GELID NOVA XL mousepad reviewIn the 1990s, most computers were beige boxes. Looking back at that era, pretty much all PCs were extremely boring and design was practically non-existent. Case modding picked up steam towards the end of the 1990s and in the early 2000s, we saw the rise of lots of companies that targeted computer enthusiasts. One common theme over the past two decades has been the rise of the LED. While the ubiquitousness of RGB LEDs is often ridiculed, it can't be denied that a lot of gamers and computer enthusiasts, in general, like fancy light effects. With the passing of each year, it's becoming harder and harder to name products that have not yet received the RGB LED treatment.
I have no idea who created the first mousepad with RGB LEDs but these days there are probably dozens of mousepads that offer this feature. Some of these pads cost quite a lot of money but in this review, I'm taking a closer look at a more budget-oriented version from GELID.
The GELID NOVA series is a line of cloth mousepads with RGB LED perimeter backlight. The mousepad ships rolled up, in a nicely decorated cardboard box. GELID offers three versions of NOVA: the Nova S, the Nova XL, and the Nova XXL. The size (and pricing) is the only difference between the three variants. The Nova S measures 350mm x 250mm x 3mm and costs $20, the Nova XL measures 800mm x 300mm x 4mm and costs $25, and the Nova XXL measures 900mm x 400mm x 4mm and costs $29. At first glance, I like GELID's price policy here. These RGB mousepads are relatively affordable and the company doesn't charge excessively more for larger versions. But is the NOVA mousepad worth your money? Read on to find out!
The subject of this review is the NOVA XL. Right after taking it out of the box you immediately notice this is a huge and heavy mousepad.
Compared with what other mousepad makers call XL, this model is definitely very large. Over the years, I've grown quite fond of very large mousepads as it's very pleasant to have the same surface under your mouse and keyboard. The build quality of the NOVA XL is good, I could not spot any major imperfections. One slight negative from shipping rolled up is that the mousepad isn't 100% flat when you first use it. Some heavy books can help to flatten out it more. The NOVA XL also smells a little bit (not extremely) when you take it out of the bag, this odor disappears after a couple of days.
The lower right corner has a small, unintrusive GELID logo. The mousepad's surface is made from polypropylene microfiber -- which results in a soft and smooth surface. The XL version measures 800mm x 300m, has a thickness of 4mm, and weighs 530g. GELID says they engineered the surface for both high-speed and low-speed controls, with pinpoint tracking accuracy. All mouse sensor types are supported. My first impression of the mousepad is that it looks very good -- but the downside of the black color is that you can easily see every spick of dirt and dust. You can clean it with a dry cloth or water but over time these cloth mousepads tend to become quite dirty. This is not an issue of the GELID NOVA in specific, it's common with all cloth mousepads. Hard plastic mousepads are somewhat easier to keep clean -- but the texture of hard plastic surfaces tends to wear out over time. Each mousepad material has its advantages and disadvantages. It comes down to personal preference.
Another thing to like about the NOVA mousepads is the detachable USB cable. This 1.8-meter long braided USB cable is used to power the RGB LEDs. Should you ever get tired of the LEDs, there's the option to remove the cable to reduce cable clutter on your desk.
The Micro-USB end of the cable plugs into the mousepad's connector, which is located in the top left corner. Thanks to the large size of the Nova XL mousepad, this little plastic connector box never bothered me during the testing of this mousepad. It's far enough away from typical hand positions and it doesn't hinder mouse movement.
One of the reasons GELID was able to keep the price low is the somewhat limited functionality of the RGB LED perimeter. The illumination can exclusively be controlled via the mousepad's switch button. The USB cable is only used for power, it's not possible to control the LEDs via software or have it sync up with other devices.
The switch button lets you toggle between 14 modes. This includes seven single-color options as well as some special effects; red, blue, green, purple, cyan, yellow, white, alternating wave, synchronizing wave, alternating flash, alternating red changing, lights off, synchronize breathing, alternate breathing. Double-clicking the switch will change the brightness of the LEDs but there are only two brightness levels.
As with almost all premium cloth mousepads these days, the NOVA XL has a non-slip rubber base. This mousepad will definitely not slip on your desk, especially not with a keyboard on top.
Now that we've covered the basics, let's take a look at how the Nova XL looks with the lights turned on. The RGB LEDs are one of the main selling features of the GELID NOVA series. The RGB perimeter looks good -- both in daylight and dimly-lit conditions at night. In the dark, the LEDs are pretty bright so the option to adjust brightness comes in handy, although I feel more than two brightness levels would be better.
RGB LEDs are nice and all that -- but how does the NOVA XL perform? One of the primary reasons people buy mousepads is to ensure optimal mouse performance and the NOVA XL doesn't disappoint in this area. The microfiber surface provides friction-free gliding for your mouse. I tested the surface with the HyperX Pulsefire Surge and ROCCAT Kone XTD and was satisfied by the level of accuracy provided. The surface feels soft to your hands and the RGB perimeter didn't irritate my skin.
I'm surprised by the level of value offered by the GELID NOVA XL and have no problem recommending it. Large mousepads are usually quite expensive but GELID manages to deliver the NOVA XL for just $25 and even includes RGB LEDs. The GELID NOVA XL provides a large surface area and a smooth combination of speed and control for your mouse. The RGB LED effects are rather basic but in this price class, it wouldn't be fair to expect more.
The Good Stuff
- Surface provides accurate tracking
- Offered in three sizes
- Nice light effects
- Good build quality
- Detachable USB cable
- Various light modes
- Antislip base
The Bad Stuff
- Limited RGB LED light controls
DVHARDWARE gives the GELID NOVA XL mousepad a 9/10 and our Seal of Approval.
Added: February 7th 2021
Product reviewed: GELID NOVA XL mousepad
Reviewer: Thomas De Maesschalck