Mouse Wheel: Smooth Scroll vs Notched Scroll

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

You know how some mouse's scroll wheel is smooth? For example, most of Microsoft's mouses are smooth scroll. Put your middle finger on it, move your finger forward and backward, and the resistance does not vary — smooth rolling.

However, there's another type that's popular in gaming mouses — a notched scrolling mechanism. The wheel's physical shape and appearance is still smooth, but the rolling mechanism has notches built-in. When you roll it, about every 1/18 turn of the wheel (20°), it has a click.

Microsoft sidewinder x3 mouse 2
Microsoft Sidewinder X3. Notched scroll wheel. Buy at amazon

The SideWinder X3 gaming mouse's scroll mechanism is notched. I noticed, that i actually prefer the notched feel. Because, it gives me a precise, more definite, control of how far to scroll, or to return to previous point. When you roll the wheel, it's always in increment of 1 notch, 2 notches, 3 notches, etc. You don't have to eyeball the page to know how much you've scrolled.

MS Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer 20 56074
Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer 2.0. Smooth scroll wheel. Buy at amazon

With the smooth wheel, there's no tactile feedback on how much you've scrolled. You must judge by eyeballing the page. This is especially so in situations when you need to scroll back to re-read the paragraph above that you just viewed.

The advantage of smooth wheel is that you can scroll micro amount — like one single line. This sounds great, but i find that i almost never need to do that. When i need fine control of scrolling, i find it best to drag the scroll bar on the window.

Logitech Mouse with Dual-mode Wheel

Logitech G700s Mouse Review

Most of Logitech mouse features a wheel that can switch between smooth mode and notched mode. See: Logitech Mouse with Spin Wheel

Mouse Tech

  1. How to Choose a Gaming Mouse?
  2. Why You Need 9 Buttons Mouse?
  3. Mouse Size Comparisons
  4. Mouse Weight Comparison
  5. What's Mouse DPI? Does DPI Matter in Gaming?
  6. What's Mouse Polling Rate
  7. What's the Difference Between Optical Mouse and Laser Mouse?
  8. Mouse Wheel: Smooth Scroll vs Notched Scroll
  9. Logitech Mouse with Spin Wheel