In today’s custom keyboard market, there are so many accessories that you can buy to help express a user’s personality. Aside from the keyboard itself, custom keycaps and cables further enhance the keyboard’s aesthetics. More brands are also marketing custom desk mats to pair with custom keyboards, keycaps, and cables.
Custom keyboard desk mats are very similar to XXL-sized gaming mousepads. They are designed to match custom keycaps and custom cables perfectly. They also provide external dampening, which can help enhance a keyboard’s sound. They are not always required. However, they can help tie up a setup together.
Many users should already be familiar with desk mats or gaming mouse pads since they have been around in the market for a long time and are sold by big-name brands such as Razer, Steelseries, Hyperx, Logitech G, and many more.
This time around, custom keyboard companies have also adopted this product and have customized it to fit the aesthetic preferences and needs of keyboard enthusiasts. They also provide some tangible benefits, such as enhanced typing sounds.
In this article, we will be telling everything buyers need to know about custom keyboard desk mats. We will be talking about their benefits and how they stack up to gaming mouse pads. And ultimately, we will be helping users decide if it is something they need in their gaming setup or if they are just another gimmick.
What are Custom Keyboard Desk Mats, and What Do They Do?
A custom keyboard desk mat is pretty much a large mousepad that covers the entire desk. It is roughly the size of an XXL gaming mousepad.
A desk mat has several functions. First, it does pretty much everything that a regular mouse pad does. It provides glide for your mouse as well as protection for the mouse feet.
But what truly differentiates it from a gaming mouse pad is its design. Most custom keyboard desk mats are designed to go along with custom keycap sets.
Most desk mats that are sold along with keycap group buys will accurately match both the colorway and the design of the keycaps. Also, some companies allow consumers to customize their own desk mats. This is a feature that isn’t often offered by big-name manufacturers such as Logitech G.
Lastly, custom desk mats can act as an external sound dampener for keyboards, and they can change the typing sound of keyboards to a certain degree.
How Much Difference In Sound Does a Desk Mate Make
For serious hobbyists, desk mats have almost become standard because of how much they can affect the sound of keyboards. Of course, they are not as impactful as proper internal sound dampening mods or different mounting styles. However, they can still help enhance the sound of your keyboard.
One thing to note is that there isn’t a way to measure how much desk pads affect the sound objectively. But most of the time, the difference is pretty audible.
Some users also tend to stack desk mats. Many users claim that this can help tune the overall sound of the keyboard. But again, there is no objective way to measure this. We highly recommend trying it out yourselves or checking out Youtube sound tests to see the difference.
Can You Use Custom Keyboards Without a Desk Mat?
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Pretty much everyone these days uses a custom desk mat or an XXL desk mat. Almost all desk setup or keyboard-related posts on places such as Reddit will feature a custom desk mat or mouse pad.
But the truth is, desk mats aren’t a necessity. Sure, they provide tangible benefits, such as improving the acoustics of your custom keyboard. However, the effects aren’t as game-changing or drastic as changing the switches or installing an internal dampening solution.
In a lot of ways, custom keyboard desk mats are very similar to custom coiled cables. They do not provide any additional functionality and are simply there to add to the aesthetics of the custom keyboard build.
But with that said, we still recommend giving custom desk mats or full-sized XXL gaming mousepads a try, even if you are not interested in the sound dampening benefits they provide. This is because they help protect your keyboard from scratches and your desk from any stains or scratches. And, of course, they help tie up your entire setup together.
Plus, most desk mats aren’t too expensive. So if you already spent a lot on your custom keyboard build, it may be worth going the extra mile for a custom desk mat.
Custom Keyboard Desk Mats vs. Gaming Mousepads
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One thing to note is that custom desk mats are not optimized for gaming. Most of the time, the fabric used on these mousepads does not provide the same benefits as gaming mousepads.
They will not glide as well as fast pads and will not be able to provide the same amount of control as control pads. This should not be a big deal for casual users and casual gamers. However, for FPS players who are looking to get the most out of their gaming mice, custom keyboard desk mats aren’t the right solution.
The good news is that users can use both their gaming mousepads alongside their custom keyboard desk mats. Most XL-sized gaming mousepads are smaller than most keyboard desk mats, and this means that users can stack these two mousepads while gaming.
But for those looking for a cleaner solution, some companies also offer customization options, which we will look at next.
Customizable Gaming Mousepads
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If you are both a keyboard enthusiast and a competitive gamer, then some brands cater to your specific needs. One such brand is Razer. Aside from offering gaming mechanical keyboards and mice, they are also well-known for offering mousepads.
They were one of the first to offer tournament-grade cloth pads in the form of the Razer Goliathus. Today, they offer the Gigantus V2, which can be customized to a certain degree.
However, unlike competing mousepads, the Gigantus V2 can only be customized with Razer’s designs. This is most likely down to avoid any copyright issues, which we will be tackling later.
Another brand that is popular in the FPS community is X-Ray Pads. This company is best known for creating the Thor gaming mousepad. And now, they are also offering customization options that allow users to satisfy both their gaming and custom keyboard needs.
Unlike Razer, X-Ray pads seem to allow users to freely customize their mousepad. They allow users to send a photo of their own design through their website.
One thing to note is that the keyboard community highly discourages copying the design of other artists and manufacturers. So when customizing your own mousepad, please refrain from using the original design of others, even if it is for your personal use.
Verdict: Are Custom Desk Mats Necessary?
As we have established earlier, custom desk mats aren’t a necessity. While they do change or enhance the sound of keyboards, they still aren’t as impactful as proper internal sound dampening and other mounting styles. Also, they will not be for everyone since they do not provide the same benefits as proper gaming mousepads.
But with that said, it is all about preference. Some users love the look of desk mats. And having the ability to customize them to their heart’s content is a huge selling point.
Other users prefer the natural look of their desks and are not too worried about protecting their keyboards from scratches. So just like with custom keycaps and custom coiled cables, custom desk mats are entirely optional.
As for us, we personally use a custom desk pad since it helps keep our desks tidy and helps protect our keyboards and mice. We recommend picking one up if your budget permits or if you see a desk mat that fits your setup and aesthetic preferences.
Where To Buy Custom Keyboard Desk Mats
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Custom keyboard desk mats can be bought in most stores that stock custom keyboard parts and accessories. Some popular websites that sell desk mats include KBDFans, KPRepbulic, Novelkeys, Cannonkeys, and Drop.
Custom keycap group buys also often include matching desk mats. The keycap brands that most often do this are GMK and ePBT. It’s worth noting that group buy desk mats will often have limited availability and are often unavailable after their initial group buy.