How to Choose the Right Computer Mouse
What makes esports mice different from other mice? Broadly speaking, the typical esports mouse is actually just a simple five- or six-button gaming mouse. Professional players look for minimalist gaming mice for a couple of reasons: First, they don’t use scads of buttons. Depending on the game (and the prevailing rules), many leagues and events bar the use of custom macros that automate any combination of buttons and keys. Plus, serious players steer clear of any buttons that change configuration profiles or sensitivity presets on the mouse face, because a misclick at a key moment could change their settings and spell defeat.
Second, to maximize their personal performance, pros opt for the lightest mouse possible. Again, speaking generally, many of them tend to play with their sensor tracking (dots per inch, or DPI) down at a very low number, which means they are constantly swinging their mice across a large mousepad to move their cursor or aiming reticle across the screen. Having a light mouse makes this easier, especially if you play with a claw- or fingertip-style grip where you use your fingers to push the mouse around, rather than your full arm.
To compensate for these concerns, the ideal esports mouse is a six-button mouse with two primary click buttons, a clickable scroll wheel, and two side buttons. In lieu of a sixth button in the center column below the scroll wheel, dedicated esports mice may put the DPI cycle button (which swaps among DPI presets) on the underside of the mouse. This lets you change DPI when you want without fussing with the mouse’s configuration software, while minimizing the risk of changing it by accident.
It’s worth pointing out that the “hidden DPI button” is not a standard feature—plenty of companies still use the typical all-on-top six-button gaming mouse layout—and shouldn’t necessarily be a deal-breaker for picking a mouse unless you have a habit of switching your DPI by mistake. Still, the feature is common enough, having emanated from competitive gaming. At the very least, if you see it, it’s a sign that the mouse is optimized for match play.
Esports Mouse Design: Keep It Simple, Keep It Light
So the ideal esports mouse is a simple gaming mouse—one that’s light and fast, with a good sensor that tracks accurately at high speed. And in the last two years, the race to make lighter, esports-specific mice has greatly intensified.
You can see that even among our top picks. Some of the oldie-but-goodie mice weigh in at 3 to 3.5 ounces, while newer models like the Razer Viper and the Glorious Model D fall to around 2.5 ounces. The difference between one or two tenths of an ounce may not be noticeable, but you will feel the difference between 2.5 and 3.5 ounces. It may not feel exactly like you’re “pushing” it, but a heavier mouse will create a little resistance as your arm moves around to guide your cursor.
At the same time, you shouldn’t simply pick the mouse that weighs the least. The most important element of every mouse, regardless of its purpose, is its shape. A comfortable mouse feels like an extension of your arm. It’s comfortable to hold for a long time, and you can easily hit every button quickly.
In the race to create the lightest mouse with the most impressive specs, every manufacturer is looking for ways to slim down. There’s been a minor wave of mice with “honeycomb” chassis, punched full of hexagonal holes to reduce the weight of the shells. Many designers opt for an ambidextrous mouse shape, too, which tends to have a slightly lower mass. Some companies are even making faux-ambidextrous mice that have a shell with a hand-neutral shape but provide side buttons only for right-handed players.
Here’s the thing: If a mouse doesn’t fit your hand, none of the other specs really matters. You will perform better if moving the mouse feels comfortable and allows you to react on instinct.
In my experience, the compromises needed to take a mouse to its absolute lightest are not worth it. If you’re a right-handed, palm-grip player, you should buy a right-handed mouse—sometimes, confusingly, called an “ergo” mouse in esports circles. Unfortunately, left-handed palm players don’t have a lot of options, but there are comfortable ambidextrous mice.
If you play claw- or fingertip-style, where the palm of your hand does not rest on the mouse, the equation changes a little bit. Weight becomes more important, as you need to push the mouse with just your fingers. The absolute smallest mice, including “mini” mice with petite dimensions, such as Cooler Master’s MM710, may be worth considering. No matter what, for these grip types, you should go for a mouse with an ambidextrous shape, as the molded shell of a right-handed mouse can make it harder for you to reach the side buttons.
The Sensor: Looking Into the Eye
Since speed is king with an esports mouse, it makes sense to look closely at its optical sensor, the component that actually tracks your movement. An optical sensor uses a small beam of infrared light—often imperceptible to the naked eye—and a camera to track the mouse’s position relative to the surface it’s moving over. (Technically, there are other kinds of mouse sensors, but the vast majority of modern mice use optical sensors, and I wouldn’t recommend an esports mouse with anything else without trying it first.)
Aside from practical testing, the primary spec that most people care about when looking at a gaming mouse’s sensor is its maximum tracking rate, as measured in dots per inch. As we discussed, most pros actually set their DPI very low, so having a sky-high maximum is more of a symbolic goal. As long as the sensor can track at up to 5,000dpi, which most can, you’re golden.
To really scrutinize a sensor ahead of testing, you should also look at its top “speed,” which is generally measured in inches per second, or IPS. If you’re setting your mouse’s DPI to a low number, chances are you’re going to whip the mouse from one end of your mousepad to the other rapidly and repeatedly. The IPS value lets you know how quickly you can move the mouse before its tracking is compromised.
At this writing, there isn’t a huge range in the top speed department: A cheaper—$50 and under—mouse will top out between 250 and 350 IPS; a more expensive one should be able to handle at least 400 IPS, though some can go much higher.
What About Wireless Esports Mice?
Historically, most gamers would laugh at the idea of using a wireless mouse for competitive play. Really, until a few years ago, most people would laugh at the idea of using a wireless gaming mouse at all.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s no longer a crazy idea. In fact, there are even a handful of good wireless esports mice.
Fears of sluggishness and lag are outdated; in the last two years, most of the top manufacturers have introduced gaming mice that deliver a stable connection and an imperceptible amount of lag using a 2.4GHz wireless connection. If the mouse connects at 2.4GHz via a USB dongle, you can consider it reliable, even in competitive situations.
Using a wireless mouse does introduce potential issues around battery life, but most gaming mice last at least 10 hours on a charge and often get much more. As long as you keep your mouse charged, it shouldn’t fail mid-match.
That said, not all wireless mice make good esports mice. In fact, many of them don’t. Adding an internal battery adds weight, so most don’t compete well on the lightness front with wired mice made for esports. There are a couple of wireless esports mice, however, and I’m sure we’ll see more sooner rather than later. Don’t keep a mouse out of contention just because it doesn’t have a tail. Just know that most of the best ones, do.
So, Which Esports Mouse Should I Buy?
Okay, we’ve gone over all the deciding factors that make or break an esports mouse. So, onward to our top picks, derived from our deep-dive reviews. And if you want to know more about picking mice, also check out our guides to the best overall computer mice, the best mice for MMO games, and the best overall gaming mice, all with detailed discussions around the wider world of mouse design.
Razer Viper Ultimate
Pros: Comfortable ambidextrous design. No-compromise RF wireless connection. Wireless charging is convenient and looks sharp.
Cons: A bit expensive for the full package.
Bottom Line: Razer’s Viper Ultimate untethers and upgrades one of the best gaming mice a competitive esports player could ask for. It’s a winner, but get the version with the charging dock.
Cougar Revenger S
Pros: Reasonably priced.
PixArt 3360 optical sensor and Omron switches.
Unlimited game-specific profiles.
Lift-distance wizard with stored profiles.
Good macro editor.
Cons: Only six buttons.
Side buttons are too shallow.
Lighting configuration is buggy.
No DPI toggle.
No lefty version.
Bottom Line: Set aside the lofty claims of sky-high polling rates and greater accuracy, and the Cougar Revenger S proves itself an excellent FPS mouse at a reasonable price.
Glorious PC Gaming Race Model D
Pros: Light and comfortable. Inexpensive. Honeycomb design.
Cons: Low-profile shape could be more supportive. No onboard memory.
Bottom Line: The Glorious PC Gaming Race Model D streamlines the esports mouse as well as anything from more famous mouse makers.
Logitech G Pro Gaming Mouse
Pros: Simple and light.
Offers wide range of adjustable sensitivities.
Preferences are stored in onboard memory.
Wide, textured scroll wheel.
Cons: Not entirely ambidextrous.
No weight adjustment.
Utility software is not macOS compatible.
Bottom Line: Simple, comfortable, and practical, the Logitech G Pro Gaming Mouse is ideal for the professional gamer and anyone who wants to be one someday.
Razer DeathAdder V2 Gaming Mouse
Pros: Comfortable shape. Very powerful sensor. Razer optical switches.
Cons: Expensive for a basic wired mouse. Large for a competitive mouse.
Bottom Line: Razer’s most popular gaming mouse gets a much-needed update, but competitors (including the company’s other mice) overshadow it.
Pros: Comfortable for a low-profile mouse. Optical/mechanical switches increase durability. Anti-drag cord allows for smooth movement.
Cons: Expensive for an esports mouse.
Bottom Line: The comfortable, light, and quick Razer Viper refines the company’s esports offerings with an excellent gaming mouse.
SteelSeries Sensei Ten
Pros: Sleek, ambidextrous design pleases both lefties and righties in a household.
Design fit for work or play.
Cons: A bit expensive for the feature set.
Bottom Line: The SteelSeries Sensei Ten is a strong esports mouse that looks as sharp as it plays.
Cooler Master MM710 Gaming Mouse
Pros: Extremely light honeycomb design. Looks spiffy without sacrificing durability. Gunk-resistant coating. Competitive configuration software.
Cons: Very small. Shortcut buttons favor righties only. Profile-save limitations.
Bottom Line: Cooler Master’s MM710 esports mouse is one of the lightest things on padded feet for serious twitch gamers, but the compact, minimalist design is definitely not for everyone.
HyperX Pulsefire Surge
Pros: 32 zones of RGB lighting.
High DPI range.
Tactile scroll wheel.
Cons: Software wouldn’t launch on some test systems.
Lefties won’t be able to use side shortcut buttons easily.
Bottom Line: The HyperX Pulsefire Surge is an adequate ambidextrous gaming mouse whose snazzy, encircling RGB lighting sets it apart, but its software needs some fixes.
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