ProsLarge low-friction mousing surface; impressive 15-zone lighting can be synced with Corsair RGB keyboards; new and improved CUE 2 software
ConsMoving lights are distracting, so static gradients should be standard presets; CUE 2 software still feels like beta; hard surface may wear down mice
Anyone following the PC market over the past year or so probably knows that LED lighting is all the rage. You've got your RGB motherboards, RGB video cards, RGB case fans, RGB headsets, RGB keyboards, and RGB mice. There's honestly not a whole lot left that doesn't have RGB lighting. RAM comes to mind, and we have a feeling Corsair is in the very best position to offer it! But apparently before it tackles that market, it's going straight for its archrival Razer with thew new MM800 RGB Polaris Mouse Pad. Razer introduced its pioneering Razer Firefly mouse mat at CES 2016, and we were there to ask Razer why. Well, it was simple: they'd already RGB'ized everything else in their lineup! And we have no doubt the Firefly has been a big hit, especially among die-hard Razer fans, of which there are many.
But Corsair is a company focused on performance, not aesthetics, so if it were going to challenge the Firefly, it was going to do it with a focus on the fundamentals. Corsair offers a number of high-performance mice and mouse mats, so its first foray into RGB mats had to live up to the high bar set by those products. Read on to find out what it's doing right with the MM800, as well as areas where we see room for improvement.
We'd like to extend a special thank you to Corsair for providing us with a review sample of the MM800 RGB Polaris Mouse Pad.
Description and Features
The MM800 is a fairly large mouse pad, measuring 13.8" x 10.2 " x 0.20", which interestingly enough is nearly identical to the Razer Firefly, which measures 14” x 10” x 0.16”. It appears that both Corsair and Razer are moving towards the widescreen-equivalent of mouse pads, as older models, including Corsair's MM300, as well as the ultra-popular Steelseries 4HD, are a bit more square in shape. The wider mousing area makes a lot of sense for gamers, at least in theory, due to the freedom to move from side-to-side . For general use, however, it causes a bit of an issue in that to keep a keyboard centered below the monitor in an ergonomic typing position, the far end of the MM800 really can't be used, effectively making the usable mousing area narrower. If you're a hard-core gamer using a tenkeyless keyboard like the Corsair K65 RGB, this will be less of an issue.
One great feature of the MM800 is the USB pass-through port positioned just to the right of the braided USB cord. That's something the Razer Firefly strangely left off, but it's just the ticket for smoother gaming with a wired mouse. There's nothing worse than getting your mouse cord caught up in the mess of cables behind your desk while performing a fast-paced maneuver.
With regard to the mat material, Corsair could have gone a number of ways. There's the classic cloth option, which is comfortable and won't wear out your mouse feet, there's the faster smooth plastic surface, which typically gets scratched pretty easily, and then there's the long-wearing textured plastic surface for minimal friction. Corsair went with the latter, which means the MM800 is a very fast mat, but it's a bit uncomfortable to drag the side of your fingers across, as you might while gripping your mouse, and will also prematurely wear out the glide pads on any mouse. That's the tradeoff you make, but there's no doubt the MM800 is responsive. Compared back to back with our Corsair MM300 Extended Cloth Mat, which can be seen sitting underneath the MM800 in our photos, the MM800 is like gliding on ice. Sure cloth is smooth, but it's not fast.
The big news on the software side is Corsair's brand-new Corsair Utility Engine 2, released at PAX West 2016 with much fanfare, which was warranted given how badly CUE needed an update. We have to hand it to Corsair: they didn't just give CUE a nip-and-tuck; this is a whole new suite. Finally offering an interface to rival Logitech's LGS and Razer's Synapse, CUE 2 is nice to look at and nearly as nice to use. The interface is big and bold, and you can easily see all your connected Corsair gear up top. For marketing purposes, though, CUE 2 by default "demos" other gear you don't have, a feature we shut off as soon as we found the option in the settings menu. The idea is that you can see the various lighting schemes that could be applied the RGB family, but it gets confusing if you actually have a lot of gear connected.
CUE 2 lets you create and save a seemingly-unlimited number of profiles, and even allows interesting mash-ups like turning on multiple profiles at once. For example, in the screenshot here, we did a mashup of the spiral rainbow pattern with a static purple color, which basically gives you a rainbow built off the purple color. Very cool! You can change directions and speeds of the color cycles, link various products together using the "Lighting Link" option, or go whole-hog and set up a custom gradient, which you'll see in a moment.
Since lighting is part and parcel of the MM800's "performance", we're going to go into more detail on the use of CUE 2, along with the mouse mat performance, on the next page.