The Short Answer
There’s no “best” DPI for gaming. It’s an entirely personal choice, and the best DPI for you is the DPI you’re comfortable with. It’s more important to figure out whether you’re a low-sensitivity or high-sensitivity gamer and tailor your settings accordingly than to worry about using the “right” DPI.
If you’re shopping for a gaming mouse, don’t sweat the DPI spec too much. Any gaming mouse with an optical sensor from the past 5 years or so should have more than enough accuracy and DPI range to accommodate any playstyle.
Mouse DPI has always been a hot topic for companies and users alike. Brands like Razer and Logitech routinely promote new sensors with ever-higher maximum DPI values, while forum and Reddit debates about the “best” DPI for gaming are still a regular occurrence. With all the noise surrounding the topic, it’s understandable to feel slightly confused.
Should you crank up the DPI up to those insane maximum DPI numbers? Or should you go old-school and bring it way down for accuracy? What even is DPI in the first place? While we can’t answer every question out there, this guide should cover the essential info to help you navigate the murky waters of DPI and sensitivity.
What Is DPI?
DPI stands for “dots per inch” and measures the distance (in pixels) your mouse cursor moves for every inch the mouse moves physically. In other words, it’s a measure of how sensitive your mouse pointer is when you move your mouse. Higher DPI means a more sensitive mouse and vice versa.
Modern gaming mice tend to support DPI values as low as 100 up to silly and unusable values such as 25,600 (or even higher, in some cases). Those five-figure DPI values are more for marketing than practical use; in practice, most gamers tend to stay in the 400 to 1600 mouse DPI range.
It’s worth noting that the higher your screen resolution, the higher DPI you may need to set to have a comfortable experience on the desktop. I’m OK with 800 DPI at 1440p, but I know some friends who can’t tolerate anything less than 1600 DPI on the desktop at that same resolution.
You can set your mouse’s DPI using the manufacturer’s software solution, such as Razer Synapse or Logitech G Hub.
However, the “raw” mouse DPI isn’t the only DPI value you’ll contend with. In-game sensitivity settings also play a part in creating what’s known as Effective DPI, or eDPI.
Effective DPI is the total of mouse DPI x in-game sensitivity. It’s a more useful metric for comparing set-ups, especially if you’re trying to emulate pro players. In many ways, eDPI is your “true” DPI, as it more accurately represents how sensitive your mouse is in-game.
There are many ways to hit a particular eDPI, all of which are equally valid. You can set your mouse to 800 DPI with an in-game sensitivity of 1. If you like how 400 DPI feels on the desktop, you can bump your in-game sensitivity up to 2 to hit the same eDPI. You can even crank your mouse up to 1600 DPI and bring sensitivity down to 0.5.
All of these combinations result in the same eDPI.
There’s also a third factor influencing how your pointer reacts when moving your mouse: Windows’ mouse sensitivity setting. Most settings bar one will affect your pointer speed, adding another variable to your eDPI.
This is easy to solve. First, go into Mouse Properties. Then, you’ll go to the Pointer Options tab. The two settings we’re concerned with will be at the top of the window:
Ensure the pointer speed setting is on the 6th notch out of 11, as that’s the “neutral” setting. While you’re there, turn off “Enhance pointer precision.” Having it enabled introduces mouse acceleration and prediction, two “improvements” that you don’t want for serious gaming.
The idea with these settings is to eliminate Windows’s impact on your mouse’s sensitivity. Once you’ve done this, the only two settings that’ll matter are your mouse DPI and your in-game sensitivity.
Need more info about mouse acceleration? Check out our guide to turning off mouse acceleration, where we have step-by-step directions for accessing this setting on multiple Windows versions.
What DPI Should I Use?
This is a thorny question, as there’s no objective answer. It almost entirely comes down to personal preference instead of a general, all-purpose “best” setting. What feels natural to one person may be entirely unusable for another.
The best DPI for gaming is almost always the DPI you’re comfortable with and used to. As long as you can do what you need to do in the games you play, then you’ve got the right DPI setting.
Besides, what’s more important is your eDPI, the interaction between your mouse DPI and your in-game sensitivity settings. So if you’re trying to level up your gameplay, don’t worry too much about your mouse DPI. Instead, start from a mouse DPI that feels good on the desktop. Then spend time tweaking in-game sensitivity until you hit on an eDPI that feels good.
Of course, effective DPI is just as subjective as DPI. There aren’t any hard and fast rules here, even if there are some conventions that many players swear by. FPS gamers usually claim that an eDPI in the range of 400 to 800 eDPI is the best DPI for FPS games, as it helps with accuracy when aiming.
It’s definitely worth a try if you’re experimenting, but we should note that the best CS:GO player in the world plays with an eDPI of 1236. That’s a lot higher than what’s considered “proper” for FPS gaming, but it doesn’t seem to have held him back at all.
So it’s all down to personal preference and whether you’re a low-sensitivity or high-sensitivity gamer. What’s essential is practicing with a consistent DPI and developing the muscle memory and reflexes that your game requires.
Sensor Latency and DPI
If you’re a hardcore competitive player, you may want to experiment with combining a high DPI with a lower in-game sensitivity to reach your preferred eDPI. Why? Mouse sensor latency seems to improve with higher DPI, as YouTuber Optimum Tech found in his testing.
Higher DPI settings reduced sensor latency in his testing, with 800 or 1600 DPI being optimal for latency. Let’s say you like how 400 eDPI feels. Instead of 400 mouse DPI and an in-game sensitivity of 1, you could try setting your mouse to 800 DPI and bumping down in-game sensitivity to 0.5 to get marginally lower sensor latency.
Will it have a huge, life-changing impact on your game? No, not really. But it’s worth a try if you’re putting in hundreds of hours a week trying to reach the upper echelons of your chosen game.
If you came into this guide looking for an exact numerical DPI value you could plug into your mouse software to improve your game, then we’re sorry to disappoint. But there’s no absolute “best” DPI for gaming, just like there’s no objectively best screen resolution or key mapping.
Like many other gameplay-related settings, mouse DPI is a personal choice. It’s about comfort and familiarity and not adapting your game to fit some arbitrary “rules.” Experiment, try different settings, and you’ll eventually find a combination that works.
Are you struggling with your game? It’s probably not the DPI; instead, maybe you just don’t have the right mouse. Check out our gaming mouse buying guide for crucial tips to help you find a suitable mouse for your style and preferences. All the best!