Using a standard mouse for gaming is sufficing, but only up to a certain point. Pitching for an ergonomic, all-purpose gaming mouse is the right player for the job. It feels comfortable, is effective, and offers wide range of features for coping with intense games.
To choose the best gaming mouse for your play, do you need to compare an all-purpose mouse to a specialized mouse? Maybe. But what you really need to know about is a gaming mouse’s features and functions. Only then will you able to consider a professional gaming mouse for all your endeavors.
The first thing you need to think about are your gaming preferences. Later, you can decide your budget and opt for additional features from your gaming mouse. This guide will help you look at the tiniest detail, from an all-purpose mouse to a highly-competitive mouse. This guide will soon become your go-to buyer’s guide for buying a gaming mouse.
1. Considering Different Types of Gaming Mice
Despite what you may have heard, there’s no such thing as a single powerful gaming mouse. Some mice feel comfortable when playing single-player games, while some feel comfortable for multi-player games. Each genre of games demands a different setup of mouse and keyboard. And since these two factors go hand-in-hand, it’s important to know the different types of gaming mice available on the market today.
All-Purpose Gaming Mouse
An all-purpose gaming mouse comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. As the name suggests, it is designed to handle both FPS (first person shooter) and MMO (massively multiplayer online) games. It even suits gaming genres such as action and adventure. But the only drawback to using an all-purpose mouse is that it doesn’t offer specialized control.
For most gamers, an all-purpose gaming mouse exists as a go-to mouse for a variety of games. Plus, all-purpose mice come in all kinds of budgets, from affordable to high-end, super expensive.
First Person Shooter (FPS) Mouse
These kind of mice are only designed for first person shooter games such as Battlefield, Rainbow Six, Call of Duty etc. There are plenty of games that put you against enemies in a first-person perspective. And even though using an all-purpose gaming mouse for FPS games is good, an FPS mouse is more accurate to play with.
Most FPS mice come with specific buttons such as the “sniper button” which allows you to line up against difficult shots against your enemies. You can play competitively with such distinctive buttons only on an FPS mouse.
Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) Mouse
A MMO mouse is designed with features that offer a wide array of buttons, even more than FPS mice. It is designed for more complex and immediate responses. Which makes it your perfect companion for skill rotations, communication, and defense.
The best part about using a MMO mouse is that you can manipulate its controls with a flick of a finger. With the help of your gaming settings, you can assign different functions to different buttons, making it a more immersive and exciting experience.
Real Time Strategy (RTC) Mouse
Real Time Strategy Mice are accurately optimized for performance. It’s an all-purpose mouse with better control on buttons and is lightweight too. Compared to other types of mice, an RTC mouse has lighter button controls. So if you’re looking for a basic, but effective mouse, buying an RTC mouse is good for you.
A specialized mouse is the ultimate gamer’s mouse. It’s expensive, eye-catching, and durable. You won’t find a better mouse for competitive player than a specialized mouse. You can finely tune each button control based on your preferences. You can even alter the feel and look of each button based on your style. LED lights, highly-customized button shapes, and colors; there’s plenty of experiment with with a customized mouse.
2. Finalizing Your Budget
Buying a gaming mouse, based on its price, is also possible but not without careful consideration. You need to know what works for a certain budget, be it cheap or expensive. The most standard prices for gaming mice is from $20 up to $100 or above. While this depends on the type, make, size, and function of a gaming mouse, here’s what you should expect from a given budget.
For $50 or less, you should expect a gaming mouse with effective, but limited software compatibilities. These are functional and accurate mice, but not as powerful as FPS, MMO, or specialized mice. You can buy both wireless or wired gaming mice with a comfortable weight and light button controls.
There are various pros to buying a gaming mouse under $50 such as fast response rate, good acceleration, and customizable weight. However, you will also find that mice under this range lack durability, DPI features, and sensor capabilities.
$50 to $100
This is the sweet spot for most hardcore gamers. Almost all gaming mice with advanced features and customizable builds fall within this range. And if you’re determined enough to buy the right kind of gaming mouse, you will definitely end up with a proficient with at a valuable price.
Major mouse brands fall within this range; offering accurate customization, robust button control, and programmable settings. You will also find sensor control, DPI, and ergonomic designs. All this to match up to all kinds of FPS, MMO, and RTS games.
Only a specialized mouse can match up to more than $100 in investment. What this means is that unless you’re a professional gamer who plays competitively, paying more than $100 isn’t for you. You get specialized finger controls, button stability, backlighting, scroll wheels, and palm rests with this budget. It’s the best kind of mice available for entering in hardcore tournaments.
3. What’s Your Grip Style?
Playing a PC game, whatever genre it may be, requires a certain kind of gaming mouse, with the proper grip size. Mice for general use such as browsing, editing, etc. also requires a certain kind of griping to avoid fatigue and sweating. But the significance of grip for a gaming mouse is much stronger than for day-to-day tasks. (1)
This is the most standard grip style for gamers. You can rest your index and middle finger on the left and right-click button while the rest of your fingers sit comfortably on the body of the mouse, offering complete palm support.
Mice with tip grip are ideal for complex controls. Only the tips of your index, ring, and middle fingers rest on the left, wheel, and right mouse button. While the rest your palm doesn’t touch the body of the mouse like in a palm grip. Your remaining fingers sit at on the grips each side of the mouse.
Claw grip is very similar to palm grip. In this, players arch their fingers inwards; making a claw-like shape. So the palm rests on the backside of the mouse, while the index, middle, and ring finger angle towards the buttons. And the thumb too, which is positioned at the side of the mouse.
The proper grip style depends on two important factors: the size of your hands and type of game. The size of a particular mouse also dictates its grip style. For example, a wider gaming mouse is good for offering palm grip. On the other hand, compact mice with a lighter body are good for offering tip grip style.
Claw grip, on the one hand, suit wide and compact sized mice. This is because claw grip mice offer more elongated buttons with lightweight maneuverability.
4. Wired or Wireless Gaming Mouse – Which Is It?
The decision to use a wired or wireless gaming mouse is influenced by many factors. If you’re a neat freak, you’re more inclined towards buying a wireless mouse, right? That is to get rid of the tangle of wires on your desk. But what looks and is organized may not be the right choice for you.
According to research, hardcore gamers prefer using wired mice over wireless mice. This is because wireless mice run out of battery life, which makes it an unreliable bet for serious gamers. Wired mice, on the other hand, won’t pose such a risk ever. (2)
If your wireless mouse happens to stop working in the middle of your game, it might reflect on your performance in the game. Which is a kind of hardcore gamers cannot take. Don’t you think so?
In terms of performance, you won’t be able to tell the difference between a wired and a wireless mouse. Wireless mice are just as fast and effective as wired mice. But the only aspect that’s lagging behind in wired mouse is refresh rate. A standard wireless gaming mouse has a polling rate of 500 Hz, whereas a wired gaming mouse has a rate of 1000 Hz. If you’re considering the mouse’s sensitivity rating for gaming performance, this factor might influence your decision.
But, all in all, the sensor capability of a wired mouse is less effective than a wired mouse. This is because wireless mice are made by combining the sensor strength of wired mouse into a cordless body. This disrupts the entire performance cycle of a wireless mouse, resulting in a relatively poor reaction in gaming performance. Not noticeable, but if you’re a mouse geek, it’s definitely prevailing.
If you’re buying a cordless mouse, keep it away from mobile devices or any other routers. The wireless signals from these devices may interfere with your mouse’s signal. Hence, limiting the performance or reaction rate of a wireless mouse as opposed to a wired one. (3)
5. A Higher DPI Is Important
Does your gaming mouse offer a higher DPI setting? This calculates the sensitivity rating of your gaming mouse. What defines a good gaming mouse is precise movements and complex controls. Without these, your gaming mouse might as well be a standard computer mouse. But with it, it can handle complex movements, cursor moves, and faster reactions.
It's important to buy a gaming mouse with higher sensitivity. Regardless of how small it is. This is measured in DPI which stands for dots per inch. A higher DPI means your mouse takes very accurate and minute steps to make the cursor sensor move. This is necessary to avoid lagging or interruptions during gaming.
DPI also has a major impact on acceleration, because DPI determines how fast the sensor moves in a span of an inch. For example, if your mouse has a DPI of 5, each time you move your mouse an inch, it would move at least 5 pixels on the screen, which is an outstanding amount!
DPI sensitivity is a major factor to consider especially when you a gaming mouse that can handle blazing-fast maneuverability and control.
High-end mice offer 1200 DPI or higher. Meanwhile, computer mice that carry out day-to-day tasks are not more than 400 DPI. This also involves doing work for professional editing or precision-oriented tasks.
While higher DPI is encouraged, it’s not the only factor to consider when choosing a gaming mouse. Some mouse sensors aren’t designed for higher sensitivities, which can negative impact gaming performance. So taking other factors into consideration such as the type of mouse, size, mouse acceleration, ergonomics, etc. is also important.
Slightly expensive mice offer a simple switch control between higher to lower DPI settings. If you’re using your gaming mouse for general mundane activities such as for browsing, image editing, etc. you can dial down to a lower DPI with a simple click of a button. And switch back when you want to use the mouse for gaming. (4,5)
6. Laser vs Optical Mouse – Which Is It?
A mouse comes in either one of the 3 sensors: laser, optical, or infrared.
Most people use the laser sensor, which offers better adaptability on any surface material. Laser sensors offers more accurate and higher DPI than optical sensors. But does that mean it’s better? Not necessarily.
All things considered, opting for an optical or a laser sensor is a matter of preference. Both sensors have plenty of perks to offer for gaming, starting from surface compatibility to accurate and DPI sensitivity. Serious gamers often come equipped with surface tuning on their desks. This includes using a mouse desk, paper, or a wooden desk.
Unless you’re opting for a multi-monitor setup for gaming as well as professional work, opting for an optical mouse shouldn’t be a problem. With a multi-monitor setup, using higher than usual DPI sensitivity is ideal. As this provides serious gamers with plenty of flexibility to move forward with.
Buying a high-end gaming mouse with a lower DPI setting can significantly reduce your overall performance. This is because high sensitivity, especially on a laser sensor, is more fitting than on an optical sensor. With a laser sensor, you can achieve accurate DPI compatibility, faster acceleration, and better surface control. But laser sensors are comparatively higher in price than optical sensors. (6,7)
7. Do You Need Extra Buttons?
Looking for a gaming mouse with extraneous button and ergonomic control isn’t too much. Serious gamers need all the control they can get, for a good price. And looking for extra buttons is just the way to do that. Modern mice come with software controls that allow you to assign different roles to different buttons. That is, based on the type of game you’re playing.
Buttons that allow you to move back and forth, jump, skip, shoot, or skid can be manipulated more accurately when you have extra buttons. Plus, an exclusive gaming mouse limits to use of a keyboard, which is definitely a deal well-done!
According to research, latest technology inventions allow faster moving scroll wheels too. This makes gaming performance much simpler and effortless. For the functions you rely on the most when playing a FPS game, you can manipulate using extra buttons. But this time, you get more maneuverability control on your mouse rather than relying on your keyboard to carry out certain functions. It also helps when you want to use only programmable buttons for competitive games.
8. Is The Lift-Off Distance Important?
A mouse’s lift-off distance is the point at which the sensor stops reacting to or reading the surface underneath. This is an important factor for players who only use mice with low DPI sensitivity. For some games, lower sensitivity is actually a good thing.
So when you lift your mouse from the mouse pad and move to the other side of mouse pad, does the sensor still read that movement? With a higher lift-off distance, the mouse’s sensor will keep at it which means it will input the movement from one side to the other side of the mouse. This results in unwanted cursor movement.
The best feature to look for so this doesn’t happen is opt for a shorter lift-off distance sensor. Which means buying a low DPI sensitivity. Many brands offer versatile surface calibration features that allow better adjustability of the sensor and the surface it’s placed on. This further influences the lift-off distance for gamers using low sensitivity mice.
With accurate surface calibration settings, there’s no need to use tape over the sensor’s LED to control its lift-off distance. This is a tried and true method for avoiding unnecessary glitches in performance, especially when dealing with high-end gaming mice. (8)
9. Does LED Illumination Impact Weight?
Do you want your mouse to illuminate during performance? While you can configure different LED/ RGB lights from green, red, blue, yellow, etc. most of you must be wondering whether it impacts mouse weight.
Adding color illumination doesn’t influence the overall performance of the mouse. But it definitely impacts design and style. If you’re a serious gamer, looking for illumination is not a luxury, but a necessity.
About weight, most high-end mice with illumination are heavier than standard computer mice. Research suggests that serious gamers make use of weight canisters to add more weight to their lightweight mice for better performance. This allows you to use extra material, if you prefer the heavier touch when dealing with buttons and illumination.
All things considered, illumination is a matter of preference, not function for a gaming mouse. When gaming, LED illumination responds according to the actions taken during the game such as an explosion, consistent firing, etc.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time to find the best gaming mouse for you. With this guide, you can focus on all the important features without any distractions. At the end of it all, you want a highly customizable, comfortable, and durable gaming mouse.
Gaming mice, for the past few years, have given you more flexibility in terms of button control and surface calibration. The flashier the gaming mouse looks, with a cutting-edge design and illumination, the more it costs. But for serious gamers, using a gaming mouse for speed up daily routines is important. A good gaming mouse lets you map out different actions to different functions. So much that you can manipulate how your mouse responds manually, with the help of the mouse’s software.
Now you know how a gaming mouse is more accurate and durable than a general computer mouse. The former comes with better sensors, tracking sensitivity, and design. What’s more? A professional gaming mouse will let your computer know if there’s a problem in performance. That is something a computer mouse fails to do.
If you already have a gaming mouse and it lacks the kind of features mentioned above, you need to get a new one. With more buttons, software compatibility, or special illumination. Only then would you feel like you have the right gaming mouse by your side.
Even though newer and newer brands are coming up with more advanced, and probably more expensive, mice with wider DPI sensitivities and acceleration. Buying the fastest gaming mouse isn’t ideal for everyone. Most people prefer opting for features that suit their playing style. So doing the same for you is also important.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.