During my time with the ThunderStorm it saw a wide range of common activities such as general web browsing, photo editing, and of course gaming. I tried to step outside of my routine titles to make sure I used it for a variety of genres including Final Fantasy XIV (MMO), League of Legends (MOBA), StartCraft II (RTS), and Team Fortress 2 (FPS). While a large part of how a mouse pad performs is preference, there are a few objective points that I can touch on. The first is a concern even with some hard plastic surfaces, and that is the wear on the pad or even the feet of your mouse. I’ve been using the ThunderStorm for at least a month as my main PC’s mouse pad and there is no noticeable wear on the feet or marks on either surface side. I’ve also researched a bit online to see if those with a longer ownership ran into any problems and did not see anything mentioned. The ThunderStorm comes with Teflon adhesive tape that you can apply to your mouse feet, but the intended purpose is less about preservation and more about reducing friction.
The price point is also a factual number that we can use for comparisons. At an MSRP of $34.99 it serves as a median for other metal mouse pad options on the market, and in fact is one of the lowest priced options for a dual-sided surface. That’s fairly impressive considering MSI put some extra effort in quality. The aluminum base is solid enough to prevent any kind of bowing (the rubber feet elevate it slightly) but the material choice keeps it from being a burden to carry or reposition. The edges are even finished to prevent any kind of irritation if your arm slides across it. The rubber feet do a fairly good job keeping the pad in place though on certain surfaces I did notice it move slightly after a lot of use, but not often enough or far enough to be bothered by it. The only reason I noticed it at all is because I tend to line the bottom edge of the pad right along the edge of whatever table I’m using and would notice a small gap after time.
The two sides definitely have a different feel to them but the practicality of which to use came down more to which I liked feeling on my skin rather than performance of the mouse. That being said, I know plenty of people who run specific settings on their mouse and can notice a change in texture, such as when they come over for a small LAN and borrow a mouse pad so I can appreciate having that option. It didn’t feel a lot different than using a hard plastic mouse pad in game, but the longevity that the metal material affords you is the perk here. I did notice that the “Speed Surface” side of the pad can be really cold if you aren’t using it day to day. I brought the ThunderStorm with me to a LAN party and it remained in my LAN bag for a day or so afterwards. The bag was in our house at room temperature unaffected; I’m sure it has something to do with the finish.
The other unique feature of the ThunderStorm is the shape and this is something that I really appreciate. It has what MSI refers to as an “L” cut along one side, which is intended to work with however you position your keyboard. When I’m at home, I have a slight angle on my keyboard but not enough of one to cause problems with most mouse pads. When I’m at LAN parties, however, I find that I have a much sharper angle for whatever reason. We had the opportunity to be in the same area as players competing in a Counter-Strike tournament at a recent LAN and I was surprised to see the same behavior by most of them. The problem at a LAN party is that you don’t typically have as much space to work with, so often times this will result in overlapping a side of your keyboard on your mousepad, turning the mousepad so your keyboard fits but you have less horizontal area for your mouse, or any number of compromises to make it work. The “L” cut in the ThunderStorm addresses the issue by giving your keyboard a nook to fit into. This worked great for me but I can see a situation where because of the uneven nature of the “L” shape you may find yourself limited if you’re really partial to a certain side.