DPIs and Sensors: The on-point guide to getting the perfect gaming mouse
A good mouse is more than just its sensor, shape and size.
The gaming mouse market flourishes as the year of the mouse approaches. There are a plethora of great mice ranging from well-known brands to enthusiast boutique entities. According to Rocket Jump Ninja (RJN), a figurehead in the gaming mouse community, most mice nowadays rock perfect sensors with virtually no latency. Hence, the shape and weight should be a priority if you want your next mouse to fit you like a glove.
If you simply want to know what’s the greatest gaming mice available, check out our top recommendations here. With help from BenQ Zowie, one of the most prestigious esports brands in the globe, we worked out the tips and tricks for your journey to find the perfect “grip” and “click!”
1. Find the right shape
The difference between top optical sensors (like the Pixart PMW3360 and PMW3389) are miniscule and visually unnoticeable. The shape of the mouse, however, can feel entirely different even if the margin is tiny. BenQ Zowie believes that the shape and size have the biggest influence on agamer’s performance. An ergonomic mouse will offer maximum comfort for the hand, and more importantly, feel natural to use.
The ideal scenario is to use the mouse effortlessly as an afterthought, as if the cursor became an extension of one’s arm in the game. Once you lay hands on the right mouse, you are guaranteed to perform better. Hence, it’s vital to understand the pros and cons of each grip style: palm grip, claw grip and tip grip (fingertip grip).
Typically, the palm grip is the most common grip type which provides great comfort to the hand by supporting the palm. Mice tailored for this grip style are usually longer, wider and have a higher back arch. The strength of the palm grip is having a relaxing position for repeating delicate movements in MOBA games.
Zowie’s EC and ZA series are the iconic mice which fit the palm grip mould. These two models feature a wide body and a steep back arch which give extra support for the palm. While the EC is designed exclusively for right-handed users, the ZA series sports an ambidextrous shape suitable for both left and right-handed gamers.
Did you know: All Zowie mice are available in various sizes with the greater number being smaller in size. For instance, the EC2 is smaller than the EC1.
Unlike the palm grip style, the claw grip doesn’t have that much of a contact point between your hand and the mouse. The hand is arched up to form a claw-like shape to gain more agility compared to the palm grip. Mice made for the claw grip are normally shorter in length, sporting a less aggressive back arch for rapid action across the screen, especially in FPS games.
The Zowie S series is the latest addition for this grip style. It has a shorter overall length allowing users to easily wrap around and hold the mouse firmly. The space between the palm and back edge of the mouse is enough for the user to move freely during vertical movements.
This grip type is the total opposite of the palm grip. As the name suggests, users only use the tip of their fingers to maneuvre the mouse. It has the least contact point between the hand and the mouse among the three grip styles. This grip type will grant the ability to perform intense mouse movements, because your thumb and pinky finger hold the mid-section of the mouse.
Mice made to suit the tip grip tend to have a narrow body with a flat back edge. Although the tip grip excels in terms of speed, it generally lacks the control over slow, precise and delicate gliding movements. The FK series features a flat body with narrow mid-section which is great for tip grip users.
2. The depth of your wallet
How much are you willing to spend on a mouse? The budget plays a pivotal role in terms of choices. Undeniably, the bigger the budget, the wider the options. Usually, the entry-level gaming mouse is priced below RM120 while mid-tier mice can go up to RM260. Expect a hefty price tag for a high-end gaming mouse if you desire the best of the best.
Mice that use wired connectivity are more affordable than its wireless counterpart by far. A wired connection is nearly universal for gaming. Not only is it easier (less tech involved, resulting in lower cost) to manufacture a wired mouse, but wired mice tend to have less latency issues.
However, the development of wireless technology has gained a big leap with Razer and Logitech. Their top-notch mice like the Viper Ultimate and G Pro Wireless are trusted by professional esports players, including EliGE, allu and Kjaerbye.
Three major considerations when choosing a gaming mouse
1. Shape and size
As mentioned, it’s extremely important for your hand to feel natural when using the mouse. Ideally, you wouldn’t even be aware of the existence of the mouse when gaming, so to speak. A handy mouse size should take up roughly 60 to 70% of your hand size. For example, a mouse that is around 12cm in length will most likely fit well for a 17cm hand. Any shorter or longer lengths will cause discomfort or fatigue. However, the feel of using the mouse still matters the most.
The length of the mouse will affect your grip comfortability while the aim ability depends on the width. Naturally, smaller mice require less effort to make micro-adjustments and feel more agile while bigger mice will provide more comfort.
2. Sensor, DPI and Lift-off Distance
In the past, a sensor’s performance used to be the defining benchmark in determining how great a mouse is.. Fast forward to today, things have started to change as most gaming mice nowadays come equipped with a good sensor. According to RJN, the sensor on any decent gaming mice will be precise enough for most games.
The DPI (Dots per inch) is a measurement for mouse sensitivity. The higher the DPI, the more sensitive the mouse is, i.e., a small mouse movement will result in the cursor on screen moving much more further than usual.. So don’t be fooled by the ridiculously high DPI because it’s more of a gimmick than a usual feature. Anything higher than 3200 will be extremely hard to control, let alone making delicate cursor movements in-game.
The lift-off distance is a crucial element for aim consistency. It refers to the point where the mouse stops tracking the cursor when it’s picked up from the surface. Generally, the shorter the lift-off distance, the more consistency you’ll gain (this tends to make it easier to predict the movement, which enhances your muscle memory).
Buttons are equally as important as the sensor, period. Imagine how desperate you’ll be if the mouse failed to register the “click” during the decisive moment in-game. So, you’ll need to check if the actuation (click mechanic) suits your preference. Some require less force to actuate (register the click) while some require a tad more. In theory, buttons that are easier to press will offer a feel of faster actuation and vice versa. Nevertheless, there’s a higher chance for you to misclick if the switch only requires bare force.
For the number of buttons, mice that possess five buttons are the sweet spot- two main buttons, one scroll wheel button and two side buttons. Practically speaking, most esports players tend to use a simple mouse. More often than not, it’s harder to use the mouse if it has too many buttons or a complicated button layout. So, be cautious of what you plan to (and what you can) do on the mouse.
If you have the urge to own a dream gaming mouse that checks all the boxes, then it’s better for you to customise an already near-ideal product. Replacing the cable and mouse feet are one of the more straightforward ways to make the mouse more desirable, though, with the risk of voiding warranty.
Rubber and braided cables are often considered relics from the last decade. Presently, paracord (a lightweight nylon Kernmantle rope originally used in the suspension lines of parachutes) cables are a hot prospect for mice enthusiasts because of its flexibility and aesthetics.
The traditional rubber and braided cable are thick and often cause disturbance when gaming if you don’t use a mouse bungee. Secondly, they will develop serious creases not long after using them.
The paracord cable, on the other hand, is thinner and more flexible. To some extent, it provides users a wireless like feel. Aesthetics wise, paracord cables are available in a huge variety of colours to suit your mood!
The mouse feet (skates) are easily overlooked since it’s located at the bottom of the mouse. Mouse cable asides, it’s the only component that makes contact with the mousepad. The gliding smoothness of the mouse is heavily dependent on the material of the mouse skates.
While most mouse feet are made of the PTFE (aka Teflon), a synthetic polymer known for having a very low coefficient of friction, not all mouse feet have high PTFE purity. Quite often, the mouse feet will have a blend of other plastic along with PTFE, resulting in higher friction. According to thegamingsetup, the purest PTFE skates are completely white and provide the smoothest glides.
Replace the mouse feet if you want your mouse to glide like butter on a hot pan (but don't forget that the texture of mousepad matters much too)!
Check out your mouse polling rate here.
How does it all click?
The short answer, as cliche as it sounds, all boils down to personal preference. There are no absolutes with regards to how one should grip their mice or how a specific shape would fit one’s hand like a glove. This guide serves as a solid point of reference, for gamers to use it as a foundation and find their own ideal gaming mice. It is all about the process and journey, you may not find that ideal mouse right away, but trust that the gamer in you will find the perfect match when the time comes.