With so many features and hoards of manufacturers to choose from, finding the best mouse for your computer isn’t easy. Companies like Logitech, Razer, and Microsoft continually turn out newer and better products with fancy-sounding features like “On-The-Fly-DPI”, “laser sensor”, or “fully customizable macros.” It’s no wonder most consumers feel overwhelmed when they start off.
Never fear, though! Not only are these terms easy to understand, but we can walk you through the basics of a gaming mouse, teach you the terminology, and give you the knowledge you need to find the best gaming mouse for your needs. You can easily spend more than $100 on a mouse and, considering how much money is at stake, you want to wind up happy with your purchase.
First, let’s come to understand what a “gaming mouse” really is and how it differs from a ‘normal’ or ‘consumer’ mouse. There is no set definition as to what makes a mouse a gamer’s mouse or not, but there are some common features you should look for when making your purchase.
First and foremost, you want a mouse with a high dots per inch (DPI). Though it is really a misnomer, DPI measures the sensitivity of the mouse — the higher the number the less you have to move the mouse to move the cursor on the screen. Today’s gaming mice top out at nearly 5,700 DPI, compared to only 500 or 600 DPI for other mice.
This goes hand-in-hand with the sensitivity point, but you want a mouse with a laser sensor. Lasers are newer technology and are more precise and work on more surfaces. Want to use your mouse on a glass table? You can’t do that with an optical mouse, but laser mice have no problems whatsoever. Most high-DPI mice are laser mice.
- Sensitivity Customization:
Yes, high sensitivity is good, but a serious gamer doesn’t want the same sensitivity at all times. As the gaming dynamic changes, so too does the gamer’s sensitivity needs. Gaming mice often cater to this problem by offering physical buttons on the mouse that allow the user to switch between different sensitivities on the fly. Even if they don’t support it on-the-fly, most gaming mice will support changing the sensitivity to make every day desktop browsing easier.
- Extra Buttons / Customizable Buttons:
A good gaming mouse will let you change what the various buttons do, allowing you to assign a single action or multiple actions (a macro) to a single button press. Having extra buttons, such as thumb-buttons, means that gamers can assign actions they use frequently to buttons that are close by.
Though some people aren’t a fan, most gaming mice feature bold styling. They often emphasize comfort through contoured grips, have LED lights on the mouse itself, and generally exude an aura of cool. These lights can be set to glow, pulse, or do pretty much anything you want. Don’t worry, if you aren’t a fan of this kind of lighting there are plenty of gaming mice that don’t have them at all!
- Adjustable Weight Systems:
Most people don’t think about how much their mouse weighs, so you’d probably be surprised to find out how much of a different feel you can get from changing the weight of your mouse. Though it is entirely personal preference, most gamers prefer some sort of ability to customize their weight. Usually, these systems have cartridges that can be loaded with a few different combinations of disks to change the overall weight of the mouse.
Logitech is the world’s premier peripheral company, so it shouldn’t be surprising to see their name at the top of our list. The G9X is really a superior mouse and has some really unique features including 5,600 DPI, fully customizable macros, two interchangeable shells (to change the mouse’s feel in your hand), a weight system, and on-the-fly DPI settings. It is a refreshed version of the Logitech G9, which is one of the best selling gaming mice of all time. We have been very impressed with the G9X in all of our testing, you won’t be disappointed.
Released in 2011, the Mamba redefined wireless gaming mice, taking them from an afterthought to the hottest item on the market today. The Mamba features a blistering fast 5,700 DPI sensor, Razer’s timeless distinctive stylings, and wireless response time that rivals some corded mice. Gamers can use the mouse for nearly 20 consecutive hours of gaming (77 of “regular” operation) before needing a recharge and the mouse can be used while being recharged. Though a little pricey, the Razer is one of the best mice on the market today. You can read our full review of the Mamba.
The Imperator is one of the most comfortable mouses we’ve ever used. The rubberized shell not only is incredibly comfortable, but sports some flashy graphics including a light-up scroll wheel and an illuminated Razer logo. It is very similar to Razer’s Deathadder mouse. Under the hood, the Imperator has a 5,700 DPI laser sensor, sensitive enough for any gaming task you throw its way.The Deathadder supports up to five button profiles for its seven programmable buttons, meaning you can have up to five different configurations or layouts that you can easily swap between. What makes this mouse stand out is its superior ergonomics. The two thumb buttons slide forward and backward, so regardless of how large or small your hands are, you can achieve perfect positioning for your hand size.
Microsoft Sidewinder X8
The Sidewinder series has long been an industry leader and, while the Sidewinder may show its age with its 2,000 DPI sensor, this mouse still packs a punch. The variable weight system is far and away the best we’ve ever used and the interchangeable rubberized feet help provide just the right amount of resistance for your gaming sessions. On-the-fly DPI buttons allow you to switch between 400,800, and 2,000 DPI and a handy LCD screen shows you the current setting. The Sidewinder supports macro recording and is one of the most customizable mice we’ve used.Highly recommended.
Read Our Full Review here.
Another slick rubberized offering from Razer, the Lachessi has a 4,000 DPI sensor which, until recently, was the highest in the business. It supports on the fly adjustments of 125 DPI, so you can quickly go from low-to-high sensitivity without removing yourself from the gaming action. It has 9 programmable buttons and supports 5 different user profiles which are stored in onboard memory (no reprogramming your mouse if you switch computers). We’re a big fan of this mouse and you can Read Our Full Review here.
The G500 is the revamed version of the MX518, one of the greatest gaming mice of all time. It has similar contours but adds on-the-fly DPI adjustment, an LCD screen and a 5,600 DPI laser sensor for precise tracking. The mouse has 10 programmable buttons that support full customization, including macros. Onboard memory keeps track of your settings wherever you take your mouse. As a bonus, the G500 also supports adding up to 27 grams of extra weight.
You didn’t think Logitech would only show up on this list once, did you? The MX518 is a gamer-favorite. Like the Sidewinder, it is showing a little age when it comes to its sensor, which is rated at 1,800 DPI. Like the Sidewinder, this mouse offers so much that we can look past its relatively “low” sensitivity. Sporting eight programmable buttons and an optical sensor with software-controlled sensitivity, this mouse has an incredibly comfortable shell (best in the business) with a funky “dented metallic” look to it.Because it’s older, this mouse is considerably less expensive than your other options and, because it’s from Logitech, it’s built for the long-haul. You can find these mice incredibly cheap and you will NOT be disappointed. We know a few gamers, who despite having access to newer mice for free choose to keep using the MX518.
There are a lot of great mice out there for any budget. For some the Xai by SteelSeries will be sufficient, for others who want to control everything about their gaming mouse experience, nothing but the RAT 7 will do, after all it is the most customizable mouse on the market, period.