Choosing the best gaming mouse isn’t easy these days! There are loads of mice to choose from, made by various manufacturers and sporting loads of different features. The problem is that a mouse that’s great for one person isn’t necessarily that good for another. So which should you choose?
For example, the Roccat Kone and Logitech G500 are good mice if you want lots of programmable buttons. Both have ten buttons and most are programmable with macros. Even better for RPG players is the new Razer Naga mouse that features seventeen programmable buttons, although the number pad layout on the side takes a little getting used to.
The first thing to do is work out what you want the mouse for. Do you prefer FPS, RPG or RTS games? If the answer is first-person shooters (FPS) then you’ve got the hardest choice to make as you’ll need to work out what sort of player you are (see the section below about DPI). If you prefer strategy, RPG or MMO games then the choice is slightly easier, as you should be looking for a mouse with a large number of programmable buttons and a DPI that suits your playing style.
Every gaming mouse will declare the sensitivity of its sensor somewhere on the packaging or in the marketing material. This will be a value rated in DPI, or Dots Per Inch, and is a simplistic way of measuring the sensitivity of a mouse sensor (there’s an argument that its a meaningless term and should be classed as CPI, or Counts Per Inch, but most people understand DPI). The higher the DPI of the sensor the less physical distance you need to move the mouse to get the same level of cursor movement on screen. So, if you have a high DPI mouse you can be more economical with your hand movements but you need to have a steady hand and be very precise to make accurate cursor movements.
rmed with that knowledge you need to decide of you the sort of person
who likes to make fast sweeping hand movements over a large area, or
slower more precise movements over a small area. If you prefer fast hand
movements then you need a mouse with a low DPI to maintain some level
of accuracy (perhaps 1,200 DPI or less), whereas a player with small
hand movements can use a mouse with higher DPI and remain accurate (say
2,000 DPI or more).
It’s for this reason that you need to be wary of the marketing hype
(and prices) surrounding high DPI mice. Most of the premium mice are
capable of around 5,000 DPI and Razer have started pushing their mice to
If you start making fast movements at that level of DPI you’re going to be spinning on the spot in a FPS. Make sure your mouse has adjustable DPI and then drop it to around 2,000 (or even lower for some pro-gamers) and you’ll be more likely to find a sweet spot. Some mice even allow the DPI settings to be adjusted on-the-fly so you can use a medium DPI to strafe enemies, switch to a low DPI for a carefully aimed headshot and then switch back up to high DPI for some frantic close quarters action.
This is often a heated point of discussion. Wireless mice are great for
reducing the tangle of wires on your desk, but their reliance on radio
waves to transmit the signal to the receiver does add an element of
delay (or lag) to the cursor response. Admittedly modern wireless mice
are almost lag free, and the Logitech G7 is probably the best example of
how good wireless mice can be. However, if you really want the absolute
fastest response then you should stick to a corded mouse.
Wireless mice are also compromised by their reliance on batteries. Some come with recharging cradles but others could leave you scrabbling for a spare set of batteries at an inconvenient moment. Batteries also add weight, so if you like a really light mouse then you might not be happy with the added weight of a wireless mouse. The latest generation of wireless mice, such as the Razer Mamba and Logitech G700, use a detachable USB cable to give the best of both worlds. You get the freedom of a wireless mouse but the convenience of recharging via cable and no batteries to mess about with.
There are generally two methods of holding a mouse. The first is the
claw grip where the mouse is held by the tips of the fingers and is
(almost) lifted across the surface of the mousemat, and this favours
small and light mice. The second is the palm grip, where the palm of the
hand rests on the top of the mouse and pushes it along the mousemat,
and is more suited to large mice.
Some mice will satisfy both sorts of grip, but some are more
appropriate to one or the other. For example, Razer have produced a
number of mice that are small and well suited to the claw-grip such as
the Copperhead and Krait. Logitech, on the other hand, tend to design
larger mice that are more comfortable for palm-grip users, such as the
G500 and G700.
The Logitech G9 has a clever trick up its sleeve. It comes with two interchangeable grips so that you can alter the shape of the mouse to suit your preferred grip. Saitek have also had a go at making a mouse to suit different-sized hands, namely the Cyborg. It has the ability to extend its length to accomodate both big and small hands. Both systems that works surprisingly well,but you might be better choosing another mouse if ultimate comfort is a priority.
One thing that makes a good gaming mouse is the ability to take a pounding. The frantic action of a FPS can lead to some considerable forces being applied to the mouse and its buttons, and this will eventually lead to some sort of failure. Gaming mice are built to withstand more punishment than bog standard mice, but even then some of the more ‘enthusiastic’ players can destroy a mouse within a few months. Some mice have a better reputation for solidity than others. The Logitech MX518 is a case in point, which is still popular even though its been on the market for some time as it has gained a reputation for being able to take a lot of punishment. Another mouse with a solid reputation is the Microsoft Intellimouse which, despite being aimed at people who work rather than play, is actually quite good for gaming and can take quite a bit of abuse.
The fashion for fancy lighting on mice seems to be spreading. More mice are including some form of LED illumination and the styles of lighting are growing increasingly sophisticated. The Roccat Kone is one of the best examples, where five LEDs can be configured to glow different colours and rotate and pulse in various patterns. Other manufacturers offer one colour but allow you to choose from a variety of hues. Of course, this has absolutely no impact on how well you’ll be able to play. It just makes your mouse look good and gives it that ‘must have’ factor.