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!
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, there are only two types of sensor to choose from: 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 more sensitive but as technology advanced, optical sensors caught up quickly enough.
With that out of the way, what else should you keep in mind?
Well, there is 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 can analyze a surface more deeply than optical mice can. In a way, they are actually more accurate than they need to be.
That said, the only reason why you might want to go with a laser mouse in 2019 is if you intend on using it on transparent or reflective surfaces. If not, a good optical mouse would be not only just as good for gaming but it would also likely cost a bit less to boot.
Sensitivity – DPI
One particular entry on the spec sheet that many manufacturers just love flaunting is the DPI, or dots per inch. 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 come in handy.
Namely, the main benefit of having a high-DPI mouse is the ability to adjust DPI on the fly. This can be very useful, especially in shooting games where precision is of the essence. So, for example, you might use a high DPI setting as a default setting but switch to a low-sensitivity setting when you need to be more accurate, such as when using a sniper rifle in-game.
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 this just means that the sensor is sensitive, not that it’s accurate and reliable.
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 cheaper, provide a more stable connection, and they also tend to offer better value for your money. The primary downside to wired mice is – you guessed it – cable management.
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. Finally, there’s also the batteries, which will need recharging or replacing every once in a while.
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 to take advantage of the portability that it offers i.e. if you plan on using it away from your desk, potentially with other 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 can also make your life a whole lot easier in this regard.
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 a largely 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 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 definitely won’t find bulky MMO/MOBA mice ergonomic. 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 pick the mouse that you find suits you best.
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 2019 – you might find something you like!
Samuel is GamingScan’s editor-in-chief. He describes himself as a hardcore gamer & programmer and he enjoys getting more people into gaming and answering people’s questions. He closely follows the latest trends in the gaming industry in order to keep you all up-to-date with the latest news.