SteelSeries QcK Prism

At last: Just what your desk doesn’t need

Maximum PC - - IN THE LAB -

THE CON­CEPT of a fancy light-up mouse pad seems a bit ab­surd. Sure, maybe you have 60 bucks in your wal­let that’s pos­sessed by some sort of evil spirit, and which you must dis­pose of im­me­di­ately lest you spend the rest of your life deal­ing with a ter­ri­ble curse—that’s fine, you get a pass, may your demons be suf­fi­ciently ex­or­cized. Any­body else in the mar­ket for a big-money mouse mat should prob­a­bly do some cost/ben­e­fit anal­y­sis on their sit­u­a­tion.

But here we are, with SteelSeries’s QcK Prism, the third such ul­tra-pad we’ve re­viewed in these canon­i­cal pages, the oth­ers com­ing from Corsair and Razer. This loose tri­umvi­rate proves that there is a mar­ket for these things. And, though it pains us to ad­mit, mouse pads do still have le­git­i­mate use cases. While mod­ern mice are happy to play nice with most ma­te­ri­als, glass desks or those with a lightly re­flec­tive or in­cred­i­bly plain coat­ing can scat­ter op­ti­cal sig­nals wildly. Ded­i­cated mous­ing sur­faces can im­prove, or dull, mouse glide, and if you’re striv­ing for pre­ci­sion point­ing, they can make a dif­fer­ence.

The Prism has a prac­ti­cal pur­pose, then: It dis­tin­guishes it­self by of­fer­ing a slip­pery hard poly­mer sur­face and a smooth mi­cro­tex­tured cloth sur­face, each on ei­ther side of its re­versible foam mat. This thin layer sits in a non-slip rub­ber­ized well, which grips the pad OK when hold­ing the cloth side, but fell vic­tim, slightly, to our vi­o­lent mous­ing tests when the slicker plas­tic side was face down. Around the rub­ber is, we as­sume, the QcK Prism’s big sell­ing point, given that SteelSeries will sell you a stan­dard non-Prism QcK pad in ex­change for one measly por­trait of Alexan­der Hamil­ton: that RGB light­ing. It’s fine. It’s bright, it’s col­or­ful, and you’ll rarely no­tice the joins be­tween its 12 zones un­less you look for them, or con­fig­ure them to be ob­vi­ous. It sup­ports GameSense light­ing, which can be set up to give visual feed­back on par­tic­u­lar as­pects of par­tic­u­lar games. As you’ll al­most cer­tainly be able to see this light-up rec­tan­gle out of the cor­ner of your eye at all times, we could see that be­ing minutely use­ful.

THE QCK AND THE DEAD There are some neat de­sign de­ci­sions in ev­i­dence: The USB ca­ble, for ex­am­ple, has been clev­erly lo­cated in a low pro­tu­ber­ance on the left side of the pad, rather than in a mas­sive lump on the up­per edge, as in the case of some com­peti­tors, so you won’t be clunk­ing your mouse into it at in­op­por­tune times or snag­ging your ca­ble. That’s good. The light­ing goes all the way around the pad, rather than skip­ping an edge, which is aes­thet­i­cally acute. Tech­ni­cally, the QcK Prism is prob­a­bly a lot bet­ter than Corsair and Razer’s com­peti­tors. So, good for you, SteelSeries: You’ve made a bet­ter RGB mouse pad. But let’s be re­al­is­tic. That’s no ac­co­lade. That’s a be­grudg­ing ac­knowl­edg­ment of su­pe­ri­or­ity in a mar­ket that only ex­ists be­cause some peo­ple will spend money on stuff they don’t need.

To­mor­row’s fancy mouse pads won’t need to stretch to find a pur­pose. Log­itech’s forth­com­ing Pow­er­Play sys­tem, for ex­am­ple, is among a new breed that prom­ises to charge wire­less mice, er, wire­lessly. We’ll al­most cer­tainly get an­gry about that when it’s re­leased—be­cause it’ll in­volve a $250 hard­ware combo, and not hav­ing to change a AA bat­tery ev­ery few months ab­so­lutely doesn’t jus­tify that out­lay—but that’s for an­other time. Now we’re an­gry about this. If you love it, if you love the idea of it, if your sexy desk needs a sexy RGB black rec­tan­gle, if you’re so bought-in to SteelSeries’s Pris­mSync light­ing that you re­ally must sync ev­ery de­vice on your desk? Go on, treat your­self. This is for you. But it’s not for us. –ALEX COX

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