Page 2 - A Closer Look
Taking a better look at the SteelSeries QcK Prism, this mousing surface is aesthetically pretty standard. The surface is completely black on both sides with the exception of the translucent ring on the base. The pad, as we already alluded to, has two surfaces, with a hard surface on one side and a cloth surface on the other. This pad fits into the QcK Prism base, where the lights and the connection to the computer exist. A permanent USB cable protrudes out the left side rather than the top of the base. This should mean the cable and the USB area does not interfere with your mouse's cable. However, it does mean you lose an extra USB input port that was found on the Corsair MM800 RGB Polaris. Personally, I never used the USB port on the MM800, so it is not a loss to me. The cable provides both power and data for the SteelSeries QcK Prism for the RGB lighting. It measures at 180cm, but it is not braided. This is not a huge issue, as I doubt this surface would move around too much, but I still would have liked to see a cloth wrapped cable for some extra durability.
As for dimensions, the SteelSeries QcK Prism and the Corsair MM800 RGB Polaris share a very similar footprint. Measuring at 357mm in width, 292mm in depth, and 9mm in height, the QcK Prism is bigger in all dimensions. However, since the QcK Prism features an inserted pad, the actual usable space for the mouse is closer to 319mm by 270mm. This size generally is a pretty good size for desktop gaming. While you could use it for on-the-go use, I probably would not carry the less-than-flexible, two pound base around.
The two surfaces provided with the SteelSeries QcK Prism are on the back of each other, so you can just flip over the insert to choose your preferred feel. The harder side is relatively smooth with a bit of grit felt. The other side is a standard fabric surface. We will see how the two surfaces fare later on in our performance tests. The mouse pad sits in a rounded rectangle indent on the base. Underneath this indent is a sticky rubber surface to ensure the pad does not move about when placed here. As for the base, there is a translucent plastic rim around the QcK Prism, where twelve different zones of RGB LEDs exist. The rest of the base is covered in a smoother rubber surface, which is soft to the touch and feels good. Overall, I am quite happy with SteelSeries implementation of a double surface RGB mousing pad. With the rounded sides and smoothed out feel, I did not feel like SteelSeries cut any figurative corners to sacrifice build quality.
Before we continue on to the surface inspection, let me quickly go over the advantages and disadvantages of cloth-based and hard mousing surfaces. Cloth-based surfaces provide better comfort and control, are easier on mice feet, generate little noise during use, can even out some imperfect surfaces, and are more portable. On the other hand, hard surfaces generally come with better glide performance, and can be easily cleaned of dust, dirt, and liquid. This can include human liquids too, such as sweat from your hands. Plastic, aluminum, glass, or any other solid surface can easily be run under the tap to restore it to original condition. Now, we will take a closer look at the two surfaces provided with the SteelSeries QcK Prism.
Rather than using my standard photography equipment, I took the mouse pad off the SteelSeries QcK Prism and ran it through at 600dpi just to get a better, more detailed image. Taking a closer look at the cloth surface, the QcK Prism looks quite similar to any standard cloth pad. While it is not the smoothest cloth mouse pad I have tried, there are no imperfections or rougher spots. There is a slight pattern, though I would say this is less intentional and more for the fact it is a cloth. Overall, there should not be any skipping while or tracking issues in different areas of the SteelSeries QcK Prism. SteelSeries advertises this side to offer more control, but once again, I will see what this means in our tests. One thing I will note is the small fibers of hair around the scan, and this is because there is quite a bit of static generated between the pad and the base, allowing these small hairs to stick easily to the surface.
Flipping the pad over, and we have the hard surface. Similar to the Corsair MM800 RGB Polaris, this plastic surface has a slightly gritty feeling in the hand, but it is nowhere as rough as the MM800. It is pretty smooth with less friction generated compared to the cloth side, but this is expected. Once again, there are no imperfections on the surface, though there does not seem to be any apparent pattern either. As this is the harder side, it is expected to get better glide performance. Personally, I am just really happy to see both types of surfaces offered for an RGB mousepad, as competition from Corsair and Razer only offer one type or the other, but not both. Giving users the option to choose between the two is probably the best thing mousepad manufacturers can do, so I am glad SteelSeries has done this.
Finally, at the bottom of the base, we have where the SteelSeries QcK Prism sticks to the desk. You might be thinking this is just a scan of nothing, but I can assure you this is the actual gray silicone-like base. This is the same feel as the edges of the top, and it definitely does the job in keeping the QcK Prism in place. One small quip I do have with this is the fact dust and dirt easily accumulates on this smooth surface, but it is also pretty easy to clean off. Even though I am used to some sort of pattern to hold the mousing surface in place, the weight and the surface of the base keeps the QcK Prism from sliding about, playing exactly the role of any base. Otherwise, on the bottom of the QcK Prism is also a sizable sticker, with certifications and the serial number for your reference.
If you have read our other SteelSeries reviews, you will probably notice the QcK Prism software looks very similar. This is because this mousing surface runs off the same SteelSeries Engine 3 as other SteelSeries peripherals. The download size is about 106MB, which is pretty comparable to other suites from companies like Corsair and ROCCAT. You will first be prompted to sign up with SteelSeries, so that you can synchronize your settings across other computers, which is a pretty neat idea. Otherwise, I would also recommend updating the firmware on the QcK Prism before using the utility.
The single main screen of configuration for the QcK Prism allows you to choose the different lighting effects for your mousing surface. The first mode is called "Steady", which allows you to individually pick colors for the twelve regions on the pad. As these are RGB lights, you can pick from one of 16.8M colors. The next mode is called "ColorShift", allowing you to fade between a spectrum of colors, whether rainbow or not. You can also set them to move around the QcK Prism in a wave-like effect. "Multi Color Breathe" mode allows you to set a breathing mode, with different patterns and colors. "Cooldown Timer" mode is pretty neat as it makes for some better game integration. From this mode, you can set a trigger to make the QcK Prism switch to a certain color. After a set amount of time, it will switch back to the original color. This is pretty useful in games like Overwatch or League of Legends, where there are cooldown timers on abilities and secondary weapons. You will however have to keep the software utility running in the background for this to work. Finally, you can turn off all lights with the "Disable Illumination" mode.
Other than these lighting modes, you can also set "PrismSync" through the first window, which allows you to synchronize illumination effects with other SteelSeries products, making for a more unified experience. You can also use their Engine Apps to work with games like Counter Strike: Global Operation, DOTA 2, or Minecraft. If you are a programmer, you can also develop your own integration application, to work with your game of choice. This is built using the GoLisp language, which is just Lisp running in Google's Go programming language. While most users may not care much for this, I think this is a great opportunity for community development, which will draw even more users to the ecosystem. SteelSeries has really polished their software experience and the SteelSeries Engine 3 was a seamless experience all around. If there was one thing I really wish the SteelSeries QcK Prism had, it would be to include some internal memory, so I do not need to always relaunch the software to get the last configured pattern.
Before we move on, I wanted to show a comparison of lighting between the SteelSeries QcK Prism and the Corsair MM800 RGB Polaris. As you can tell, the lights are positioned differently between the two mousing surfaces. While Corsair placed their LEDs on the edge for an underglow effect, the QcK Prism has the lights placed facing up. I really like both implementations, as the lights are vibrant and show up clearly on my desk, even in broad daylight. For more gaming integration however, I think SteelSeries has chosen the right position, as the change in lighting is more obvious. Otherwise, I mentioned in the Corsair review that the lighting was not as smooth and separation could be seen between the fifteen dedicated zones. However, with even less zones on the QcK Prism at about the same circumference, I think the division of the lights is even more pronounced here. Even so, it is not a big deal, and both of these mousing surfaces are gorgeous in the dark.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look
3. Subjective Performance Tests