SteelSeries SX Mouse Mat Page: 1
Introduction

In the world of gaming hardware, SteelSeries are widely regarded as one of the best around. So it came as great pleasure when Overclock3D were offered their latest product for a world exclusive review – The SteelSeries SX mouse mat.

SteelSeries Logo

According to SteelSeries, this mat sets new standards in terms of quality and glide. The product is marketed at the high end gamer, so no expense was spared in the development of the SX. This of course has meant that the SX is the most expensive mouse mat SteelSeries have ever produced, so we’re here to find out if this product can meet its expectations.

This is the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to use a SteelSeries product, so I was undoubtedly very interested to see how it performed.


Specifications


The specifications for the SteelSeries SX are as follows:
• Fibre polished and anodised aluminum
• Lifelong durablity
• Compatible with gaming grade optical and laser
• 320mm x 270mm (12,6 x 10,6in) - thickness 2mm (0,08in)

SteelSeries SX Mouse Mat Page: 2
Packaging

When my SX review sample arrived, it was pleasing to see that the product was sufficiently protected. The pad itself was surrounded by a strong plastic case which is in turn inserted into a cardboard wrapper. As you’ll see below, this wrapper displays a clear message that this is a “pro-gaming” mouse mat. The design on the front of the wrapper was clear and caught the eye quickly. It’s so pleasing to see a company actually keeping things simple without bombarding us with endorsements from gamers, quotes from reviews or technical details all over the front cover. This design I felt was extremely effective because it has been kept simple.

SteelSeries SX Packaging Front SteelSeries SX Packaging Back

Around the back of the packaging everything is again kept neat and tidy. There is a brief description of the product in a number of languages, a small overview of who SteelSeries are and a number of logos from affiliated gaming teams. The good news here is that these teams are all very well know in the Counter Strike 1.6 & Source scenes, which will undoubtedly create awareness of the SX in the gaming community.


Contents

The following items are included in the box:

SteelSeries SX Contents

• SteelSeries SX Mouse Mat
• SteelSeries Glide MS pads
• Marketing pamphlets
• An anti static cleaning cloth


SteelSeries SX Mouse Mat Page: 3
The SteelSeries SX

The first thing that strikes you when you touch the SX is just how smooth the surface is. Now I’ve had my fair share of gaming surfaces (Razer eXactmat, Func 1080, IceMat, etc), but this is by far the smoothest surface I have every felt and it is deeply impressive! In fact, it is so smooth that if you were to put your hand against it and lean you body weight into it, you would quickly fall flat on your face with your hand slipping off.

SteelSeries SX In Action

The surface itself is fibre polished and anodised aluminium which offers up minimum friction between the mouse and the mouse mat. Of course this is of great benefit to the gamer as it allows for much more accuracy and split-second movements that other mouse mats just could not replicate. Additionally, being high quality aluminium, it is extremely durable so performance of this surface will not decrease with use over time.

I would not describe the SX as an oversized pad, but more of a practical medium sized mat. Comparing it to my current pad (Razer’s eXactMat), they are different in shape as you’ll see below, however almost identical in size. Being a low sensitivity gamer, I cannot say that I’ve ever had a problem with the eXactMat being “too small”, so I’d expect to have no such problems either with the SX.

SteelSeries SX Compare

Upon measuring the pad, the dimensions were 320mm by 270mm with a height of 2mm. I personally feel this is a very practical size and suits both low and high sensitivity gamers. One of the most important aspects of a gaming pad is to ensure that it does not sit too high and at 2mm, the SX is perfect.

SteelSeries SX Thickness

Around the back of the pad, SteelSeries have designed a very effective and “grippy” rubber surface. This ensures that the pad will not slip or slide, which is the last thing a gamer needs in the middle of a heated gun fight.

SteelSeries SX Back Full SteelSeries SX Rubber Back

Overall my initial impressions of the SX are certainly positive. SteelSeries have obviously thought out not only the most practical size for gamers but additionally they have produced the smoothest surface I have yet to see produced on a mouse mat. In addition, SteelSeries marketing points out that this pad is compatible with both “gaming grade laser and optical mice” which ensures that it will appeal to all gamers. So what’s it like to use? Read on to find out..


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Test Setup

I decided to put the SX up against a series of mice over a number of different scenarios. These were:

• The use of a Razer DeathAdder, Razer Copperhead and Microsoft Habu.
• All mice were tested with the SX in Counter-Strike Source to see how they performed.
• The mice and SX mat were used in a desktop test within Windows Vista.


Results

First off, I tested the SX in Counter-Strike Source with the Razer DeathAdder to see how it performed with both slow and fast movements. My initial impressions were that the surface was extremely quick to react to movements and extremely smooth! It almost felt as if the mouse was floating over a highly polished surface.

I did however find one small problem with the tracking on my mouse. When moving the mouse extremely quickly (and I’m talking as quick as I could move it), the cursor / crosshairs, just danced randomly all over the screen. It was almost as if the mouse could not track quickly enough, something that I’d not experienced before with my DeathAdder and eXactMat combination. However, when moving the mouse at normal speeds, the performance was exceptional.

I performed the same test within Counter-Strike Source with both the Copperhead and Habu much to the same effect. The SX is undoubtedly the smoothest and quickest surface that I’ve used, but right up at the higher end speeds when you are aiming to turn as quickly as possible, there were occasions when the tracking became a bit wayward. One final point I picked up on “in-game” was that even though the pad is extremely smooth, I found it a little too quick. I must stress though that this is my own personal opinion and many (if not most) gamers will revel in how quick and smooth this pad is! As a result, I lowered my sensitivity to compensate for this which seemed to do the trick.

When testing in Windows, the pad was a joy to use. Very smooth, extremely quiet (for an aluminium surface) and absolutely no complaints. Out of curiosity, I moved the mouse very quickly in Windows again to see if the cursor jumped about erratically and it did. Again, I must stress that this only occurred when moving the mouse as quick as I possibly could, so would put it down to the mouse rather than the pad. The SX is probably just too good for current mice to track against.

SteelSeries SX Mouse Mat Page: 5
Conclusion

As I sit down to write this conclusion, it is clear that the SteelSeries SX pad is by far one of the best surfaces I’ve ever used. You simply will not believe how smooth it is until you hold it yourself. In-game, when the sensitivity is configured properly, I found the accuracy to be exceptionally good and tracking opponents much smoother than before.

However I do have a few reservations with it, which are probably more personal than factual. Firstly, I found the surface a little too quick to begin with, however this was quickly resolved with lowering my in-game sensitivity. Also on occasions I did slide a little too far when trying to track players, but this is probably down to my ability rather than the SX.

I also found that when trying to move quickly, the mouse sometimes jumped about a bit erratically. In these situations, I frantically started to sweep the mouse in order to turn which more often than not worked fine. Again, this might be down to my playing style. However when tested back to back with Razer’s eXactMat, I found that I had more accuracy and control with the Razer product than I did with the SX.

This could possibly be attributed to the fact that I primarily used Razer mice (the Habu is Razer developed) and that the SX would perform better with Microsoft based mice. To further support this is the Teflon “SteelSeries Glide MS pads” included in the packaging. This would support the notion that the SX has been pitched with the majority in mind – i.e. users of Microsoft mice.

Overall, I feel that the SX is a major step up in terms of quality over other mats on the market. It is aimed at the “serious” gamer and therefore is priced at the higher end. SteelSeries themselves even accept that it will not appeal to everyone, so have decided to pitch it at this level.

The burning question is would I buy one? Well being the owner of a Razer mouse, I would personally stick with my eXactMat as I find the two perform exceptionally well together. However if I were using any other brand of mouse, I would recommend the SX as one of the best gaming surfaces on the market today.

Using the SX is like gliding on air and no other mouse mat can compare.

Pro’s
- Exceptionally smooth
- Practical size
- Non Slip back
- Fairly quiet for an aluminium pad

Con’s
- Expensive
- Slight problem with tracking very quickly


Gamers Choice Award Editors Choice Award


Thanks to SteelSeries for providing the SX for review. Discuss this review in our forums.