8 Things to Know Before You Replace Your Crappy $10 Mouse
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The mouse is one of the most overlooked computer parts. Once you’ve got one, it could easily last you over a decade, and there never seems to be a pressing reason to upgrade Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? Which Upgrades Will Improve Your PC Performance the Most? If you need a faster computer but aren't sure which component would be most beneficial to upgrade, then here are the guidelines you should follow. Read More  the one you already have.

And yet if you’re still using the one that came with your PC, you can do so much better. There are many different types of mice with different technologies for different users — and they are priced anywhere from a couple of dollars to over a hundred.

But how do you even begin to make the right choice? Here’s what you need to know.

3 Main Types of Computer Mice

For most users, the standard three-button mouse (where the scroll wheel functions as a third button) will do the job just fine. But if you need something that’s more of a specialist, there are different types to consider.

For Gaming

PC gamers really should think about the type of mouse they use. It’s worth investing in a proper gaming mouse Do You Really Need A Premium Mouse To Be A Competitive PC Gamer? Do You Really Need A Premium Mouse To Be A Competitive PC Gamer? Whether you're trapped in the addiction vortex of Dota 2 or simply nailing headshots in a first-person shooter, you may often wonder: "Do I need a special mouse to compete with everyone else?" Read More , even if it won’t make you a better player in the process.

Primarily, gaming mice have ergonomic benefits 5 Dangerous Gaming Injuries And How To Avoid Them 5 Dangerous Gaming Injuries And How To Avoid Them Imagine that you can no longer grasp a can of soda without your wrist feeling like it wants to explode. That, my friend, is what that innocent-looking game console can do to you. I'm not... Read More . It’s important for a mouse to feel right in your hand, and high-end models often include removable weights so you can find the right balance of speed and comfort. Given the unique designs of gaming mice today, you also need to consider whether your chosen design works better for right-handed or left-handed users.

gaming mouse

They also sport multiple buttons that can be used to make repetitive tasks easier, whether that means replacing individual keystrokes with button presses or assigning complex macros that can be invoked with a single click. Some mice even have dedicated sniper rifle buttons, in case you play those kinds of games.

Razer Naga 2014 Ergonomic MMO Gaming Mouse - Black Razer Naga 2014 Ergonomic MMO Gaming Mouse - Black Buy Now At Amazon $116.00

Accuracy is also a factor. A lot of gaming mice have DPI switches that you can use to toggle between a higher DPI setting (for faster cursor speeds) and a lower DPI setting (for smoother, more accurate control).

For Comfort

Ergonomic mice are designed to fit in your hand in a more natural way, reducing strain on your fingers and wrist 5 Reasons Working With Computers Is Bad For You & How to Stay Healthy 5 Reasons Working With Computers Is Bad For You & How to Stay Healthy Working on the computer may sound like the most relaxed job in the world, but it's quite the contrary. It's very tough on your body, which is not used to this modern type of work.... Read More . They also tend to have extra buttons within easy reach of your digits. How comfortable they are depends on many things, including the kind of grip you prefer — some users like to hold their hand flatter while others prefer a more claw-like grip.

ergonomic mouse

Size is also a factor when it comes to comfort, and while many mice come in both right-handed and left-handed versions, not all of them do. As a result, if you’re in the market for an ergonomic mouse, you should really consider testing them out in person before settling on one. (Buying one online could be risky.)

For Travel

Travel mice are pretty simple. Most are just standard two-button or three-button units that have been shrunk for compactness, and only sometimes come with extra frills and features. Most are wireless, though some use short or retractable cables.


Regardless, the primary purpose of a travel mouse is to be able to fit inside a tight space — such as a laptop bag or a purse — and often aren’t designed with ergonomics in mind. As such, if you need a mouse that you can use for prolonged periods of time, you may want to shy away from one of these.

4 Mouse Features to Keep in Mind

Even after you’ve picked a particular type of mouse, there are some terms and features that you should know about if you want to make the absolute best upgrade for your needs.

DPI (Dots Per Inch)

Dots Per Inch is one of the key specs used to market mice, but while DPI numbers are easy to compare — and bigger numbers always look great — it ultimately doesn’t mean that much at the end of the day.

TeckNet HYPERTRAK High Precision Programmable Laser Gaming Mouse, 16400 DPI, 10 Programmable Buttons, Weight Tuning Cartridge, 5 Omron Micro Switches TeckNet HYPERTRAK High Precision Programmable Laser Gaming Mouse, 16400 DPI, 10 Programmable Buttons, Weight Tuning Cartridge, 5 Omron Micro Switches Buy Now At Amazon $30.99

DPI indicates the sensitivity of the mouse. A higher number means the mouse can respond accurately when it is only moved a tiny amount, and the pointer also travels across the screen much faster.

A higher DPI — over, say, 4000 — is good for precision in gaming (with caveats, as we’ll see next) and for navigating very high resolution displays or multi-monitor setups. For the average user, there’s no real need to even consider DPI.

Optical vs. Laser

The two types of mice commonly used today are optical and laser mice. They’re actually variations on the same technology, with the main difference being that an optical mouse uses an LED to reflect off the surface it is resting on while a laser mouse uses a laser to track movement.

As a result, optical mice can only be used on flat and opaque surfaces while most laser mice can be used on a wider range of surfaces, including glass.

This difference in how they work means that laser mice are more sensitive. They can reach higher DPI ratings, which means they can track movements more precisely and also move across the screen quicker (so you may need to turn your mouse sensitivity down in the operating system).

However, this also results in a problem commonly referred to as “acceleration” where the mouse pointer travels further when the mouse is moved quickly than it does when it is moved slowly. This inconsistency is especially problematic for gamers, many of whom prefer the steadiness of an optical mouse over the increased precision of a laser one.

Wired vs. Wireless

Wireless mice have caught up with their wired counterparts Wired vs. Wireless Peripherals: What You Really Need to Know Wired vs. Wireless Peripherals: What You Really Need to Know Not all devices are equal. There are some things you need to know before deciding between wired or wireless. Sometimes wireless is a no-brainer -- or it could be the worst move you make. Read More to the extent that their positives now outweigh any downsides. Lag is all but gone — although gamers may still prefer the absolute consistency and reliability that comes with a wired option — and if you pick the right model, it’ll be years before you need to replace the battery.

wireless mouse

The main benefit of wireless mice is convenience. There’s no clutter from the cable, and if you use a Bluetooth mouse it won’t be taking up a USB port. The range is also much better, enabling you to control a computer attached to a projector or TV, for example, from as much as 30 feet away.

Bluetooth vs. RF

When buying a wireless mouse, your choice is between RF or Bluetooth models. RF mice may be slightly more responsive, and are much easier to set up: simply plug in the dongle that comes with it.

Of course, that does mean that one of your USB ports will always be in use, and it’s near impossible to get a replacement dongle if you ever lose it. RF devices also tend to be more prone to interference.


Bluetooth is more convenient as it’s built into all modern computers. It won’t use up a precious USB port, and battery life improvements mean you should be able to go many months before you even have to think about replacing it. It’s also a lot easier to share a single mouse between several computers.

On the downside, the setup process for a Bluetooth mouse How to Set up Bluetooth in Windows 7, Make PC Discoverable & Add Devices How to Set up Bluetooth in Windows 7, Make PC Discoverable & Add Devices Bluetooth not working or don't know how to set it up? We'll guide you through the device pairing process on Windows, one step at a time. Read More requires a few extra steps, and you have to wait for it to reconnect when you boot or wake your computer.

What About Mouse vs. Trackpad?

As an alternative to a regular mouse, you could consider a standalone touchpad that’s similar to what you’d find on a laptop. It isn’t suitable for a lot of cases — especially gaming and image editing — but for some users the touch-based system is more intuitive How to Get the Most Out of Your Touchpad in Windows 10 How to Get the Most Out of Your Touchpad in Windows 10 Your Windows 10 laptop touchpad has potential beyond being a poor mouse replacement. We'll show you how to set it up to use smart touch gestures with up to four fingers. Read More , especially now that desktop software is often designed with touch in mind.

Ergonomically, the flatter design may not work for everyone, although some products get around this cleverly. Microsoft’s Arc Touch Mouse curves into whatever shape you find most comfortable.

Microsoft RVF-00052 Arc Touch Mouse Microsoft RVF-00052 Arc Touch Mouse Buy Now At Amazon $45.99

Or if you don’t want to give up the mouse entirely, a handy compromise is to get one with built-in touch support, like the Dell Wireless Touch Mouse or Apple Magic Mouse 2. These are normal mice with a touch-sensitive panel on the top that enables you to use the gestures built into the Windows 18 Essential Touch Gestures in Windows 10 18 Essential Touch Gestures in Windows 10 Touch gestures are like keyboard shortcuts for your touchpad and touchscreen. And with Windows 10, they have finally become useful! We'll show you how to access the full potential of touch gestures. Read More and OS X operating systems.

How to Choose a Mouse

When choosing a mouse, it’s a good idea to think about what you want to use it for, as some products are better suited to certain tasks than others. Designers might prefer the comfort and precision of an ergonomic laser mouse, gamers the stability of a wired optical mouse, and general users might find the gesture support of a touchpad the easiest to use.

You should also think about the kind of surface you’ll be using it on. And most importantly, remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution: the right mouse for you is the one that feels right in your hand.

Now it’s over to you. What mouse do you use? What do love (or hate) about it? And what factors do you consider when buying one? Tell us all about it in the comments.

Image Credits: Gaming mouse via razerzone.com, Ergonomic mouse via logitech.com, Wireless mouse via Erin Kohlenberg, Dongle via Kiran Foster

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  1. Mehdi
    November 21, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Thank you. Great guide

  2. Mary
    May 29, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    I've used a wired, Logitech trackball for over 20 years. I like a stationary hand and only move thumb and fingers. Other mice injured my elbow from constant arm movement. I'm not a power user.

    • Marshall Brown
      August 13, 2017 at 1:47 pm

      I got my first track ball for my Apple II decades ago. Trackballs are still my first choice. I do still use a mouse when it's the best choice. At work I use a wireless mouse usually moving it on my thigh as I move around a house during an inspection.

  3. Anonymous
    March 15, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    "Bluetooth is more convenient as it’s built into all modern computers."
    I've yet to see a desktop computer with Bluetooth built in; it's becoming more common to find a WiFi module, but hardly ever Bluetooth unless it's built into the WiFi.
    As far as mice are concerned...Logitech trackballs have been my go-to for years now. No "rowing" a mouse across the desk.

  4. Ben
    March 15, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Logitec M705. I'm on my second one now as the first one was damaged by being dropped too many times. Laser tracking, fairly ergonomic, 6 buttons, (3 thumb buttons) Horizontal and vertical scroll, Long battery life, Tiny USB plug in that also works for a Logitec KB as well, USB dongle stores inside the mouse when not in use, Works on my Linux box as well as the Windows box. But for more than very basic 2 button + wheel use it needs 3rd party software as Logitec doesn't seem to think Linux users are worth their effort to support.

    • Anonymous
      March 15, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      Completely agree on the M705. The only issue we had was that the Logitec software would not work with our Mac,every time we shut down Logitec software lost the settings.. We had to go 3rd party software route.

  5. Victor Guedes
    March 15, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    Great article, guys! But as a very cranky and picky geek i shall add somethings... DPI is not about precision at all, just how many pixels your curse moves with a mouse movement. It can, although, convert into precision when you disable altogether the software acceleration of Windows, for instance, as DPI turns it usable without it. It's quite relevant for very high resolution screens, as well, as they have more pixels. But there IS a ideal setting, and we reached a point where its just used as marketing. Polling rate, on the other hand, is about precision. In a nutshell, it is how many "pictures" the sensor take to know it's location, but often the difference between 500 e 1000hZ is quite hard to notice for most of us.
    Keep up the good work, guys. Cheers!
    PS: laser are, technically, optical mice, although I see what you meant

  6. Anonymous
    March 15, 2016 at 12:06 am

    Been using a Logitech ZoneTouch T400 wireless mouse for about 3 years now. It's like a low-profile, standard three-button one, except that instead of a scroll wheel, it has a 'touch strip' in it's place (rather like a mini touchpad.)

    Not only will it scroll vertically, but also horizontally.....and with Logitech's SetPoint software, it'll play all sorts of other tricks, too. It's actually a 4-button mouse, anyway, since the 'touch-strip' has a button at either end.

    Fits my hand perfectly; best mouse I've ever used, by a long chalk. I keep an M185 as a spare; this sometimes does double duty with my old Dell laptop (14 yrs old, and still going strong!)

    The multiple pairing of the LogiTech dongles is a Godsend, since I have my Logitech wireless keyboard paired to it as well. Not that I'm short of USB ports on my Compaq desktop; I have 13 at the last count.....

  7. Joe
    March 11, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    You might want to update the article to reflect that most modern notebooks (laptops) come with Bluetooth rather than most modern computers. Not many desktops that I know of have Bluetooth without purchasing an adapter.

  8. pelinking
    March 11, 2016 at 9:54 am

    usually I would pick up 1 mouse for no more than 10 dollars, and it works fine,so do not need to invest too much in the mouse, http://www.tinydeal.com/slim-px347wp-p-130074.html

  9. Anonymous
    March 11, 2016 at 1:08 am

    My $30 HP keyboard/mouse set that is like 10 yrs old works for me. It's wireless, and although not modeled for comfort, it feels fine. Only thing I regret is that it gathers lots of dust and debree easily due to the type of material, and it doesn't have buttons.

  10. icey
    March 10, 2016 at 5:10 pm

    my biggest complaint these days about mice is that everyone keeps making them smaller and smaller, darn it i am a fully grown male human, i do not have small hands, i do not want a small mouse, i want a full size mouse, but those are difficult to find

  11. bobpat56
    March 10, 2016 at 3:20 am

    I still prefer a trac-ball. It's more precise, doesn't move on the desk, and the cursor doesn't move around if I'm not touching the ball.

  12. Anonymous
    March 10, 2016 at 2:29 am

    PS. Had to add this http://www.highrez.co.uk/downloads/XMouseButtonControl.htm to disable the over-sensitive wheel button, since the mouse does not have any software of its own

  13. Anonymous
    March 10, 2016 at 2:25 am

    Upgraded from a cheap cordless set to a £9.99 a piece gaming keyboard & mouse (maxtek from Aldi).

    Mouse is 4 level dpi switching - though a drawback is lack of dpi indication. Wired is a mixed blessing, less convenient when switching sides (I like to keep the mouse on the left for normal use, switching to the right for mouse driven gaming - balance out the RSI).

    Keyboard - you don't get a gaming superstar for £9.99, but it does have good rollover.

    Only really got the mouse as well, as I didn't want to stay with half of a cordless set, and they are a nice illuminated pair.

  14. Gianluca
    March 9, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    About the dongle for wireless mouses: Logitech has made its USB receiver compatible with all of their devices (it's even capable to receive up to 6 different devices together), and if you lose it, you can buy another dongle for less than 20$!