Optical Mouse vs Laser Mouse

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Here is some top-of-line gaming mouses. Some use laser sensor, some optical.

Laser Sensor

Optical Sensor

Here is the practical difference.

Note: the difference may not be noticeable today (as of 2013). Some optical gaming mouse today can still track when lifted. Some gaming mouse have both optical and laser sensors. And there are also different lasers used. Also, some gaming mouse has internal CPU that post-process the signals.

Razer Ouroboros mouse dual sensor 06879
Razer Ouroboros Wireless Gaming Mouse Dual sensor. 1 optical, 1 laser. [photo by crazyg0od33. Source: overclock.net ]

In summary, the mouse tracking technology has advanced to a point such that it is 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, be wary.

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 stuck in the hole and not moving.

The โ€œfinger in hole laser jitterโ€ happens with Logitech G600 Mouse and Microsoft Sidewinder X3 Mouse .

laser sensor

This means, when gaming, when you lift the mouse to re-position, your pointer may move erratically while the mouse is up.

How to Chose a Mouse