ROCCAT Hiro Mousepad Review
Reviewed by: hornybluecow
Reviewed on: May 19, 2013
ROCCAT Hiro Introduction:
ROCCAT is a relatively small company that has been putting itself on the map for gaming peripherals. Founded in 2007 and located in Hamburg Germany, ROCCAT has been busy creating a vast lineup including mice, keyboards, and mousepads. If you are interested in learning more about the other products, OCC just completed a ROCCAT Roundup review. Make sure to take a took at it if you hungry for more! Today I will be looking at ROCCAT's top mousepad, priced at $49.99. This review will mark the most expensive mousepad I have ever seen or used, so let's see what ROCCAT is offering
Roccat Hiro Closer Look:
If you haven't caught on yet from my previous review, I really like to tell stories and this one is a double whammy, but I will keep it short. Do you ever feel that there must be some cosmic sync among enthusiasts? An example would be; you have just finished reading your favorite book for the fifteenth time and that day you run into someone who has just started reading it for the first time. In my situation, the UPS guy knocks on my door once again and hands me a box that says "Press Release". As I open the box and find this nice and large mousepad, my phone rings. It ended up being my friend calling to ask if i knew any new and good mousepads. What are the chances of that? I was almost tempted to go find the UPS guy and make sure he wasn't captured and held for information. So I lied through my teeth because of the NDA and said "No I don't, but I will find out for you; give me a week."
That started me to think of how to tackle a mousepad review and what a mousepad really has to offer. I used to play Counter-Strike 1.3, Unreal Tournament, and Quake 3 on dial-up nearly every day. I knew this nine year old kid across the street that was unstoppable in Unreal Tournament, easily beating God-like bots and constantly getting banned from Quake 3 servers for using cheats, which wasn't true. He owned a laser mouse (which was very new at the time) and a nice mouspad, while I was stuck using one of those now-nonexistent ball mice directly on my desk without a mousepad. If only I could go back in time with a few ROCCAT products, maybe everyone would know M$sterC0w as the top eSport gamer rather than Fatal1ty.
Looking at the pictures below, ROCCAT took great care in the presentation of its top of the line mouse pad. It's held in a plastic clam shell, but without the need to cut through the plastic - once you remove the cardboard cover, it pops open. Quite simple and I wish all companies did this because scissors are annoying to use. Backtracking a little to the cardboard cover, on the front it gives you the run down and the need to know. Top left reads "ROCCAT Hiro, 3D Supremacy Surface Gaming Mouse." Down the side it gives you the major features, most notably "No-Fray Edges," while an image of the mousepad sits in the middle, with dimensions 350x250x2.5mm prominently displayed. On the bottom front, ROCCAT has two squares in which you can feel the texture so you know the company is not lying about "Non-Slip Rubber Base" back or "Covert-Tech Silent-Glide Treatment" front. Speaking of the back, ROCCAT went one step further and made sure if you spoke any major language in the world, all the features are listed and readable. I typed a Russian sentence into Google translator and it came out mostly the same in English. The top corner lists major mice that have been tested, including Razer and SteelSeries. On a side note, I made a poll on OCC forums last week asking what people's favorite gaming peripherals were. At the time of writing this, Logitech is the most liked. If you do not already have a mouse, ROCCAT entices you to pick one of its series by having the first few mice tested as its own.
Looking at the mousepad closer, the front has a ROCCAT Hiro logo in the bottom corner. From the packaging you would think the logo is embossed and may cause issues, but you would be wrong like I was. I can't say for sure, but looking at it close up, it really looks like a screen print and may wear off over time. This is still much better than having your mouse getting stuck on it or not reading properly, which is not the case. On the back, just as the packaging promised, is in fact a "Non-Slip Base." When using your mouse it is preferred that the mouse moves and not the mousepad. That has been a problem in the past and ultimately led me just to use the desk surface rather than constantly moving the pad back into place. That alone is worth its price in gold.
Next up I bring you a very rare glimpse into what a mousepad looks like up close. The left picture makes a little more sense once I explain it a bit. The surface of a mousepad has a bit of science behind it. In theory, a mouse can use any textured surface because its laser is a very simple device. It calculates or "reads" the distance from the surface to the laser and reports the numbers back. The higher the DPI (dots per inch) a mouse supports, the more reads it can potentially give. This has a few different outcomes because the software also plays a large role in this. A cheap mouse with a high DPI could run into problems because it reads out every little fraction of a mm. When programmed correctly, the mouse software is armed with algorithms to ignore odd values that could be false reports or simply a change in texture. This is when a nice mousepad comes into play. Having very fine threads like the ROCCAT Hiro and having them weaved consistently can change how a cheap mouse performs and gives those gaming mice an extra bit of control. I will cover more on the mouse control in detail later in this article.
The next picture over is also at high magnification. ROCCAT states on the packaging, "Force Field Protective Coating - water - and grime-resistant and easy to clean." This I took to heart because all to often I end up spilling my soda and ruining the mousepad. At $50, that is a very costly spill and I wanted to see if ROCCAT is trying to sell me a gimmick or telling the truth. I am happy to report the soda drop didn't even stick and rolled off leaving no residue. The same happened to the front, it was just easier to photograph the blue back. The whole thing is constructed from plastic and the threads look very much like nylon, though do not quote me. This would explain why the soda didn't soak into the front.
Here we are at the very end of show and tell. I took the liberty of snapping a few photographs for comparison on how big this mouse pad really is. The picture of the left has the mousepad setting next to a Logitech G510, which is its flagship top of the line keyboard and one of the largest. Putting that into perspective, the picture on the right is the Hiro sitting next to what I consider average generic mousepads.
ROCCAT Hiro: Specifications:
350 x 250 x 2.5 mm
All Kinds of Mice - 80 Mice Tested
ROCCAT Hiro Features:
- VULCANIZED SILICONE SURFACE
-With Complex 3D structure for total speed & control domination
- POWER-BONDED CONSTRUCTION
-For smooth, rounded edges that won't fray
- COVERT-TECH SURFACE TREATMENT
-For ultra-quiet gliding
- NON-SLIP, SHOCK-ABSORBING RUBBER BASE
-For the steadiest command platform & longest battle comfort
- FORCE FIELD PROTECTIVE COATING
-water resistant & easy to clean
- PREMIUM MATERIALS CONSTRUCTION
-For max battle durability, mission after mission
- OPTIMAL GAMING SIZE
-of 350 x 250 x 2.5mm - for ideal ergonomics and performance
All information is courtesy of: http://www.roccat.org/Products/Gaming-Mousepads/ROCCAT-Hiro/#crb_2
ROCCAT Hiro Testing:
To give you an idea of how the ROCCAT Hiro compares to other mousepads I will be using a qualitative approach for the Precision, Speed, and Control. Each description of my findings will be based off observation while playing Unreal Tournament 3. The game type is Deathmatch on DM-ShangriLa using Instagib mutator. My choice to use a semi-dated game and not another game or office software was because Unreal Tournament is known for its twitch gameplay. The graphics may be showing its age, but the core gameplay has not changed since its first debut in 1999. The ROCCAT Hiro is marketed toward gamers so it seemed most appropriate. Let me give a quick rundown of what my observations are based on. For Precision, I will keep track of how often I miss due to inaccuracy of the mousepad. Speed was based on how fast I could move the mouse across the screen with the DPI at 3500. Control is directly related to how smooth the cursor traveled across the screen and the ability to track targets. The hard data, or quantitative chart, was based on playing five matches with a score limit of 20 using each mousepad. The end results gave me the a Kill/Death ratio that I used as a comparison.
- Processor: AMD FX 8350 @ 4.0GHz
- CPU Cooling: Stock Cooler
- Motherboard: ASUS M5A99X Evo 2.0
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 16GB (2x8GB)
- Video Card: ASUS DCII GTX 570
- PSU: OCZ 850W Z Series Gold
- Hard Drive: Seagate 2TB 7200.13
- Optical Drive: DVD-Rom
- OS: Windows 7 Pro 64-bit SP1
- Mouse: Razer DeathAdder 3500 DPI
- Desk Surface
- Generic Black
- Generic Blue
When comparing each mousepad, the Hiro takes the lead and really gave me a feeling of accuracy. In the Instagib game mode you only have one chance to fire, otherwise you are toast. So being on target the first time is absolutely necessary. I also switched around the pads randomly because I didn't want to unknowingly be biased. In do so, the generic black was clearly the worst and I often missed my shots as a result. It was very frustrating to be nearly on target, but just enough to pass right by. A little of that has to do with control, but I'll cover that soon enough. The desk surface for me was almost as good as a cheap mousepad. This may be different than most people might think and that is because I swore off mousepads for a while and became accustomed to the desk. For most people, it is uncomfortable and hard to use in which the only pad to really not hurt my wrist was the Hiro. Granted it does not have a wrist gel found often on work mousepads, but it gave enough clearance to feel comfortable enough.
For the Speed comparison, I turned the DeathAdder to 3500 DPI with the goal to see if the mousepad was still readable. The good news is the Razer DeathAdder picked up the Hiro and I could barely keep track of where the mouse went. The worst surface was the desk - I almost had to pick up the mouse before it moved off the desk. There is not much to this observation, but just remember fast is good because you can always turn down the sensitivity. On the other hand, if your mouse does not pick it up the pad in the first place, then that becomes a problem. I find myself leaving the DeathAdder at 1800 DPI and making slight adjustments in game. If you are playing a real-time strategy (RTS) game, a low DPI might suit you better, but I've also known a few people who max out the DPI so they don't have to move their hand basically at all.
Control is a little hard to explain if you are not a first-person shooter (FPS) gamer. The problem I had across all the mousepads except for the Hiro (surprise), was moving the mouse in a diagonal direction. If you play FPS games you know that being able to look up, down, and left to right is essential. Interesting enough, if you pay close attention, you are often traveling at an angle. If you have played Unreal Tournament, this is something that is constantly happening and everything is based on twitch reflex. The second you stand still to readjust, you become a target. I could feel and see a noticeable difference between the Hiro and the rest. The Hiro was smooth and nearly always on target (human flaws aside).
The Gaming chart below is based on a tally of kills and death. I played five matches with each mousepad and recorded the score and then averaged them together. The game was set up playing Deathmatch on DM-ShangriLa using Instagib mutator. The bots skill level was set to Master and bot count was 20 with the score limit 20 also. The bot skill was based on playing games using the generic blue mouse pad and finding an average of 1:1 kill ratio.
The gaming chart goes hand in hand with control and in fact they all the relate to each other. The better the control was, the better I was able to move around and be nearly on target. There is nothing worse than running by your enemy, only to be killed from behind because you could not turn fast enough. Looking at the gaming chart, it helps to sum up the rest. I was able to get more kills than deaths and win every match using the Hiro. All that contributed to taking long distance pot shots, hitting the target, and being able to jump and dodge incoming fire while keeping my aim steady on the opposing enemies. You might think two or three fewer deaths is meaningless, but it can be a big deal between first and third place. I did not get first place with two of the mousepads, and you can see that with the average being less than 20. In reality, a chart can't properly show a kill/death ratio; I think a plot graph might have helped more. Getting five kills in a row then dying three times within five seconds is something worth mentioning. I was rocking with the Hiro, only to be at match point and die three times. The rest of the pads either were 1:1 ratios or pure luck I finished the match in first place.
ROCCAT Hiro Conclusion:
To sum up the review for anyone who skipped to the end, let me give you the rundown on how I based my scores. Much like any other review, I split it into the three sections to determine the final score. First I looked at what the company is saying it offers. For example, the company states the mousepad supports a smooth surface and is water proof. In any example, I examine what is advertised versus what is actually offered. Most of this becomes uncovered as I take pictures to document the product. If the company does not stay true to its word then it loses points because no one ever wants to be sold on false advertisement. Next I look at what the product is marketed for and put it into perspective. An example of this could be using a cheap mouse and expecting the same high scores. This would contradict its target market and something I try to catch so it does not affect the score. The last bit is my own interjection. What could the mousepad offer in its price range, and what do other companies offer. This category may include larger or smaller pads, different colors, or support for higher DPI. This list is endless so let's move on to the conclusion.
The ROCCAT Hiro hits all the right marks giving it the best score on each chart. It offers high DPI support for that extra speed. The mousepad is very consistent and smooth even over the screen-printed logo. The back and front are bound together with a solid connection, where I could not find any edge that might become a problem over time. The most notable "Pro" is a spill-resistant coating. Other mousepads may offer this, but they haven't listed it as a feature. This is a feature I know I will be using and in all honesty, most likely before this review is published, I will have spilled some more onto it, but this time not on purpose. Lastly a non-slip backing is a given for any mousepad worthy of being considered a gaming mousepad.
The negatives are a very short list and completely my own bias. I think the mousepad is too big and for most of this review I used only a quarter of the pad. If ROCCAT could cut the pad in half, I do not think you would notice. The size also plays a role in price. For $50 you could buy a few average mousepads for your friends. By cutting the mousepad size in half, the company would save production cost and could pass this on to the consumer.
Let me end this with a few words. ROCCAT has made an amazing mouse pad, but at a high price (literally). If you are 100% serious about being an eSport gamer or hope for the extra edge, you cannot go wrong with this. It has a few standard features from the $25 range and a few more a pay grade above. The question ultimately remains, is $50 something you can afford to spend on a mousepad? I say yes and ROCCAT made good on all its listed promises. The company does offer a few mousepads at a lower price, but of course they're not going to have everything this one offers. This is marketed for the best and if you are using a $70-100 mouse, I cannot see why you do not want to use it to its full potential.
- High DPI support
- Smooth and consistent
- Power bounded edges - no fraying
- Non-slip backing
- Spill resistant
- Very large