Gaming mice improve your performance. There’s no denying it. A far cry from their roller ball ancestors, the gaming mice of today come with more buttons than a trench coat and lasers so sophisticated they’d make George Lucas blush. From the time it takes for a button to register after you click it, to the ability to adjust the position of the buttons themselves, every feature is available for the right price. But how do you tell your PMW3366 optical sensors from your ADNS-A9500 Laser ones? And do you really need to break the bank to beat that damn boss battle? Read on to find out.
 


How We Choose:

With such a wide range of game genres available today, it’s rare to find a one-size-fits-all gaming mouse. For instance, one that’s brilliant for a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) may not be as beneficial when used in an FPS (First-Person Shooter) game. Equally, certain gaming mice are more suited to certain grip styles. Obviously this includes left and right handed users, although it also extends to the palm and claw grippers out there.

The list we’ve compiled takes into consideration the ergonomics of each mouse and its accessibility to potential users, as well as its suitably to the most popular gaming genres. Other features we’ve considered include the sensor technology, build quality, aesthetics, customization options, included software and of course, the price.


Our Gaming Mice Picks:

1. Logitech G903 Chaos Spectrum ($125)

G903Orientation: Ambidextrous
Interface: USB/Wireless
Sensor: Optical (Pixart PMW3366) 
What We Like: Unbeatable wireless tech, in-use wireless charging, best sensor money can buy.
What We Don't: Not affordable for everyone.

When Logitech released the G900, rival companies were baffled by their creation of a wireless mouse that stood head and shoulders above its wired brethren. Well if you thought that was a good mouse (which we REALLY did) then say hello to the G903. FPS gamers looking to hit more shots will be happy to see the return of the 1,000 Hz polling rate as well as the Lightspeed feature, which grants a 1 millisecond response time. MOBA gamers are catered for with eleven customizable buttons, which although isn’t as innovative as the Razer Naga Hex V2’s thumbsitck, should still accommodate most.  The G903 features a DPI range of 200–12,000 providing overkill for even the most sensitive gamers, and on top of that, it’s fitted with one of the world’s best sensors. So far, so good. But that’s just the beginning Battery life for wireless mice has been made obsolete with the 903’s new tech, called Powerplay. This tech is a world first that allows you to wirelessly charge your mouse whilst simultaneously playing with it. That’s an absolute game-changer. You’ll need to purchase the wireless charging system separately, but once you do its game on. And on. And on...

The 3.8oz weight not only makes the G903 lighter than all other wireless options including the Razer Mamba Chroma (4.40z), but it’s customizable, thanks to an optional weight. Logitech’s mechanical pivot design (a la the G302), metal Hyper Scroll wheel, Spectrum lighting and interchangeable magnetic thumb buttons prevent the mouse from feeling cheap or flimsy whilst furthering its customizable features. Suitable for both left and right handed users, the G903’s ergonomics and clever contour design accommodate both claw and palm grip persuasions. A truly unbeatable mouse.
See the Logitech G903 Chaos Spectrum


2. Zowie FK2 ($60)

Zowie GearSize: 4.9” x 2.4” x 1.4”
Weight: 3oz
Orientation: Ambidextrous
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (Avago PMW-3310) 
What We Like: Feels like an extension of your hand.
What We Don't: No supported software.

In first-person shooters, a single pixel can be the difference between getting that frag or rage quitting amidst a sea of salty microphone chatter. With a super-accurate sensor and streamlined design, the FK2 manages to find the perfect balance between lightweight and sturdy, making it an ideal companion for any gun slinger looking to come up big when the chips are low. 

Its shape suits both claw and palm grip users, while the ambidextrous design accommodates both left and right handed users. Just beating out the Razer Deathadder Elite, this is without a doubt the most comfortable mouse we’ve tested, and felt more like an extension of our hand than a peripheral we were holding. We love the no-frills approach Zowie have employed, just focusing on doing the core fundamentals right – size, weight, responsiveness and accuracy. The only slight niggle is Zowie’s lack of software provision, which we expect on a budget mouse like the Thermaltake Talon Blu, but would of liked to see here for $60. Although not essential, it’s nice to have a visual reference on screen of your mouse settings for peace of mind as well as the option to personalize it towards your playstyle. That aside, it’s easy to see why this mouse is a favorite among many professional gamers within the FPS scene.
See the Zowie FK2
 

3. Thermaltake Talon Blu ($22)

Thermaltake Talon BluOrientation: Ambidextrous
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (Avago PMW-3050) 
What We Like: Top sensor and build for unbeatable value.
What We Don't: No supported software.

It’s rare that a mouse at such a low price comes with a sensor as well regarded as the Avago 3050, and yet somehow, Thermaltake have managed it without compromising too heavily in other areas. Build quality is surprisingly good for the price point, and while it’s no Logitech G903, all materials feeling high quality and well put together. The mouse feels lighter than most which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on your preference. The soft touch matte coat felt very similar to the Corsair M65 Pro RGB, and although comfortable after long durations, displays fingerprints and smudges more proudly than an FBI forensic team. No eating at your desks then, please. 

The Talon Blu comes with blue led lighting to satisfy the ‘true’ gamers out there (Zing), while it’s removable side panels look to cater for those looking to customize its already accomplished ambidextrous design. One thing to note is with the panels removed, sharp edges were exposed from the top panel, which hampered comfort considerably. The adjustable DPI feature allows you to scroll through 5 pre-sets from 500 – 3000 DPI, and while the latter isn’t something we’d ever need, options are nice. Our only issue (and we say that loosely) is the fact there’s no included software for setting up profiles or macros. Then again, who cares? Here you’re getting an extremely functional, well put together mouse that ticks most FPS and general use boxes for an unbeatable price. If you’re on a budget, you won’t find better.  
See the Thermaltake Talon Blu


4. Razer Naga Hex V2 ($59)

Razer Naga Hex V2Orientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB/Wireless
Sensor:  Laser (Razer 5G) 
What We Like: Innovative thumb wheel, great sensor, profiles.
What We Don't: Quite weighty.

The first thing we noticed about the Hex V2 is its build quality. Razer rarely fail to deliver on their builds, and the Hex V2 is no exception. Everything feels high-quality and tight, from the Omron switches to the tilting scroll-wheel and braided cable. The sensor is Razer’s 5G laser sensor, an upgraded version of the one found in their previous MOBA mouse, the Razer Naga Epic Chroma (also on this list). 

Another difference between the Hex and the Naga is the button configuration. On most MOBA mice you’ll find anywhere from 8-15 buttons on the left side of the mouse in a row configuration. Although handy, most people don’t require that many custom macros on their mouse and the awkwardness of the buttons positioning, reduces the mouse’s versatility across other games. For example, in a FPS game you are likely to accidentally press one of these macro buttons, potentially ruining your play. The Hex V2 address this issue by placing seven macro buttons in a circular configuration around a rubberized thumb rest. This allows you to position your thumb out of the way when it’s not needed. Extremely important for the claw grippers out there. Breaking tradition from the Zowie FK2 and Thermal Take Talon, the Razer Naga Hex V2 comes with Razer’s Synapse software; allowing activation of macro profiles; creation of new profiles; lighting configuration and a bunch of other stuff. Although hardcore MOBA players might scowl at the lack of 99 additional buttons, the payoff in versatility really increase the value of the Razer Naga Hex V2 over its more conventional rivals. 
See the Razer Naga Hex V2
 

5. Razer DeathAdder Elite ($50)

Razer DeathAdder EliteOrientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (PMW3389-T3QU) 
What We Like: Top build quality, near-perfect sensor.
What We Don't: Can’t change profiles on the fly.

The DeathAdder Elite comes with everything you’d expect from a high-end gaming mouse. Like the Logitech G903, It has 1,000 Hz polling, a DPI that peaks well above what you’d need, a braided cable and an optical sensor with 99.4% reported resolution accuracy. The mechanical buttons feel great to click and this was one of the few mice we tested that avoided any unintentional button presses. We absoloutely love the small, low profile design and everyone in the office agrees this is one of the best mice for FPS games and general use. Oh, and it has 

The only issue we found was for users with large hands. The proximity between the side button and left mouse button may make it awkward if you’re a claw gripper. FYI the Zowie FK2 has a more favourable configuration for those who could be hindered by this potential issue. Aside from that, our only minor gripe was the inability to switch profiles on the fly (the Zowie FK2 has no software at all). Although switching DPI on the fly is available, there is no onscreen indication to which DPI you’re using, which can be confusing if your presets are close in range. These issues are minimal, however, and for the price point the DeathAdder Elite is an absolutely outstanding mouse.
See the Razer DeathAdder Elite
 

6. Steelseries Rival 500 ($74)

SteelSeries Rival 500Orientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (PixArt PMW3360) 
What We Like: Top sensor, good feature set.
What We Don't: A bit bulky for smaller hands. Right-handed only.

With its fifteen programmable buttons Steelseries have geared the Rival 500 more towards the MOBA players out there. It still has some of the brilliant features present in the Steelseries Rival 700 such as its flawless optical sensor and motorized tactile feedback, but has ditched the OLED screen and modular design. These payoffs were no doubt to keep the price proportional in relation to the 700 and slightly cheaper 300 models, and if you ask us they kept the feature with the most longevity.  

That said, the mouse feels top quality and very comfortable when used. However, in a similar vein to the Razer Naga Hex V2, those of you with smaller hands may need to be wary due to the 500’s bulky design. Both palm and claw grips are welcome and with its matte top cover and textured side panels the Rival 500 felt very natural to hold. It’s a shame that like many others, this mouse is tailored towards the righties of the world, but you can’t please everyone.
See the Steelseries Rival 500


7. Redragon M601 Centrophorus ($13)

Orientation: Ambidextrous
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical
What We Like: Bang for your buck.
What We Don't: Sensor can be temperamental.

More often than not, you get what you pay for. This is an adage Redragon looked to incinerate with the release of their affordable pro gaming mouse, the M601 Centrophorus. We weren’t expecting much from this mouse for the price point, but, we were pleasantly surprised. With its six programmable buttons and five customizable profiles (accessible through Redragon’s software) the M601 already competes with many of the $50+ gaming mice on the market, and even includes a feature our top budget mouse, the Thermaltake Talon Blu, failed to deliver on.

In fact, following suit with Corsair’s more expensive M65 PRO RGB, the M601 comes with weights that can be added to the mouse to suit the user’s preference. The buttons felt crisp and the anti-skid scroll wheel felt well above our expectations. Although the M601 didn’t feel cheap, it didn’t feel overly comfortable either. Just average. For $13, we’d say so far, so good. The only real downfall of this mouse is its sensor. DPI ranges aside (as 2000 is adequate for most users) the tracking at times was temperamental. Our crosshair in-game did jitter once or twice and although the issue was rare, it could definitely be a nuisance. 
See the Redragon M601 Centrophorus


8. Razer Mamba Chroma Wireless ($148)

Razer MambaOrientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB/Wireless
Sensor: Laser (Razer 5G) 
What We Like: Wireless, amazing sensor, adjustable button actuation.
What We Don't: High price point might put some off.

The Mamba Chroma is a brilliant addition from Razer. With top notch build quality, Razer’s state-of-the-art 5G laser sensor as found in the Razer Naga Hex V2, and 1,000 Hz polling this mouse feels absolutely amazing. It also features Razer’s Click Force technology, allowing you to adjust the click actuation of the left and right mouse buttons, tailoring them to your preference. With our claw grip we preferred the stiffer end of the spectrum, but with fourteen options available, it really can match anyone’s requirements. 

Razer’s Synapse software is obviously included and we just love the intuitiveness and range of customization it provides. The 5G laser sensor is one of the best available, giving industry leading tracking that really is noticeable over some of the cheaper options such as the Corsair M65 Pro. The battery life lasts up to twenty hours before you need to connect it to your rig, which is impressive considering the technology in this thing. The Mamba is on the top end of the price spectrum, but we really can’t fault it. Second only in our opinion to Logitech’s G900, Razer’s Mamba Chroma wireless mouse would be a worthy addition to any gamer’s set-up.
See the Razer Mamba Chroma Wireless


9. SteelSeries Rival 700 ($71)

SteelSeries Rival 700Orientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (PixArt PMW 3360)
What We Like: Motorized feedback, solid sensor, solid build quality.
What We Don't: Novel features have boosted the price point.

Steelseries have really thought outside the box for their 700 model. It still has all the features you’d associate with a top-brand gaming mouse (top build quality, accurate optical sensor and satisfying feedback on button clicks), but SteelSeries have gone a step further and, like the Logitech G903, made their 700 model modular in design, although they’ve done it to everything EXCEPT the buttons. As found on the Rival 500, the 700 has motorized tactile feedback and in a head spin on convention, they’ve chucked an OLED screen on to the side. 

The screen is able to display static images and play any GIFs at 10 frames per second. With pre-sets for a few popular games that display your in-game stats such as health, ammo remaining etc. this is a really cool idea. After a while though, we either found it distracting in intense moments or sometimes forgot it was even there. We’re sure it’s added to the weight as well, because the 700 has similar dimensions to the Logitech G903 but weighs in an Oz heavier! The modular design is a neat idea though. The ability to swap out your cables, cover plate, and sensor will be appealing for some users, but we can’t help feel these design decisions may have driven the mouse to a higher price point than everyone whose interest it peaks will be willing to pay.  That said this right-handed modular mouse feels great, has innovative design choices and features a build quality you’d expect from one of the industry leaders.
See the Steelseries Rival 700
 

10. Razer Naga Epic Chroma ($128)

Razer Naga Epic ChromaOrientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB/Wireless
Sensor:  Laser (Razer 4G) 
What We Like: Mechanical buttons, great sensor, intuitive software.
What We Don't: Wireless battery is non-replaceable.

This right-handed, palm grip only mouse has nineteen programmable buttons. Twelve of these are mechanical side buttons, accessible by a simple thumb movement. Combine this with limitless profile possibilities, all completely customizable through Razer’s Synapse software, and while we prefer the alternative design found on the Razer Naga Hex V2, the Naga Epic Chroma is the perfect accompaniment for any advanced budding spellcasters out there. 

For those worried about memorizing the function of twelve additional buttons, fear not, Razer’s got you covered. Using an in-game Grid Assist overlay, the Naga presents its user with a visual reference that helps you tell your summons from your smites. Razer’s 4G laser sensor has 1,000 Hz polling and up to 8200 DPI, giving it amazing accuracy and more sensitivity than the average user requires. Although the wireless feature is great, the battery can’t be replaced, which means the wireless functionality has a finite shelf life. Considering its price point, it’s easy to see why this could put some users off, perhaps tempting them towards the Logitech G903 which although not strictly a MOBA mouse, has enough buttons and customisability to function in that space. In our opinion though, with its build quality, sensor accuracy, mechanical buttons, Synapse software and 16.8 million Chroma colored lighting (all the kids are doing it), we’d say the price is justified. 
See the Razer Naga Epic Chroma


11. Corsair Glaive RGB ($60)

Corsair Gaming GLAIVE RGBOrientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (Pixart PMW3367)
What We Like: Great tracking, tunable sensor, customizable, battery life.
What We Don't: Build quality for the price.

Corsair’s latest mouse, the Glaive RGB, is a real class act. Although slightly bigger than our average-sized hands were used to, the contours and design choices taken by Logitech meant the mouse never felt too big and was always comfortable. This is something the Steelseries Rival 500 could take note of. The removable thumb rest modules only aided this comfort, with three different magnetic modules provided out of the box. We also enjoyed the positioning of the side buttons and their differences in shape, allowing us to easily identify them without taking a second look. We just wish for the price point the mouse featured the same high quality soft touch plastic across its whole chassis, not just the top plate.

The sensor is where Corsair’s entry really comes into its own though. Not only is this sensor renowned for being super-accurate and reliable, its custom design has been reworked to include surface calibration. This means even if you don’t have a mousepad you can calibrate the mouse to work accurately on pretty much any surface. Very handy. The switches in the buttons have been designed to provide less resistance than normal which, although handy for MOBA players clicking lots of times in short periods, means intense FPS game players may accidently pull the trigger if they aren’t careful. The Glaive comes with all the usual features too, including RGB backlighting, switchable DPI settings and Corsairs CUE software for customization. All in all, a great mouse. Although we prefer ambidextrous designs like the Zowie FK2 and Razer DeathAdder Elite, the brilliant ergonomics, customizability and sensor all contribute to a great mouse.
See the Corsair Glaive RGB


12. Finalmouse Scream One ($70)

Finalmouse Scream OneOrientation: Right handed
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (PixArt PMW3360)
What We Like: Lightweight, great sensor.
What We Don't: Aesthetics.

Scream is a professional Counter-Strike player known for his inhuman like reactions. Unsurprisingly then, Finalmouse have created an ambidextrous, streamlined, light-weight mouse with the world’s best optical sensor. Technically the sensor is better than both the Zowie FK2 and Razer Deathadder elite. This mouse is so good, if it wasn’t for a few release issues with the first edition, it would have taken a place higher up the list. One such issue we encountered was the inability to press multiple buttons simultaneously. For our set-up this meant things like fast switching weapons in CS:GO just weren’t possible. Finalmouse have since released a second edition (after the first one sold out everywhere) that addressed this particular issue and have recently released a firmware update to rectify it for first edition users. 

Another issue we had with the mouse was its design. The mouse is blue, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (we like it), however we feel it could clash with the more color coordinated gamer’s set-ups out there. Our main issue with the look of the mouse however, is Scream’s signature situated over the left mouse button. We mean, it’s no Mad Catz Rat Pro X, but still it seems unnecessary, looks a bit a bit juvenile and kind of put us off. 
See the Finalmouse Scream One


13. SteelSeries Sensei Raw Rubberized ($39)

SteelSeries Sensei Orientation: Ambidextrous
Interface: USB
Sensor: Laser (ADNS9500) 
What We Like: Ambidextrous design, rubberized coating.
What We Don't: Slight forced acceleration.

This entry from Steelseries delivers a lightweight, no frills, ambidextrous mouse with a super-fast 1ms response time. Not quite as comfortable in your hand as the Razer Deathadder Elite due to its higher profile, the Sensei Raw still feels great for both palm and claw grippers, and the side buttons are positioned fairly accessibly. One thing we prefer about this over the Zowie FK2 is the fact you can use both sets of sides buttons. The scroll wheel has a perfect balance between being firm enough to control and loose enough to move, while a DPI button allows you to swap settings on the fly. All these buttons can be reprogrammed to perform any function which is pretty standard for the Steelseries Engine 3 software. 

The only issue here is a problem with the Sensei’s laser sensor. This sensor is notorious for having minor acceleration built in which is a big no, no for first-person shooters as muscle memory struggles to develop correctly with inconsistencies. Not everyone will notice, but this could be a deal breaker for the serious FPS gamers out there. Check out the Finalmouse Scream One for a better sensor solution.  A real shame as this mouse has it all in our opinion. Beautiful design, streamlined, light weight performance with top software to boot. All in all, a fantastic mouse, especially for FPS gamers.
See the Steelseries Sensei Raw Rubberized


14. Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum ($56)

Logitech G502Orientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (PMW3366) 
What We Like: Ability to store profiles on the mouse itself.
What We Don't: Awkward for palm grippers with bigger hands.

With eleven programmable buttons, a weight adjustment feature, and Logitech’s top software suite, this mouse is Logitech’s answer for the Razer Naga Epic Chroma Although not aimed at any specific genre the G502 covers all bases and is ideal for casual gamers and at the very least, should be a consideration for any serious FPS or MOBA gamer. 

With the G502, Logitech have improved the scroll wheel over previous iterations allowing it to now click in three directions, similarly to the Razer Naga Hex V2. The option to adjust the wheels firmness when scrolling is neat and something which aside from here, is only found on the Logitech G903. With Logitech’s inclusion of the PMW3366 Optical sensor and their intuitive design decisions it’s hard to find any faults with the G502. The only thing we noticed is that due to the length of the left and right buttons, palm grippers with larger hands may have an issue with unintentional clicks. Other than that, a solid entry from the folks at Logitech.
See the Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum


15. Corsair M65 Pro RGB ($40)

Corsair Gaming M65Orientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical (Pixart PWM336x)
What We Like: Lots of features.
What We Don't: Slightly heavy, side buttons positioned awkwardly.

This mouse from Corsair features a brilliant optical sensor, nine programmable buttons (including a dedicated sniper button), customizable profiles, three-tier adjustable lighting and a weighting system. Although a nice idea in theory, the sniper button, which reduces the mouse’s sensitivity when held, has very a specific usage and we found changing its functionality in Corsair’s software, then binding it to a control of our choice to be the better option. Something you couldn’t do on a Zowie FK2, due to its lack of software

The mouse has a very high build quality, and felt solid when we tested it. The weighting system, although not a new idea and found in the Logitech G903 and the budget Redragon M601, is still a welcome one. However, we found removing all the weights suited our preferences, so maybe an alternative model without this feature at a lower price point could be a viable option. Aimed at right handed users the mouse suits both claw and palm grippers, however during claw grip gaming we found our fourth finger rubbed against the corner of the side panelling, causing issues after extended play sessions. The shape of the mouse is very specific and we’d definitely recommend trying it before you buy. This is like the better built, flashier and more customisable version on the Thermaltake Talon Blue. 
See the Corsair M65 Pro RGB
 

16. Mad Catz Rat Pro X ($200)

Mad Catz R.A.T. PRO XOrientation: Right-handed
Interface: USB
Sensor: Optical OR Laser (Philips PLN20137, Pixart ADNS 9800, Pixart PMW 3310)
What We Like: Extremely customizable.
What We Don't: Expensive for an all-rounder.

If you like to customize your set-up, then this modular mouse from Mad Catz is a hard one to beat. Unlike other modular mice in our list such as the Logitech G903, Steelseries Rival 500 and Steelseries Rival 700, every component is interchangeable. From the three sensor options (including both laser and optical) available at purchase, to the multiple palm, pinkie and thumb rests provided, this Frankenstein-esque creation has got it covered. Everything from swappable feet that can alter the friction between your mouse and chosen surface, to the choice between a rubber and metal mouse wheel dependent on your preference. 

It’s hard to criticize the Rat Pro in terms of ergonomics as there’s usually an option that can manipulate the shape to suit your needs. Unless of course, you’re left handed (sorry guys). The lack of 10+ buttons also render it fairly behind the curve at this price point for the hard-core MOBA gamers out there. If we were left-handed and wanted a mouse with 11 or more customisable buttons we’d definitely hit up the Logitech G903. That said, the customization software provided by Mad Catz is great, and although not as robust as Razers Synapse software, its nine customizable profiles should give the majority of its users plenty to work with.
See the Mad Catz Rat Pro X
 

17. Logitech G602 ($40)

Logitech G602Orientation: Right-handed
Interface: Wireless/USB
Sensor: Optical (ADNS-3090)
What We Like: Wireless, great tracking, battery life.
What We Don't: Better wireless options available.

Unlike the Logitech G903 and Razer Mamba Chroma, the G602 comes in at a very accessible price point. This isn’t to say the G602 is a cheap option. Far from it. With its eleven programmable buttons, Delta Zero optical sensor technology, wireless functionality and battery-saving modes the G602 certainly packs a punch - however, its 2ms response time due to its 500 Hz polling may put some users off. 

The weight could also be an issue for FPS players, but for the price you’ll struggle to find a better wireless alternative that’s as comfortable with as high a build quality as the G602. Another benefit of going with Logitech is their SetPoint software suite, which is easily one of the most intuitive and customizable out there. For casual gamers looking for an affordable, reliable wireless mouse the G602 is definitely one to consider. If you don’t mind going wired, for an extra ten bucks you could pick up the Razer Deathadder Elite with its superior response time, polling rates and sensor. 
See the Logitech G602
 

And For When You Want To Go Old School:

18. Microsoft IntelliMouse Optical 1.1A -3.0 ($Various)

IntellimouseOrientation: Ambidextrous
Interface: PS/2, USB
Sensor: Optical
What We Like: Classic optical mouse.
What We Don't: Slightly heavy, sellers overpricing due to rarity.

One of the first optical mice to be released was the Microsoft Intellimouse Optical 1.1A back in 2001 and surprisingly it still holds strong in today’s market. Very similar to the Zowie FK2 With just five programmable buttons and a 400 DPI limit (which is default on the Zowie), the uninitiated may be put off, but for games such as CS:GO, 400 DPI is fairly standard amongst professionals and five buttons is more than enough. Its ambidextrous design feels comfortable for both claw and palm grips

That being said, the mouse feels fairly cheap, which is strange considering it’s higher than usual weight of 5.2oz. We actually preferred the build quality of the Thermaltake Talon Blu. The scroll wheel however, feels solid and the left and right button actuations feel perfect. The side buttons feel slightly looser than we’d like, but for around $30 at its best price, this optical sensor mouse is hard to cast aside. The 1.1A can be difficult to source on Amazon for its RRP, but the 2.0 and 3.0s are there in abundance. So if you can fancy basking in some PC gaming nostalgia with a quality optical gaming mouse for around $30, then we highly recommend the IntelliMouse Optical
See the Microsoft IntelliMouse Optical 1.1A
 

Comparison Table:

Mouse Price Orientation Interface Sensor Weight Size
Logitech G903 $125 Ambidextrous USB/Wireless Optical 3.8oz 5.1” x 2.6” x 1.6”
Zowie FK2 $60 Ambidextrous USB Optical 3oz 4.9” x 2.4” x 1.4”
Thermaltake Talon Blu $22 Ambidextrous USB Optical 2.7oz 4.6” x 3” x 1.6”
Razer Naga Hex V2 $59 Right-handed USB/Wireless Laser 4.7oz 4.7” x 3” x 1.7”
Razer DeathAdder Elite $50 Right-handed USB Optical 3.7oz 5” x 2.8” x 1.7”
Steelseries Rival 500 $74 Right-handed USB Optical 4.6oz 4.7” x 3” x 1.7” 
Redragon M601 $13 Right-handed USB Optical 4.9oz 4.9” x 2.8” x 1.5”
Razer Mamba Chroma $148 Right-handed USB/Wireless Laser 4.4oz 5” x 2.8” x 1.7”
SteelSeries Rival 700 $71 Right-handed USB Optical 4.8oz 4.9” x 2.7” x 1.7”
Razer Naga Epic Chroma $128 Right-handed USB/Wireless Laser 4.9oz 4.5” x 3” x 1.7”
Corsair Glaive RGB $60 Right-handed USB Optical 4.3oz 3.6” x 4.9” x 1.7”
Finalmouse Scream One $70 Right-handed USB Optical 2.8oz 5” x 2.7” x 1.5”
SteelSeries Sensei Raw $39 Ambidextrous USB Laser 3.2oz 4.9” x 2.7” x 1.4”
Logitech G502 $56 Right-handed USB Optical 4.3oz 5.2” x 3” x 1.6”
Corsair M65 Pro RGB $40 Right-handed USB Optical 4-4.8oz 4.7” x 2.8” x 1.5”
Mad Catz Rat Pro X $200 Right-handed USB Optical/Laser 3.7oz Variable
Logitech G602 $40 Right-handed USB/Wireless Optical 5.4oz 5.5” x 3.3” x 1.7”
Microsoft IntelliMouse $Various Ambidextrous PS/2, USB Optical 5.2oz 5” x 2.7” x 1.6”

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Pro Gamer | Steelseries

Buying Advice:

Optical vs. Laser

First it’s worth explaining how a sensor actually works. Mice use the same sensors that are found in your phone or digital camera: CMOS sensors, or Complementary Metal-Oxide Semi-conductor image sensors, take thousands of images per second which the mice use as map to then calculate physical movement. The mouse then reports this movement to your computer (polling rate – see below), which tells the cursor or crosshair to move in that direction. 

The difference between laser and optical mice is not specifically in the sensor (as they both use CMOS), but in the illumination the sensor uses to capture the image. Optical mice use infrared light, and laser mice use a surface emitting laser. So why does this matter? Well, the laser light is much more detailed than the infrared, which means on certain surface types (specifically soft ones) the laser can pick up unnecessary data from beneath the surface of the mouse mat through its fibres. That's why the majority of really great mice these days use optical, like our top pick, the Logitech G903.

This additional and unnecessary data can create inconsistencies in its movement report. These inconsistencies are often referred to as ‘jittering’ or ‘acceleration’. This is only true for a small number of laser mice and does applies to some optical mice too. All the big brands usually list the specific sensor they have used, so we recommend researching your specific sensor prior to purchase.

Razer Mamba | Michael Aulia

DPI Explained

Dots Per Inch (DPI) is the single most over-used marketing term in PC gaming, which realistically has very little bearing on the accurate performance of the mouse.  

That’s not to say DPI is unimportant - to the contrary, the DPI of the mouse determines its sensitivity, which is very important in controlling movement. But a lot of companies push the notion that the higher the DPI, the more accurate the mouse becomes. This is false. A higher DPI makes the mouse more sensitive, but not more accurate. For example, a mouse moved the same distance by your hand with a high DPI will feel faster and move further on your desktop than one with a low DPI. If anything, higher sensitivity makes mouse movements harder to keep accurate due to the increase in speed and the opportunity this creates for human error to occur. 

The main use for increased DPI is for folks playing games that require a lot of fast movements, such as rocket jumps on Quake, or those gaming on resolutions of 1440p and above. These higher resolutions produce more onscreen pixels, which are an increased distance for the cursor to travel. Therefore, a higher DPI acts the same on a high resolution as low DPI would on a low resolution. This makes a mouse like the Razer Naga Epic Chroma ideal. 

It’s also worth noting that a lot of sensors aren’t designed to handle high DPIs and this increase in sensitivity can cause inconsistencies in its movement.

Razer, Logitech, Cyborg Models | Andrew Xu

Polling Rates Explained

Polling rates are how often the mouse reports its movements back to the computer. This is more important than DPI in terms of accuracy, especially in fast twitch shooters, because if you’re moving the mouse quickly across the pad, a higher polling rate will be able to process every movement you make and translate it to your in-game movements. This means your character will mimic your every mouse movement accurately. A lower polling rate could mean the mouse misses certain movements, meaning your character may fail to accurately mimic your hand movements.

Again it’s a term often used by companies to hype their products and sell more units. A polling rate of 500 Hz (Hertz) is adequate for most gamers and means the mouse is reporting its position to the computer every 2 milliseconds (known as 2ms response time) and is pretty much the standard among gaming mice. Some gamers prefer 1,000 Hz, although anything over that is simply marketing spiel. 

Gaming Setup | Robert Freiberger

Jitter And Mouse Acceleration

So you’ve heard about inconsistencies in movement reports, but what does that actually mean? 

The two most common inconsistencies are jittering and positive mouse acceleration. Jittering is usually caused when the sensor picks up on some dust or dirt on the mouse pad and causes the cursor to jiggle in a direction not informed by your hand movement. Simply cleaning the mouse surface or sensor will usually fix it. Some sensors however, can misread the surface texture (like laser mice interpreting unnecessary excess data) and cause the same effect. 

Mouse acceleration is where the movement of the mouse and the movement of the cursor is not 1:1. So moving the mouse a distance of five inches on its mat doesn’t always translate to the same distance moved on screen every time. The issue with this is gamers are reliant on the development of muscle memory in order to improve their aim. Inconsistencies in the on-screen movement prevent muscle memory from working. It’s worth noting that mouse acceleration isn’t inherently bad - if it’s consistent, but inconsistent mouse acceleration is impossible to predict, which results in poor mouse control. 
 

Claw vs. Palm Grip

As not all mice are suitable for all grip styles, it’s important to know which style you prefer before searching for that perfect mouse. 

The palm grip is when your hand lays flat on top of the mouse, with the base of your fingers laying on or around the arch and your thumb fully extended along the mouse’s side panel. The claw grip is when the weight of your hand is supported by the grasp of your slightly bent thumb, fourth and pinkie finger on the mouse’s side panels. This leaves your index and middle finger poised, half bent above the left and right mouse buttons. Neither grip is better than the other. It’s completely down to personal preference and usually a decision we’re not even conscious of. 

Razer Naga | Sinchen Lin

Mouse Software Suites Explained

It’s all very well having an all singing, all dancing, feature-laden mouse, but you need to be able to control that wild beast and tame it to your requirements. This is where the software suite comes in.

Each company has their own version. For example, SteelSeries has Engine 3, Corsair has its Utility Engine Software, Razer has Synapse and Zowie has, um…OK, well maybe not every company. On the whole these software suites all offer the same options. DPI and Polling rate adjustment, RGB customization (if applicable) and the ability to create custom configurations to cater for your different needs across your different games. Another cool feature all these software suites offer is the ability assign your mouse buttons to a specific key on your keyboard. For example, some games, especially early alpha or beta builds, are unable to identify additional mouse buttons (side buttons labelled 6 and up). In these cases you can use your software suite to reassign mouse button 6 and 7 to be recognized as F1 and F2 (or any keys you desire). This then allows the games to recognize your mouse buttons and allow full use of them.

Another cool feature is the ability to create macros. Macros are an automatic key stroke or combination of key strokes activated by a single push. For example, if you're playing a game that requires you to harvest resources by constantly left clicking, you can create a macro that will repeatedly left click for you just by pressing it once and will deactivate when you press it again. This is great for increasing the longevity of your buttons/mouse and also saves you the hassle of continuously tapping left click.

Some software suites are more intuitive than others, but don’t be put off. Try and get familiar with your software suite as it really allows you to utilize the full capabilities of your mouse. If this sounds like too much then take a look at the Zowie FK2 as it’s our best in class for those looking for a no fuss, top quality mouse.

Steelseries Mouse | Steelseries

Wired vs. Wireless?

Wireless gaming mice used to be an unpopular choice due the slow response time created through transmitting the data wirelessly. But now, global megabrands such as Logitech and Razer have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into developing wireless tech. With the release of the Logitech’s G900 and Razer’s Mamba Chroma, the difference between wireless and wired mice is no more. 

With that in mind, there are many benefits to a wireless mouse. Obviously there’s no wire to get caught on items on your desk, or indeed the desk itself, and if there’s no wire that means one less thing to break. Also, if you ask us, wireless mice look a hell of a lot cooler too. 

One consideration to make with wireless mice is battery life. Most gaming mice have batteries that last longer than an average session, but it can become an issue if you’re forgetful and don’t remember to charge each time you power down. Also, some mice have fixed battery units, meaning when the battery starts to hold less charge (which they all do eventually) you might need to buy a whole new mouse. Weight can also be an issue as batteries aren’t light and if you chuck two AA’s into your mouse you’re going to notice it. In essence this choice is entirely subjective, but we’re definitely in an era where both options are more than viable and that’s just fine by us. 
 

Gaming Mouse Camades / Bungees Explained

No we’re not learning how to speak Spanish (badly). A Camade is actually a pretty cool cable management device also known as a mouse bungee. So what are they and how do they help? 

Well, a camade is a weighted unit that holds your mouse cable for you and feeds you just enough to manoeuvre round your pad, whilst taking care of any excess slack. For example; if you use your mouse enough, and we do, without a bungee your cable will rub against the edge of your desk damaging it. It doesn’t matter if your cable is rubberized or braided, your desk will destroy it over time. 

Now this isn’t so bad providing you have a modular mouse like the Steelseries Rival 700 that allows the cable to be swapped out, but what if you don’t? Or what if you don’t want to be buying a new modular cable every six months? Well, then a mouse camade or bungee is exactly what you need. This isn’t their only use though. Another thing that can happen with excess mouse cable is that it can get caught on your monitor stand, mouse mat or even your computer speakers. A camade allows you to complete remove the slack, avoiding any unwanted entanglement mid-game.  

Lots of companies produce the cable management tools, including Razer with their Mouse Bungee. They vary in price and although you definitely get what you pay for, there’s no real reason to overspend unless you want to keep with brands affiliated with your other peripherals.  

Razer Mouse | Jose Rey

Mouse Pads Explained: How Useful Are They?

Not many people consider a mouse pad to be that important a part of their set-ups. However, there are actually a significant amount of variations available (probably enough to warrant their own round-up) and not every set-up will be suitable for each type. 

The most obvious distinction between mouse pads is their material. The two basic types are; soft mouse pads, usually with a cloth upper surface; and hard mouse pads usually made from a blend of aluminium, plastic and rubber. A soft mouse pad generally provides more resistance as the mouse sinks into it, while a hard mouse pad creates a gliding effect. Neither one is better than the other, and aside from hard pads tending to last longer, it more comes down to a personal preference; do you prefer more or less resistance from your pad. 

That said, you can buy cloth pads with reduced resistance and hard pads with more. So yeah, there’s material. The next most common distinction between mouse pads is size. Some people prefer smaller pads because they have limited space on their desk. However, it’s worth noting that if you play a FPS game and have low sensitivity to help improve your accuracy over long distances, you’ll need an oversized mouse pad to allow the extra movements that compensate for the low sensitivity. 

This is something so many people fail to consider, which is a shame, because it’s one of the cheapest way to improve your performance. Another preference for some gamers is to have their mouse on the same level as their keyboard. This is when mouse pads like the Corsair MM300 come into play with their extended long profiles. Again, not something everyone considers, but can have dramatic effects on your performance. Comfort is key. The final distinction for mouse pads is the new RGB lighting pads. A gimmick for sure, and we see zero benefit to performance with this one, but mouse pads like the Corsair MM800 RGB Polaris sure do look cool, so who are we to judge! 
 

Rubber vs. Braided Cables

We just want to clear this one up for those who aren’t 100% sure. We often comment on whether a cable is braided or not in our round-ups, and thought it best if we just highlight the reasons for doing so.

 A rubber cable is simply that. A set of wires inside a rubber sleeve for protection. A braided cable is EXACTLY the same as a rubber cable, except it has an additional layer of protection in the form of braided synthetic fabric. Not only do braided cables offer more protection from direct damage, they also prevent the cable from kinking, which can ultimately ruin the cable or remove much needed length, potentially stopping you from routing your cables the way you want to. Oh, and in our opinion braided cables look jazzier. Much jazzier. 

That said, for those of you lacking a mouse camade or bungee, braided cable create more resistance on the edge of your desk. This is an issue because if you remember when we talked about mouse acceleration earlier on, it’s important for muscle memory that your hand and on screen mouse movements are as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible. There are definitely pros and cons to braided cables, but to be honest we a mouse bungee or camade, the differences (other than looks) are pretty much void. Buy a camade. Go.   

Back To Our Gaming Mice Picks Back To Our Comparison Table

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