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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 or simply nailing headshots in a first-person shooter, 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
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.
Want to know more about mouse optics and DPI? Check out Matt’s guide to buying a mouse.
Gaming Mouse Benefit #2: Extra Buttons
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, 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
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
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.
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!