As with any component or peripheral, picking out the right mouse can be a hassle. After all, there are just so many different mice to choose from and no single mouse is the absolute best on every front – so, what should you keep in mind and how do you pick out the best one for your needs?
Today, we’ll be answering that very question, going over all the things that you should consider when you go browsing for a new gaming mouse!
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The Sensor – Optical vs Laser
One of the first things that you’ll notice about a mouse is the type of sensor that it uses. Today, you will encounter two types of sensors: optical and laser. So, what are their respective advantages and disadvantages?
Optical sensors are far more common, and in the majority of cases, they would be the better choice. True, laser sensors used to be superior because they were more sensitive, but that was years ago. Over time, technology did what technology does – it improved, and soon enough, optical sensors caught up.
However, there is still one advantage that laser mice have over optical mice, and it’s that they can be used on any surface, even transparent ones such as glass. However, on the downside, there can be some noticeable jitter during slow mouse movements, as laser mice analyze a surface more deeply than optical mice can. In a way, they are actually more accurate than they need to be.
At the end of the day, in 2020, there is no significant gap between optical and laser mice, accuracy-wise or price-wise. Sure, laser mice are still technically more accurate, but it’s not the kind of difference that you’ll notice in gaming. Just the same, laser mice tend to be more expensive, if only slightly so now.
Sensitivity – DPI
One particular entry on the spec sheet that many manufacturers just love to flaunt is the DPI, or dots per inch, and it describes the sensitivity of the mouse. So, how much is enough? One dot equates to one pixel on the display, so is there really any point to having a 16000 DPI mouse even on a 4K screen?
Well, when it comes to regular desktop use, no, there isn’t. In gaming, however, the extra DPI can actually come in handy.
Namely, the main benefit of having a high-DPI mouse is the ability to adjust sensitivity on the fly. This can be very useful, especially in shooting games where precision is important. You could be using a high DPI setting by default but switch to a low-sensitivity setting when you need to be more accurate, such as when using a sniper rifle.
However, don’t think that a high DPI is necessarily indicative of quality. You will likely see many cheap mice that are marketed as having an unusually high DPI, and if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. A high DPI just indicates that the sensor is sensitive, not that it’s accurate or reliable.
As far as the minimum DPI you should aim for in a mouse is concerned, we feel that it should roughly correspond to your display’s horizontal resolution. So, for example, it would be about 2000 for a Full HD display, 2500 for a QHD one, and 4000 for a 4K one. As you probably know, gaming mice with this kind of DPI aren’t uncommon, so you won’t have to worry about falling short in that department.
Ultimately, DPI settings are largely about personal preference rather than about picking out the right hardware, seeing as most gaming mice have more than sufficient DPI for modern displays. That said, as long as you stick to reliable models from reliable manufacturer’s, you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Connection – Wired vs Wireless
Moving on, we get to another important question: wired or wireless?
Naturally, there are pros and cons to both.
Wired mice are definitely more popular, especially among gamers. They are a bit cheaper, provide a more stable connection, and you never have to worry about charging them. The primary downside to wired mice is – you guessed it – cable management.
On the other hand, wireless mice offer some extra perks of their own. The first and most obvious advantage of having a wireless mouse is the absence of pesky cables. This means a cleaner desk surface but also a mouse that you can move around freely and even use away from your computer desk.
However, this comes at a cost – literally. For one, wireless mice tend to be more expensive, though the price gap isn’t as significant now as it used to be. Furthermore, as mentioned above, a wireless connection isn’t quite as stable and as lag-free as a wired one and there’s also the batteries, which will need recharging or replacing.
That said, which is better for gaming?
We are inclined to go with wired on this front. Wired mice are more affordable (if only slightly so), offer better value for your money, and there’s always the fact that a cable is more reliable than a wireless dongle.
We wouldn’t recommend spending extra on a wireless mouse unless you actually plan on taking advantage of the portability that it offers i.e. if you intend on using it away from your desk or using the mouse on multiple devices.
Of course, you could still get a wireless mouse just for the sake of being cable-free, but keep in mind that a relatively cheap mouse bungee could also make your life a whole lot easier if you’re sick of your mouse cable getting caught on the edge of the desk all the time.
Programmable Buttons (MOBA/MMO Mice)
Most mice have a simple layout: left and right click, clickable wheel, DPI button, and two extra buttons on the side. However, some mice take this way further.
The excellent Razer Naga Trinity, seen in the picture above, is what people usually refer to as a MOBA or MMO mouse. These mice are recognizable by the extra programmable buttons and they are also usually a bit bulkier and heavier than regular gaming mice.
The important question is: do you need one?
Well, as can be inferred from the name, these mice are best suited for gamers who mainly play MOBA and MMO games. All the additional buttons can make miscellaneous functions or series of functions (macros) available at the tip of your thumb, allowing you to execute complex commands quickly and easily.
On top of that, they can also be very useful for work, as numerous keyboard shortcuts and hotkeys can be bound to one of the extra programmable buttons. Needless to say, it’s not only MOBAs and MMOs that these mice can help streamline!
Of course, the obvious drawback to these mice is the extra bulk and, potentially, the pricing. Large, heavy mice aren’t that great for fast-paced games nor for people with small hands, but more on that below.
The bottom line for MOBA/MMO mice is – if you can make use of all the extra programmable buttons, then they are definitely worth considering.
Size and Weight
And finally, we get to another important but not so easily gauged aspect of a mouse – its size and weight. As you might expect, this is mostly a subjective matter.
Generally speaking, smaller and lighter mice are good for fast-paced games. Meanwhile, larger mice can be more ergonomic overall but less comfortable to use for prolonged periods of time, especially if they’re on the heavy side and if there’s a lot of mouse movement going on.
But as mentioned above, this is all highly subjective. People with large hands may find small mice very uncomfortable, while those with small hands would probably feel the same way about bulky MMO/MOBA mice. Weight can be a very subjective thing as well, which is why many mice come with removable weights that allow the user to customize the weight of the mouse.
In any case, there is not much else to say on this subject, so when it comes to the size and the weight of a mouse, you should just stick to whatever has worked best in your experience.
And that would be all the important things that you need to keep in mind when buying a gaming mouse! If you feel like we’ve made any mistakes or skipped over anything important, feel free to let us know and we’ll see about updating the guide.
Also, if you’re shopping for a new mouse right now, we suggest checking out our selection of the very best gaming mice of 2020 – you might find something you like!