Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Gaming mice offer advanced features like programmable buttons and precise sensors, but they’re only beneficial if you have the reflexes and skill to fully utilize them.
  • Buying an expensive gaming mouse and then dialing down its settings is a waste of money. These mice are designed for serious players who are pushing the limits of what regular mice can do.
  • You don’t need to focus on the “gaming” label when buying a mouse. Look for features like multiple buttons, switchable DPI, good ergonomics, and a sensible DPI range, which can be found in non-gaming mice as well.

Gaming mice are like the shoes worn by your favorite elite athlete: sure they’ll give you a slight edge in competition, but without the fundamental talent, practice, and skills that edge won’t have the same sort of impact on your performance.

What Is a “Gaming” Mouse Anyway?

Before I get into why you probably don’t need one, it’s worth defining what a “gaming mouse” is. There are different types of gaming mice, and they’re not all designed for use with the same type of games in mind. For example, an MMO mouse is specifically designed to put programmable buttons under your fingers. Depending on which MMO you’re playing, this type of mouse really can make a huge difference to how well or how comfortably you play.

However, what most people think about when you mention video game rodents are those mice that aim to help with fast action gameplay. In other words, games that rely on your reflexes and coordination to win. Think of games like Call of Duty or Counter-Strike where aiming and shooting faster than your competitors is crucial to your success.

Gaming mice are more sensitive than standard mice and can detect the tiniest of twitches in your hand, they’re balanced to the nth degree and often let you add or remove ballast to change their weight. These are the track cars of mice, but instead of holes drilled in the foot pedals to save a few grams of weight, you have holes drilled in a computer mouse for much the same reason.

Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

They Benefit Elite Players (That’s Probably Not You)

With sky-high polling rates and sensitivity, you need the reflexes of a fighter pilot to even benefit from what these mice offer. If you’re spending a fortune on a gaming mouse and then dialing its settings down to the same range as your mom’s office mouse, the only thing you’ve achieved is setting money on fire.

If you’re a serious player and are pushing up against the limits of what the average general-purpose mouse can do, there’s an argument to be made for using hyper-accurate gaming products and the sometimes ludicrous asking prices that go with them. However, just like buying a 300Hz e-sports gaming monitor isn’t going to suddenly make you the headshot king, a gaming mouse is likely of little benefit to the vast majority of people who buy them.

Ignore the “Gaming” Label

That’s not to say that buying the right mouse can’t have a significant effect on how well you play or how much you enjoy playing. You can find many or all of these features on mice that don’t carry a “gaming” label, and sometimes a less expensive gaming mouse will work just as well as one that costs several times as much. If you don’t care about whether a mouse is officially labeled as a gaming product or not, then there are some key features that can make a difference:

  • Multiple buttons: Having additional buttons beyond the typical three is obviously beneficial, since it means your keyboard hand has less to do, and you can keep those fingers on the buttons that matter.
  • Switchable DPI buttons: It’s useful to have buttons on your mouse that can switch the sensitivity up and down. This is because you may want different levels of sensitivity for (as an example) sniping or shooting from the hip.
  • Good ergonomics: Given that many gamers tend to play for extended sessions, it’s a little shocking how poor the ergonomics are for many gaming mice. What’s the point of razor-sharp precision and responsiveness if fatigue erases those advantages? So focus on getting a good ergonomic mouse.
  • A sensible DPI range: Gaming mice are often marketed at ludicrous DPI figures well in excess of 20,000 DPI. The truth is that most professional players of games like Overwatch or Call of Duty, play with a DPI between 400 and 1,600. Most regular mice have DPI figures within that range, though they may not be switchable on the fly.

Like most people, I’m a casual gamer. I’m not trying to qualify for some sort of eSports championship. I’m not under the impression that I could be someone who ranks among the top players on any leaderboard. A fancy gaming mouse isn’t going to change that. I’d bet that any of those elite players could thrash the rest of us using an old ball mouse found at their local Goodwill.

For most, it doesn’t make sense to spend money on a high-end gaming mouse with sky-high on-paper statistics, when a much cheaper gaming mouse or even a nice ergonomic office mouse will be of just as much benefit to you.

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By John P.

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