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Published Nov. 10, 2021

Over the last few years, gaming mice have evolved to match the needs of the growing esports market. These days, the ideal gaming mouse is light, strips out unnecessary frills, and packs an excellent sensor that can handle competitive play. With such specific demands, it’s easy to assume a decent gaming mouse should cost a pretty penny, but the esports boom elevated the baseline quality for consumer-level gaming equipment, mice included. That doesn’t mean every gaming mouse is great, though. Every gamer is different and you should take the time to find the best cheap gaming mouse to fit your needs—and your hand.

How we selected the best cheap gaming mice

Our picks for the best cheap gaming mice were selected by Popular Science’s reviews editor, Mike Epstein, based on his years of hands-on experience reviewing just about every noteworthy model on the market, as well as the experiences of our peers and other trusted sources. Since we focused heavily on mice built for esports with good-to-great sensors, we primarily judged each model on its ergonomics, paying special attention to weight and size, and we made sure to evaluate which grip styles work best with each mouse. Click latency and battery life were also important considerations for the wireless models we selected. 

Things to consider before buying a gaming mouse

There are a few important factors to keep in mind when judging a gaming mouse’s performance, comfort, and overall viability for your gaming style.

Sensor

The best gaming mice released in the last couple of years tend to feature good sensors—good enough that you don’t necessarily need to fret over hardware specs anymore. Still, as you look at lower-priced gear, you’ll find that some mice feature great sensors, and others feature something more, well, cheap.

When looking at gaming mouse specs, you’ll often see manufacturers tout a mouse’s maximum sensitivity, which effectively determines the mouse’s cursor speed. Sensitivity or tracking is measured in DPI (dots per inch) resolution. You may also see it listed as CPI (counts per inch). Either way, it notes the highest possible cursor speed setting. Most manufacturers use high-DPI sensors that can reach resolutions far beyond what anyone would ever use, often exceeding 10,000 to 20,000 DPI. 

You’re not locked into your mouse’s maximum DPI, though, as most gaming mice let you tune the DPI settings using configuration software or onboard controls. The “right” DPI settings will differ for everyone and may even vary from game to game. For reference, I usually set my mouse to well below 2,000 for shooters but will bump it up for action-RPGs or strategy games. Competitive players will actually turn their DPI very low to enhance their precision, even if it means they have to swing their arm across their desk to move their mouse across the screen.

Aspiring pros may also want to check a mouse’s speed (sometimes referred to as “accuracy”), which tells you fast you can move your mouse before the sensor starts losing track of its position.

Size, shape, and grip style

Mouse shape is arguably the most important, and most malleable, facet of any mouse—gaming or otherwise. Having a mouse that supports your hand and feels comfortable to hold ensures you can use it for as long as you like without cramping or pain, and achieve your personal best performance in games. 

Many esports mice, which comprise the majority of this list, describe themselves as “ambidextrous” mice, which are uniformly round and aren’t molded to fit specific hand shapes. Most of the time, they are not actually ambidextrous, because they lack secondary thumb buttons for left-handed players. It is a worst-of-both-worlds situation because molding a mouse for a specific hand—almost always the right—allows the manufacturer to create a mouse that naturally supports your hand.

Faux-ambidextrous mice have value for many players, though. While smaller, ambidextrous mice feel awkward or even uncomfortable when you hold them with the standard grip, called “palm” in gaming circles, many gamers use alternative “claw” or “fingertip” grips, where you do not lay your hand flat on your mouse. If your hand doesn’t grip the mouse, then its shape doesn’t matter as much. For this list, we will note if a particular grip style works better than the others for our picks.

Input latency

Input latency, the time between when you move your mouse or click a button and when those actions are reflected in your game, is something you want to avoid. We’ve reached a point where latency is mostly a non-issue for most players, even when using wireless mice. 

Polling rate, measured in Hz, is a spec that tells you how many times a mouse sends instructions to your computer per second. In 2021, the standard for both wired and wireless mice is 1,000Hz, or 1,000 signals per second. There are some high-end mice that achieve a higher polling rate, but that is a high-end feature for more expensive mice.

That said, wireless mice that connect via Bluetooth usually have higher input latency than other connection types. Depending on your sensitivity to input lag, it may or may not be a factor. In general, we look for wireless gaming mice that connect to a 2.4GHz USB dongle, which provides a less laggy connection.

Weight

Gaming mice vary widely in weight and the right weight is a matter of preference. Esports mice tend to be smaller and lighter than your average gaming mouse, making them easier to move around your desk. You should shoot for a mouse that weighs less than 3.5 ounces, and preferably something below 3 ounces if you’re serious about fast hand movements. Heavier mice have their uses, too, as extra resistance offers more control. Some models include removable weights, though this isn’t a common feature for cheaper esports-specific mice.

The best cheap gaming mice: Reviews & recommendations

Armed with this information, you’re ready to strike out on your own and find the best cheap gaming mouse for you. If you want a head start, we’ve been doing this for a while so let us take care of some of the guesswork by highlighting our picks.

Unless otherwise specified, all of the mice on this list cost $50 or less. (We have one slightly more expensive pick to highlight what you can get if you’re willing to spend a little extra.) They’re all perfect for gaming, but each one has its own strengths to suit particular lifestyles and gameplay needs.

Best cheap esports mouse: HyperX Pulsefire Haste

Light and fast

The HyperX Pulsefire Haste’s trendy honeycomb chassis isn’t just a style choice.

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Why it made the cut: HyperX’s Pulsefire Haste is a small, lightweight mouse with an excellent sensor that doesn’t sacrifice comfort or durability for performance.

Specs:

  • Maximum Sensor Resolution: 16,000 DPI
  • Dimensions: 2.58 inches x 4.9 inches x  1.41 inches (WDH)
  • Weight: 2.01 ounces
  • Connection: Wired USB
ProsCons
Very lightweight Small size may not support larger hands
Great DPI sensor resolution for the price
Onboard memory for up to five customizable DPI presets

The HyperX Pulsefire Haste’s standout trait is its lightweight design. As the best cheap esports mouse, it’s pretty small and weighs in at just over 2 ounces thanks to its honeycombed chassis. Some manufacturers make ergonomic concessions to hit those measurements, but the Pulsefire Haste manages to stay comfortable and drop down to an esports-grade “fighting” weight. It feels best when used with the claw grip, but isn’t so small that you can’t use it with a palm grip—as long as it fits your hand.

The Pulsefire Haste’s Pixart 335 sensor tracks at up to 16,000 DPI and is accurate at up to 450 inches per second, so your speedy hand movements will translate to accurate in-game actions. The mouse also performs well in lower DPI settings, which you can swap to on the fly to suit your gameplay needs at a given moment. The internal memory stores up to five DPI presets and RGB profiles, which are programmed with HyperX’s Ngenuity desktop app and cycled through with the DPI button just behind the RGB-lit scroll wheel. If you need more than the five the mouse saves locally, the desktop app can also store additional mouse profiles on your PC with their own presets. To be fair, a set of adjustable DPI presets is a ubiquitous gaming mouse feature these days, but the Pulsefire Haste is one of those rare mice with a spec sheet that punches above its weight.

Best cheap wired gaming mouse: Corsair Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series

Pinpointer

Corsair crafted a great gaming mouse for $50 with a professional look.

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Why it made the cut: Corsair’s Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series might not look like a hardcore gaming peripheral, but few other mice can match its flexibility, accuracy, and comfort at just $50.

Specs:

  • Maximum Sensor Resolution: 18,000 DPI
  • Dimensions: 2.7 inches x 5.02 inches x 1.37 inches (WDH)
  • Weight: 2.43 ounces
  • Connection: Wired USB
ProsCons
Great sensor for price PC-only “Hyperpolling” requires extra processing power
Very comfortable
Great on-the-fly DPI customization

The Corsair Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series’ well-rounded specs can fulfill multiple roles other than the best cheap wired gaming mouse. It sports a simple, unassuming aesthetic that would fit in a professional setup without screaming “gamer gear.” At 2.43 ounces, it’s very light, allowing for speedy movement, and its dedicated right-handed design offers better ergonomics than other small gaming mice.

The Corsair RGB Pro Champion’s sensor has a maximum 18,000 DPI resolution, better than most gaming mice at this price point. It also allows you to fine-tune your DPI setting, raising or lowering your tracking in 50 DPI increments, with the option to quickly revert back to your DPI presets with simple button combos.

The Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series also features “Hyperpolling,” which increases the polling rate above the standard 1,000Hz. Raising the polling rate, particularly to the potentially useful 8,000Hz, requires more computing power than merely using a mouse, which is an odd issue to consider. Other companies have managed to offer 8,000Hz polling without a CPU hit, so this is, in fact, a “budget” version of better polling. That said, it’s also the only mouse under $50 that offers it, so it’s not all bad. More importantly, the Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series is still a great mouse even with Hyperpolling turned off, especially within its price range.

Best cheap wireless gaming mouse: Corsair Harpoon RGB wireless

Cut the cord for less

Most of the best wireless gaming mice cost much more than the Harpoon RGB Wireless.

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Why it made the cut: The Harpoon RGB Wireless’ low latency, long rechargeable battery life, and ergonomic frame are surprising for a compact wireless gaming mouse that only costs $50.

Specs: 

  • Maximum Sensor Resolution: 10,000 DPI
  • Dimensions: 2.67 inches x 4.56 inches x 1.77 inches (WDH)
  • Weight: 3.65 ounces (without charging cable)
  • Connection: 2.4GHz wireless USB; Bluetooth 5.0; Wired USB 
ProsCons
Strong sensor Comparatively heavy
Lots of connection options
Great battery life

As the best cheap wireless gaming mouse the Corsair’s Harpoon RGB Wireless has excellent specs and features for a $50 wireless mouse. The Pixart PMW335 sensor tracks up to 10,000 DPI, and there are buttons to quickly bump the DPI up or down by 200 DPI increments. It gets a very healthy 40 hours of battery life and offers 2.4GHz and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, giving you the freedom to choose between a more stable connection and a more power-efficient one. (It also allows you to connect it to more devices, including phones.)

The Harpoon RGB Wireless’ only potential drawbacks as an esports mouse are its weight and size. The mouse weighs 3.65 ounces due to the internal battery and wireless sensors, and if you plug in its charging cable, the whole thing jumps to 5.11 ounces. In either configuration, the Harpoon RGB Wireless will feel a bit heavier compared to a wired esports mouse, and even some of its wireless competitors. 

Best cheap gaming mouse for travel: SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless

Traveling light

The SteelSeries Rival 3 is as sleek as it is portable.

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Why it made the cut: The Rival 3 Wireless’ long battery life and tiny footprint are perfect for traveling, and it supports multiple connection types to fit in with any remote gaming setup.

Specs:

  • Maximum Sensor Resolution: 18,000 dpi
  • Dimensions: 2.62 inches x 4.87 inches x 1.43 inches (WDH)
  • Weight: 3.74 ounces
  • Connection: Bluetooth 5.0; 2.4Gz Wireless USB; Wired USB
ProsCons
Supports multiple wireless connection typesPower-saver mode impacts performance
Very long battery life Heavier than wired mice
Flexible weight and power options

The Rival 3 Wireless is the best cheap gaming mouse for traveling. Its signature feature—an incredible 400-hour battery life—makes it the right pick for gamers on the go. It only lasts that long in “high-efficiency” mode, which reduces the mouse’s polling rate, but even without that, you’re still getting an incredible amount of usage on a pair of AAAs. That’s right: Like many less expensive wireless mice, the Rival 3 requires disposable batteries for power. While not ideal, the incredible amount of time you get from them is hard to pass up.

The SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless’ TrueMove Air sensor boasts a maximum 18,000 DPI, which is better than most other $50 mice. For connectivity, the Rival 3 supports either Bluetooth or 2.4Ghz wireless, so you can pair the mouse with just about any device and keep room for other cordless peripherals.

There is one drawback to the Rival 3’s fully wireless nature, however: it’s relatively heavy. The batteries and wireless components in the mouse ups its weight to 3.74 ounces. If you can sacrifice some battery life, SteelSeries wisely engineered the Rival 3 Wireless to work just fine on a single AAA battery, which brings the weight down to 3.14 ounces. Could it be lighter? Sure, but a little extra weight is a compromise you have to make to go wireless.

Best gaming mouse under $50: Roccat Burst Pro

Worth an extra $10

The Roccat Burst Pro’s double-layered chassis and internal RGB lighting creates a cool glow effect.

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Why it made the cut: The Burst Pro is more comfortable than other esports mice, has optical switches, and a sensor that outclasses most mice below its price point.

Specs:

  • Maximum Sensor Resolution: 16,000 DPI
  • Dimensions: 2.62 inches x 4.83 inches x1.5 inches (WDH)
  • Weight: 2.33 ounces
  • Connection: Wired USB
ProsCons
Great sensor performance for the price. Takes more effort to grip than other mice.
Optical click switches are more responsive and durable.
Good hand support for this type of mouse.

The Roccat Burst Pro is similar to the other mice on this list in many key ways: it’s a 6-button device aimed at esports players, with a small handful of extra features like RGB lighting and programmable buttons, and wired USB connectivity. It’s a pretty standard gaming mouse. Its overall performance and specs, however, make a big leap, even though it only costs $10 more.

The Burst Pro features Roccat’s custom Owl-Eye sensor, which is essentially a retooled Pixart PMW3389, with tracking that tops out at 16,000 DPI and stays accurate at up to 400 inches per second. In practice, the Burst Pro’s in-game performance feels like a much more expensive mouse. It also sports Roccat’s “Titan” optical mouse switches, rather than mechanical switches, which minimize input lag and increase button durability. At 2.33 ounces, it’s definitely a competitive contender, too.

It’s also a sharp, distinctive-looking mouse. It has a dual-layer chassis that includes a honeycombed plastic inner layer and a smooth, transparent plastic outer shell with a matte finish, which creates a pleasing soft glow effect when the internal RGB lights shine through. It’s a great fit for any player’s gaming PC “battlestation.”

Best gaming mouse under $30: Logitech G203 Lightsync

The most for the least

A $40 mouse with RGB lighting and great color selection.

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Why it made the cut: Logitech manages to fit a decent gaming-quality sensor and RGB lighting into the G203 Lightsync’s tiny frame for less than $40.

Specs:

  • Maximum Sensor Resolution: 8,000 DPI
  • Dimensions: 2.27 inches x 4.5 inches x 1.37 inches (WDH)
  • Weight: 2.86 ounces
  • Connection: Wired USB
ProsCons
Good sensor performance at a low price No onboard memory
Accommodates claw and palm-style grips Heavy for its size/shape
Less expensive than other new cheap gaming mice

The Logitech G203 Lightsync is a very simple, 6-button gaming mouse. At $40, however, one of the least modern mice you can get from a top manufacturer. While Logitech definitely held back in places to hit the G203 Lightsync’s $40 price point, the device still performs exceptionally well. The sensor’s maximum resolution is a respectable 8,000 DPI and is accurate at up to 200 inches per second. Sure, that lags behind higher-end mice that are twice the price, but squares up well against most other options in the same sub-$50 range.

The G203 Lightsync definitely falls within the general sizing standards of esports mice and is best used with the claw grip, but it’s tall enough to accommodate palm grip users, too. However, it’s heavier than most wired models at 2.86 ounces, so you won’t get the full benefits of the tinier form factor an esports mouse is meant to confer.

If there’s anything “missing” from the G203 Lightsync compared to the other options on this list, it’s onboard memory. The G203 Lightsync can’t store DPI presets internally to use on any device. You can still save them on your PC with the G Hub app, though, so it may not seem like a huge loss. It’s very basic, but it’s the best version of basic you can get at such a low price.

FAQs

Q: What is a normal price for a gaming mouse?

The price of gaming mice can vary quite a bit. For the most part, most players should expect to pay somewhere between $50-$100 for a good wired gaming mouse, or between $80-$150 for a good wireless gaming mouse. Of course, these ranges are not set in stone. There are incredible mice for under $50, and ultra-high-end mice that cost $200 or more.

Q: What mouse do you need to drag click?

“Drag clicking” is a popular, if controversial, technique where you drag your finger back-and-forth across a mouse left-click panel with gentle but consistent pressure to register multiple clicks in rapid succession. It’s a coveted trick in Minecraft and other games where higher CPS (clicks per second) confers tangible gameplay benefits (dealing more damage per second, for example).

If drag clicking is a major consideration when buying your next gaming mouse, look for a mouse with optical mouse switches, such as Roccat Burst Pro. You could also consider looking for a mouse with a polling rate above 1,000Hz, like the Corsair Sabre RGB Pro Champion Series.

It’s worth pointing out that drag clicking can damage your mouse if done incorrectly or too much. Most mouse switches are rated to last through 10 million to 50 million clicks, and you will burn through them very quickly this way. And if you do it too well, drag clicking may even trip a game’s anti-cheat services, which could get you banned from it permanently.

Q: What type of mouse is the best for gaming?

The best type of mouse for gaming is one that fits your needs. Your gaming mouse should feel comfortable in your hand, and provide the necessary specs and features that help you perform well and have fun. 

There are all kinds of mice designed for different types of players. MMORPG players may enjoy mice with lots of programmable buttons. Shooter fans should look for mice that perform well at lower DPI settings and support quick DPI adjustments; MOBA players will want a smaller mouse with good sensor accuracy at higher DPI settings so they can move the cursor quickly with minimal hand movements.

Final thoughts on the best cheap gaming mice

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get one of the best gaming mice. Yes, there are incredible, feature-rich mice that are worth $100 or more, but if you focus on the basics and getting high performance, you can get everything you need from the best cheap gaming mice.

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