Most casual gamers would be satisfied with entry-level offerings without the profound extras such as thumb buttons and on-the-fly switches, but skimping on mice could be detrimental to your experience. Your search which leads to this article somehow proves you already built a battle station with out of this world specs with a price tag which your mom, wife or partner will not easily forgive, so why scrimp on a gadget that represents the bigger half of your control input? Investing in a suitable high-performance mouse is one of the greatest things you can do to improve your game, and in this guide, we have included some of the best mice the gaming world has to offer.
- How to Choose the Best Gaming Mouse
Manufacturers rarely label each model they come up with for a particular genre or user. It can get tough or expensive if you aren’t packing essential knowledge when choosing your next weapon, so we have included the ten best mice we have tested and reviewed according to a particular genre or purpose. But before choosing one from the list, we encourage you to read these bits of information to help you get ready for your upcoming gaming mouse hunt.
- Sensor Type (Laser vs. Optical)
Most gamers are under the impression that laser mice are better than optical options since the latter perform poorly on varying surfaces such as shiny plastic or even some of the hard-surface mats available today. This fact is somehow accurate, but for shooter games, sensitivity and natural feel are more important than surface tracking capabilities.
The main difference between the two lies between the type of illumination used to paint a picture. Optic mice use LED while laser mice, of course, user lasers. LED sensors usually only track the top surface of a mouse mat or a desk, while laser sensors can go through minuscule irregularities such as texturing or unevenness, making them extra sensitive which therefore allows tracking on any surface. The latter looks like it has every advantage, but for titles where pinpoint accuracy is critical, this is sadly not the case.
The laser sensor’s ability to track every crevice or dimple on a surface is detrimental to slow movements, making your cursor a bit jittery when trying to aim precisely. This characteristic will make sniping at vast distances in games like Battlefield 1 that much harder. Laser mice are also reliant on acceleration to achieve their higher DPI. This fact makes them more ideal for RTS or RPG titles more than shooters simply because precise aiming needs a neutral feel which optical sensors can provide.
- DPI or Dots Per Inch
DPI or dots per inch is the primary spec where most manufacturers attach a particular model’s advertising or marketing since this is the most important characteristic a zippy gaming mouse can have. Simply put, this is the sensitivity of the sensor on your mouse which dictates how far across a specified distance on your screen a cursor can travel according to your hand movement. You usually see this aspect plastered on most of the packaging from different companies, so it should be relatively easy to make a choice by selecting the fastest unit available, right? Wrong!
The majority of gamers across different genres usually prefer 600 to 3000 DPI especially for shooters, but some professional competitive players use DPI set as low as 400 like Kyb, a famous DPS player for Overwatch. So naturally, Higher DPI does not always equate to the best gaming mice you can buy. I use 600 to 800 DPI for all of the games I play on 1080p since this is where aiming and swiping feels most natural according to my preferences.
However, learning to play at higher sensitivity levels can also have its benefits, especially on high-resolution 1440p or 4K monitors. More pixels mean your cursor will need to traverse a longer distance on the screen, so higher DPI such as 4000 or 6000 can feel natural or comfortable for some users. DPI ranges vary across brands and models, and usually, modern iterations offer anywhere from 2000 to 16000 but are usually fully adjustable via proprietary drivers.
- Wired or Wireless? Which is Better?
Back in my younger days, gamers always held the impression that wireless mice performed worse for gaming since Bluetooth connectivity induced input lag or delays in your control to screen actions. Then there is also the issue of losing power while in the heat of battle, which is known to cause a lot of mice deaths through the years.
But the future is now, and thankfully, we have 1ms wireless mice from peripheral giants such as Logitech and Razer, so the old thinking is as obsolete as the old wireless mice rage-quitting players chucked across their rooms. But despite these technological improvements, wireless always equates to expensive and bulky. Wireless devices need additional sensors and an internal power source to function, and these add weight and cost on top of everything.
Meanwhile, wired mice have also improved over the years, with faster USB standards and lighter, more flexible form factors. Of course, the main caveat this option presents is the encumbering cable attached. You also won’t need to swap batteries from time to time, since the required juice already runs through your PC’s USB port.
Choosing between the two will only rely on personal preference, so if you can live with each one’s limitations, you can’t go wrong with either.
- Polling Rate
Polling rate is the number of times your mouse reports its position to your PC per second. Modern products typically have 1000Hz rates, but as with DPI, higher doesn’t always equate to the best. High polling rates make your CPU work harder to determine and translate where your movements point your cursor, so a fast mouse could confuse your system if it is quite slow. This setback, however, is usually nonexistent since most gaming rigs are fast enough to utilize 1000Hz for precise controls in the heat of battle. This feature is also adjustable for most of the gaming peripherals available, so finding a perfect setting for your needs is easy peasy.
- Button Configuration
I remember using trackball mice with only two buttons for left click and right click in computer class back in the day. But the current trends today gave birth to multi-button configurations suited to every genre and need a gamer can imagine. MMORPGs and MOBAs caused the introduction of mice with macro buttons, while FPS and action games caused manufacturers to add “trigger” buttons for on the fly switching.
Choosing a gaming mouse for your use is mainly based on personal preference and comfort, so we recommend you to go out and check your prospect in stores before buying to get a feel for each button’s position. There are options for adjustable positioning from brands like Razer and Mad Catz, but these designs will still ride on your grip type, hand size and preference so we can’t tell you which one will be the best for your gaming needs.
- Grip Type (Palm, Claw, and Tip)
There are three types of widely known grip styles for mice, and the most popular one is the palm grip which is the most comfortable and does not require mastery of a learning curve. Around 50% of your hand’s surface rests on the back of the mouse while your fingers lay flat on the buttons. This method is the simplest and most comfortable way to steer a suitable mouse without any fatigue even for extended gaming sessions.
The second favorite style is the Claw grip, which utilizes six points of contact on the body of the mouse. Palms are arched above the body of the mouse while steering is handled mainly by the thumb and fingers instead of the rest of your hand. The lighter touch this method provides increases speed and reaction times making it ideal for RTS or RPGs for full effect. Claw grips have lower pinpoint accuracy than palm grips due to the steering style, making it less ideal for FPS shooters.
The last type is the Tip grip which is the lightest touch of all enabling even faster movements and reaction times for gaming purposes. Only the fingers steer and click on the mouse, so this style induces the most fatigue and is the hardest to master from the three known techniques.
Keep in mind that most manufacturers designed new mice based on palm grips, so if you use the other two prominently, you might need to go to a physical store and check a particular model out before deciding. Manufacturers don’t label their models separately for this purpose, so you have to rely on reviews, user feedback or personal preference.
- Surface/Mouse Pad (Hard or Soft)
There are two types of mouse mats available for gamers; soft mats made of cloth and hard mats made of plastic. Gaming marketing dictates that hard mouse pads are ideal for players since this type allows faster and smoother motion for furious swipes. Hard mats also have texturized surfaces designed to enhance tracking. But in my experience, this type is suitable for laser mice since the faster DPI and acceleration can benefit from its characteristics.
For the comfort and optical mice, I would recommend cloth or soft types since LED sensors typically have tracking issues on textured and hard mousepads. Laser mice have no troubles on cloth pads, but the tracking feels agile and precise on texturized pads when compared. Soft mats are also easier to clean and maintain since chunks of dirt tend to gather on plastic surfaces which also transfer to your mouse’ feet.
Some of the best choices available now are the Steelseries QCK mats for soft pads and the Razer Vespula for hard surfaces. The QCK is a great starting mat, and it comes in different sizes and a plain black look, which will look good on any scheme you desire. The Vespula is the most original hard pad we have seen since it has a built-in wrist rest and a reversible surface for versatility.
- The Best Gaming Mice (January 2017)
In this section of our comprehensive guide, you can find the best gaming mice for your hard earned cash. Each product offers distinct features and advantages, so we have categorized them according to their best uses in different genres or niches. We selected these choices according to experience, thorough research, and user feedback from various sources so we could help you in deciding what to get as your weapon of choice for the upcoming battles you will face in the virtual world.
- Best Overall Gaming Mouse 2017 – Razer Deathadder Elite
Razer is one of the pioneering companies involved with gaming mice for quite some time. They now produce a myriad of peripherals for enthusiasts and die-hard fans, but they originally designed and manufactured some of the best mice for PC gaming we have seen. One of their most popular models is the Deathadder, which has already existed for more than a decade got updates as time went along, but currently, its greatest iteration is the Deathadder Elite.It has a drastically improved real 5g 16000 DPI optical sensor, Razer Chroma Tech, and a tactile scroll wheel wrapped in a comfortable and familiar ergonomic design favored by a generation.
Although for the past few years, Razer got hit by a lot of critics and enthusiasts for their weak and flimsy switches which broke during the first three months of usage which was well below the specified lifetime. It’s a good thing that the CEO of the company, Min-Liang Tan, listens to feedback from social media channels and finally introduced mechanical switches for the Deathadder Elite. These types of clickers last longer than conventional designs so that you can rest assured your gaming glory with Razer’s most awarded and best-selling gaming mouse will live on for a longer time.
- Best Wireless Gaming Mouse – Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum
Logitech is another peripheral giant who is also a champion for the masses in the gaming arena with their different line of gaming mice fit for every budget and genre you can imagine. The company recently released refreshed and improved designs, and one of the best they have to offer is the G900 Chaos Spectrum, a wireless thoroughbred with a lot of teeth to bite into the action. This option boasts of nine programmable buttons strategically placed along the ambidextrous and ergonomic body suitable for claw or palm grips, a cutting edge 5g actual 12000 DPI laser sensor and a zippy 1ms response time, slightly edging out Razer’s Mamba in hardware caliber.
The G900 Chaos Spectrum also breaks the wireless stigma with its internal rechargeable battery with a lifespan of 30 hours, along with its impressive snappiness despite being tailless. Logitech’s Profiler enables users to create hundreds of custom profile for several games, but you can also store five presets into the G900 itself, in case you want to take this premium product with you on tournaments or LAN sessions. The Logitech G900 Chaos spectrum commands a hefty premium for its impressive feature set, but the money you spend is well worth it if you are after a premium and cutting edge device for your serious gaming.
- Best Budget/Cheap Gaming Mouse – Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury
Gaming grade mice usually cost $50 or more, but there are some old but gold models you can easily get from favorite retailers for more or less $30. For this entry, we chose the Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury, a modernized variation of the godly Logitech MX518; a legacy device worshiped by enthusiasts back in its day. The G402 sports a sleek figure designed to hold standard palm grips for a free range of hand sizes as naturally as possible, while housing a snappy 4000 DPI Fusion Engine hybrid sensor and 32-bit ARM microprocessor. 4000 DPI is only a fraction of what the other entries offer, but the G402 is primarily an FPS oriented gadget, a genre where low DPI is ideal for pinpoint accuracy.
The cutting-edge design of the exterior holds eight programmable buttons including an on-the-fly switch or “sniper button” to shift between four DPI presets for different in-game situations. You can also program profiles unique to several titles, and you can fully customize each button’s command via the Logitech Profiler app. The switches of the G402 Hyperion Fury are some of the most responsive and long-lasting we have seen in the market, so you can maximize the more or less thirty bucks you spend (which is a bargain for this mouse!).
- Best Gaming Mouse for Big Hands – Steelseries Rival 300
If you have a pair of giant paws, then we share a dilemma which has plagued a lot of big guys despite the several advancements gaming mice underwent through the years. The Steelseries Rival 300 is one of the longest mice with a distinct shape suitable for palm grip big boy hands. The main body of the Rival 300 is wider than most at 70mm, while the rest of the device streamlines towards the two most important 30000 click rated buttons to create a natural feel suitable for palm and hybrid palm grippers. The arch is also one of the most gentle but sufficient we have held, so gaming for extended hours will never be an issue for the hardcore.
The Pixart sensor on the Rival 300 is one of the best the market has to offer, with its 1:1 tracking at 6500 DPI, a polling rate up to 1000, and a 1ms response time making this device dead accurate. The Rival 300 only offers two extra buttons on the thumb rest and a DPI switch near the scroll wheel, but the layout makes this an ideal weapon for games like Battlefield 1. You can easily choose to use the side buttons for weapon switching, or melee kills, and the sniper button conveniently brings your sensitivity up or down depending on your run and gun or sniping play style. All of these features are accessible via the Steelseries Engine app, but you can also use the Game Sense feature for customizing different presets for your selected titles.
- Best Gaming Mouse for First Person Shooters – Zowie EC1-A/EC2-A
First person shooters is the genre that only requires pinpoint accuracy more than customization options and other fancy features. You find a DPI setting that you are comfortable with, and you’re all set for your gut-wrenching frag sessions. Like the Deathadder Elite we mentioned, the BenQ Zowie EC series of gaming mice are some of the best no-frills aiming solutions the market has to offer. Looking at this product, you can’t say much about its minimalist matte black look and ergonomic design reminiscent of the classic Microsoft IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0. The EC1-A and EC2-A both use an Avago 3310 sensor with a DPI range of 400 to 3200, which is more than enough for FPS titles like CS: GO and Overwatch. After all, pros only use 800 DPI most of the time. The Avago 3310 is regarded as one of the best optical sensors available since it does not require snapping or prediction for excellent sharpshooter performance.
Like the rest of the BenQ Zowie mice, the EC series isn’t programmable since the package does not include a customization app. The button layout is almost similar to the Rival 300, with two side buttons on the thumb rest and a clickable scroll wheel. The left and right click buttons use Huano switches, and user feedback suggests that they have some of the hardest feedback, making them even more ideal for shooters which require responsive but rapid clicks. Lastly, the main difference between the EC1-A and EC2-A only resides in size, with the latter being the smaller sibling. Also, the EC1-A’s scroll wheel lights up in different colors according to your DPI setting, which you can select at 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 via the DPI button on the base.
- Best MMORPG Gaming Mouse – Logitech G600
Massive Multiplayer RPGs like World of Warcraft requires a ton of buttons to be able to pull off fantastic skill combos successively without having to fumble for each one. Razer started the trend for these mice with the first Razer Naga they released, but fast forward to today, other peripheral giants like Logitech have caught up. The best contender from the company is the Logitech G600, a gaming mouse made specifically for MMOs which has twenty programmable buttons, plus a shift key used to activate secondary functions you can program on each one to fully control your virtual adventures. Of course, Logitech did not forget to equip the G600 with a high-quality Laser sensor with sensitivity up to 8200 DPI and a 1000Hz polling rate. You can also switch between DPI presets on the fly, after setting each and every macro you can think of via the Logitech Profile app.
The G600 looks like the big weird cousin of the rest of the Logitech line with razor sharp edges, but make no mistake; this mouse is built for comfort. The design is meant to hold your sweaty palm for hours on end. The addition of a pinky rest generates the broad top view rests on the right, while the dual-dish design of the thumb rest which holds the twelve macro buttons which help reduce strain and misclicks, plus a reduced learning curve. The Logitech G600 sports a robust and grippy matte black build for endless hours of grinding, plus an RGB custom backlight so you can easily distinguish between the myriad of buttons.
- Best Gaming Mouse for Small Hands – Zowie FK2
The EC1-A and EC2-A mentioned above are both tantalizing options with the latter specified for smaller hands, but if you want something more suitable for tip or claw grips which are standard with this appendage size, the BenQ Zowie FK1 is a widely popular choice for professionals in several categories making it your best choice. The FK2 sports the same no-frills matte black design the EC series have, but instead, this model has an ambidextrous design making it suitable for claw and tip grippers or even the lefties. This model also uses the acclaimed Avago 3310 optical sensor with best in class accuracy and a DPI range of 400 to 3200 and 1Ghz polling rate. The FK2 also has six buttons, but in our book, this layout is sufficient for a variety of genres.
Like the EC series, the FK2 does not require a driver or a customization app, since most options can be stored internally. Build quality is robust, and despite the ambidextrous layout, the FK2 fits snugly in your palm. BenQ Zowie’s portfolio of professional gaming mice all use similar internals, so it’s only a matter of choosing a design that can fit your size. Like the EC series, the FK2 also comes in a medium sized FK1 and a larger FK1+ in case you outgrow this fantastic, lightweight gadget.
- Best Gaming Mouse for Lefties – G.Skill RipJaws MX780
We all know G-Skill to be an established gaming memory brand, but their recent foray into peripherals surprisingly did not disappoint. One of their products, the MX780 is a uniquely customizable gaming mouse with a modular body for different comfort fits plus an interchangeable thumb rest which can go on the left or the right. You’re probably wondering why we’re recommending an ambidextrous version instead of a lefty specific. Left-hand mice are commonly hardwired to have a reversed button layout of their right-hand versions, which introduces issues for some games and applications which do not have full lefty support. On some games, even if you reset the layouts to fit your needs, the programming only reverts to the classic layout making it impossible to control some aspects of a game with a left-handed mouse.
The G-Skill RipJaws MX780 utilizes an Avago laser sensor than can go up to 8200 DPI for maximizing control between situations and genres. There are eight programmable buttons you can use to maximize your lethal potential, and you can program each one via GSkill’s unified driver system. There are also four RGB lighting zones for your bling enjoyment, but the last bit of customization this mouse offers are the inclusion of adjustable weights. Trying to configure a perfect solution for your left paw is fun by itself, but the real kicker for the MX780 is its wallet-friendly price of under $40 at the time of this writing.
- Best Gaming Mouse for MOBA – Razer Naga Hex V2
MOBA titles like Dota 2 and League of Legends require complex commands to perform wombo-combos between a plethora of characters making this seemingly easy to play genre even more complicated. Spell casting has never been easier with the Razer Naga Hex V2, an iteration of the famous Naga line which focuses on the needs of serious arena players. The Naga Hex V2 features a thumb rest which is surrounded by seven tactile buttons which you can program to perform varying commands for skills or item-activated sequences. These buttons are laid out in a circle to allow for improved learning curves and muscle memory usage, so you don’t press the wrong button.
Aside from the comfortable form factor suitable for hours of intense battles, Razer included a top-notch 5g laser sensor that can go up to 16000 DPI for maximum agility. You can also customize these settings via the Razer Synapse app, and switch between each preset you specify via the two on-the-fly DPI buttons on near the scroll wheel. Razer also added their proprietary RGB Chroma Tech into the Naga Hex V2 to complete the package, plus you can download Dota 2 and League of Legends profiles to match the lighting action to the in-game sequences as they happen on screen.
- The Ultimate Most Expensive Gaming Mouse – Razer Mamba 2016
One of the absolute best and ridiculously priced gaming mice we have ever seen is already included in this list; the Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum. But at the time of this writing, another epitome, the Razer Mamba 2016, slightly edges the G900 out of the spot to claim the throne of the most expensive gaming mouse you can buy. This flagship wireless model features a sophisticated 16000 DPI laser sensor equipped with acceleration, on the fly DPI adjustment, and an ultra-fast polling rate to give players the best performance a specific brand can give. This top of the line wireless mouse can operate in a wired mode in case you don’t find the twenty-hour battery life satisfying. Although we think that the charging podium included in the package is a unique and premium feature which accentuates the highlights of this gadget, it could take some getting used to since most of the time; we just leave our gaming mice on top of mouse pads or mats.
The Mamba 2016 has nine independently customizable buttons via Razer Synapse, but what makes the 2016 edition special is the design which Razer calls the Adjustable Click Force Technology. This feature allows users to adjust clicking feedback on a granular level for your specified needs for any gameplay. The Mamba 2016 sports a figure which we consider to be almost similar to our top choice, the Deathadder elite, which feels as comfortable for palm grips, despite the heavier weight which sits at 140 grams. To complete the ultimate gaming mouse package, Razer’s RGB Chroma technology is applied to the sides of the Mamba 2016 and the scroll wheel, providing a reactive and fun light show that coincides with Chroma compatible AAA titles.
IV. Final Thoughts
There are hundreds of fantastic gaming mice you can get for your hard-earned moolah’s worth, but this guide was meant to help you cut down to the chase if you do not have a lot of time or patience for finding a perfect device suited to your needs. The mouse is one of the parts of a gaming rig we rarely pay a lot of attention to, but it has one of the longest staying potentials which can outlive one to three overhauls or rebuilds to grab the latest gaming tech. Making a choice is critical for your gaming sessions since this device provides the bigger half of your control inputs for any game, so you’re better off investing in one of the high-quality options we presented in this buying guide. We ardently hope that the results of our research and testing efforts can help you in your lofty quest for the best gaming mouse.