A not-so-cheesy guide on how to be a savvy cat to trap a gaming mouse to complement your fave games and home setup.
As famed poet Robert Burns once prophesised, “The best-made plans for gaming mice and other gear often go awry.” And Burns is 100 per cent on fire when it comes to this age-old truth.
After all, it’s easy to go all in on the rig itself and neglect peripherals, including the not-so-humble mouse. But functional is a long tail away from optimal.
Here’s the skinny on what you need to know about picking the right gaming mouse for your PC.
Gaming mice come in all shapes and sizes. Brand loyalists can usually safely stick with their preferred peripheral provider, but there’s more to a competitively viable mouse than one with ‘gaming’ slapped on the box.
One of the first big topics to address is the kind of games you love to play on PC. If you’re into shooters, you’re after an FPS mouse like the HyperX Pulsefire FPS Pro Gaming Mouse. Ultimately, FPS mice tend to boil down to greater precision.
Precision is achieved by a combination of a gaming-centric mouse sensor and, ideally, a changeable DPI (dots-per-inch). This is because the higher the mouse DPI, the more accurate your gaming mouse is at actuating smaller hand movements to onscreen and in-game actions.
If you’re less about shooters and more into strategy games – RTS, MOBA, even MMOs – it’s worth considering a gaming mouse with stacks-o’-buttons. Something like the Razer Naga Trinity MOBA/MMO Gaming Mouse offers up to 12 thumb hotkey buttons. This particular mouse also packs a +12 versatility buff care of interchangeable side plates to lower that thumb-button count to seven or two.
Because the majority of the world is right-handed, so too are the majority of gaming mice. Southpaws can source left-handed mice, but ambidextrous options like the Roccat Lua Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse or the Razer Lancehead Ambidextrous Gaming Mouse mean sinistrals and righties can use the same mouse on a shared gaming PC. To avoid the unintended depression of accidental button depressing, disable any thumb buttons on an ambidextrous mouse that sit near your ring finger and pinkie.
DPI vs sensitivity
Technically, DPI is sensitivity, but as far as mice are concerned, the difference is where they’re set. DPI is set at a hardware level and sensitivity in software. Higher-end gaming mice will likely include physical buttons for on-the-fly DPI changes (handy for sniping or infantry-to-vehicle aiming). But lots of zeroes after a DPI isn’t always better (or even necessary), as you’ll find on websites like prosettings.net, which showcase the varying DPI and in-game sensitivities of esports pros.
Get a grip
The next key consideration is preferred mouse grip. Like lefties vs righties, the majority of mouse users tend to use a palm grip. This is where your palm rests on the back arch of the mouse and controls movement, with trigger and bird fingers free to click.
Claw grip is a fast-growing usurper that’s popular with RTS and MOBA fans. The heel of the palm is kept at the back of the mouse for stability and the fingers are used to guide zippier mouse movements.
Tip grip is the extreme sports equivalent of mouse manoeuvres. Your fingertips control the mouse entirely, removing any limb resistance for incredibly quick movements. Still, tip is the trickiest to master and the most fatiguing.
For each grip, there’s a preferred gaming mouse chassis. Palmers should gun for longer, wider gaming mice with steeper archers, like the Corsair Ironclaw (purpose-built with palm grips in mind). Clawers should take command of shorter gaming mice with shallower archers, like the Razer DeathAdder Elite Chroma Gaming Mouse.
And leet tippers can thumb their way to a short, light and flattest-backed gaming mouse, like the Razer Abyssus Elite (which has a bonus ambidextrous perk).
Angle of attack
Now you’ve picked your new pet, it’s time to set it up correctly. Generally, your mousepad choices are soft, like the Logitech G240; or hard, like the Cooler Master MP720; then small (SteelSeries Qck Mini), average (ROCCAT Taito) or varying degrees of embiggened (Xtrfy XGP1). Let your play space determine the appropriate-sized mouse mat to complement your gaming needs.
Whatever the size, keep the mouse quadrant free of clutter. You can maximise cramped desk space by forking out for a compact, tenkeyless gaming keyboard, like the ASUS ROG Claymore (with separable keypad). Alternatively, reposition your monitor on an angle to complement a seating position that’s comfortable for placement of your keyboard and mousepad on rising angles. Basically, you’ll be forming a ‘V’ of desk space between angled keyboard and mousepad, with a centralised mouse.
Though gaming mice tend to have longer USB cables, ensure yours has a snag-free run to your gaming PC. This is easier to facilitate on a gaming laptop versus a desktop, which may have to snake a path over and behind multiple potential cable-snagging gizmos. You can blitz this concern altogether by opting for a high-end wireless gaming mouse, like the Logitech G903.
The best way to set in-game sensitivity for your gaming mouse is to match it to the size of your mouse mat. For shooters in particular, keep your gaming mouse in the centre of the mat and move it in a straight line to one side. Tweak the sensitivity until the point from centre to side is a full 180-degree turn. Generally, the lower the sensitivity, the more accurate your aim will be across genres. (Extremely low sensitivity, though, necessitates a larger mousepad.) Use mouse-sensitivity.com to keep sensitivity consistent across different games.
Next, head to the manufacturer website to download software for your gaming mouse. While Windows should take care of the boring driver stuff, purpose-built gaming software is usually the gateway to essential firmware updates and mouse tuning.
Depending on the complexity of the software, you should be able to boost the polling rate (speed of position reporting), tweak the DPI (base sensitivity) and mess with the RGB lighting configuration. Where possible, create profiles on a per-game basis, wherein you can calibrate mouse specifics across your most-played titles.
RGB (red, blue, green) lighting is the most cosmetic of additions for gaming peripherals. For wired gaming mice, it’ll have zero impact on performance. For wireless mice, though, those shiny lights run down the battery (slightly) faster. RGB is the most supplementary of gaming mouse zeitgeists and, for the input-over-illumination gamer, can be avoided to save a few bucks.
At the end of the day, there aren’t really wrong answers when it comes to picking a gaming mouse as much as there are a wealth of refined considerations that help track down the perfect option. Match mouse to genre, then genre to grip and you’re well on the way to bolstered accuracy.