The best gaming mouse is out, but there are a lot of factors to consider. Our buying guide will see you through.
The gaming mouse market is jam-packed with devices, which makes it tough for consumers to separate the good from the bad.
But whatever genre you play – MMO, MOBA, RPG, and FPS, to name a few – you’ll need the right mouse to suit your anagram of choice.
We’ve rounded up a list of some of the best gaming mice out there, ticking the right boxes across a range of price points.
But if you’re looking for a new gaming mouse, you’ll need to know a few things first.
It’s easy to think that a gaming mouse isn’t all that complex, but these glowing hand-tanks are stuffed with tech.
That’s why it’s important to know what sort of things you should be looking for in a gaming mouse.
DPI stands for dots-per-inch. It’s one of the first things you’ll see mouse makers shouting about when they launch a new product.
It’s shorthand for how sensitive your mouse is. A high DPI means your cursor will move further relative to your hand movement. A low DPI, by contrast, will move a shorter distance.
Each gaming mouse will have a DPI range (e.g. 200 – 8,000), and the user can select a point in between that feels comfortable. A very high DPI would be something like 16,000. Most office mice will have a DPI of well below 1,000, by comparison. The majority of gamers will find 800 to 3,000 comfortable, but you can train yourself to cope with higher sensitivities over time.
The advantage of having a high DPI is that you can perform reactive actions quicker, because your cursor is moving faster. The disadvantage is that the higher sensitivity you choose, the harder the mouse is to control because the cursor is moving so quickly.
Most people won’t venture to lofty heights like 12,000, so beware of falling into the trap of assuming a high DPI equals a better mouse.
However, if you have a high-resolution (think QHD or 4K) monitor, buying a high DPI mouse can be advantageous. That’s because your cursor has more pixels to travel across, so higher DPI settings won’t seem as fast when compared to using a 1080p display.
The polling rate is how often your mouse will report its position to the computer.
A high polling rate means your mouse is telling your computer where it is more often. That’s good, because it means your cursor will be more accurately reflecting your mouse movements.
However, a high polling rate also means your computer is having to work harder to understand where you mouse is, because it’s receiving more data per second.
Most high-end mice cap out at 1,000Hz, which means they’re reporting their position 1,000 times each second. Fortunately, companies like Razer and Logitech let you change polling rate on the fly, so you don’t have to settle for the maximum if you’re using a low-end computer.
It’s generally accepted that it’s hard to tell the difference between 500Hz and 1,000Hz. But you’ll definitely notice the difference between 125Hz and 1,000Hz, because the mouse will jutter a little more. That’s why polling rate is important but, as with DPI, don’t assume that a higher number is always better.
For the longest time, it was generally accepted that wireless gaming mice simply weren’t good enough for professional gaming.
That’s because of latency, or ‘lag’. A wireless connection is generally slower than a wired connection, due to the nature of the medium. So if a wired mouse reports to your computer in 1ms, and a wireless mouse reports to your computer in 5ms, it’s obvious that you should choose the wired device.
As such, it’s not really fair to ward users off wireless mice anymore, at least because of latency anyway. In fact, Cloud9’s CounterStrike: Global Offensive team is using the wireless Logitech G900 in tournaments, which speaks to its speed.
But there are also other things to consider. Wireless mice tend to be heavier, due to the onboard battery. But then they’re good because you don’t have cables getting in the way.
Wired mice, on the other hand, will always be low-latency, irrespective of quality. They’re also typically lighter, generally cost less than wireless mice, and are more widely available.
These trade-offs are something you’ll have to make up your own mind on.
There’s always the temptation to see a gaming mouse with 20 buttons and think: that must be better than this three-button mouse. But it’s not always so.
The amount of buttons you need depends on the sort of game you’re playing. Remember: Every additional button is another compromise to the ergonomics of the design.
For MMO players, lots of buttons is a necessity. After all, you’ll want to be assigning as many actions as possible to your mouse to maximise performance.
But someone playing CounterStrike won’t need a large number of buttons. In fact, with shooters, it’s generally better to have a minimalistic, lightweight mouse, due to the twitchy, simple nature of gameplay.
If you play a variety of genres, a versatile mouse with between five and 12 buttons is probably for you.