SteelSeries concentrate on creating the best peripherals with the gamer in mind. We’ve tested many of their products, including their entire range of headsets, but today I have their SteelPad S&S touted as ‘probably the best hard plastic gaming surface in the world’. Lets see…
SteelPad S&S – a gaming surface created by gamers, for gamers. SteelPad S&S has been developed in close cooperation with SK-Gaming, one of the biggest front figures in eSport.
SteelPad S&S offers unprecedented control and accuracy allowing the user to perform minimal and extremely precise movements. The surface is made of a special responsive plastic compound and the back side features small soft rubber elements offering non-slippery steadiness. The highly durable surface obtains increasing durability and offers a consistent glide experience that only gets better over time. The pad comes with a cool nylon sleeve which offers protection for the pad during travelling and other transportation. The surface of this pad has been updated and improved as of January 2007;
“The original SteelPad S&S was developed in cooperation with SK-Gaming 3 years ago, so it is very rewarding to be involved with optimization of pad. Together with SteelSeries we have now made the surface more durable, as well as more responsive for the current generation of mice technologies.” – Christian ‘SK.Vilden’ Lidstöm, Counter-Strike player for SK-Gaming.
Dimensions are 12 2/3*10 2/3 – thickness 1/12 inch (320mm*270mm – thickness 2mm).
No, S and S
The colourful box displays the pad with a sticker on the front describing that the surface has recently been improved. On the back of the box shows that the pad has been approved by 4Kings and Team 3D which are professional gamers who demand the best from their mouse pads.
Once opened, you find the nylon pouch with the S&S inside, some mouse feet and a few SteelSeries flyers describing their SteelSecurity program. You get 5 Teflon S&S padsurfers which are self adhesive and simply stick onto the bottom of your mouse over the top of your original feet. They are quite thick and could possibly raise your mouse too far up causing tracking issues.
The Teflon pads aren’t for everyone; if you have a high quality mouse, then it will already have slick pads and these are unnecessary. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see that SteelSeries cater for those without.
The pad itself is solid plastic with a rough top surface. The back is covered with specks of rubber which are the pads method of gripping your desk. This same process is used on the SteelPad 5L.
In the bottom left hand corner you find the Steel S&S logo printed in white which is the only thing that breaks up the matt black surface. To accommodate your wrist better, the bottom of the pad is curved in slightly which also stops the pad looking like a standard oblong pad.
The nylon case that is packaged with the unit allows you to carry the pad without it getting damaged which is perfect for the LAN party frequenter. The case also has a handy side pouch allowing you to fit CD’s or your mouse at a squeeze.
This is a solid plastic pad, which has no colour of it at all. This means that the optical sensor on your mouse will have difficultly differentiating one part from another. To make sure you get perfect accuracy, the pad is rough and covered with random peaks and troughs. As a result, the pad is 3D and your mouse should be able to pick up the difference from one part and another.
Unfortunately, this means that the surface cannot be smooth. When you draw your mouse over the surface you can hear your mouse feet rubbing against the peaks on the 3D surface which can be annoying for some.
Testing the S&S saw us use our high DPI mice; the Ideazon Reaper, the MSI StarMouse and the Razer Krait (for those of you interested, our Razer Deathadder died and a replacement is being sent). We also used the pad with a Logitech optical mouse that would be standard in an office or for the non-power user at home.
The first thing that I noticed was that the rubber specks on the bottom of the pad do not grab the desk nearly as good as the 5L or other gamer pads, and it’s quite easily pushed around. Even with normal mouse movements, the mouse pad would slide underneath the mouse.
Moving the mouse over the pads surface was greeted with the familiar grating sound that plastic on plastic makes. Using the included mouse feet on the Ideazon Reaper didn’t reduce this either. The feet didn’t cause any tracking issues due to their thickness.
To test the pad I used our usual tests with the inclusion of the Supreme Commander single player demo. The usual tests involve a quick run of Command and Conquer: Zero Hour, a game of Battlefield 2142 and general Windows usage.
In all of the game tests the mice worked perfectly with the pad, although the scraping sound was always heard. If you use headphones you won’t be able to hear it, but you can feel the mouse is on a rough surface.
The Logitech mouse worked with the pad when you moved it slowly, but at higher speeds negative acceleration was witnessed. This pad does not work with that mouse. Using another generic optical mouse, the same negative acceleration was seen. The Ideazon Reaper however, which is also optical, had no problems whatsoever with the pad. Obviously, generic optical mice don’t have the necessary DPI to sense high speed movements on this pad.
As the pad is waterproof plastic, your sweat soon builds up, especially if you are in a warm gaming environment and it begins to rub your wrist. For this reason alone, I prefer a cloth pad. On the plus side, as its plastic you can wash it or wipe it down easily.
The Razer Krait which uses an infra red optical engine had no problems with the pad, and neither did the laser driven MSI StarMouse.
Personally, I have never seen the draw of a rough surface to run my mouse across. A cloth surface is the best in my mind. However, that said, when compared to another plastic mat that I have tested (the Giganta) this one isn’t the best. The poor grip of the back, the ‘cheap’ feel (it is just a piece of plastic) and rough surface are far from my favourite. There is no noticeable difference in accuracy compared to a cloth pad apart from it not being compatible with generic optical mice. Overall I can’t see the merit of a rough surface over a silky smooth pad, it just makes you notice that you’re using it. In a bad way.
The SteelPad S&S retails for 33 euros, or £22.This seems horrendously expensive for what the pad is; version of the 5L which doesn’t include the nylon sleeve, this saves you £2. I would pay that little bit extra for a SteelPad 5L or a NOID pad.
The SteelPad S&S is a good pad, but that is all. Just good. In an arena where the best is bought and the rest aren’t, the S&S is unfortunately at the lower end of the spectrum.
The S&S IS accurate and does do what it sets out to do. If you look past the bumpy surface, the noise it makes, the sweat problem and you prefer hard pads then you’ll be happy with it. If you are looking for a high quality mousemat from SteelPad, choose the 5L over the S&S any day.
|High acurracy||Rough, noisy surface|
|Failure to work with generic optical mice|
I’d like to thank SteelSeries for providing us with this mouse pad.
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