Best gaming mouse: What to look for when buying this accessory

A responsive, ergonomic gaming mouse could be the difference between greatness and grueling defeat on the virtual battlefield. Below is what you need to know.

Any PC gamer knows that finding the best gaming mouse is paramount to your setup. A good gaming mouse determines how precise, quick, and accurate your various strikes, selections, and sudden moves will be. A regular computer mouse isn’t built to handle rapid movement or vigorous clicking, which makes it susceptible to breakage and dysfunction. A gaming mouse is more sensitive, responsive, and more ergonomically designed than a regular computer mouse. It also typically comes with customizable buttons and is meant to last for hours and hours of play. This gaming accessory comes with options available for every type of gamer, whether you’re playing an FPS, action RPG, or something involving intense strategy or simulation. It can be hard to choose between the various makes and models, plus some sites certainly don’t make it easy when it comes to understanding the technical jargon. Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the best gaming mouse for your needs.

What to consider when shopping for the best gaming mouse

Gaming mice are miles above any run of the mill computer mouse options out there, which means there is a lot more to think about before committing to a purchase. It’s important to consider the overall shape or design of the mouse, it’s DPI, sensor type, mappable buttons, and whether or not you want a wired mouse. Each gamer might want something different so it’s difficult to recommend a universally perfect mouse but we will break down all these elements and suggest some products that we feel exemplify excellence when in each category.

The sensor: optical or laser?

The sensor on your mouse is the technological upgrade that has replaced that tiny rubber ball previously found at the bottom base. It essentially uses an LED light that bounces off of a surface, mousepad, etcetera to transmit coordinates that correspond to your computer screen, allowing you to scroll, click, hover, and perform all the various mouse functions. There are two types of sensors you’ll encounter when searching for a gaming mouse: optical and laser. Determining the right sensor can be fairly contentious and there is much debate about which works the best. There is a ton of highly detailed scientific information floating around about the difference between these two types of sensors and how mice work, but the key is that they use a different type of light source to reflect off of the surface it’s on. Generally speaking, a laser sensor can handle any surface type, including something glossy it can also transit information with greater detail and accuracy however some report issues with acceleration (meaning the mouse can become unsynced with the computer screen if moved too fast). Optical sensors don’t suffer from acceleration as much but they can also be more sensitive to surface type. Both sensors can perform very well but if acceleration is a major concern, and you don’t mind purchasing a cushy mousepad, we suggest going for the optical sensor.

Best optical sensor gaming mouse: Razer Basilisk v2

Light Beam-Based Actuation

A sensitive, sleek, and versatile option for the gamer with varied interests. Amazon

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The Basilisk by Razer has a sensor that is out of this world. Called a Razer Focus+, this optical sensor has a tracking accuracy of 99.6% and is equipped with smart-tracking, asymmetric cut-off, and motion sync. This mouse has a 20,000 DPI, 50G acceleration, and weighs around 3.3 ounces. There are 11 programmable buttons, a drag-free cord, and color customization so you will always feel in control. Additionally, you can adjust the overall sensitivity of the mouse and the scroll wheel resistance, making for a very versatile peripheral. There are several Razer mice that use the same sensor so take a peek at some of their other models if you need less versatility and more specificity.

Which ergonomic design options are best for you?

We could write an entire guide, all on its own, to the various design options you’ll find in gaming mice but we will spare you the time and get to the nitty-gritty. These mice are all designed to be functional and ergonomic, alleviate pressure on your wrist, allowing you to play fluidly, without having to constantly adjust hand placement or position. To increase these benefits you’ll need to think about what weight and grip are right for you. If you make sudden, fast motions or you want a little resistance you could consider a mouse that has an adjustable weight option, which typically comes in the form of inserts. When it comes to grip, you have three options: claw, palm, and fingertip. A claw grip will have your wrist resting on the mouse pad, your fingers gripping the mouse itself, and your palm elevated above the body. A palm grip will have you rest your palm on the back of the mouse with your fingers resting on top; this is the grip found in a traditional computer mouse. A fingertip grip will have both the wrist and palm elevated, using only your fingers to control the motion alongside various buttons. Grip preference is frequently based on hand size- a fingertip grip mouse is typically the largest.

Most mice are created for right-handed players, but there are a number of excellent mice out there that have created ambidextrous programmable options like the Glorious Model O or Mira-M from HK Gaming. A few companies, like Razer, have even made dedicated left-handed mice.

Best adjustable-weight gaming mouse: Corsair Nightsword

Comfortable Contoured Shape

A model with incredible customizability in weight balance, meaning you will definitely find a setting that’s perfect for you. Amazon

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The Nightsword from Corsair is one of the most customizable mice on the market when it comes to weight distribution and ergonomics. Two sets of weights with six different mounting locations will give you up to 120 different balance configurations and built-in software will automatically detect the mouse’s center of gravity so you can fine-tune the weight and balance to fit your preferred grip. It features a textured contoured shape with a thumb rest to keep your right hand relaxed and reactive. The Nightswords has 10 programmable buttons and 18,000 DPI with a customizable PixArt optical sensor. If you are looking for a mouse with more attention to grip than weight, we recommend you check out a cousin of the Nightsword, the Corsair Glaive with 3 interchangeable grips.

How sensitive does your mouse need to be?

So many acronyms, so little time. When it comes to mouse specs, you will come into contact with a million tech terms that could use a little unpacking. DPI stands for “dots per inch” and can also be marketed as CPI, “counts per inch” when discussing gaming mouse specs. DPI and CPI refer to the number of counts or captured pixels your mouse takes per inch of travel. The higher the DPI, the more sensitive the mouse is. A high DPI doesn’t always mean a better mouse though, you also want to make sure the mouse has a high IPS, or inches per second which tells you the maximum velocity at which it can still capture. Many gaming mice have a DPI of 4000 or higher with the option to increase or decrease that number. Some gamers prefer a lower DPI because lower sensitivity can mean better precision. DPI can also be selected based on your screen’s pixelation. If your screen has a high-pixel density, then a higher DPI might be helpful. While DPI might not determine much about your gameplay because most gaming mice function with an already substantial count, we recommend finding something that is adjustable or customizable, so you can test out what works best for you.

Finally, you’ll want to consider your mouse’s acceleration. We touched on this briefly when discussing sensors but it’s important to know that no matter the sensor, acceleration can still affect your gaming. Acceleration describes the amount of gravitational force your mouse can handle whilst tracking accurately and effectively. It is also often customizable and while frequently considered a negative for games that require a lot of quick back and forth, it can be utilized effectively in FPS games and others that require precision.

Best gaming mouse for sensitivity: Logitech G502 Lightspeed

Competitive Edge

Whether you need to shoot or strategize, there is a setting for everyone. Amazon

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The Logitech G502 Lightspeed is not only incredibly accurate but extra customizable when it comes to DPI and sensitivity. It has a Hero 16K sensor, can weigh anywhere between 4.02 – 4.59 ounces, with an acceleration of > 40G. With 11 programmable buttons and 100 – 16,000 DPI sensitivity options for great gameplay in shooting and strategy games alike. This mouse is wireless but reliable with a 60-hour lifespan on a single charge and compatibility options for a continuous charge using Logitech’s Powerplay mousepads.

Do you need customizable buttons?

It is our humble opinion that customizable buttons can make or break a great gamer if used creatively and intelligently. Some prefer to forgo additional buttons but they can be a huge asset when it comes to execution and quick thinking. Gaming mice have at minimum 5 buttons and a maximum of around 19. The number of buttons right for you will probably depend on gaming experience and game preference. A lower button count will be just enough for newer gamers or those who enjoy FPS games. Low button mice can also be called shooter mice and some even come with a dedicated sniper button that will lower the DPI for more precision when pressed. A higher button count may take more experience to program and operate but will give RTS or MMO game players alternative functions and macros necessary to play successfully, though they take some time to get used to and you’ll need to program each one. These mice often feature a keyboard style grid on the thumb side (muscle memory will soon become your new best friend). There are also button hybrid mice which will give you a little more flexibility without having to commit to one game type.

Customizable buttons can also mean customizable lighting. While this is mostly cosmetic, custom lighting options can be a super fun addition to your gaming mouse. RGB lighting can be found all over gaming setups, from speakers to chairs and now your mouse. Pick the aesthetic that works best for you (or your team). While the lighting will not impact the function of your buttons it does suggest that the customizable software is up to snuff. It’s important to feel like you’re in control of the command center when you’re fighting interplanetary battles.

Best gaming mouse with customizable buttons: Razer Naga Trinity

Play How You Want

Customize your button-count with three different panels. Amazon

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The Naga Trinity from Razer is the belle of the ball when it comes to buttons. It is excellent for MMO players and manages to side-step the issues that can arise with a lack of flexibility regarding grip when it comes to a high-button count. The Naga Trinity has up to 19 programmable buttons with 3 interchangeable side plates that have 3, 7, and 12 buttons respectively (this allows you to adjust your grip depending on your game needs). It has a 16,000 DPI sensor, a customizable color profile, and weighs roughly 120 grams.

Do you a wired or wireless gaming mouse?

Another hot-button (get it?) debate amongst gamers and their mice is to go wired or wireless. A wired connection is typically more reliable but can clearly limit portability, range of motion, and inhibit your overall desk setup. These mice are connected to the computer using USB so you probably won’t need to invest in adaptors. Pretty much all wired mice are created equal when it comes to connectivity, though you can check out each spec to get a cable that is long enough for your needs. A wireless connection is more susceptible to disconnection or malfunction but models have become increasingly more reliable. A wireless mouse will declutter your cables, provide a cleaner setup, and will be easy to swap out. Keep in mind, you will need to charge this mouse so make sure you check out the battery life. You don’t want to be smack in the middle of a sequence only to lose complete control because your mouse is dead. A wireless mouse will let you play games from just about anywhere, you won’t need to be close to your monitor. This can be a great option for those of you who want to do some couch playing while hooking your monitor up to the television.

In general, we believe that a wired gaming mouse is a better option for most gamers, it also happens to be less expensive, but we recognize that sometimes you need to value form over function and as the technology continues to improve the form and function inch closer to being equals with many wireless gaming options.

Best wireless gaming mouse: Corsair Dark Core RGB Pro

Freedom To Roam The Screen

You can quite literally play all day and night without needing to charge (but we don’t recommend that). Amazon

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The Dark Core from Corsair is a rechargeable, wireless gaming mouse with up to 50 hours of continuous battery life, wireless charging Qi capabilities, USB wired play options, and eight programmable buttons. It has an 18,000 DPI optical sensor, RGB backlight customization with an integrated LED light bar, and two interchangeable side grips. It’s a little heavier than some models, coming in at 9.2 ounces but many gamers prefer the stabilization this weight provides.

Best gaming mouse brands to Know

The best gaming mouse is going to depend on your specific preferences, play style, and physical need, however, there are a few brands we think you should be familiar with when starting your search. Brands like Razer, Corsair, and Logitech have been dedicated purveyors of the best gaming gear for years and their products rarely disappoint.

Razer

Razer’s company tagline is “For Gamers. By Gamers” and they mean it. Founded in 2005 by Min-Liang Tan and Robert Krakoff, Razer has been consistently rolling out advanced gaming gear from mice to consoles, keyboards to gaming chairs. The triple-headed snake trademark can be recognized worldwide and has won countless awards from various gaming organizations including the best of CES for seven years in a row.

Corsair

Corsair has been creating high-performance gear and technology for gamers for over 25 years. The company was founded in 1994, with a focus on developing cache modules and improving PC memory modules. They still create excellent PC components but have since expanded to create equally impressive streaming and gaming hardware as well as interface software for both Mac and PCs.

Logitech

Logitech is a Swiss-based company founded in 1981 by Stanford alumni Daniel Borel and Pierluigi Zappacosta, and Giacomo Marini with a mission to connect people using computer peripherals and other industry firsts starting with the computer mouse. Logitech is now a multi-brand company with products like keyboards, headsets, chargers, remotes, and speakers sold across the globe.

Best budget gaming mouse: What you get for under $50

Finding a budget-friendly gaming mouse for under $50 might limit your options but it is nowhere near impossible. Many of the most popular mouse manufacturers, including Razer and Corsair, have options for high-performance mice at a friendly price. While you may be slightly limited in terms of customizable options and aesthetics, buying a less pricey mouse like the Razer DeathAdder Essential will save you a few bucks without sacrificing precision, sensitivity, and overall functionality. The best gaming mouse doesn’t necessarily need to be the most expensive so approach these budget-friendly options with the same attention to detail, keeping in mind the things to consider, and you will walk away happy.

The bottom line on shopping for the best gaming mouse

The best gaming mouse for your experience, preferences, and setup should now be at your fingertips. With so many advanced features and design options, the gaming peripherals are constantly improving, and the mouse is no different. There are a ton of amazing options out there and we feel confident that your next WoW session will leave you feeling fired up and in control with a brand new, ergonomically designed, programmable mouse in hand.