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Razer. Logitech. SteelSeries. They all produce “gaming mice” that are supposed to enhance your performance in games that rely heavily on mouse usage. Whether you’re trapped in the addiction vortex of Dota 2 What Is Dota 2 & Why Should You Care? What Is Dota 2 & Why Should You Care? In the world of games, Valve Corporation has recently grown into one of the largest and most consistent game publishers (with the skyrocketing success of their Steam distribution network) and game developers (with the international... Read More or simply nailing headshots in a first-person shooter Nexuiz: A High Quality Futuristic Shooter With Linux, Mac, And PC Support Nexuiz: A High Quality Futuristic Shooter With Linux, Mac, And PC Support Linux gaming has recently seen an increase in popular titles, but that doesn't mean that it didn't have good games before the arrival of Steam. Nexuiz is one of several such titles that remains a... Read More , you may often wonder: “Do I need a special mouse to compete with everyone else?”

It’s a valid question and one that can be readily answered. Let’s take a look at the features offered by gaming mice to see whether or not you’d benefit from them.

Gaming Mouse Benefit #1: Precision Optics

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There are many who will tell you that the DPI (dots per inch) of a mouse is its most important specification. The correct term is actually CPI (counts per inch), but DPI is already so deeply ingrained in the culture that the two terms can be used interchangeably.

The feature itself describes how often the mouse reads it relative position. A higher DPI translates to more “reads” per second, resulting in more frequent position updates. In layman’s terms, a higher DPI setting makes the mouse move faster without sacrificing any precision or accuracy.

Since most PC games rely on mouse movements, it’s important that your mouse is as accurate as possible. Most gaming mice have the option of switching between multiple DPI settings. Choosing the right DPI setting for the right game is important.

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Want to know more about mouse optics and DPI? Check out Matt’s guide to buying a mouse What You Need To Know Before Buying A Mouse [MakeUseOf Explains] What You Need To Know Before Buying A Mouse [MakeUseOf Explains] In its most basic form, the mouse is a rather simple piece of equipment. It has a sensor for determining position, and two or three buttons. Your typical Windows desktop PC doesn’t ship with a... Read More .

Gaming Mouse Benefit #2: Extra Buttons

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The second greatest feature of gaming mice is the abundance of buttons. On top of the typical left button, right button, and mouse scroll wheel, gaming mice often come equipped with 3 to 12 extra buttons that can be mapped to particular functions.

The most famous example is the Razer Naga Razer Naga, Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mice Review and Giveaway Razer Naga, Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mice Review and Giveaway Next to a good keyboard, a mouse is one of the most important tools in a PC gamer's toolbox. For some genres, a mouse is even more important than a keyboard. After all, it allows... Read More , which has a thumbside grid of 12 buttons. Many gamers who use the Naga mouse vow never to return to traditional mice because they’ve become unable to live without the convenience of those buttons. You can map them to MMORPG spells, FPS weapons, or whatever else comes to mind.

You may not think you need them, but this is one case where “Once you try it, you can’t deny it” holds true.

Gaming Mouse Benefit #3: Comfort & Ergonomics

gaming-mice-ergonomics

If you’re going to be playing a mouse-required game for hours on end, it’s important that the mouse fits your hand well. Fortunately, gaming mice often fit into one of three grip designs:

  • Palm design, where you rest your palm on the back of the mouse and extend your fingers along the full length of the mouse.
  • Claw design, where you rest your palm on the back of the mouse but curve your fingers in so that the tips rest on the mouse buttons.
  • Finger design, where the entire mouse is held only with your fingers and thumb.

I’m not saying that gaming mice are the only ergonomic mice on the market. However, these companies spend a lot of time and money on gamer-related R&D, so it makes sense that they’d know what works in the context of long gaming sessions.

Gaming mice come in a multitude of shapes and sizes and it’s up to you to find the one that you like best.

Gaming Mouse Benefit #4: Weight Settings

gaming-mice-weights

Our last feature centers on the flipside to the ergonomics issue. It’s one thing for the mouse to fit your hand; it’s another for it to feel right as you move it across your mouse pad. This mouse feel is determined by weight.

Most higher-end gaming mice come with removable weights that rest within the body of the mouse. By adding or removing some or all of these weights, you can customize the mouse weight to your liking.

Lightweight mice are good for games with frantic movement, such as RTS, while heavyweight mice are good for games with precision aiming, such as FPS. Ultimately, though, it depends solely on what feels best in your hand.

Conclusion

Here’s the bottom line: a gaming mouse can give you more options and customizability, but it will not make you a better player. Period.

A pro-quality tennis racket might feel more balanced and it might have more durable construction, but it won’t make you a better tennis player. A new pair of Jordans might help you feel more confident and comfortable on the court, but it won’t sink those 3-point shots for you.

A gaming mouse is not a shortcut to top-level play. The real reason why gamers prefer gaming mice? Comfort, options, and the coolness factor. Nobody needs a gaming mouse to compete. All that matters is that you use a mouse that feels good in your hand.

Focus not on the tools but on how you use them. That being said, are there any benefits that I missed? Do you use a gaming mouse? If so, which one? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Image Credits: Optical Mouse Via Shutterstock, Ergonomic Mouse Via Shutterstock

  1. Vernon O
    August 26, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Good Article :)

    What are your thoughts on the polar gaming mice? I was in Hong Kong recently, and saw them being sold for a really cheap price. However, I didn't have any prior experiences with the brand, I decided against buying it.

  2. Peter E
    April 28, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    At the end of the day, practise makes perfect.

    If you want to be good at a game, you've got to put the time in to learn how to play. This equates to a lot of time spent pushing the mouse around and clicking buttons. Therefore I would suggest that the two most important features are DPI (or CPI, thanks for that one) and ergonomics. Does it feel comfortable for prolonged use? does it glide smoothly across your mouse mat (BTW, check out SteelSeries Extra Large gaming mouse mat :D ).

    I personally LOVE the Razer Naga and use it for MMOs and FPSs. Although I used to use a £15 Xornet mouse for FPS because I found it extremely fast and responsive as well as lightweight. So, that totals £80 for two great mouses that I have plugged in at the same time and choose the one that suits the game I'm on :)

    • Joel L
      May 5, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Definitely agree with all you've said. Thanks for sharing. :)

      Never heard of the Xornet but I'll check it out. Sounds cool!

  3. D.Crayst
    April 25, 2014 at 8:23 am

    This Naga mouse looks awesome! But I can't help wondering... between the smartphones with their touch technology, and this kind of device, our thumbs are getting used a helluva lot more than they used to. Isn't that going to create some problems, like CTS for DJs?

    • Joel L
      May 5, 2014 at 6:40 pm

      Yeah, CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome) and RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) are always a concern when there's a lot of computer usage involved, whether gaming, working, or whatever. There's a lot to say about preventing those issues so I can't write about it all here, but yes, it's a real problem.

  4. Victor O
    April 24, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Now what about mechanical vs. traditional keyboards?

    • Joel L
      April 24, 2014 at 11:09 pm

      I think mechanical keyboards offer two real benefits. One, the anti-ghosting is important in games where you need to press/hold multiple keys at once. Two, the tactile feedback can provide a psychological boost (mostly placebo).

    • noel19
      April 25, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      i like mechanical keyboards too i dont think i could play minecraft with out one i just cant find the keys also i think they have better reaction times

  5. NUNYA
    April 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I use a cordless laser mouse for surfing the net and a corded roller mouse for gaming. Nothing is more accurate for me than an analog, steel ball coated in rubber, Microsoft 2 button mouse.

    • Joel L
      April 24, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Ball mice? In 2014? I didn't even think they made those anymore. :P

  6. Mihai
    April 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

    While I partly agree that better tools don't make you a better player, they can help a lot on a case-by-case basis. In an FPS for example, if you don't have a good reaction time and good map awareness, a better mouse might do nothing to improve that. If however, you are a pretty good player but have become limited by the tools, then a better mouse will most likely increase your skill greatly.

    I used to be absolutely crap at Counter Strike, until I got a R.A.T. 7, and damn that made a huge difference. From being usually last place in a match, now I actually manage to finish in the upper side of the scoreboard.
    Same for Call of Duty (MW1), really improved my skills with the bolt-action sniper which I barely managed to handle before.

    On the other hand, to give an example in which better tools don't help if you're a bad player, my mouse doesn't seem to help me at all when playing Dota 2 since I'm not that good at the game...yet. I've managed to play well with different mice, and sometimes feel like the R.A.T. hinders me at Dota (need to tweak DPI for Dota).

    As a side note, something that you can do to improve skill at some games, is to make sure you get them running as smoothly as possible. Tweak those graphic settings, sacrifice some visuals for some performance, 60fps is your target (or at least 30), but nevertheless it can make quite a difference. Make sure to change your graphic settings in a smart way. Turning off character shadows might give you an extra 10fps but at the same time you won't be able to tell when your enemy is approaching by seeing his shadow.

    • Bill Hill
      April 24, 2014 at 2:59 pm

      Ever heard of the PLACEBO effect?

    • Joel L
      April 24, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Perhaps there's a difference to be made between "Good mice will make you play better" and "Bad mice will make you play worse." I don't think the former is necessarily true, but the latter is undeniably true. :)

  7. likefunbutnot
    April 24, 2014 at 8:41 am

    Sadly, no one makes a gaming trackball. I've always thought I had better control with one of those than a mouse in the first place.

    • Joel L
      April 24, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      I remember when trackballs were big (well, as big as they ever were anyway) and it's interesting that they fell off the face of the gaming scene. Probably due to "Ooh, lasers!" and whatnot.

  8. inox
    April 24, 2014 at 7:19 am

    I disagree, better tools make you a better player - be it tennis or video games. The thing is a better mouse will only give you a slight edge.

    Ergonomics also help considering the long hours a gamer will spend in front of the computer.

    Also for fast paced shooters a mouse you can calibrate to your needs is going to help, it won't turn you into a PRO player but it will help.

    That being said when it comes to the pro players - better gear wins the game.

    • Joel L
      April 24, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      I suppose when you're playing in the top 1%, every bit does help. Then again, I've heard that some gamers have won big tournaments with gear as simple as Microsoft's Intellimouse. I think what's most important is that you're comfortable with whatever mouse you're using.

  9. Benjamin K
    April 24, 2014 at 6:38 am

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C9R48A0/
    I use this for a gaming mouse. It is a good alternative to the $100+ Razr mice (It's only $35) and I absolutely love it, it have a good amount of buttons (4 extra) and it comes with removable weights. I would Highly recommend it.

    • Joel L
      April 24, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      Wow. A gaming mouse for $35? I've only heard of Logitech mice going that low. Looks like the UtechSmart has some good reviews too, which is more surprising. Nice find! I'll have to try it out. :)

  10. Min Xuan X
    April 24, 2014 at 5:59 am

    I use a Razer Naga Hex to play Dota 2, and all I did was simply bind the items to the corresponding keys on the side buttons, leaving my left thumb to rest on just the Alt button for sending pings and auto-casting. This keeps me more focused on the game instead of fumbling around my hand looking for and reaching the item buttons.

    • Joel L
      April 24, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      That's a great use of the Naga buttons and a real case where the mouse CAN make you play better, even if it's because of something as simple as freeing your mind to think about other things. Nice point. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Ziloup16
    April 24, 2014 at 3:16 am

    that's good

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