If you are into gaming, the best computer hardware in the world is not enough. Those parts of a computer we normally take for granted—mouse, keyboard—also play a role in gaming. Another piece of equipment we also certainly take for granted, the mouse pad.

Yes, a serious mouse pad is essential for the serious gamer. Think about it, games require precise movements and control, and the slightest advantage can make a huge difference. When it comes to control, you need to reassess your tools. And obviously, the only obvious tools (minimal) required for a computer gaming rig are the mouse and the keyboard. The mouse, to say the least, is more used.

When it comes to precise mouse action, a gaming mouse is required. But, to give it even more action and feel, one needs a gaming mouse pad. Today’s mouse tracks movements via a beam of light, and this light needs to bounce back to give feedback. A good surface not only gives better feedback and feel to the gamer, it also gives the mouse something to work with with the light. Mouse lag is a known problem for bad surfaces, and the slightest lag can mean the biggest disadvantage, especially if you’re competitive. So lo and behold, here are some of the qualities potential pad shoppers should look out for in a gaming pad.

1. Size

Yes, size matters. Just imagine in the middle of an intricate game you run out of mouse realty. Your game is affected and that split second can mean your opponent winning. The larger the mouse pad, the better. Of course, one can only go as large as his desk allows, but the general consensus is to go for the largest pad you can place on your desk.

2. Surface

Earlier we talked about the red beam of light the mouse uses to track movements. Here is where the surface comes into play. However, almost all gaming-quality mouse pads have surfaces optimally designed for this. So it will also boil down to what feels right for you. Other go for plastic-like surfaces while some prefer the good old cloth feel.

3. Underside

By underside we mean the part of the pad that touches the table. The best surface in the world would mean nothing if your pad slips and slides out of place. If a pad slips from beneath you, this also means loss of control. When it comes to traction, rubber is still the best. However, rubber can make the surface (#2) feel a little squishy and others do not like this. For this, there are some sticky non-rubber undersides that feel solid to the user.

These are the major qualities one needs to look at when buying a gaming pad but of course there are also those that involve more of self preference. These include style, design, color, wrist rest, and of course, brand.