the hand, but while it is more comfortable than a straight edge it’s still some way off the comfort provided by mousepads of other materials.
Metal mousepads also tend to be affected by temperature much more readily than cloth ones. In the morning, the mousepad is freezing cold; touch someone’s arm with this when they weren’t expecting it and they’d jump a mile. On warm days, particularly if the mousepad is in the sun, it will get boiling hot to the touch. This is only really a factor for the few first minutes of gameplay, but it is still a small disadvantage to choosing a metal mousepad such as this one.
The one big place that I can fault the Ensis 320 is the mousepad’s edges. These were not sanded or finished properly, leaving rough patches which would cut the skin if you ran your finger along it. While none of these patches were upon the wrist rest area of my review unit, Mionix can and should do better in this area – the Slamepad I reviewed earlier this year was an aluminium mousepad that capped its edges with a ring of metal, and this would have been a much better solution.
The Ensis 320 is a perfectly serviceable aluminium mousepad, but the rough edges prevent me from recommending it fully. I hope that I merely received a subpar unit, but I would suggest that you check that the edges are to your satisfaction immediately upon receiving the mousepad, or in-store if you can. Barring this issue, my experiences using the mousepad were quite positive.
While I don’t tend to choose aluminium mousepads over cloth alternatives due to the comfort and temperature issues inherent to the design, the 320 is slick in both performance and looks. If you’re comfortable using high sensitivies and have a temperature controlled abode, then I’d certainly recommend it – just check those edges!
- Good mousing surface
- Looks good
- Edges weren’t sanded well
- Small size could be an issue for low-DPI gamers