By: Devin Chollak (Debut Review)
March 11, 2011
When you think of the ultimate gaming computer, I don't think a mousepad is what that first comes to mind. Nonetheless, mousepads are an essential part of any computer system. Sure, you can easily go without one, but depending on the surface you use, it could cause your mouse to perform poorly. If you use your mouse on a hard computer desk, a mousepad can certainly make it a lot more comfortable. That is not to mention without a reliable mousepad, you may sometimes find your cursor going in a direction you didn't tell it to go. Now I'm not saying a mousepad is going to give you more headshots or increase your APM (Some people might disagree), it certainly could help you along the way. Mousepads come in all shapes, sizes and materials, so how do you know a good one from a bad one? Well, a cheap rubber pad with a hard plastic surface might do the job for some, but for the rest of us, we would want something more accurate and reliable. You are probably also looking for something smooth and makes sure your cursor never disobeys. Nothing is more frustrating than when you move the mouse and nothing happens. Fortunately, what we have here at APH Networks this morning is Mionix's Propus 380 gaming surface. While this isn't the only gaming surface out there, if you are looking for a nice metallic black mousepad, right off the bat I would assert this is a great pick. It offers the high quality surface you would expect from a good gaming mousepad -– the only bad news is, the Propus 380 won't help you pay your bills at the end of the month, unless, of course, you are a graphics designer. How well did this work out in real life? We took one in to analyze, so read on to find out what we have found in our review today.
The Propus 380 arrived at our Calgary, Alberta, Canada office in a package from California, USA using FedEx International Priority. It appeared to be fairly large and bulky, but don’t let the thickness of the package fool you. This mousepad is only 4mm thick, which may be a bit thicker than most cloth mousepads, but this is not a cloth mousepad. Like many good plastic mousepads, you can hold one end of it horizontally, and have the mousepad barely bend. Considering it is fifteen inches across and only 4mm thick, this is a considerable feat for a mousepad. The package itself was like any large shipping envelope, and didn't have any notable damages. Upon opening the package, the mousepad cardboard case looked scratch free and in pretty good shape after traveling across the border.
The cardboard case the mousepad comes in has a very clean looking design that reflects the sharp black color of the gaming surface. The Mionix logo is shown on the front vividly beside the image of the mousepad itself. Overall, the Propus 380 comes in a respectable package, and comes with a sleek look. The underside of the mousepad's case shows the basic product information, along with the summary of the product. This exact information can also be found on Mionix's website. Here is the description of the mousepad:
A Star Has Been Born
The name Propus is directly taken from the Greek word for "forward foot". The star is located in the constellation of Geminis. Propus is a red giant star, one of very few bright cool stars visible from Earth. It shines about 2400 times stronger than our sun and has become very famous for being the closest star to planet Uranus. Propus is an ecliptic star and sometimes it hides behind our moon or any of the closest planets in our solar system.
Mionix Propus 380 is the physical answer to performance, design and innovation. The new developed surface is treated with a special silver-metallic plastic coating. According to test results, this special coating offers optimal tracking conditions and improves the overall performance of the mouse movements. A thin base made of PVC-plastic has been implemented to give the stability from a hard mousepad without compromising the flexibility from a soft mousepad. The backside is made of natural rubber to ensure a steady grip.
On the right hand side of the back can there is a list of key features of the product in seven different languages. Here is a list of the features and technical specifications listed on the back side of the box, also found on Mionix's website:
Optimal tracking: Unique silver-metallic plastic coating ensures optimal tracking
Unique surface: Fine textured surface for a smoother glide and precise movements
Extra wide tracking area: For sweeping movements without interruption
Hard & flexible: Unique material combination for durability and feel
Material: PVC-plastic base
S.Q.A.T value: 9
Surface: Ultra-fine texture
Dimensions: 380mm x 260mm
Back: Rubber based backside for a steady grip
Compatibility: LED-optical & laser
Upon cracking open the package, you will be faced the mousepad along with two thin sheets of wax paper; one underneath and one on top of the mousepad. The wax paper is there to not only ensure the mouse surface is unscratched, but also to make sure the natural rubber grip on the bottom remains undamaged. Now that we know all about the package, let's get into more about what we are really looking for, the mousepad itself.
The Mionix Propus 380 measures in at fifteen inches by about ten inches; or more accurately, 380mm by 260mm for all those who are used to the metric system. Note the 260mm is at its widest point with the top and bottom edges. Both of the top and bottom edges are curved shaped for optimal positioning of the hand. The total thickness of the mousepad is 4mm, and is composed of three different materials. The top layer is a plastic surface, the middle layer is cushioning, the bottom is the grip, and a combination of them is the Propus 380 gaming surface.
The top layer is a smooth black colored plastic surface with silver sparkles, creating a solid metallic look. The top surface proves to be fairly scratch resistant; a critical feature for any mousepad. When running a file over the surface a few times, it made no visible damage, which clearly shows it is easily able to handle the wears and tears of normal usage. Mind you, I wouldn't suggest taking sandpaper to the surface, but nonetheless it is exceptional for any kind of optical or laser mouse. The bright green layer immediately below the surface is made of a thermoplastic polymer known as Polyvinyl Chloride, which a very durable plastic that is also easy to produce. This is an obvious choice for making a durable mousepad, and with a flexural strength of around 10500 psi, it is still quite flexible while maintaining shape as I have mentioned earlier. Moreover, since it is made of Polyvinyl Chloride, you won't ever have to worry about the padding's shape warping over the long term. Another key property of this material is its extremely low coefficient of thermal expansion. This means the material will barely change size regardless of the temperature your gaming environment. (Editor: Yep, you can use the Propus 380 anywhere from the heart of Antarctica to Death Valley USA.)
The section below the PVC-plastic layer is made of natural rubber. The natural rubber grip has a very unique grip pattern. This pattern almost reminds me of treads on a tire, and I can assure you it provides an excellent grip. The bottom layer also makes up for about 2/3 of the overall thickness of the entire gaming surface. The underside grip is incredible to say the least, because it completely prevents the sliding of the mousepad during normal usage. It literally doesn't budge when pushing against the top of the pad in any direction, and to be fair, that’s incredible considering I'm not a small guy. It was tested on the following surfaces: Wood, waxed wood, high gloss counter, marble, concrete, marble tile, asphalt, glass, tempered glass, metal, carpet, and even shaggy carpet. When placed on carpet, it felt as if it was almost glued down. Most people likely do not plan on using a gaming mousepad on carpet, but just in case you are that crazy, yes it does stay in place.
Obviously, as a gamer myself I wanted to see what it would take to get this pad to slip, and it wasn't super easy. I poured water on top of my high gloss kitchen counter and then placed the mousepad on top of it. After that I pushed it with my full weight against the top of it. Surprisingly, I only got the mousepad to budge a couple of millimeters when I was expecting it to just soar right off the countertop. In other words, if you spilt a drink all over your desk and then put the mousepad on top of it the pad would still stay in place. However, I would highly suggest you do not do that, because then you would have a wet desk and a wet mousepad. On a side note, don't forget the fact the entire mousepad is completely waterproof. so no worries if you spill anything on the Propus 380.
The surface of the mousepad has a generally smooth feeling to it. I would say it is comparable to the texture you would get after sanding wood with a 120 grit piece of sandpaper. Now for those that don't know what that feels like, in simple terms, it is a rather smooth and comfortable surface to touch. One major issue that I found with the plastic coating is it has very rough edges around the mousepad. Fortunately, under normal usage it isn't very noticeable, unless you are repeated moving the mouse in a forward manner. Overall, the surface is an excellent choice to complement any optical or laser gaming mouse. For those that are curious, the mousepad's surface generates roughly the same amount of noise if you had instead used a mouse was on a hardwood surface.
Unfortunately, testing of a mousepad is quite subjective in nature. I will be testing it with a mouse that I have been using for over two years. This will allow me make it quite easy to determine any noticeable changes when using the mousepad. With that in mind, the tests will be done using a Logitech G5 V2 mouse, and will be analyzed in both a graphics and a gaming environment. This is to ensure the mousepad is not limited by the mouse itself, as it is conducted in two most demanding areas of where a good mouse and mousepad combination are a necessity. Each environment is rated on the following categories after the tests:
Glide - How well does the surface handle large long continuous motions that go across the entire mousepad?
Control - How effective is the surface for small little motions used during precision work?
Grip - How effective is the grip against the common motions required for tasks?
Noise - How much noise is produced by the surface when the mouse runs along it?
Graphics - Photoshop Lasso Selection Tool; Visio Studio Modeling
I have to say the mousepad provides an excellent surface for using the mouse. Large long motions for selecting and dragging were accurate and reliable. This is an important feature for when you need to drag around multiple diagram components. In general, moving the mouse around on the pad was effortless, and it never got stuck. There was a small amount of friction that enhanced the precision required for performing free-hand selections and for aligning various shapes for charts and models. Generally, it felt similar to many other gaming mousepads; however, the grip of the mousepad is amazing to say the least. Not once did the pad slip or slide which is exactly what you would expect from a gaming mousepad. The Propus 380 did generate a very minor amount of sound when being used by my mouse, but that is to be expected from a hard surface.
Gaming - Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, Minecraft
Good news! When used for gaming, the performance was excellent. The mousepad’s sheer size made large motions across the surface easy. The motions were accurate to what you would expect to see on the screen. The physical size of the mousepad assured you the mouse will unlikely run off the edge of the pad. When it came to precise motions, the mousepad delivered. For example, in Minecraft, targeting and clicking blocks felt very natural. In Starcraft 2, placement of buildings was made a bit easier, as I noticed it was more precise in small movements compared to a bare desk surface. One major noticeable improvement in World of Warcraft was selecting unit frames as a healer turned out much more efficient. That is a task that requires both precise movements (Selecting the right unit frame) and gliding motions (Selecting the unit frame on a different part of the screen). I would not say it was an overly huge improvement, but I did notice my cursor did exactly as I told it too every time. My notion of the grip remained, even after I marked my desk with a pencil to indicate the original location. After playing games for two hours, it had not moved even a millimeter. The noise that was made by using the mousepad was unnoticeable while playing, which is ideal.
To summarize, the Mionix Propus 380 is a great gaming surface, and there is no doubt about that. The mousepad certainly exceeds standard expectations, especially considering it is only about $25 retail at press time. I have to give credit to the underside grip, which has impressed me with its ability to resist any kind of movement. The size of the gaming mousepad is very respectable. and matches the principle of being not too big, but not too small at the same time. The surface being scratch resistant and completely waterproof means it will certainly hold up through the test of time. I also found it to be a very nice surface to touch, which is a very good feature. Although it isn't completely smooth, it provides the gentle roughness that will kindly remind you that it is there, and is doing its job reliably. Performance-wise, it provides a surface to ensure that your graphics and gaming needs are met with solid consistently. However, we cannot forget the issue of the edges being a bit too sharp. It is especially noticeable when rubbing your arm against it an upwards manner as it will scrap your wrist slightly. A simple fix to that problem is to make sure you are using the mousepad at an ergonomic position. That way, your wrist doesn't move against the edge of the pad. Overall, this is a great product when it comes to a non-cloth gaming surface, and certainly comes at a great price for what it offers.
Mionix provided this product to APH Networks for the purpose of evaluation.
APH equal.balance Award | APH Review Focus Summary:
8/10 means Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that aren't likely going to matter to the end user.
7/10 means Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing.
-- Final APH Numeric Rating is 7.8/10
Please note that the APH Numeric Rating system is based off our proprietary guidelines in the Review Focus, and should not be compared to other sites.
The Mionix Propus 380 is an excellent gaming peripheral for the price, and would certainly be a worthwhile investment for gamers and professionals alike.
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