The Icemat AKA Steelseries Experience I-2
Total Rating: (4.0/ 5.0)
Recommendation: The Icemat (now the Steelseries I-2) is recommended if you have an optical mouse and want the smoothest surface possible.
Standard retail: $39.99
Check price on Amazon
- Material: Glass with “trade secret” treatment
- Size: 9.8 x 11.8 x .2 in. (250 x 300 x 4 mm)
- Works with: Optical mice only
- Glide: Extremely smooth
What we liked:
- Very smooth – probably the fastest surface available.
- Excellent tracking with optical mice
- Large enough for most users
- Superior durability
- Very easy to clean
What we disliked:
- Does not work with laser mice
- A little pricy
- Makes a little noise while mousing
The Icemat is a specially crafted and treated glass surface designed for optical mice. There is something of a disagreement on what to call it – it is technically called the “Steelseries Experience I-2,” but we prefer the original name – the Icemat. The Icemat, as some of you may remember it as one of the first gaming mouse surfaces. Let’s be clear here: this is for optical mice only! Some retailers will have you believe that the mouse works fine for laser mice, but you will regret it if you believe them. A laser mouse will go haywire at high speeds on a glass surface, and precision at low speeds is less-than-ideal for laser mice. That said, it works great for optical mice!
You open the package and notice immediately that the glass surface has a very nice look to it. It has a classic look, so I can definitely see the Steelseries Icemat being used around the workplace. If you want an impressive looking pad, you won’t be disappointed. Optical tracking on the Icemat works great. We used the MX 518 and had no problems, even at high acceleration. There is very little resistance on the surface, so please keep that in mind. If you are a high-sensitivity gamer used to a rough or controlled mousing surface, you’re going to be clicking or shooting all over the place until you get used to it. I see the pad as being well-suited to speed players that like to “run and gun.” I would point graphical artists and designers towards a pad with a little more control.
The question we first asked ourselves was why we should pay $39.99 (or slightly less) for this piece of glass when cheap pieces of glass are everywhere. To answer that question, we got several samples of glass tile from a local store to compare. While the mouse seemed to track just as well on the other surfaces, there are some major differences. First, we noticed is that the Icemat is much more comfortable. The Icemat is surprisingly thin (but not so thin that you could break it), and the edges are smooth and curved. Second, the Icemat has six rubber feet on the bottom to keep it from sliding around. If you applied your own non-slip base, could you make it level, functional, and sexy? I couldn’t. Third, and most importantly, the surface treatment on the Icemat is just made for mousing. Other glass surfaces were either a little bit wavy(thus unusable) or totally flat. The flat pieces just felt like our desk surface, but the Icemat’s treatment made the mouse glide better. I also suspect that the I-2 could drop from the desk without shattering, which is more than I could say for most glass.
The only thing that bothered me about the Icemat was the slight noise it made while the mouse moved over the top of it. This is fairly common for glass or aluminum pads. It’s not what I’d call a scratching noise – again, your mouse probably can’t scratch it. I think it’s the noise of the edge of the mouse feet against the surface. You can ignore it (much like the hum of your computer fan), and you can’t hear it if your sound is on, so it’s not too bad.
UPDATE: Razer has recently released a few infrared optical mice including the new Deathadder 3.5G. We get a lot of questions about whether these mice work on the Icemat, and sadly the answer is “yes, but not very well.”
If you think you might upgrade from optical to laser at some point in the future, consider a mouse surface that is compatible with both technologies. Most buyer complaints come from users of laser mice who have been led to believe that laser mice work on glass. They don’t. Otherwise, consumer feedback is extremely positive. Click the link to get the Icemat, or just to check the price. Head back to the mouse pad reviews main page to see more pads and surfaces and how they compare.