You’ll often see a specific brand of gaming mouse promoted as being absolutely essential to your custom-built gaming PC. There is an implication that your fancy new rig that runs big titles at 120 FPS is useless unless you’re using a flashing neon mouse with lots of added buttons.
Despite what some might say though, a gaming mouse isn’t really a pre-requisite for building a great gaming set-up. So, just what is the difference between a gaming mouse and a normal mouse, and are gaming mice actually worth it?
A gaming mouse can pretty much do everything that a normal mouse can. The main point is what they do on top of that. This comes down to functionality, being geared to perform better in ways that help gaming, and how they look.
Deciding if a gaming mouse is worth it is going to depend on how much you value certain features. While marketing copy for a gaming mouse might make having a sky-high DPI seems vital for landing a shot in a first-person shooter, your results and needs are going to vary. Once you know everything a gaming mouse can do better, and what difference this will actually make for you, then if they’re worth it should be pretty clear.
What Can a Gaming Mouse Do Different?
A gaming mouse on the surface can be identical to your standard mouse. Although, in some cases, it is pretty different looking from a professional office mouse. Often the biggest differences between a gaming mouse and a normal mouse are down to their performance and some small differences in how they operate. These differences can be a bit technical, but they do affect performance when it comes to playing games.
These are the main differences between a gaming mouse and a regular PC mouse:
The DPI of your mouse is dots per inch. Dots are the amount of ‘points’ that your mouse can register movement between in a single inch. If your mouse has a DPI of 2000, it will detect movement between 2000 different spots in a single inch. In terms of gaming, this means even smaller movements are going to be picked up on. This makes your movement a lot more responsive and your sensitivities will be greatly increased. This added accuracy might not be necessary when you’re filling in a spreadsheet, but it can make a big difference in games.
Most gaming mice are going to feature a few extra buttons. These extra buttons can be mapped, allowing you to make more inputs without moving your hands. In gaming, this helps you keep your hands in a resting position more often, so you rarely have to move to other keys.
Your polling rate is really important for how sensitive your mouse is. This is how often it reports its position or movement to your PC. Even with a high DPI, a low polling rate will mean your mouse is unable to report those subtle changes in position to your PC. A higher polling rate lets your mouse report its movement more often, giving you more responsive controls.
A lot of gaming mice look pretty different from your standard mouse. This isn’t a vital component of a gaming mouse, but if you’re building a gaming PC with matching LCDs on the keyboard and other components then a gaming mice that fits this aesthetic is going to be a big bonus.
A good gaming mouse should provide you with the tools you need to customise how you play. A gaming mouse’s extra buttons will really open up the possibilities for your keybinds. These options are important if you want to play better. The software that deals with this will vary depending on the manufacturer. Some allow for different bindings depending on hat task you’re doing, while others have one set of bindings that apply to every program on your PC.
What Makes a Good Gaming Mouse?
Those are all of the features that usually come with a gaming mouse. However, not all of the mice available fit this bill. Like with anything else, it depends on which mouse you buy. If you’re considering if a gaming mouse is worth it, it depends on how good of a gaming mouse you’re going to get. These are the features of a good gaming mouse; a device that will let you get the most out of the upgrade:
- A High DPI – A higher DPI is going to make your mouse much more responsive. If you’re playing games in a high frames per second rate, then this is nearly essential. Having a higher DPI allows your movements to be more responsive which can give you a competitive edge during gameplay.
- Buttons – Those extra buttons really are going to come in handy. This is true for gaming, but even outside of playing games they’re helpful.
- Durability – Your gaming mouse should be built to last. While this might go without saying, you should definitely do some research on your specific model. A gaming mouse isn’t going to be much good if it breaks down too often.
- Ergonomics – Gaming mice can be designed in all sorts of strange shapes that question the traditional wisdom of how to best design a mouse to fit a human hand. Some of them take an ergonomic approach which is going to comfortable. Others throw away comfort for the sake of looking different. Since shapes and little ridges for your fingers vary model to model, consult user reviews before purchasing to make sure that the unique design isn’t all style over comfort.
Do Gaming Mice Make a Difference?
Those are all factors of a good gaming mouse. However, if you’re wondering if they’re actually worth the difference in price you need to consider how much of an impact they actually make. More sensitivity is great, but it might not be a deal-breaker depending on how you play games. This is how each of those factors actually makes a difference in how you use your mouse.
Is the Sensitivity Worth It?
The extra sensitivity is definitely going to be a noticeable difference compared with a standard off the shelf mouse. However, once the DPI gets above 1500 the difference in response time becomes pretty hard to actually gauge. These alterations of milliseconds may be vital for a top tier Esports player, but kind of overkill for the vast majority of players. You’ll need to be playing at a really high level for the really high DPIs to make a difference. However, a standard gaming mouse is a decent degree more responsive than a normal mouse.
Do You Really Need Those Buttons?
Okay, the extra buttons are fun but are they vital? No, not really. However, just because something isn’t strictly necessary it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. If you think you’ll definitely get more out of a mouse with an extra button or two, then they’re a much better choice for you.
This one all comes down to what you want out of a mouse. If you’re going to be hiding your mice from view to avoid people questioning why you’re using something so weird, then a gaming mouse probably isn’t for you.
If you’ve never tried using remappable controls in your games, you’ll have a bit of a learning curve. However, once you break that initial muscle memory barrier and start to use the different buttons in a more responsive way, you’ll be able to increase your reaction times and streamline controls with remappable buttons. This can make a huge difference.
So, are Gaming Mice Worth it?
If you’re serious about your gaming, then a gaming mouse is definitely worth it. However, it does depend on what type of games you play. For a charming indie game, you don’t really need the extra sensitivity and buttons to have a good time. If you’re trying to compete at a high level in a multiplayer title, then a gaming mouse is going to be vital. A gaming mouse is worth it, but only if you’re going to be making use of these features. If you don’t really need them, then you probably don’t really need the mouse.
What’s more important is getting a quality gaming mouse. A mouse with an astronomically high DPI isn’t really worth it over one with a solid 2000 DPI since the difference is basically inconceivably small amounts of time that your PC won’t be able to keep up with anyway. The extra work and money getting a great gaming mouse won’t be worth it if you chose a white elephant of a design that messes your hand up after a few hours of constant use.
A gaming mouse is a worthwhile purchase if you do a lot of serious gaming, it is finding the right and best gaming mice that are the things that make it more important though.