In the previous installment of the ultimate PC builder resource, I covered the topic of monitors. With this write up, I’ll cover the gaming mouse mystery, thus inching towards the end of the most common peripherals of any build. As I’m sure you know as a PC user, a mouse does two primary tasks. It converts physical motion along an imaginary XY plane into apparent movement on the screen and allows you to interact with the content on the screen via at least two buttons and a scroll wheel. However, the technology that transfers your input to the actual computer is diverse.
Comfort Is King
Choosing a good gaming mouse is not an easy task. There are a lot of premium manufacturers, each offering their take on the subject. The first thing you should look into is what kind of games or work activities you’ll be doing. If it’s a first-person shooter, a strategy or something else mouse dependent, it has to be comfortable. The main thing behind comfort is the actual size of the mouse, where you can choose amongst four sizes.
The other thing related to comfort is your grip. My preference is a relaxed grip, where I let my fingers flow over the buttons, meaning that I’ll choose a gaming mouse that has long and fairly flat buttons. If you have a claw-like grip, something that has a certain curve to it will probably be more up your alley.
Next up, you have to look at functionality. Anything that requires lots of inputs or quick actions like MMO games has to have additional buttons that can be configured to your liking. A proper gaming mouse comes bundled with its software that allows you to set it up just right. If it’s a mouse that needs to perform repetitive tasks such as shooting or moving around, your best bet is to go minimalistic, but at the same time considering DPI.
The Gaming Mouse DPI Dilemma
Just like with images, the DPI count is directly related to the accuracy of the movement. That can be a double-edged sword. High DPI means that the optical sensor reads even the small movements. On the other hand, low DPI gives you less resolution when it comes to reading input movement.
Since DPI means dots per inch, if a mouse has a 1000 DPI, the pointer will move 1000 px for every inch you move the mouse. I find the perfect DPI to be the one that doesn’t multiply my movement. However, that’s highly dependent on your monitor resolution.
If you’re planning on playing mainly FPS, mid to high DPI count is for you. There are gaming mice that feature a dedicated button that temporarily lowers the DPI. With those you can aim more accurately when those super important shots come into play. Most gaming mice feature a dedicated DPI adjustment button so you can tweak the sensitivity on the fly.
A Gaming Mouse Isn’t Just Good Looks
Alongside DPI stands something called polling rate. Polling rate is the frequency at which the mouse and the computer communicate. In layman terms, it’s how often the mouse sends its position to the computer. Naturally, a higher polling rate means more reports per second. Since this is data, the processor needs to crunch, extremely high polling rates such as 1000 Hz waste resources.
Lastly, there’s the laser vs. optical battle. There’s no better explanation about how pointless this is than this quote from Chris Pate, Senior Product Manager over at Logitech: “In a laser mouse, it’s actually not a laser sensor. It’s an optical sensor. It just uses a laser for illumination. But people find it easier to shorthand it to optical versus laser, even though it’s really infrared or red LED [for an optical mouse] versus VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser) … it’s still an LED, but it’s a laser … All the sensors are taking multiple thousands of pictures per second and determining the translation direction and distance based on them. ”
It’s the same thing, and it just depends on the quality of the sensor. Sure, the laser might have more illumination of the surface and analyze the structure better, but it’s still all down to how the CMOS sensor reads the input.
It’s All About Personal Preference
These are the basics of choosing an excellent gaming mouse. Everything else, such as design, RGB lighting or even being wireless is all up to you. My warm advice is to find a store that lets you try out the feel of the mouse before buying it.
A solid gaming mouse is not cheap, so it’s better to be safe. Make a trip or two to the store before ordering something online and regretting it.