Until recently, a mouse pad seemed like a purely utilitarian thing. It existed purely to make sure your mouse tracked correctly; no fuss, no muss. As my old cloth mouse pad began to peel and curl at the edges, and I started to look into a replacement, I was surprised to find out how important many gamers consider their mouse surfaces. Last week, I was able to get my hands on Corsair’s newest and most high end mouse pad, the MM800 Polaris, a fully RGB enabled hard surface that seamlessly links with every other Corsair RGB device. It was certainly an improvement from what I had been using, but did it justify its $59.99 MSRP?
As a reviewer, I consider it my job to approach my assignments objectively, assessing each item on its own merits, regardless of any other product I’ve used from that company or the way “things have always been.” That said, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical of the Polaris. Given my own preconceptions, the idea of a $59.99 mouse pad seemed immediately outrageous. The last pad I had used cost $15, worked well, and lasted five years. I note this because my reaction is, I suspect, is one likely to be shared by many of Corsair’s most likely customers. The MM800 Polaris had something to prove.
Corsair knew what it was getting into, and even though I may never be sold on that price tag, the MM800 is easily the most technologically advanced and customizable mouse pad on the market. If you’re looking for an RGB mouse pad, there is simply no question: the MM800 Polaris is the best money can buy.
Taking it out of the box, I was surprised at how large it is. Coming in at 14-inches wide and 10-inches long, it is easily the largest mouse pad I have ever used. It is quite thin, however, measuring just 5mm tall, with the vast majority of those millimeters taken up with the vibrant LED track encircling the mouse surface. I was initially concerned it wouldn’t fit my desk but thankfully it fit without needing to shift and recenter everything. While this may prove too large of a surface for some users, it’s clear that Corsair wanted the Polaris to deserve its premium seating, and the larger mousing service only works toward that goal.
The MM800 is a hard mouse pad with a micro-textured surface. The underside is features a rubberized grip to help it stay in place and not slide around. Coming from a cloth mouse pad, I had to lower my DPI to keep my pointer moving at a comfortable, accurate speed. Corsair promises that the textured surface is optimized for all kinds of mouse sensors; however, I found that it wasn’t a fit for all mice. My 2012 Razer Naga, for example, seemed to catch on the texturing making fine movements unreliable at best. When I switched to my newer Logitech G600 with a more flush surface these issues disappeared completely, leading me to believe this was more of an “old mouse” issue than a “new mouse mat” problem.
The Polaris requires power for it’s lighting, but that USB connection also acts as a passthrough for a port at the head of the unit, perfect for a mouse. This is a wise addition and saves needing an port for the pad when you can just swap. Better yet, owners of the K70 RGB LUX can actually daisy chain straight through the keyboard and save a USB port. I tested this thoroughly and found everything worked exactly as it should with no power or responsiveness issues.
But on to the real selling point: the RGB customization. A total of 15 areas can be customized with any of 16.8M colors, including animations like waves, ripples, and gradients, as well as static colors. For users who don’t want to muss about in “advanced mode,” Corsair also offers a number of presets. The default “Spiral Rainbow” is the only one stored to the unit’s internal memory, and though it’s incredibly showy, I would have preferred the option to see my own profile when I boot or shutdown.
The other presets also look great and demonstrate what the Polaris is capable of. Without any programming whatsoever, the Polaris can pulse or seamlessly color shift, send vivid beams bouncing from side to side, spin a rainbow across the edges or glide it vertically in a cycle. The vibrancy and brightness is exceptional and looks fantastic on the desk top. It did tend to outshine my other peripherals, however, and there is no easy way to adjust the Polaris’s brightness.
Another interesting features is its ability to integrate with other Corsair RGB peripherals. In basic mode, you can “lightning link” with other compatible hardware, allowing your lighting effects to flow together and bounce back and forth. It’s neat, and thanks to Corsair’s active RGB community, I was able to download dozens of profiles that instantly synced across my keyboard and mouse pad (hat tip to the prolific Lewis Gershwitz for his prolific profile work).
Corsair’s MM800 Polaris is an undeniably impressive mouse pad. It’s the kind of peripheral that makes people do a double take, especially if you have other Corsair RGB peripheral. That said, it’s an undeniably niche product. If you’re an RGB enthusiast, the Polaris’s value a truly unique desk top is readily apparent. For everyone else, it’s a hard sell. It looks great and drips quality, but, returning to the original question, does it justify its price tag? That depends entirely on how much you value the extra flash.