How to Choose a Gaming Mouse?

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Most Important: Shape and Size

Doesn't matter what fantastic features it has, when a mouse doesn't fit YOUR hand or the way YOU grip the mouse, it's a thorn on the side.

microsoft natural 6000 mouse and other mouses
different shapes and sizes of mouses.

See photos of different mouse sizes, at Mouse Size Comparisons.

Scroll Wheel Feel

Second most important aspect is scroll wheel. The wheel is the thing on the mouse you use the most often, it must not rub you the wrong way.

Some mouse, it's hard to scroll. You'll feel it after a while when you scroll all day when browsing the web.

logitech anywhere 2 mouse
“Logitech Anywhere Mouse 2” has “hyper wheel”. If you roll it slowly, it's clicky, but if you roll it fast, it spins. Logitech Anywhere Mouse

〔►see Logitech Gaming Mouses Review

Watch out for mouses with slippery wheel surface and strong wheel resistance. With such mouse, it requires you to hold the mouse firmly, else you slip, or the mouse gets pushed.

For example, the CM Storm Recon Mouse. The scroll the wheel has high resistance. You have to hold the mouse firmly, otherwise the mouse will move. This is bad.

The Logitech G700s Mouse, you can just put a finger on the scroll wheel and roll. The mouse won't move. No need to hold the mouse firmly. (even when the mouse wheel is in clicky mode.)

logitech g300 mouse 2
Example of a wheel that's hard to use. Small, embedded. This mouse is otherwise excellent and good price. Logitech G300s Gaming Mouse

For more about Logitech's spin wheel, see: Logitech Mouse with Spin Wheel

Number of Button, Position and Feel

For mouse with more than 3 buttons, the button's position and feel must be right, to YOU.

For 5 or more button mouses, the extra buttons don't have standardized positions. When the position isn't right, some button will be very hard to use, essentially making them useless.

If you are buying a mouse with more than 3 buttons, it's critical to check those extra button's position and feel.

3 buttons is basic. But 5 buttons is quite essential. The extra 2 buttons can be used for backward browser page, copy/paste, or switch apps, switch tab, or close tab.

For gamer, or a programer, or digital media professional (game design, 3D modeling, video editing), you'll want 7 or more buttons. See: Why You Need 9 Buttons Mouse?.

Microsoft sidewinder x3 mouse 2
Microsoft sidewinder x3 mouse (discontinued). Example of bad buttons. The 4th and 5th buttons are small, positioned on each side. effectively only one of them is usable.
logitech g700 mouse 2
Logitech G700 mouse. Example of excellent thumb buttons. Sculpted, easy to press, feel. No accidental clicks. But the top-left 3 extra buttons, are very bad, very difficult to press, essentially making them useless. 〔►see Logitech G700s Mouse ReviewBuy at amazon

Get Left-Handed Mouse for Lefty

Most mouses are right-handed. 4th and 5th buttons are positioned for your thumb, which is the best. If you are left-handed, you might shop for a dedicated left-handed mouse with dedicated shape. A left-handed mouse is much better than so-called ambidextrous (symmetric) ones.

Razer DeadAdder mouse left-handed Evoluent VerticalMouse lefthand
Left Handed Mouse

Gaming Mouse or Not

For serious computer user, gaming mouse is always better, because:

Laser or Optical

Laser lets you track more surfaces, such as on glass surface or carpet. However, laser may be worse for gaming, because when you lift the mouse, the pointer may jitter. See: What's the Difference Between Optical Mouse and Laser Mouse?.


DPI is NOT important, even for gaming. Basically, all mouses you buy today have sufficient DPI even if you have huge screen. But also, you can adjust mouse pointer sensitivity in {Windows, Linux, Mac}.

DPI is a marketing ploy for gaming mouse. The importance of DPI is a undying myth. In fact, if you are a pro gamer in first-person shooter games, you probably should use a lower DPI (For example, 800 or 1200) (and possibly turn on acceleration). Because lower DPI gives you precision, and acceleration gives you speed for fast turn-around, dynamically controlled by you by the speed you move the mouse. See: What's Mouse DPI? Does Mouse DPI Matter in Gaming?.

Some hardcore first-person shooter gamers will tell you to turn off pointer acceleration and set DPI to high, such as 3k or 4k. Don't believe them. 1200 DPI is enough.

Does Increasing Mouse Polling Rate Matter?

Many gaming mouse can set polling rate to a high number, such as 500 Hz or 1000 Hz.

Polling rate is the rate your computer receive mouse signals. (on the USB bus, on a fixed interval, it asks for each device to send signal. Thus, it's called “polling” rate.)

By default, Microsoft Windows and Linux set polling rate to 125Hz (meaning, 125 times per second)

Most gaming mouse will set a faster polling rate, via its driver software.

Here's a table of polling rate and delay.

polling rate and delay
counts per sec (Hz)delay (in second)
125 (default)0.008

So, the question is, do you move the mouse fast and accurate enough such that a delay smaller than 0.008 second makes a difference?

For some gamer, they say they can feel the difference between 125 Hz and 500 Hz, but not above. The logic might be like this:

Therefore, increasing the mouse polling rate might make things a bit smoother.

Setting higher polling rate sucks battery life faster.

Other Mouse Features

There are many other aspects of mouse and features, but mostly it depends on person, need, preference, and choices should be obvious.

• Wired vs wireless. Wireless is convenient, but with wired mouse you don't have to worry about battery or charging.

• Mouses differ in weight. Wireless mouse often has battery, so it's heavier. Some gaming mouse has detachable weight, that lets you adjust. Kinda silly.

What About Mac and Linux?

Standard 3-buttons mouses works in any OS without extra software.

For gaming mouse, the extra buttons or features may not work in Linux or Mac. You need to check their spec.

Mouse with Full Linux Support

If you want a mouse for Linux with dedicated driver software (so you don't need to setup on Microsoft Windows first), then, get ROCCAT Mouse.

ROCCAT Kone mouse
ROCCAT Kone mouse, full Linux support. ROCCAT KONE mouse

ROCCAT Gaming Mouse with Linux Support