VAXEE PA Review
VAXEE is a company that has been aiming their products at professional and competitive gamers ever since they first started off, and so far all of their products have been hits. The NP-01 in particular has been adopted by a lot of professional players over the past couple of months, and that is not something that we often see for a completely new brand or mouse model.
Knowing all of this, we have quite some expectations for their first mousepad. The VAXEE PA is a mousepad that’s been crafted for ‘precise control while improving the glide’ according to VAXEE, so we’ve sent some samples to our reviewer to see what he thinks of the PA line of mousepads.
"The VAXEE team inspects each PA mouse pad by hand, to ensure the flatness of the surface and base."VAXEE
VAXEE PA First Impressions
You probably already noticed that there are two different versions of the PA, namely the Zygen and the Outset version. Both are exactly the same and only differ in the looks department, so if you’re interested in this pad you can just get the one that matches your preferences best. Aside from that you can also get a custom ID version, where they print your gamertag on the pad just like other brands do with the pros. That one is exactly the same as the regular pad (I double checked with the VAXEE people to confirm this) so if you want that bit of extra swag you can get it without worrying about it affecting the glide in any way, though the custom version costs a bit more of course.
As far as the design goes I have to say that I quite like both versions. The Zygen edition is perhaps a bit too busy for my tastes, but I do like the modern twist that they did on the Great Wave off Kanagawa (at least that’s what I see in it) and the Outset edition looks more interesting than a regular black pad without going overboard. Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder so you may disagree with me, but I am glad to see that they ditched the leathery design that I saw in the first photos of a (it could’ve been a completely different pad though) VAXEE pad that surfaced on Twitter a while ago.
Those of you who follow the gaming peripheral scene a bit will perhaps get a familiar feeling when first trying out the PA. It feels an awful lot like Zowie’s G-SR-SE, which doesn’t have to be surprising seeing as VAXEE is founded by the same people who founded the original Zowie Gears company all those years ago. For those wondering: the glide characteristics are extremely similar, though I find the PA to be a touch faster than the G-SR-SE. It’s worth noting that I don’t have a brand new G-SR-SE lying around to compare it to however.
When placing the PA down on your desk it lays flat almost immediately, which is always nice. The thick, very tightly packed foam makes for a rather rigid surface so even though the pad is 3.5 millimetres thick you won’t get a lot of ‘mouse feet sinkage’ with this one. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends entirely on your preferences, but I quite like the extremely consistent experience that the PA offers.
For a control pad it’s also rather smooth to the touch. Quite often you get this gritty, sandpaper-like texture when using a control-oriented mousepad but that is not the case with the PA. It even feels a bit smoother than the G-SR-SE to me, which is something to be proud of if you ask me.
As far as the glide goes this pad offers a rather unique experience. It’s kind of a middle ground between an average cloth pad glide and a control pad experience, which isn’t something that you see very often with the mainstream brands. It’s, in my opinion, a great pad for people who don’t want to experience the ‘muddy feeling’ of a dedicated control pad but also don’t want to have a glide that’s too fast or unwieldy. There’s a decent amount of friction, both when coming to a stop and when making micro adjustments, and that allows for precise control while the smooth surface allows you to execute larger flicks without feeling too held back by the surface. Whether you like this glide experience or not is of course entirely up to you, but if you feel a bit too floaty with your aim this could be one to look at.
One unfortunate thing about mousepad reviews is the fact that reviewers can’t usually judge the durability of a pad, unless it’s extremely bad. The only thing I can say is that the PA has held up just fine during testing, and that I didn’t have any consistency issues with the glide even in pretty hot and humid environments. It’s worth noting that my arms don’t really sweat when gaming though, so if you’re a bit sweatier and you make a lot of big swipes this could be different for you.
All in all this isn’t the most innovative product that VAXEE has ever made but there’s of course only so much you can do with a mouse glide surface, and the growing success of pads like the G-SR-SE have made it clear that there is a market for this type of stuff.
VAXEE PA Black Review
This section was added to the review on the 8th of November, 2022.
A while ago, the VAXEE PA Black was released. Contrary to what you might think, this is not the exact same pad as the printed versions. Due to a different design process (the Black has no printing at all, whereas the printed versions obviously go through a different process when the prints get applied) the Black has a slightly different top surface. Except for the different surface, all specs are the exact same.
This different surface is hard to notice if you're not paying attention to it, but from what I've experienced the Black has a higher dynamic friction (meaning that it's slower for swipes). Aside from that, the glide feels pretty much the exact same; I couldn't notice any difference with static friction, both in testing and in actual gameplay. So in a nutshell: if you want a VAXEE PA that offers more resistance when gliding it can be a good idea to go for the Black version.
Something that I did notice during testing is that tiny 'fragments' (skin flakes, grains of sand or dirt, ...) seem to get stuck in the surface weave a little easier than on the printed editions. I don't know if this is down to the fact that the printed version has a slight coating that 'papers over' the spaces in the texture or if it's a coincidence, but I found myself doing swipes with my hand to clear off the surface pretty regularly. As someone who strongly dislikes having these sorts of 'obstructions' on my mousepad this was something that annoyed me during my testing, so if you're also a person who likes a completely pristine mouse surface this is something to consider.
Conclusion & Recommendation
If you’ve got a feeling that you would like a bit more control but you don’t want to overdo it with a muddy/gritty dedicated control pad then the PA can be right up your alley. It’s a high quality mousepad that gives you an interesting glide with enough smoothness to allow for big flicks but enough friction to allow for fine control and a lot of stopping power. It all comes in a pad with a very firm foam base and a surface that’s rather smooth to the touch.
The only thing that I don’t like is the fact that they don’t have extended versions available at the time of me writing this review, but aside from that there’s plenty to love about the VAXEE PA even though it’s perhaps not very innovating.