Gaming Mice Buyers Guide
How to choose a gaming mouse
The combination of keyboard and mouse is one of the defining characteristics of the PC, with both peripherals playing a key role in gaming. Like keyboards, over the years the mouse has evolved from a humble control device to a precise tool resplendent in buttons and features. Here’s our guide to what to look out for when choosing a gaming mouse.
The Importance of Shape
The most important, and incidentally the hardest thing to get right when choosing a new gaming mouse is finding one that is the most comfortable. The best way to solve this conundrum is to think about how you grip your current mouse. Despite us all having different shape and size hands, most people hold a mouse in one of three grips, and so different mice are designed for these three grip styles.
Red areas highlight where your hand and fingers are in actual contact with the mouse
The palm grip is the most popular way to hold a mouse and as the name suggests you rest your palm and fingers on the top and sides of the mouse. Mice designed for the palm grip tend to be wider, longer and have a steeper top arch to provide your hand with more support. Palm mice provide accurate control but are less suitable for repeated rapid movements.
The claw grip is a lighter version of the palm grip, but with your palm and fingers lifted off the mouse, leaving just your fingertips and wrist in contact with the mouse. Mice designed for the claw grip tend to be shorter than palm mice with a shallower top arch. Claw mice enable faster movement than palm mice.
As its name suggest the fingertip grip means holding onto the mouse with just your fingertips. Mice designed for the fingertip grip are normally very light and very short with the flattest arch of the three mouse shapes. Due to the limited contact between the hand and mouse, fingertip mice are the quickest to move around but are less suited to precise and delicate movements.
Advanced Gaming Mice
Now that you’ve decided which shape of mouse you want the rest of this guide will walk you through what else to consider when choosing a new gaming mouse.
While most gamers favour mice around 100g in weight, everybody has different strength hands and wrists, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for a mouse that you can adjust the weight of. More advanced mice are bundled with removable weights, enabling you to increase or decrease the weight to whatever you find the most comfortable.
For example, the highly configurable Corsair Nightsword gaming mouse has two sets of weights and six mounting locations for a possible 120 different combinations of weight and balance.
The Great DPI Myth
Some gaming mouse manufacturers claim outrageously high DPI numbers in the tens of thousands to try and differentiate their mice from competitors. In reality, while the DPI of a mouse is important, such huge numbers are actually pretty meaningless when gaming. DPI, dots per inch, sometimes also referred to as CPI, counts per inch, is the measure of how sensitive a mouse is, with a higher number meaning the mouse will smoothly respond to small and precise movements. However, most games and mice will not benefit from such a high DPI as it could cause you to overshoot in your movements and miss enemies in an FPS or hit the wrong menu item in an MMO or RTS. For this reason we recommend using a DPI setting of between 400 and 1600 when gaming.
Fortunately, you can adjust the DPI rate of high-end mice using the bundled software. The best mice also include a button that enables you to switch between different DPI pre-sets, for those rare instances, such as taking a sniper shot in an FPS or some precise work in Photoshop, when a high DPI rate is beneficial.
Some mouse manufacturers also make a big song and dance about the poll rate. This is the speed at which the mouse reports its position to your PC, with a higher poll rate, measured in Hz, decreasing lag. Much like DPI, the important of poll rate has also been blown a little bit out of proportion, with a poll rate of 1000Hz serving most gamers well.
How many buttons does a gaming mouse need?
While a left click, right click and scroll wheel with selector is enough for everyday Windows applications, having more buttons is really beneficial when gaming. How many times have you lost a game because you had to reach for the keyboard to hit an extra key? Extra buttons enable you to keep your hand firmly on your mouse, speeding up your rate of response and making you a better gamer.
For these reasons advanced gaming mice will have at least six buttons, which you can also bind to specific tasks via the bundled software. If you’re a fan or MMOs its worth looking for a mouse with even more buttons so you can bound key skills and spells to your mouse.
The Corsair Ironclaw mouse (left) has a fairly typical seven buttons but the Corsair Scimitar (right) packs in a whopping 17 buttons.
RGB Gaming Mice
As with anything to do with gaming, you can also get mice with RGB lighting to add extra standout to your rodent friend.
Corsair iCUE is worth a special mention as it connects all your compatible products together in a single Windows application, giving you complete control of everything from RGB lighting and effects to fan speeds and temperature monitoring.
Mouse Mats & Pads
Finally, its worth pointing out that whatever gaming mouse you decide on you should also should invest in a mouse mat, sometimes also referred to as a mouse pad, and never use a mouse on a desk or table. This is because such surfaces will not be smooth enough to give accurate control and will also wear damage the underside of the mouse.
Mouse mats are available in a wide variety of shapes, from traditional rectangular designs to massive widescreen format mats, what’s right for you depends on the space you have available.
You can also choose between soft fabric mats and hard plastic mouse mats, choosing one over the other is purely down to personal preference – there is no clear advantage of one over the other. Finally, some mouse mats also include RGB lighting and Qi wireless charging when wired up to your PC over USB.
The Best Gaming Mice
There you have it, everything you need to know about choosing a new gaming mouse. We hope you've found this buyer’s guide helpful. Don't hesitate to contact one of our friendly advisors if you still have questions on how to select the perfect gaming mouse. If you’re all set to go we recommend checking out these top gaming mice and mouse mats.