Shopping for a gaming mouse has always involved evaluating characteristics such as shape, size, and price. But one feature that has become much more important recently is connectivity and choosing between a wired vs. wireless mouse.
It wasn’t too long ago that wired mice were better by default, but that’s no longer the case. Each is a totally valid choice now, and you’ll have to evaluate the pros and cons of each to find the right mouse for you. So if you’re shopping for a gaming mouse and need some advice, you’ve come to the right place.
Before we get into the discussion, here’s a quick table outlining the key points of our comparison:
|Latency||• Great low-latency operation for gaming||• Comparable latency to wired mice, as long as they’re high-end enough|
|Weight||• Generally lighter than wireless mice||• Heavier due to extra batteries|
|Price||• Good value, cheaper than wireless mice||• More expensive than wired mice, with the highest-end options breaking past $100|
|Convenience||• The cable can tangle and requires management to avoid snags|
• No battery or dongle to worry about
|• Zero cable issues, great for mobile use or eliminating cable drag when gaming
• Requires managing battery life and keeping track of a small USB dongle
The biggest difference between a wired vs. wireless gaming mouse used to be the performance. Wireless mice were slow, laggy, and unusable for anything beyond casual games. Thanks to advancements in wireless technology, that’s no longer the case with most modern wireless gaming mice. Latency-wise, the best wireless gaming mice now are just as good as—if not better than—wired mice.
Optimum Tech tested many high-quality gaming mice and found that the average end-to-end latency for wired and wireless mice is generally on par. Yes, the wireless Pwnage Ultra Custom Symm came last in his testing, but 28.7 milliseconds of latency isn’t bad. It shouldn’t be an issue for all but the sweatiest FPS gamers.
But the relatively similar results between wired and wireless mice shows that it’s likely more about the mouse’s components, such as the switches and how much latency they have. Because while the slowest mouse is indeed a wireless mouse, two of the top three in Optimum Tech’s testing are also wireless. That points to the protocol not being a problem in and of itself.
YouTuber Tech and Tips compared the wired and wireless versions of gaming mice like the Razer Lancehead and Logitech G703, alongside budget wireless options from brands like Logitech and A4Tech. They found that the gaming mice had identical click latency results, regardless of whether it was the wired or wireless mouse version. Even 2.4 GHz and Bluetooth turned in matching results for the Razer Basilisk X HyperSpeed.
The only sub-par latency numbers were from the cheaper Logitech and A4Tech products. This isn’t surprising, as they’re not designed with low-latency response in mind. But it reinforces the argument that wired vs. wireless is no longer the main issue. Instead, it’s all about the mouse’s internal components and their performance.
If you’re shopping in the mid-range and upwards, there shouldn’t be any significant difference between wired and wireless mice in terms of latency and responsiveness. So you can get whatever you like, as long as it fits your preferences. But if you’re buying at the budget end and can’t find any concrete data about a mouse’s latency, we suggest playing it safe with a wired gaming mouse.
Generally speaking, wireless mice will always have a slight weight penalty vs. their wired counterparts. The extra battery adds weight, whether it’s an AA/AAA battery or a rechargeable solution like on higher-end wireless mice.
However, high-end wireless mice like the Logitech G Pro X Superlight and the new Razer Viper V2 Pro manage to keep this extra weight to a minimum, often by reducing weight in other areas. So both of these mice come in at around the 60 gram (2.11 oz) mark, which is lighter than many wired mice.
So, overall, there’s not really a clear winner here. Wired or wireless, there’s an ultralight mouse out there for you. However, you will have to pay around $150 for these 60-gram wireless gaming mice; if you’re after a light mouse on a budget, then wired mice are still the way to go. The 59-gram HyperX Pulsefire Haste, for example, can be had for less than $50.
Wireless mice have come down in price recently, meaning that you can find a decent wireless mouse in almost any price bracket, whether budget or high-end. However, it’s often the case that the cheaper wireless mice (such as those in the sub-$50 price range) are older mice that have dropped in price due to age.
They won’t necessarily have the most cutting-edge shapes, will have older sensors, and tend to be much heavier. But suppose you want a modern wireless gaming mouse with all the bells and whistles, such as a top-end sensor and an ultra-lightweight body. In that case, you’ll most likely pay a premium for a wireless mouse over the wired version.
Let’s take SteelSeries’ flagship wireless, the Aerox 5 Wireless, as an example. It retails for around $150, in line with other high-end wireless gaming mice. However, the wired version, which has the same features and is 8 grams (0.28 oz) lighter, will only set you back around $80.
That’s still relatively pricey for a gaming mouse, but it’s nowhere near the wireless version. Which makes it better value in our book, as long as you can live without the wireless connectivity.
To be sure, not all wireless mice will have such significant premiums compared to their wired counterparts. But if you’re on a tighter budget and want good value out of your gaming mouse, a wired mouse is generally the better option.
Versatility and Ease-Of-Use
There are two ways to look at convenience, and we’ll cover both here. When it comes to versatility, there’s no question that wireless mice have the advantage. A wireless mouse with Bluetooth and 2.4 GHz support will work with almost any modern device, whereas a wired mouse requires a USB port. Wireless mice also work at range, untethered by wired mice’s relatively short cable lengths.
Wireless mice are perfect for portable use. Getting rid of the wire means that it won’t get tangled in your bag, and there won’t be any unsightly cables snaking around your table. The latter is especially handy if you’re working on a cramped cafe table or somewhere like that. Just turn your mouse on and start working.
Gamers won’t care as much about portable use, but the lack of a cable has other benefits. Wireless mice totally eliminate any potential cable issues when gaming, whether it’s cable drag or the chance of snagging your cable during big mouse movements.
Yes, it’s less of a problem now that most decent gaming mice have flexible braided cables, but going wireless totally eliminates any cable issues. So there’s a slight performance benefit to the convenience of wireless, too. Just as long as you keep the battery charged, that is.
Unlike the no-fuss operation of wired mice, wireless mice require you to keep track of battery life and charge your mouse up when needed. Thankfully, modern wireless mice tend to have good battery life. Seventy hours or more on a rechargeable battery isn’t unheard of, and computer mice that use AA or AAA batteries can even hit 400 hours or more.
Most good wireless mice also have a way for you to track battery life, usually via a companion program and an LED indicator on the mouse itself. As long as you check it regularly and top the battery up, the nightmare situation of your wireless mouse dying mid-way through a game shouldn’t ever occur. But it’s still a hassle compared to a wired mouse, which will keep working as long as it’s plugged in.
Another minor inconvenience is that 2.4 GHz wireless mice need a receiver to connect to your computer. This technology allows them to perform identically to wired mice, but it does make you reliant on a tiny dongle to get the best out of your mouse. However, that shouldn’t be a huge issue if you’re diligent and remember to store the dongle in the dedicated storage slots most wireless mice have.
Overall, while we think wireless mice are more convenient than wired mice, there are still reasons to go for the latter. If you don’t like the idea of keeping a mouse charged and hate the idea of relying on an easily-misplaced dongle, then wired mice are still the way to go. But we think both are minor inconveniences compared to the luxury of wireless operation.
If you’ve been hesitating about buying a wireless gaming mouse due to performance issues, there’s no longer a reason to wait. The best wireless mice are now on par with their wired counterparts, so you won’t be giving up any latency or accuracy in-game. But that doesn’t mean that the wired vs. wireless mouse choice is fully resolved, as each has its pros and cons.
For instance, if you’re not interested in keeping your mouse charged and don’t want to deal with a dongle, wired mice are probably still the better choice. They’re still more affordable and offer better value, even if wireless mice have significantly fallen in price. On the flip side, wireless mice are more convenient, and no cable beats even the most flexible braided cable.
So it all boils down to what you want and what your priorities are. Feel free to experiment and see which works best for you. And while you’re looking around, why not check out our guide to picking a gaming mouse for some advice? All the best!