When it comes to gaming surfaces I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur, having had nigh on twenty different mats over the years personally and using at some point most of the popular mats for at least an evening it takes something special to get my attention.
Up until now, my all-time favourite surface was the Icemat, a sheet of frosted black glass with rubber feet. When combined with Teflon mouse glides it was a smooth and responsive surface that made my mouse glide. At CCL on my desk I have the Steelseries 9HD mat, with its plastic coating it provides a good level of feedback all the time even after 2 years use. I also appreciate a good cloth surface but I always find myself running higher sensitivity than most and needing my PC to provide a good experience while working, cloth just doesn’t cut it for me.
In our Razer experience bay in the showroom we have had an Ironclad gaming surface on display since its release. I have been looking at it with slight envy but never quite got the silver finish when all my other peripherals are black. It has quite simply put me off.
Today Razer kindly sent me a holiday present to look at and it’s an epic one at that. The Razer Ironclad Signature Black Edition to be precise! This is a limited edition of the Ironclad with an improved surface, black colour and signature of Min-Liang Tan (CEO of Razer) printed in the bottom left corner.
The first thing that impresses is the overall presentation, the Ironclad standard edition is overly well packaged (putting Apple's packaging to shame) but this Signature Black Edition takes it to a whole new level.
Razer Ironclad External Packaging
Razer Ironclad Inside Box
Razer Ironclad Carry Case
Razer Ironclad on Display
As I said, its one impressive package. All of that however would be to waste if the product was not of a high enough quality to back up the packaging.
I must say that if you are a fan of cloth gaming surfaces and generally don't get along with the harder types this mat will not convert you; if you do like hard surfaces this is undoubtedly the best of the breed.
Getting the mat out of the carry case there is no hint of flex; it has a nice weight and feels smooth to the touch which is a good start.
Razer Ironclad SBE - Greatest Mat Ever
The base of the mat is a full cover, textured pattern of rubber which gives exceptional grip even on my highly polished desk. It is not possible to move the mat using the palm of my hand only, it won’t be moving anywhere while gaming that's for sure!
Rubber non-slip coating on the Razer Ironclad
I have conducted only testing on Battlefield 3 with the mat so far using my Razer Naga MMO Gaming Mouse.
Upon first trying the mouse it was scratching on the surface, from my Icemat experience this usually means there was grime on the feet of the mouse; a quick wipe with a damp cloth cured the problem.
The mouse glides with a predictable, but slight, amount of resistance and tracks perfectly. While the Icemat is slightly quicker than the Ironclad Signature Black Edition it lacks the extra precision of the tracking on the metal pad. My guess would be the glass makes the sensors in the mice work a little harder with more chance of error than the sandblasted metal.
Surface on the Razer Ironclad Signature Black Edition
The surface is perfectly smooth bar the logo and signature in opposite corners. This makes the mat incredibly easy to clean and maintain. With it being metal it also should outlive any cloth mats which have a habit of looking the worst for wear after a year of heavy use.
The other added benefit of the Ironclad Signature Black Edition over the Icemat is its thickness, at around a third the thickness it is far more comfortable to use for a long gaming session. The smooth, soft surface makes a very comfortable place to rest your hand; even on the edges of the mat.
The mat is of a fair size, but would be dwarfed by most of the cloth mats on the scene, this definitely lends the Ironclad Signature Black Edition being for fans of hard mats and higher sensitivities than our cloth preferring cousins. The world would be boring if we were all the same after all!
Overall, the Ironclad Signature Black Edition is easily, in my opinion, the best hard surfaced gaming mat out there. Bar none.
However there are just a few points to note about the Ironclad Signature Black Edition, the normal Ironclad currently retails for around £40 which is a LOT of money to spend on a gaming surface, you can buy a huge variety of top of the line gaming mice for that kind of money. It is also debatable on if it will make a difference to your gaming, it is definitely for the affluent gamer looking for any advantage possible. Even if it’s a placebo.
Due to the huge price tag of the standard Ironclad, the fact the Signature Black Edition is not available for sale and the debatable importance of one good surface over another (it’s all personal preference!) I am unable to recommend people go out and buy the Ironclad.
If you do have the money though, I certainly would give you a thumbs up in any game if I found out you were using one.