What is the best gaming mouse? Why do you need one? What differentiates a good mouse from a bad one for gaming? To get answers to these questions, we first need to understand the features offered by a gaming grade mouse by taking a detailed look at what each of them is meant for and study some of the most common jargons used by hardware manufacturers when it comes to mice.
DPI – Dots Per Inch
Since pixels are actually small rectangles or boxes, this is a vague term that has come to measure the accuracy of computer mice. The higher DPI of 1600 allows you to be more accurate because when you move the mouse by one inch, it updates 1600 times while at 400 dpi the mouse will update only 400 times. An alternative term is widely used these days by mouse manufacturers for something similar – CPI.
CPI – Counts Per Inch
CPI or Counts per Inch is the number of “counts” recorded by the sensor over 1 inch of physical movement of the mouse. These counts are nothing but movement data which is interpreted as movement over a certain amount of pixels on the desktop or in-game with cursors (usually one count per pixel) or a certain change in the degrees of orientation of the player’s character in-game. The way these counts are calculated is by the size of the array in a sensor, the number of frames the sensor captures per second and how quickly the sensor can process this information.
Mouse accelerate is probably the most misunderstood concept out there. The mouse acceleration, in the majority of mouse software, refers to the setting allowing the user to modify the pointer acceleration i.e., the change in speed of the mouse pointer over a period of time while the mouse movement remains constant. The software will count the number of counts which is simply movement data received from the mouse and will move the pointer across the screen by that number of pixels (or multiplied by a rate factor, typically less than 1). Most of the gaming mice have the specified rate of acceleration. Once the mouse is moved from one point to another, at a rate faster than its specified acceleration, the mouse may fail and the cursor movements on the screen will no longer correspond to the mouse movements by the user. The Kinzu is marked for 20G Acceleration while the Logitech MX is rated for up to 15G Acceleration. Here, G is measured a unit of acceleration of gravity, where one g is equivalent to a rate of change of 9.8 m/s/s (meters per second each second). Exceeding a sensor’s g rating may cause the sensor to lose tracking.
So a figure like 15g means 15 times more acceleration than free falling. To help put this in perspective, a formula one race car accelerates at roughly 6g, the Apollo 16 on re-entry reached 8g and a fighter jet can reach 12g. So if you believe your arm can accelerate at the same speed as a fighter jet, this feature might interest you but for the majority, it can be ignored.
Frames per second: To detect movement, traditional optical and laser mice emit a beam of light which is reflected off the mousing/yawing surface, back into the sensor. This creates an image that is stored in the sensor. The frames per second specification indicates how many images a sensor will take per second, which the sensor will then use to calculate the mouse’s precise location, speed and direction.
While tracking, a mouse sends its X and Y movement calculations, as well as which buttons are pressed, to the computer 125 times a second (meaning once every 8ms). This is known as a polling rate and is expressed in Hz (hertz). Most mice often have a polling rate of 125Hz. The SteelSeries Kinzu for example, can be polled to a maximum of 1000 Hz.
Lift (Lift Off Distance): A metric that measures the height that an optical or laser sensor will continue to process images up until, after the mouse has been lifted off the mousing surface. You will often see a lot of professional players dragging their mouse on their monster mats with either the tail or the side slightly in the air. Lift is the distance above the mouse mat where the mouse will continue tracking (i.e. the cursor will move on the screen) even when lifted in the air. Some mice allow as high as 2 centimeters as the lift-off distance.
Inches per second: IPS measures the maximum speed at which the mouse can be physically moved across the mousing surface before it loses tracking accuracy and fails. Once the mouse is moved faster than its IPS rating and fails, the cursor movements on the screen will no longer correspond to the mouse movements by the user.
Expanded “x”-bit data format
What is a bit? A bit is a single digit that can be 1 or 0. Every move you make on your mouse or button you press is sent to the computer through data packets. The size of these packets and how much information they contain is based on the format and the available bits of data. The more bits, the better it allows the mouse to keep track of accelerations and movements for more directions and allows more buttons.
Gamers usually prefer Laser mice to Optical mice due to their higher DPI. The former generally cost more. Laser mice are also known to be usable on a variety of surfaces whereas optical mice have somewhat limited scope in this respect.
Having read this guide you are now able to understand what you need to to know for picking out your gaming mouse from the options available in the vast gaming hardware market today. Rockstars have their guitar, artists their paintbrush and gamers their mouse.