A look at some of the most advanced gaming mice on the market today
Gaming Jump - September 2019
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Have you ever been playing a game and messed up at a critical moment because you couldn’t aim properly?
Maybe you missed when your opponent was one shot away from dying, or couldn’t make a jump because you weren’t positioned properly?
If so, you’ll likely agree that precision is an important thing to have while gaming. Having a mouse made specifically with gaming in mind can help give you that precision, as well as other advantages.
A gaming mouse won’t magically make you better gaming, of course. But the many features they have can give you an edge and make it easier to pull off tricky maneuvers that require exact inputs.
As with many gaming peripherals, one of the most obvious differences is in the appearance. Gaming mice are pretty much always black and have some sort of lighting. Often this lighting is just for looks, but it can also be for indicating different modes the mouse goes into. Gaming mice also tend have a more ergonomic design than your average mouse, making it easy and comfortable to grip, as well as just looking good.
There’s much more to gaming mice than looks, however. In order for a mouse to truly be considered a gaming mouse it needs to have a high quality optical sensor of some sort and adjustable DPI. DPI stands for dots per inch, and measures how sensitive the mouse is to movement on a hardware level. Having a high DPI allows for greater accuracy, but having it really high can make it too sensitive and cause the cursor to fly around the screen at the slightest nudge. That’s why having adjustable DPI is important, so that you can set it to whatever setting works best for you.
As for optical sensors, virtually every mouse has one nowadays rather than the old rubber ball and mechanical rollers of yesteryear. Optical mice work by having an LED light within the mouse that shines on a surface and a sensor that’s basically a camera detect changes in the surface to determine movement direction and speed. There are also laser mice which work almost exactly the same, but use a laser for surface illumination which offers higher DPI and some differences in how it detects surfaces. As mentioned before, there’s needs to be a good level of DPI in order for the sensor to work well for gaming, but the difference between regular optical mice and laser mice won’t really matter in most situations.
Polling rate is another factor to look out for in a gaming mouse. The polling rate is how often the mouse tells the computer it’s connected to what its position is. This is measured in hertz, which is how many times per second. Higher polling rate means movement is detected more quickly, reducing the delay between moving the mouse and it being detected on screen.
We’ve overviewed some of the features that make up a gaming mouse, but in order to find the best gaming mouse for you, knowing what features are best for which situations is important. Going back to optical and laser mice, which surface you use them on can have a big impact. With optical mice using LEDs, you need a matte, or non-shiny surface for them to work properly. Laser mice, on the other hand can work on pretty much any surface. However, one thing to keep mind with laser mice is that because of the higher sensitivity and the way the sensor works, it may detect the minute imperfections in some surfaces, which can cause slow movements of the mouse to make cursor movement jittery.
If you’re going to be playing game where you need fast reflexes and even the slightest delay can be the difference between winning and losing, having a mouse with a high polling rate is important. The higher the polling rate, the more frequently the mouse reports its position, reducing the input latency. This way you have minimal delay in games where you need to make twitch movements and split-second decisions. High polling is only useful up to a certain point, though. Anything over 1000Hz won’t make a noticeable difference and will just be additional work for your CPU.
Another important factor is the size and shape of the mouse. You’ll want one that’s not so small that it hurts your hand to use, but also not so big that it’s difficult to pick up and move. Having one with an ergonomic design that comfortably fits your hand will help to avoid strain during long gaming sessions.
This might not be something you’ve ever really thought about before, but what shape and size would work best for you will also depend on how you grip your mouse. The most common is the palm grip, resting your palm and fingers on the mouse. This is the most natural and comfortable way to have your hand and good for accurate, fluid movements. But it also can be slower than the other two grips, claw and fingertip. With the claw grip you grab the mouse while making a claw shape with your hand and minimal contact with your palm and fingertips, allowing faster movement. The fingertip grip is the most extreme, with only your fingertips touching the mouse, allowing the most speed and dexterity of any of the grips, but is also the most fatiguing.
So if like most people you use the palm grip, you’ll want an ergonomic mouse that’s a little bit smaller than your hand for the best comfort. If you already use, or are planning to start using the claw or fingertip grip, shorter and higher profile mice would likely be the best choice. Having a mouse that’s light is also important for both claw and fingertip grip users for minimizing fatigue.
Other things to consider are lift off distance and the buttons the mouse has. Lift off distance is how far off the surface the mouse still detects movement when picked up. You’ll want a mouse with as low as possible lift off distance for gaming so that when you reposition it you don’t get accidental input that messes up your aiming.
For most gamers all you’ll really need on your mouse is the right and left buttons and a scroll wheel with middle click. That being said, having two side buttons and buttons for changing sensitivity can also be important. Macro buttons can also be useful for several things, like making it easy to do repetitive tasks or quickly pull off a combo. They can also be used to easily do complex key shortcuts or for quickly opening programs.
Before we dive into the product review section of this guide, we will first look at the testing that goes into our extensive review process. We put a lot of time into testing and evaluating these products so that you are able to make the absolute best buying decision that you can.
For the following gaming mice we performed 3 basic tests. All keyboards were ranked on a scale of 1 - 10 and then we selected only the best to be featured in this ultimate guide to the best gaming mouse of 2018.
First, we assess the general build quality of the mouse. We look at the materials that are used during construction as well as the overall craftsmanship of the assembly to determine the durability of the piece.
Next, we consider how personalizable the mouse is. How many macro keys does it have? Can it save multiple player profiles? Are the back-lights programmable, and does it include easy-to-use software?
Finally, we take the mouse through several rounds of popular games to get a feel for how it performs when it counts. We consider the overall user experience as well as key performance metrics before completing our testing.