Whether you’re new to PC gaming or a seasoned veteran, using the right peripherals can have a huge impact on your experience and performance. But how do you know what to look for in a gaming mouse? Should you care as a casual gamer, or is it something that only skilled professionals should worry about?
Thanks in part to the explosive growth of PC gaming, we now have a huge selection of gaming mice to choose from. In fact, you could probably buy the best-selling gaming mouse on Amazon and be more than happy with it. But if you want to elevate your gaming experience and comfort, it’s worth looking for a mouse that suits your style of gaming. This is what we’ll be covering in this article.
Crucial Gaming Mouse Considerations
First, let’s take a look the most important factors to consider when looking for a gaming mouse.
1. Mouse Shape
It’s a good idea to choose a mouse shape that accommodates your preferred mouse grip style. This makes it more comfortable to game for longer sessions and can help improve your tracking and accuracy. If you’re unsure what your preference is or what you should consider using, check out our comprehensive guide on mouse grip styles.
Ergonomic mice are asymmetrical mice that are shaped to fit the contour of your hand. It can improve comfort and create more points of contact between your hand and the mouse. This makes ergonomic mice a great fit for palm grip users that rest their entire hand on the mouse. A good example of this is the ever-popular Razer DeathAdder Elite.
Symmetrical mice such as the BenQ Zowie FK2-B have a balanced design as its name implies. This mouse shape is preferred by claw grip and fingertip grip users because it has a smaller bump at the rear of the mouse. This helps you avoid resting your palm on the mouse. It’s also easier for claw and fingertip users to use non-ergonomic mice because they don’t have to adjust their grip and finger placement to fit the contour of the mouse.
Ambidextrous mice are also symmetrical mice. The main difference is that they have mouse buttons on either side of the mouse, making it suitable for left-handed gamers as well. The SteelSeries Sensei 310 is a popular example of an ambidextrous mouse that is well-loved by both right and left-handed gamers.
Of course, it’s not the only option available to southpaw gamers. Check out our list of the best left-handed gaming mice for more.
Keep in mind that these general mouse shape recommendations don’t reflect every gamer’s preferences. Ideally, you’ll want to try out several different mice shapes to see what best suits your preferences. You may even change your grip as you become more proficient at different games. However, this should give you a rough idea of where to start looking for a gaming mouse.
2. Mouse Size
While mice don’t have size labels, they are usually categorized as small, medium, or large mice and have precise dimensions listed on the manufacturer’s website. According to Razer, these dimensions can help you determine the size of your mouse hand.
|Small||Less than 6.7 inches||2.9 - 3.3 inches|
|Medium||6.7 - 7.9 inches||3.3 - 3.9 inches|
|Large||7.9 inches||3.9 - 4.3 inches|
Mouse size is a matter of personal preference, but this can be a helpful point of reference when buying a gaming mouse for the first time. We’ve written a comprehensive article on how to measure your hand size which elaborates on the importance of mouse size in relation to your hand size.
While people with a medium hand size can use most mice without trouble, gamers with small or large hands may want to spend a little more time looking for options that are closer to their size. We recommend taking a look at our articles on the best gaming mice for big hands and small hands. We have a number of recommendations in both of these articles that can help you pick out a great gaming mouse for your hand size.
3. Mouse Weight
Mouse weight is tricky to compare until you try a heavy mouse next to a light one. If you’ve only ever used one mouse then you’re probably accustomed to its weight. It’s certainly possible to get used to a mouse of any weight and perform well with it, but there are some benefits to both heavy and light mice.
Heavy mice require a bit more force to move around. For palm grip users, this isn’t a huge factor because they have more points of contact between their hand and their mouse. This means more of their weight is distributed across the mouse, making it easier for them to maneuver it. It also means that you can comfortably rest your entire hand on the mouse without feeling like it’s going to slide around.
The Logitech G502 HERO is a great example of a heavy mouse that starts at 121 grams. With the included optional weights, you can increase this to a hefty 139 grams.
Lightweight mice are suitable for gamers with a claw or fingertip grip because they have fewer points of contact on the mouse. This means they can’t exert as much force on the mouse. A lighter mouse can therefore help you stay nimble during quick and sudden movements. However, someone with a heavy-handed grip may find light mice to be slippery and may cause unwanted movements.
If you think a lightweight gaming mouse suits you, then we recommend looking at our lightest gaming mice article where we cover 10 of the most popular options available today.
4. Mouse Sensor
In simple terms, a sensor tracks your mouse movements and translates them to computer inputs. A high-quality sensor offers precise tracking compared to a standard one, leading to smooth and accurate mouse movements even without a mouse pad.
Thankfully, most gaming mice today have reliable optical sensors from reputable manufacturers like Pixart. For serious gamers that are cautious about sensor choice, here’s a quote from Rocket Jump Ninja, a respected mouse reviewer and Quake player, from 2018:
“I’ve been playing Quake for over 20 years so if it works in game for me, it’s most likely fine. There are some exceptions of course. However, optical sensors are so good these days. In a blind test, I don’t believe humans can tell the difference [between sensors].”
High-end mouse sensors have only improved and become more common in gaming mice since 2018. This means you don’t need to worry too much about sensor quality, especially if you’re buying from well-known brands like Logitech and Glorious. However, it’s still worth doing a quick search on the sensor that comes with the mouse you plan to buy in case problems have been reported.
5. Connection (Wired or Wireless)
In the past, gamers stayed away from wireless mice because of the higher input latency. Today, wireless mice are on-par with their wired siblings and it’s become a matter of personal preference.
This Click Latencies sheet by badben25 on the Overclock.net forums has a lot of data on the most popular mice available today. It should prove that wireless and wired mice are virtually the same in terms of real-world performance. So what are the more practical considerations when choosing a connection type?
You’ll have a wider range of products to choose from if you go with a wired mouse. You’ll also pay less for the mouse and they tend to be lighter since they don’t need an internal battery. Conversely, a wireless mouse can be inconvenient to charge or replace its batteries.
However, wireless mice reduce desk clutter and eliminate the issue of cable drag. Of course, a mouse bungee also works for that but is an additional expense. In the end, you’ll have to make the wired vs. wireless decision based on what you’re looking for.
Check out our article on wired vs. wireless mice for a more detailed discussion on this topic.
6. Programmable Buttons
These days, most gaming mice have a total of five buttons. Popular brands such as Logitech and Razer also include software that lets you program them to do things like adjust DPI settings, execute macros, or even perform keystrokes. However, most games have default key bindings for all five of these buttons, so it’s unlikely they’ll give you any extra advantage for a modern title.
Once you go beyond the “standard” five buttons, there’s plenty of flexibility and customization to be had. The Razer Naga MMO mouse is a fantastic example. With 12 programmable side keys, you can set these to anything from default keyboard strokes to complex macros. It’s perfect for people who play MMORPGs and other games that require many key bindings, but it can also be used for common gaming-related hotkeys like push-to-talk or streaming software controls.
Less Important Gaming Mouse Considerations
Now that we’ve discussed all of the important features, let’s take a look at some of the nice-to-have features that might not affect performance, but could still be a dealbreaker.
Dots per inch (DPI) is the standard that is used to measure your mouse sensitivity. It refers to the number of pixels that your cursor moves per inch that your mouse physically moves. Brands like to advertise high DPI values, but more doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Modern mice are now capable of such high DPI settings that it isn’t a factor that you should care about for gaming anymore. This is because you can adjust your mouse sensitivity in-game to achieve the same effect as increasing your DPI.
For the ultra-competitive gamers reading, there is a potential correlation between high DPI settings and lower sensor latency, which you can read more about in our mouse DPI guide. But the benefits of that are arguable at best, so we’d recommend not worrying about DPI.
8. RGB Lighting
Customizable RGB lights are common on gaming peripherals these days. It can be nice to have if you want your mouse to complement the rest of your gaming setup, but it doesn’t do anything for your in-game performance.
In fact, RGB lighting could be a detriment when using a wireless gaming mouse because it decreases battery life. For example, the Logitech G PRO Wireless has up to 48 hours of battery life, but this increases to 60 hours if the lighting is turned off completely. The newer Logitech G PRO X SUPERLIGHT has up to 70 hours of battery life since there is no RGB lighting at all.
Most wireless gaming mice come with a bundled USB receiver that pairs with the mouse out of the box. This makes it seamless to set up and use, but what if you want to use Bluetooth instead? This is common for people that want to game on a tablet or smartphone device without a USB port
Thankfully, there are options such as the SteelSeries Rival 3 Wireless which features both a wireless receiver and a Bluetooth option. It’s easy to swap between different devices and it gives you a bit more flexibility in how you use the mouse.
10. Community Modifications
Lastly, community modifications can be a great nice-to-have if you’re interested in getting more out of your mouse. There are entire communities like r/DIYGamingMice that cover different kinds of mouse modifications for popular brands and models. There are projects like 3D printing a mouse shell to reduce weight, replacing internal batteries, and even changing microswitches for improved reliability.
Some brands have even capitalized on this by offering aftermarket accessories like smoother replacement mouse feet and durable braided cables. Although it’s a niche consideration, buying a gaming mouse that has a large community of modders behind it can definitely extend the life and flexibility of your mouse.
Picking a new gaming mouse today can be incredibly difficult because of all the different choices you have. We hope that this article has given you a good idea of what to look for in a gaming mouse and helps you narrow down your choices.
If you’re still overwhelmed and just want a solid mouse to use as a reference point, we’d suggest starting with the Logitech G305 LIGHTSPEED Wireless. It’s our default mouse recommendation because of its safe shape and great bang for its buck.