Premium gaming kit often walks the line between pointlessly expensive and worth the cost. The justification is supposedly that every tiny bit of accuracy afforded to you is a leg-up in the competitive stakes.
Sadly, most of these advantages are all but imperceptible and, in most cases, a hefty dose of placebo.
Razer's Ironclad is part of this premium club, and the accompanying image of its supremely expensive Mamba mouse on the box isn't by error — both come in packaging so extreme that you can't help but think how much it adds to the cost.
While the Mamba arrives in a Perspex trophy box, the Ironclad has its own plastic case with a foam interior that smells faintly of glue. There's a small part inside of us that thinks that luxury equates with the understated, like Thermalright's thick, plain cardboard boxes that allow the product to speak for itself — rather than through the packaging.
Despite its name, the Ironclad is beyond anaemic, opting to go with aluminium instead. The surface is sand-blasted, too, making it feel like a metal/glass hybrid, while the rubber base ensures that the mat properly grips the surface below. The aluminium gives it a rigidity found in few mousepads (Roccat's Alumic comes to mind), while the sandblasting seems to create an agreeable balance between friction and movement, with our game testing across Serious Sam: HD and Left 4 Dead showing that the Ironclad is rather sensitive but also an incredibly accurate mousing surface.
What the sandblasting also does is create a more biting pitch as your mouse moves across the surface, almost sounding like you're using fine-grit sandpaper. In the middle of an action game it's perfectly possible for it to fade into the background, but for quiet games or office work it's highly distracting. It's worth noting that Razer's own mice don't sound as bad as its competitors do on the mousepad — but it's still louder and higher pitched than the average mouse mat.
The Ironclad is a trophy piece for the gamer who likes being admired. The performance is certainly there, but when you consider the noise and the fact that the mat costs almost as much as the mouse on it, the Ironclad isn't a compelling buy.