XTracGear Carbonic XL Review (Page 3 of 4)

Page 3 - Subjective Performance Tests

Unfortunately, testing of a mousepad is quite subjective in nature, since there are no true objective benchmarks to spit out quantitative numbers for us to compare results when done. In order to make this subjective analysis a little more objective, I will be using the previously reviewed Func MS-2, and the yet to be reviewed G.Skill Ripjaws MX780. The tests will be completed in both graphics and gaming scenarios. These are two crucial areas where a good mouse in conjunction with a good mousepad really makes a difference. My intrinsic familiarity with the performance characteristics of the mouse will make it easy to determine differences between mousing surfaces. We will then break it down to the details, and rate our mousepad based on the following categories:

Glide - For quick and effortless mouse movements across the mousing surface.
Control - For precise and accurate cursor/crosshair handling.
Grip - The mousepad's ability to stay in the same position on the desk without undesirably relocating itself.
Noise - Will this mousepad generate noise when the mouse is being used?

Much like the XTracGear Carbonic XXL, the XL version retains the same amazing glide. Both of my tested mice have good Teflon feet already, but the Carbonic's surface only adds to the superb movement. As the material between any of the Carbonic editions have not changed, I expected a similar glide performance between the two surfaces. One difference I noticed while testing was the surface orientation. Despite looking the same in terms of diagonal lines, the feel seemed to be rotated ninety degrees. On the first two Carbonic pads, the horizontal movement produced little surface resistance, while moving vertically felt a tad more resistant. On the other hand, the XL version is swapped, with vertical movement feeling very smooth, while horizontal movement requiring just a bit more force. I would wish for a consistent glide in all directions on the mat, rather than just one way or the other. If this really was a bother, you can rotate the mouse pad in a ninety degree fashion. Either way, the glide on the Carbonic XL is great, and I am quite glad XTracGear did not change it too much.

The XTracGear Carbonic XL makes both of the mice tested very easy to control. While both of these mice are very good on their own, the Carbonic surface really makes the mice shine. Both mice handled the lasso tests in Photoshop with ease. The smooth glide meant the movements I made were predictable and accurate. This carbon fiber patterned surface, despite its slight alteration in visible lines, offered excellent handling without sacrificing any speed. Unfortunately, this is still a soft-fabric surface, so it still has the issues we have seen with other fabric mouse pads. It is most assuredly susceptible to liquids -- all blood, sweat, and tears. Thankfully, the dark surface means you probably will not see as much staining. I would wish the smooth coating would also translate into a water-resistant coat, where liquids would bead and roll off. As this kind of technology is seen in other places such as clothing, I think it is possible for XTracGear to create some sort of oleophobic solution. On the other hand, the smooth coating means dust and small debris can be easily brushed off, without sticking to the surface or getting caught anywhere.

As I have mentioned before, the bottom side did an excellent job in holding the entire Carbonic XL to the table. Its grippy solution was very strong in the original XTracGear Carbonic, and the size and weight of the middle child version meant this mousepad was still very hard to accidentally move. In addition, the surface resistance between the mouse and the pad was much less compared to the friction experienced between the table and the Sure Grip backing. Therefore, any motion above the mousepad did not affect the actual placement of the pad on the table. Either way, XTracGear does not need to improve anything in this aspect, as this backing is excellent.

Finally for the noise, the Carbonic XL was superb once again. Cloth mousepads are generally good at reducing noise, as they can absorb sounds much better than hard surfaces. Therefore, the Carbonic XL retained these positives. The added bonus of the smooth surface meant even less noise was created from movement. Compared to my wood table or any other hard surface, the difference was quite noticeable, as there was a more audible scratching noise, even with new Teflon feet. However, the size of the XTracGear Carbonic XL also translated into hearing my arm movement on the surface. If any other surface was this large, I would probably notice the same issue, so it really is more so an observation. I had high praises for the both of the previous Carbonic mousepads with the performance, and the extra-large version does not disappoint either.

I will say however, the XTracGear Carbonic XL falls into a somewhat awkward sizing between the original and the extra-extra-large version. When we get a mousepad as large as this one, it just seems like users would want to have room to place their entire keyboard and mouse on it. Due to its size, this would be almost impossible, unless you have an extremely tiny set of peripherals. Personally, I had to place my mousepad almost out of the way to not interfere with the keyboard. I ended up using more of the top corner of the mousepad in all situations. On the other hand, there are some situations where you would want a slightly larger version of the original Carbonic, as it provides more movement area, while being still portable enough. I will say the fact other competitors produce mousepads at this size must mean there is a market for this, so this is more so my opinion.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look
3. Subjective Performance Tests
4. Conclusion