The Basics: What is a gaming mouse?

A gaming mouse is a regular mouse that has added settings or functionality that would be useful for high-intensity usage or situations. While normal mice have features such as long lasting batteries, quality construction or adjustable response times, gaming mice have these and more. Adding extra programmable buttons, higher sensitivity, faster responsive times and more customization options.

There are mice that specialize in different areas of gaming. There are mice designed specifically for FPS (first person shooter) style games that may feature higher sensitivity than an MMO (massively multiplayer online) game.

Most of the mouse manufacturers offer gaming product lines, including Corsair, Steelseries, Logitech and more. The gaming mice are often priced higher than their productivity counterparts, but this isn’t true for every case. Manufacturers often have multiple different options in different price brackets to appeal to the wide variety of gamers, and their budgets.

Terms to know about gaming mice

corsair gaming mouse

DPI (Dots Per Inch)

This is the sensitivity setting of the mouse; for every inch you move the mouse, the on-screen cursor moves a corresponding amount of pixels. In simple terms, the higher the setting, the quicker your mouse cursor moves on screen, and the slower the setting, the slower your mouse moves on screen.

Most mice now have a button, or a setting on them (either directly on the mouse or in software) that allows you to adjust the DPI settings to your preference. Lower sensitivities are useful in applications where precise movement is necessary, such as photo editing. While higher sensitivities are more useful in situations like FPS games where there is a lot of quick action on screen at once.

Razer gaming mouse with macro buttons

Programmable Buttons

Gaming mice often come with extra buttons outside of the left, right and middle buttons. They often feature buttons on the middle of the mice (DPI button), buttons on the side of the mice (forward, back, and macro) buttons, and some may even have buttons along the edges of the mice (double left-click).

These buttons are often there for convenience sake so the user can speed up tasks that are repeatedly done. For instance, if you play MMO’s often, you may want to invest in a mouse that has extra side buttons. You could program these buttons to in-game commands, and speed up your rotations.

Response Rate / Polling Rate

This is a term that many may not hear about often, but it is important. This is how often your mouse detects input. The higher the number (rate) the more your mouse is looking for input, and the more responsive it is.

Think of this the same as you would high refresh rate displays, as it is essentially the same thing. 144Hz monitors detect more input than 60Hz monitors, and 60Hz monitors detect more than 30Hz monitors. The same goes for your mouse.

Laser sensors are primarily better than optical sensors because they feature higher response rates than their optical counterparts. And if by some sad miracle you run across a trackball mouse, just run. Run far away.

Adjustable Weight

This is exactly as it sounds. Some mice will feature weights that allow you to customize the weight of the mouse to match your preference. Some people prefer a solid, heavier mouse, while others prefer something more nimble and light. It is honestly up to you to choose what works for you more.

Chinese gaming mouse with leds

Colors & LEDs (Light Emitting Diode)

Some mice have lights pre-installed in them. This is purely an aesthetic (design) choice and has no real bearing on the functionality of the mouse. If you have a specific look that you are going for, then it may be worth it to find a mouse that either is the color you like, or that has customization options to blend in with your color scheme.

If you are interested in learning more about gaming mice, or the options out there, go ahead and click here to follow me on Twitter at @theeanjelo, or check out some of the other mouse related entries to the blog.

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