When Cooler Master asked me to review its MasterAccessory MP860 mouse pad, I said "sure, why not?" This is the era of the RGB LED, and mouse pads are already common hosts for those multicolored diodes. For those who don't follow every Cooler Master product launch religiously, the MP860 is a reversible mouse pad with RGB LED accents. It has a low-friction cloth side and a hard-and-smooth aluminum side. RGB LEDs ring the outer edge and shine through the Cooler Master logo on the cloth side. The logo on the hard side is just painted on in purple.
Cooler Master refers to the sides as "Speed" and "Control." Can you guess which is which? I initially assumed that the aluminum side must be the "Speed" side, and I was wrong. With that said, the two surfaces actually have quite similar levels of friction. Both sides are just grippy enough to keep your mouse from sliding around on its own, but slippery enough to make mousing comfortable. Folks who prefer extremely low friction won't be delighted by either surface, but I think the majority of mousers will find them marvelous. Your choice of which surface to use could ultimately rest on what material you want to feel under your hand (and whether you want to see that illuminated CM logo).
I say that because the MP860 is actually pretty big. Sure, compared to some of the mousing surfaces out there, it's diminutive. I'm comparing it more to the usual novelty mouse pad that you might buy at retail or get as a spiff with another product. At a bit over 14" (36.3 cm) wide and 10.3" (26 cm) deep, all but the most low-sensitivity gamers should find its size accommodating. If anything, it's a little too big, although I'm concerned more with its 3/8" (1 cm) thickness than with its X- and Y-dimensions. I had to adjust my chair height after laying down the MP860, because using this thing legitimately stressed my upper arm by making my mouse sit higher on my desk.
Shine on, you crazy mouse pad
The headline feature of the MP860 is its RGB LED lighting. While the photo below exaggerates the effect, I can honestly say that it's not by much. The lighting on the MP860 is bright and vibrant enough that I had to turn it off when going to bed. While I enjoy RGB LED lighting in some contexts, I still can't say that I'm sold on having my mouse pad ringed with RGB LEDs. Still, it looks nice. The lights are powered by the same USB connection that you'll use to configure them.
Cooler Master's Portal app is the destination to set up the lighting on the MP860. I have to say that it took several versions of the Portal software and a firmware update before I got everything working. With that said, it all works flawlessly now. Any potential buyer simply needs to be aware that configuring the lighting may require a firmware update. Yes, I had to update the firmware on my mouse pad.
In Portal, you can set the lights to cycle colors, to "breathe" one color, to ring the pad in a rainbow, or to send two points of light zipping around the pad in what Cooler Master calls a "Marquee" pattern. You can also set it to simply shine a single color at a static brightness, or to randomly light LEDs around the pad in a given color (the "Stars" pattern.)
The selection of presets is a little sparse, but I can't say that I really miss any of the effects it doesn't have (like a directional wave effect, a flame effect, or something fancy like an audio equalizer). You can control the playback speed of any effect, and you can also set the "LED direction," although all I have observed this function to do is reset the pattern you have playing.
There's just one problem with Cooler Master's software, though. For folks who love RGB LEDs, a major part of the equation is probably synchronizing their lighting with other components, and you can't do that yet with the MP860. Even as pretty as the MP860's blinkenlichten are, if you can't sync them up with your other CM hardware, then it's arguably all for naught. I did try, by the way; I connected the CK552 keyboard that I reviewed in the past to see if Cooler Master's Portal app would recognize it, but it doesn't. It's worth noting that Cooler Master already has an app for setting up harmonized light shows, but that it's only for the company's namesake cooling hardware. Hopefully CM will bring its peripherals into the fold so that RGB LED fanatics can more readily consider the company's hardware.
There are a lot of companies selling RGB LED mouse pads these days. The MP860 isn't even my first one, although it is certainly the coolest mousing surface I've ever used—just ahead of that awesome 3M mouse pad that came with my Voodoo 5 5500. RGB LED lighting tends to be something of a joke around TR's comment threads, and it's easy to understand why. Sticking addressable lights into an otherwise mundane product often makes it kind of hilarious—though it can also look neat if it's done right.
Aside from a dearth of syncing capabilities, the lights on the MP860 look good and have some nice effects to play with. With that bar cleared, we have to consider the MP860 on its merits as a mouse pad. It's just about flawless in that regard. The thing is, it's also $70.
Don't get me wrong: I like the MP860 a lot. When even noted hypebeast Razer is selling its RGB LED mouse pad for less, however, I think the price tag of this mouse pad warrants reconsideration. Admittedly, the Razer pad doesn't have dual surfaces, but it does have Chroma Sync, so it'll look right at home with other compatible peripherals.
If CM can find a way to lower the price on the MP860, it might stand to move a lot more of them. It's a quality product, but I think the company is a bit proud of it. Buyers will have to decide for themselves whether what's on offer is worth the big sticker. You can find the MP860 at both Newegg and Amazon right now for $69.99.