How to Choose a Mouse

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Tips on chosing a mouse for people who need to use it 8 hours a day.

Most Important: Shape and Size

No 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.

[see Mouse Size Comparisons]

There is no way to tell just by reading online reviews. You really need to try it, and for a few days.

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 mx master wireless mouse 83738-s250x250
Logitech MX Master Mouse

Logitech MX Master Wireless Mouse. It has auto-mode-switching “hyper wheel”. If you roll it slowly, it's clicky, but if you roll it fast, it spins.

Logitech MX Master 2s

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.

cm recon mouse aba02-s273x229
CM Storm Recon Mouse Review

The CM Storm Recon scroll the wheel has high resistance and slippery surface. Bad everything else too.

Logitech G700s mouse 07225-s263x238
Logitech G700s Mouse Review

The Logitech G700s Mouse has superb scroll wheel. 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

Number of Buttons, 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 become 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 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 want lots buttons.

[see Why You Need 9 Buttons Mouse]

Microsoft sidewinder x3 mouse 2
Microsoft sidewinder x3 mouse (discontinued). Example of bad buttons. It has one small button on each side of the mouse. Effectively only one of them is usable. And even so, the button is tiny and hard to press.
Logitech G602 mouse
Logitech G602 Mouse Example of excellent thumb buttons. Sculpted, easy to press, easy to get to the button you want by touch. No accidental clicks. Buy at amazon

Get Left-Handed Mouse for Lefty

If you are left-handed, do not buy those symmetric (so-called “ambidextrous”) mouse. Because buttons on the other side becomes useless.

Get a left-handed mouse.

contour unimouse 1e0e8 s342x183
Left Handed Mouse
3m ergonomic mouse stick gnbps-s236x265
Ergonomic Mouse

Gaming Mouse or Not

For serious computer user, mouses marketed as “gaming mouse” are 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 Optical Mouse vs Laser Mouse]

DPI

DPI is not important, even for gaming. Basically, all mouses you buy today have sufficient DPI even if you have huge screen.

[see What's Mouse DPI? Does DPI Matter?]

[see What's Mouse Polling Rate]

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.

ROCCAT Gaming Mouse with Linux Support

How to Chose a Mouse

  1. How to Choose a Mouse
  2. Why 10 Buttons Mouse
  3. Does DPI Matter?
  4. What's Polling Rate
  5. Optical Mouse vs Laser Mouse
  6. Smooth Scroll vs Notched Scroll
  7. Mouse with Spin Wheel
  8. Mouse Size Comparisons
  9. Mouse Weight Comparison
  10. Best Mouse for Programers

If you have a question, put $5 at patreon and message me.

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