It’s the little things in a gamer’s life that matter the most. Booting up your PC after doubling the RAM, peeling that annoying security label off a game without leaving any remnants or goo behind and nabbing that game you’ve been desperately wanting to play (but not willing to pay full price for) on the latest Steam sale are just some of the brief moments in our community’s collective consciousness. I’m adding one more: throwing out a cheap, flaking mouse mat that gunked up the bottom of an otherwise pristine Razer Naga Hex. OK, maybe that one is kinda specific.

Razer was kind enough to send me their dual-sided Vespula mouse mat after I incredulously asked how much difference the surface really makes. As you may recall from my review of the brand new Taipan, I mentioned that the device sports a dual sensor system. This allows the peripheral to calibrate to the surface it will be smoothly gliding upon. For mice that support this feature, you won’t even need to calibrate when using an official Razer mat. Simply go into Synapse 2.0 (Razer’s configuration tool that supports a growing number of their devices) and select the Vespula from the drop-down list. It’s that simple.

The mat is on the larger side, measuring 12.61 inches long by 10.24 inches wide. If you need something smaller due to space limitations, there are other Razer products. The mat isn’t terribly thick (.12 inches), so you might be able to get away with putting one side of your keyboard on it without wobble.

So, what makes the Vespula special? A few things. One of the main attractions to this, as opposed to some of Razer’s other mouse mats, is that this one offers two different surfaces. The nice, rigid plank offers one side that is extra smooth. This is ideal for players the prioritize speed over control. For those of you that require (or simply prefer) a more precise approach, the reverse side is a lightly textured, providing a little more grip. I noticed a distinct difference over my previous cheapo mouse mat immediately.

After experimenting with both sides, I found that the control surface is a better fit for my play style. I tend to keep my sensitivity and polling cranked a bit higher than I probably should given the 27 inch monitor on which I play. This leads me to overshooting my mark quite a bit when I get a little too excited or the action gets frantic. I found that the textured side of the Vespula helped correct that a bit thanks to the added friction.

One of the things that I’ve noticed about Razer’s gaming mice is that the feet are ultra smooth. You shouldn’t worry that the textured surface will negate that. The material manages to work like a fresh set of brakes on a car. The acceleration and velocity aren’t impacted. You’re just able to better control your deceleration.

Another feature I enjoy about the Vespula is the other part that comes in the box. In addition to the dual-surface mouse mat, purchasers receive a wrist rest connected to a non-skid pad on which the plank sits. One problem I’ve had with other products is that they never stay in place. There are no such issues here.

The gel wrist rest is comfortable, complying with the rules of ergonomics. The fabric feels thicker than other products I have used, which hopefully translates into greater longevity. The last thing you want around your mouse or keyboard is the mess that a leaking wrist rest leaves.

If you don’t like it, you’ve got two options. One is to use the hard surface by itself. It does have four feet to help keep it in place, but you lose the advantage of the non-skid pad. The other is to flip the entire thing around so that the the wrist rest is at the top and out of the way.

After spending a couple of days with Vespula, I can’t say for certain that the $35 price tag is going to make it a must-buy for everyone. However, the quality definitely holds up against the cost. For reference, searches for “mouse mat” on Amazon provided a number of more traditional mouse pads. The items in a comparable size, though not designed for gaming, range from $8-$10. Separate wrist rests are also about $10.

If you are an avid PC gamer and want a choice of two durable options with a comfortable wrist rest, look no further. With the added benefit of a non-slip pad, which works better than I would have imagined, you may never need to purchase another mouse mat again. Rather than throwing away $10-$15 every year on products that chip, flake or peel (none of which can easily happen with the Vespula), it’s worth at least investigating if the investment is right for you.

 

Here’s the Rundown:

+ Two surfaces offer options for speed and control
+ Wrist rest is comfortable and optional
+ Non-skid pad does a great job of keeping the mat in place
- Cost might scare some gamers off
- May be slightly too large for some configurations

 

 

The Razer Vespula retails for $34.99 and is available from the official Razer store and other retailers. The product was provided to RipTen by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.