Choosing the best gaming mouse is not easy! There are many mice to choose from, manufactured by different brands with different characteristics. A mouse that is suitable for one person is not necessarily suitable for another. So how to choose the best gaming mouse for you?
Normal mouse and gaming mouse differences
Any mouse made to play and worth buying will have at least the following two characteristics:
- an advanced optical or laser sensor that allows faster or more accurate movements,
- a certain degree of user customization.
Game mice often include additional buttons for the player’s thumb, on-the-fly sensitivity and speed adjustments, extra long cables, or even exotic features like adjustable weights or button tension springs. Almost all game mice are wired, this will be part of the selection criteria analyzed below.
Why are there so many gaming mouse models?
mouse-gamingAs the PC game itself has become more complex, so so have the PC game accessories. There are a few distinct subdivisions of game mice that we can take a look at, most of them have button designs and placements designed to help in very specific types of games. Note that these subdivisions are independent of body and grip styles. Finding a gaming mouse that suits you is therefore complex. Here are the selection criteria:
What type of games do you prefer?
The first thing to do is to find what you want for the mouse. Do you prefer
- the shooting game from the point of view of the character called FPS for first person shooter,
- the RPG role playing game RPG role playing game,
- RTS Real Time Strategy? real-time strategy games
If the answer is first person shooting (FPS), then you have the most difficult choice to make because you will have to determine what type of player you are. If you prefer strategy, RPG or MMO games, the choice is a little easier, because you should look for a mouse with a large number of programmable buttons and a DPI that suits your game style.
Explanation of the DPI
The number of dots per inch (DPI) is a measure of a mouse’s sensitivity. The higher a mouse’s PGD is, the farther the cursor on your screen will move when you move the mouse. A mouse with a higher DPI setting detects small movements and reacts accordingly. Each game mouse will declare the sensitivity of its sensor somewhere on the packaging or in marketing materials. It is a value rated in DPI, or dots per inch, and a simplistic way to measure the sensitivity of a mouse sensor (there is an argument that this term makes no sense and should be classified as CPI, or number per inch, but most people understand DPI). The higher the DPI of the sensor, the less you have to move the mouse to get the same level of cursor movement on the screen. So, if you have a high DPI mouse, you can be more economical with your hand movements, but you must have a stable hand and be very precise to make precise cursor movements. Armed with this knowledge, you must decide the type of person who likes to make fast hand movements on a large surface, or slower and more precise movements on a small surface. If you prefer fast hand movements, you need a mouse with a low DPI to maintain a certain level of accuracy (maybe 1200 DPI or less), while a player with small hand movements can use a mouse with a high DPI and stay accurate (say 2000 DPI or more). For this reason, beware of the hype (and prices) surrounding high IPR mice. Most high-end mice are capable of a resolution of about 5,000 DPI and Razer has started pushing their mice to 6,400 DPI. If you start making rapid movements at this level of IPD, you will turn on the spot in an SPF. Make sure your mouse has an adjustable DPI, then lower it to about 2,000 (or even less for some pro-players) and you’ll have a better chance of finding a good place.
Know your style of handling
The type of plug you use, especially when playing a PC game as opposed to using a mouse for other tasks, is important. Although each player is different, you can generally separate the handles into three main styles:
- Palm handle: a standard handle used by most players. Your fingers rest flat on the mouse buttons and your entire palm rests on the body of the mouse.
- Point grip: only the tips of the index finger, middle finger and ring finger rest to the left, in the center (wheel) and on the mouse buttons, the palm of the hand not touching the body of the mouse at all. Your thumb grabs the side of the mouse.
- Claw handle: a combination of the palm of the hand and the style of the pointed handle. Your palm rests only on the back edge of the mouse, with the tip of your finger and the tip of your thumb tilted towards the buttons.
Laser or optics?
The heart of a mouse is its sensor, of which there are three basic types: laser, optical and infrared. The laser sensor is probably the most common, and a great advantage is that it is able to work on almost any surface. However, laser mice tend to have a longer takeoff distance than optical mice, which causes problems when the mouse reaches the edge of your mouse pad. When you lift the mouse to reposition it, the laser sensor continues to read the surface until it reaches one centimeter in the air, resulting in in-game movements. By repositioning your mouse, you can send your view of the game almost anywhere, which is obviously a bad thing in the middle of a shooting. That’s why many professional players choose an optical mouse and always play on a quality mouse pad to ensure that the optical sensor accurately reads the surface. The latest development is the introduction of the 3G infrared sensor, which reduces the take-off distance problems of a laser sensor, but is also very good for working on different surfaces.
Wired or wireless?
It is often a subject of heated discussion. Wireless mice are ideal for reducing the entanglement of wires on your desk, but their dependence on radio waves to transmit the signal to the receiver adds a lag element to the cursor response. Certainly, modern wireless mice are almost lag-free. However, if you really want the fastest possible answer, you should stick to a wired mouse. Wireless mice are also compromised by their dependence on batteries. Elless may leave you looking for a spare set of batteries at an inappropriate time. Batteries also add weight, so if you like a really light mouse, you may not be satisfied with the extra weight of a wireless mouse.
Left or Right Handed
If you are left-handed, your choices are unfortunately limited because it seems that manufacturers do not see a sufficient profit margin to deal with left-handed people. The vast majority of ergonomic game mice are designed for right-handed people only, but there are many choices if you are happy to use a mouse with an ambidextrous design. You will probably find some left-handed mice on the market, but they generally do not meet the requirements of a good game mouse (few buttons, low DPI). Game equipment manufacturers offer some left-handed options – or, more often, ambidextrous options, with perfectly symmetrical bodies and buttons rather than curved bodies for the right hand. Most of them use a relatively simple shooter-style button layout with thumb buttons on both sides, with the assumption that players will disable the buttons on their left hand. Some even come with replaceable blanks for unused buttons. The old version of the Razer DeathAdder is still available in a true left-handed design.
The importance of software
Most dedicated game mice come with their own PC software, either as stand-alone software or in a « suite » compatible with other game devices such as keyboards and headsets. This software allows you to:
- configure the lighting profile,
- to customize the assignment of buttons,
- to customize macros for different buttons,
- to make adjustments for specific mouse pads,
- configure custom button profiles for individual games,
- to define the DPI options.
This last point is particularly important because it allows you to change the mouse sensitivity for faster or more accurate tracking – and some more advanced mice will even allow you to adjust it on the fly with the mouse buttons. All game mouse software will handle all these functions to a greater or lesser degree. A particularly useful tool is the ability to save profiles directly in a mouse’s memory, which allows them to be moved from one PC to another with their parameters intact, without any additional configuration.
You might think that by buying the most expensive mouse, you are sure to get the best, but unless this mouse is adapted to your playing style, you may have wasted your money. Many high-end retail models for nearly €100 and that’s a lot of money for a gaming device. First decide which mouse you want and then see if it fits your budget.