PC gaming is in many ways an entirely different experience to conventional console gaming, which is largely thanks to the vastly different tools you use to interact within the virtual environment. It’s therefore vital for any good PC gaming experience that you have the right peripherals for your setup, and there is arguably no peripheral more important than a good gaming mouse. While a monitor, keyboard and headset will always deliver at least the bare minimum for a decent gaming experience, a mouse can be the difference between a truly great experience and a merely mediocre one.
As with just about anything in the world of gaming technology, the price you pay for your gear often plays a huge role in your overall experience and performance. Although the ideal mouse for you will come down to your personal play style and preferences, there are often a number of distinct features that separate cheap gaming mice from more upmarket models. Keep in mind that a more expensive mouse isn’t necessarily going to be the better option for you.
We’ve put together this guide to help you understand the key specs to look out for in a gaming mouse, and the factors which often differ between cheaper and more upmarket models.
Indisputably the most important factors to consider in a gaming mouse are ergonomics and form factor. Above all else, gamers will need a mouse that works with their play style and grip preference. Even if a mouse had all the most impressive bells and whistles imaginable, they’re as good as useless if the mouse itself isn’t comfortable to use for extended periods of time.
Fortunately, ergonomics aren’t typically affected by the price of a gaming mouse. The only significant differences here are that more affordable mice may feel rather cheap, while more expensive models are often made with more premium-feeling materials and often have sleeker, more attractive designs.
DPI stands for Dots Per Inch, and basically measures how sensitive a mouse will be. The higher the DPI, the more sensitive it is, and the further your cursor will move across the screen. In gaming, this will influence how fast the player can move the camera, and will particularly affect accuracy. For the likes of first-person shooters, anything from 800 to 2000 DPI would usually be ideal for most people.
Cheaper gaming mice will never have a DPI number low enough to significantly affect your experience, but they also won’t have super high numbers either. Lower numbers are often ideal for most types of gaming, as they allow for more precise movement and accuracy, without being too sensitive to involuntary twitches.
Many more expensive mice being released these days come with higher and higher DPI numbers, such as the astronomical 16,000 DPI of Razer’s DeathAdder Elite. While they may look impressive, high numbers like these are unnecessary and often far from ideal for gaming. These mice will be far more sensitive to even the most minute natural twitches, which can really throw you off your game.
A large number of gaming mice these days now come with additional buttons which can typically be mapped to any function you want. These mice are therefore popular among more devoted gamers, particularly those who play MMOs or MOBAs where there are a ton of different controls to keep track of.
A cheap gaming mouse generally won’t come with much more than the bare-bones functions of a mouse. That’s not to say there aren’t any cheaper models with additional buttons, but they will rarely be more extensive than a small few mappable or even pre-set macros.
More expensive gaming mice naturally have more scope for customisability, with models like the Logitech G600 MMO sporting as many as 20 additional buttons (which are doubled when you factor in additional G-Shift functionality). More buttons aren’t the be-all and end-all of a good gaming mouse, and are only ideal for those who will actually get some extensive use out of them.
It may surprise you that one of the most important aspects of a good gaming mouse has little to do with the physical device itself. Modern gaming mice use a mixture of in-built software, and a number of manufacturers also have their own software suite to configure settings more precisely.
More affordable options will often have relatively basic on-board software. Aside from core functions, manufacturers may also use software to try to fine-tune a mouse’s performance. On cheaper mice, these features can sometimes be flawed, resulting in less accurate tracking and more of a frustrating experience.
It’s the more expensive models that you can expect to come with the most extensive software. Aside from more elaborate on-board software, these more expensive mice are where you can expect to find a proprietary software suite. Being able to fine-tune your mouse’s settings in a more accessible and user-friendly manner is a huge bonus. However, just because this feature exists doesn’t automatically mean the overall experience will be better. Some software suites have been known to be fairly clunky and buggy, meaning you may sometimes even be better off without them.
As with most gaming peripherals, even the cheapest gaming mouse should still give you at the very least a decent gaming experience, albeit likely very basic. Cheap gaming mice aren’t necessarily any less well-equipped for hardcore gaming, but more often than not if you’re looking for extensive functionality and a premium feel, then you’ll most likely want to invest in a more expensive mouse.