Mousepads, or mouse mats, have far more variations that you'd initially think possible. Most of us started off with the back of a book or similar, before moving on to, and possibly stopping at, something with from PC World with a picture we liked. If you're one of those people you probably wonder what all the hoo-ha is about serious a gaming pad.
However we are sure you're all discerning readers out there in OC3D-land and so you might have got yourself a gaming level mousepad. These are tricky beasts. With the main choice between either cloth or hard surfaced ones, even with the best of intentions you end up buying one that's either a little bigger than you liked to get the quality, or smaller because of space concerns but compromising quality.
Maybe size isn't an issue but you've had to plump for one that's perhaps a touch faster than you like for every day use, or you're compromising your gaming by having an all-rounder.
It's a very sticky issue and, as you can see, much more fraught with danger than the initial "something to put my mouse on" problem might indicate.
Even here at OC3D we're split with Tom preferring a soft cloth pad, yet I prefer a hard surface. So with Roccats new Alumic mousepad on the way and the name leaving no doubt as to the lack of softness, here we are. Let's see what we have.
The Alumic comes in a rigid plastic cover with a cardboard sleeve providing the details. Even here there is, besides the normal Roccat details, a nice touch with two test patches either side of the sleeve enabling you to get a literal feel for how the Alumic is beneath your fingertips.
It also can't have escaped your notice that it comes with two very different graphics and a wrist rest, in this case a gel number. Very nice.
But the best bit about packaging is opening it up to get to the contents, so turn the page for a better look.
Out of the packaging we can see that this is a well-built item indeed. An aluminium core provides the stability and rigidness. This is then covered with the two surface types. The wrist rest isn't attached at all which is something I like a lot. So often wrist rests on mousepads are fixed items and they're always fixed in the place you don't want them to be. With the non-slip base you can place it exactly where it's doing its ergonomic best for you.
The corners have hard-wearing but grippy covers making sure that the Alumic doesn't go anywhere. It has to be said that accidental movement is almost impossible. Not only because of the corner "feet", but because thanks to that aluminium core this is a hefty thing indeed.
Here you can see, click to enlarge as ever, the two surface types. There is a slight difference in the grain of the control side compared to the speed side, but the more striking difference in design certainly leaves no doubt.
Time to put it to work.
Testing and Conclusion
Build-quality, never a problem of Roccat, is taken to new extremes with the Alumic. I've often likened a product to being bomb-proof thanks to its sturdy build but this is something new. This is a hardcore solid bit of kit.
The aluminium core definitely places this in the rigid gaming surface category. However with the feet being a hair higher than the mat itself there is a tiny bit of give to make sure it doesn't feel like putting your arm on concrete. Of course if you take advantage of the wrist rest then there is no need to ever have that problem anyway.
Speaking of the gel rest it's a very welcome inclusion. Even after all these years people still don't take RSI seriously and I'm here, knackered wrists and all, to tell you that a wrist rest for the mouse is a vital component in your life. Of course it takes a tiny bit of getting used to if you're someone who puts your wrist on the desktop then arches onto the mouse, but the difference in makes and how much it eases the loading on your wrists cannot be overstated.
As for the Alumic itself, both sides do exactly what you'd expect. The speed side is a tad faster than the control side, but without ever reaching the glass stage, and equally the control side makes those finesse moves much more reliable to perform time after time.
If you've ever found that your foam-backed hard mouse mat wasn't quite as long lasting as you hoped, or that your rigid one is way too rigid, then the Alumic really does cover all your needs. It wont bend with an intentionally destructive force being applied and wont turn into a sponge at the slightest spillage of a caffeine-laced drink.
We tested with a host of mice from Roccat, Razer, Logitech and the like, and all performed admirably, as of course you'd expect.
Even soft-mat lovers would be swayed such is the combination of great looks, greater performance, and unheralded longevity the Roccat Alumic provides. It's made out of a thick sheet aluminium for heavens sake. With sensible use this will still be around to pass down to your grandchildren. Even the size, 331mmx272mm is neither so big it takes up half your desk nor so small you have to lift the mouse up to get from one tab to the next.
The only blot on the horizon is the price-tag which is at the reasonably hefty £30 mark. However for that money you're essentially getting two very different mouse surfaces and you will never, ever, need to buy another.
Stunning. Gold Award. Nuff said.
Thanks to Roccat for providing the Alumic for review. Discuss in our forums.