What's the Difference Between Optical Mouse and Laser Mouse?
Both optical and laser mouse use light technology.
- Optical mouse uses LED, while laser uses laser.
- Optical is earlier tech that became popular around 2000, laser is more “advanced” tech, becoming common after 2005.
- Optical mouse has a big red light at bottom that shines. Laser ones are usually invisible.
Here's the practical difference.
- Laser can track on more surfaces, such as on glass or carpet.
- Laser mouse may jitters when you lift the mouse, optical may not. (because, laser ones can track at greater distances from the sensor to the surface, therefore, when you lift the mouse a little, it still tracks, but may no do so perfectly.)
Note: the difference may not be noticeable today. Some optical gaming mouse today can still track when lifted, more than some laser mouse. Some gaming mouse have multiple laser beams, or both optical and laser trackers. And there are also different lasers used. Also, some gaming mouse has internal CPU that post-process the signals.
In summary, the mouse tracking technology has advanced to a point such that it's no longer simply optical vs laser. There are a lot mis-information for gamers on the web. (i've read them all for 10 years) If you really, truly, want to understand it, you need to be a mouse engineer.
Many gaming mouse makers use fancy jargons. In short, don't trust any of it. A average gaming mouse, will work just fine. But gaming mouse gives you other advantages, such as more buttons, programable macros, on-board memory.
Is Laser Mouse Better for Gaming?
For gamers, laser mouse may be worse. Here's a simple test you can do.
Pick up your mouse and press your finger in the laser hole. For some laser mouse, you'll see the pointer jitters randomly, even though your finger is pressed in the hole and absolutely still.
The “finger in hole laser jitter” happens with Logitech G600 Gaming Mouse and Microsoft Sidewinder X3 Mouse.
This means, when gaming, when you lift the mouse to re-position, your pointer may move while the mouse is up.