Aiming, targeting, slashing, attacking. Some of the most important actions you take in a game happen with the click of a mouse. Any gaming mouse you buy will offer reliable connectivity, smooth and responsive tracking, and basic click and scroll functions. But what makes a good gaming mouse? It’s more than basic functionality.
A high-quality sensor is the first step toward precision and accuracy. Cheaper mice will usually have optical (or LED) sensors, which offer fairly good tracking sensitivity, but do particularly well at tracking well when lifted slightly from the tracking surface. Laser sensors, on the other hand, may be a bit more finicky in the heat of battle, but offer much better tracking. It’s also possible to get the best of both worlds, using the two sensors in tandem to provide the high-accuracy tracking of a laser with the less delicate tracking of an optical sensor.
The best gaming mice offer comfort and customization. Features match the unique needs of your preferred games, whether you’re dealing with a firefight or staving of an advancing horde. Mice for first-person shooters feature ratcheting scroll-wheels—letting you cycle through your arsenal without selecting the wrong weapon—and on-the-fly DPI adjustment, letting you switch between the fast low-DPI tracking needed in a frantic firefight and the more tightly controlled high-DPI needed for lining up a sniper’s shot.
Mice designed with real-time strategy games and MMOs in mind are often outfitted with an array of programmable macro buttons. Set just under the tip of the thumb, these mice offer 6 to 12 buttons that can either be used as number keys or programmed to execute longer macro commands.
All of the gaming mice currently available are made with some customization in mind, even if it’s just tweaking the tracking speed. Each gaming gear manufacturer has developed its own customization software, which often offers advanced macro programming. In addition to recording macro commands, these setting dashboards will also let you swap pre-set profiles, and many also offer presets for non-gaming use, letting you leverage your programmable mouse in programs like Excel and Photoshop.
For maximum comfort, many gaming mice can also be customized physically. Removable weights are common, letting you tweak the total weight one way or the other. Some models take this even further, letting you shift the center of balance, or adjust the height and pitch of the palmrest.
Finding the best gaming mouse for you comes down to knowing your own preferred style of game, determining whether or not you will take advantage of more complex functions, and then tweaking the chosen mouse to your specific tastes.
To learn more about finding the perfect mouse, check out How to Buy a Computer Mouse.
FEATURED IN THIS ROUNDUP
Roccat Kone XTD
By adding a few incremental changes to the Roccat Kone[+], the Roccat Kone XTD makes for a well-designed, highly customizable gaming mouse that’s a great choice for gamers, provided they don’t already have the Kone[+]. Read the full review ››
Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse
While it’s not as customizable as some of its peers, the Logitech G600 MMO Gaming Mouse is a well-designed and reasonably priced gaming mouse for hardcore and casual MMO enthusiasts alike. Read the full review ››
Logitech G9X Laser Mouse
The Logitech G9X Laser Mouse aims to please and hits the mark in terms of performance and design, though its maximum DPI isn’t as high as that of some competing gaming mice. Read the full review ››
Roccat Kone[+] Gaming Mouse
The Roccat Kone[+] gaming mouse offers a solid collection of features, a design that looks and feels great, and with the addition of RoccatTalk, maybe a new style of play. Read the full review ››
Corsair Vengeance M60
Designed with first-person shooters in mind, the Corsair Vengeance M60 gaming mouse’s combination of precision, speed, and customization is sure to bring out the killer in you. Read the full review ››
Mad Catz Cyborg M.M.O. 7 Gaming Mouse
The Mad Catz Cyborg M.M.O. 7 gaming mouse has tons of buttons and programmable features, but they tend to get in the way of each other. Read the full review ››
By , PCMag