Every PC gamer owns a mouse, but not every PC gamer owns a mouse that’s ideally suited to gaming. Gaming mice differ in some key ways from the average mouse: they’re lower latency, come with better software for custom tweaking, support higher DPI settings, and use sensors that keep up with faster movements. If you play any games more intense than Solitaire, you should be doing it with a gaming mouse. But which gaming mouse? Based on our research, hands-on testing, and gaming with a couple dozen gaming mice, these are the best.
Update 8/15/2015: We've updated our favorite mouse for a small hand with the Logitech G303, which is also an ideal MOBA gaming mouse.
The Razer Deathadder 2013 is the best gaming mouse I’ve ever used, and I’ve spent a few hundred hours playing games, using Photoshop, and browsing the Internet with it over the past year and a half. In that time I’ve used a couple other dozen mice for variety and testing, but the Deathadder has become my standard go-to. At a price of about $50 (£64), it’s also more affordable than a large number of gaming mice I’ve used.
The Deathadder 2013 uses a 6400 CPI optical sensor, has a large, well-notched scroll wheel, and two large buttons on the left side of the mouse that feel satisfying to click, but are stiff enough to prevent accidental presses. The buttons sit just above a large rubber grip pad that helps keep your thumb anchored on the mouse at all times, and they can easily be pressed without repositioning your thumb.
The placement and feel of those buttons and the grip pad play a large part in why I think the Deathadder 2013 is the best gaming mouse. The Deathadder has a fast, shallow click with two slightly concave grooves on the left/right mouse buttons that your fingers can nestle into.
The mouse’s matte plastic texture is also fantastic—while my hand still gets sweaty when I’m playing intense games, the Deathadder’s material doesn’t make me lose my grip or cause me to sweat as much as soft touch rubber coatings.
The shape of the Deathadder 2013 makes it work with palm, claw, and hybrid grips, with the palm anchored solidly on the back of the mouse with two fingers arched over left/right click. In all my time gaming with the Deathadder, I’ve never found my hand get sore, or found my hand overly relaxed when gripping the mouse—I always feel alert, but still comfortable. The mouse slides very well despite its 105 gram weight—heavier than mice like the Steelseries Sensei, but much lighter than the 145 gram Logitech G502 Proteus Core.
There’s no “right” weight for a mouse, necessarily, but I’ve talked to pro gamers who play Counter-Strike, Starcraft, Battlefield, and other games, and they almost universally recommend the same thing when it comes to gaming mice: the lighter and simpler the better.
Fewer buttons are generally better than more buttons, which can over-complicate the design of a mouse or make it harder to grip. A lighter weight means you can make more precise movements more quickly with less exertion. The Deathadder strikes the right balance here: it’s large, but still light, making it ideal for a wide range of hand sizes, and its two buttons allow for a couple specific keybinds.
When the Deathadder was first released, some users complained about “smoothing” on the sensor, and I’ve seen other users say that those issues were later fixed in firmware. By the same token, I’ve seen some claims that one particular optical sensor is the best on the market, while others claim it’s unusable for gaming. There’s rarely consensus on these types of issues, and in my experience using the Deathadder for more than a year, I’ve never encountered any smoothing on my cursor movements, jitter, or any other issues. I typically use the Deathadder at between 1600 and 1800 CPI, higher than many games but much lower than the 6400 CPI maximum. If any smoothing issues appear, they likely appear at CPIs closer to 6400, which is typical with gaming mice—they don’t perform as optimally near their maximum performance threshold.
In addition to using the Deathadder 2013 in day-to-day gaming, I put it to the test with MouseTester to check for issues like jitter, acceleration and smoothing.
I’ve seen complaints in the past about Razer’s build quality and reliability, but I’ve never experienced those issues with the Deathadder 2013. It’s held up well for me after more than a year of use, and on Amazon, the mouse has a 4.5/5 star rating with more than 2600 ratings. Most of the mouse’s negative reviews focus on Razer’s Synapse driver software. Synapse has a cloud component, which requires an Internet connection for the initial 30 second sign-up. That sucks—you shouldn’t have to be online to start using the software—but once you’re registered, it doesn’t require an always-on connection, and the interface is great.
Synapse is extremely simple and straightforward, without being garishly ugly like some driver software, or slugglish and crashy, or crammed with excess, needless features. With the Deathadder, there are simple tabs for customizing mouse profiles, CPI, and surface optimization. There’s a tab for macros and one for lighting, and that’s about it. And having that data synced to the cloud is handy; it’s not as handy as having everything stored onboard, like in the Steelseries Sensei, but that’s part of why the Deathadder 2013 only costs $50. The mouse also has a small bit of onboard memory for remembering its last CPI setting, so you can set that in Synapse and uninstall it if you choose.
As I was writing this guide, Razer released a new version of the Deathadder, the Deathadder Chroma, with a new 10,000 CPI sensor and RGB lighting. The body design is unchanged. It's $70, so more expensive than the Deathadder 2013, and the sensor hasn't been exhaustively tested yet. Higher CPI isn't necessarily better, but Razer could have potentially improved upon what I already consider the best gaming mouse. I'm still going to recommend the 2013, which is an amazing choice for its price, until I've done further testing (and the Internet's mouse experts have put the Chroma through rigorous analysis).
For the majority of games and gamers, the Deathadder 2013 is the best mouse. It’s simple where it should be, has a great optical mouse sensor that will work on both hard and cloth pads, and has the ultimate body shape for a claw or hybrid claw/palm grip. But I realize it’s not perfect for everyone—if you have a smaller hand, or need to game left-handed, or want a mouse with more features, read on.
The Steelseries Sensei Raw is a fantastic ambidextrous mouse, and that surprised me, because I don't think its big brother, the Sensei, is a great mouse. But the Sensei Raw is a rare example of minimalism in the gaming mouse space. By cutting out some of the Sensei's unneeded features and slashing the price, the Sensei Raw becomes a lean, mean headshotting machine.
I first used the Steelseries Sensei in 2013 and criticized several things about it. Its ambidextrous body design means it’s never going to contour to a right-handed grip as well as the Deathadder. The metallic surface of the regular model Sensei is slick to the touch and offers a poor grip, and it can quickly grow slippery with palm sweat. I sometimes found myself accidentally hitting the buttons on the right side of the mouse while I was gripping it.
But the big killer was Steelseries’ driver software, which was laggy and prone to crashes. The Sensei didn’t need that software to work, but it was still a negative element of using that mouse. At $90, the Sensei definitely wasn’t a contender for best gaming mouse.
The $60 (£43) Sensei Raw is a different story. Even its glossy finish feels much better under the hand and isn’t a sweat magnet, though I’d recommend the rubberized version. The Raw drops the Sensei’s built-in processor, which makes it a much cheaper mouse, and it doesn’t lose much in the process—you can still adjust the CPI in software and switch between two CPI settings on the fly. Steelseries also released a new version of its Steelseries Engine software that’s much improved—when I used it with the Raw, it was more responsive and never crashed.
While I still find that I sometimes accidentally hit the right-side buttons on the Sensei Raw, that’s going to be a problem in almost any ambidextrous mouse design. The buttons do feel great to click, and the Sensei has a fantastic shape and extremely light body. My biggest criticism, in fact, is that it’s so light, the mouse cord (rubber, rather than the lighter braided nylon) can actually move the mouse across the pad by itself if it has a kink in it. This is more of a problem with the cord than the mouse weight itself, and it never affected me while I was gaming—it can just be annoying to see the cursor crawl across the screen when your hand isn’t touching it.
Compared to to the other ambidextrous mice I tested, primarily the Mionix Avior and Razer Taipan, the Sensei Raw is perfect for claw or hybrid claw/palm grippers. It’s hard to find a mouse significantly lighter than the Raw’s 90 grams. The Sensei is used frequently at the pro gaming level, and Steelseries hasn’t changed its body design since its introduction, and that’s a testament to just how much they got right (though, granted, Steelseries also sponsors many e-sports teams).
If you’re looking for a left-handed mouse, go with the Steelseries Sensei Raw. It’s affordable at $60 and one of the best-designed gaming mice around. With software that, finally, doesn't suck.
After months of testing, my new recommendation for a small gaming mouse is the Logitech G303 Daedalus Apex. It’s also the best mouse I’ve ever used aimed at MOBA gamers, thanks to an extremely tight click distance that lowers the amount of time it takes to register a click, from press to activation. More importantly, the G303 uses the PMW-3366 sensor, which Logitech designed with sensor company Pixart. It’s currently the best mouse sensor on the market, capable of scaling up to 12,000 DPI without sacrificing accuracy.
The G303 uses the same body as Logitech’s G302, which was specifically aimed at MOBA players, and upgrades it with the superior PMW-3366 sensor. That makes it an ideal mouse for any type of game, so long as its shape fits your hand. At 87 grams (excluding cable), it’s lightweight, and ideally shaped for any gamer with a smaller hand to use in a palm or claw grip.
The G303’s left and right click buttons use springs to pull the buttons down closer to the body of the mouse, giving it a very fast, very satisfying click. The speed difference compared to most gaming mice may be a mere few milliseconds, but even that tiny advantage in reaction time could make the difference in a tight team battle. This is a holdover of the G302’s MOBA-focused design, but it’s just as valuable to shooter players who want to be able to pull off a fast shot.
I don’t think the G303 is quite perfect. My hand is actually slightly too big for it, which is why I prefer the larger Razer Deathadder. I also appreciate that it only has two thumb buttons, where many MOBA-focused mice think that tacking on half a dozen extra buttons will help your play. In my experience, simpler is almost always better. The G303’s buttons are a bit too small, and the left side of the mouse is a smooth plastic surface with LEDs behind it instead of a grippier rubber. I think it’s a case of form over function, but the buttons still have a satisfying click and I haven’t had any problems gripping the mouse despite that smooth siding.
I’d like to see a version of the G303 that offers a rubber thumb grip and larger thumb buttons, but even in its current form, the G303’s sensor and left/right click make it the best-feeling, most responsive small mouse I’ve put my hand on.
The Logitech G502 Proteus Core ($78/£67) is a 121 gram monster (that’s with its weights removed, and not counting the cable), slightly longer than the Deathadder, and built to look vaguely like some kind of futuristic weapon. It also happens to have the best mouse sensor on the market. Where most gaming mice use custom-tuned variations of the same pool of Avago sensors, Logitech is still doing a ton of their own engineering work, and have fitted the mouse with 12,000 CPI sensor that can be configured to a lift-off distance of about 1mm, making it a great choice for either high or low sensitivity players.
12,000 CPI is absolutely overkill, and it would be all but impossible to play a game at that setting without massively cranking down sensitivity in-game. But mouse enthusiasts who have put the G502 to the test back up Logitech’s claim that the sensor has no smoothing at any sensitivity level, and have found that it’s acceleration- and jitter-free even at max CPI. That’s impressive: its means the mouse has a high enough maximum control rate, even at 12,000 CPI, to track fast swipes without losing accuracy.
While the G502 looks far more angular than the G500s it replaces, it’s actually similar in shape and ergonomics. It’s primarily built for a palm grip thanks to its heavy left-side thumb groove, but you can still claw grip the mouse with some compromises. The G502 is packed with extra buttons—two to the left of the left mouse click, two above the thumb groove, and a “sniper” button at the end of the thumb groove. Its scroll wheel also has a button to switch from free to notched scrolling, has the standard middle click, and also can rock left-to-right for two more clicks.
In the palm grip, it’s difficult (impractical, really) to use the two buttons that rest next to your index finger. They’re easier to press with a claw grip, but that still means moving your finger off the primary mouse click, which you won’t want to do often—and a claw grip means repositioning the thumb and losing some of the stability of the thumb groove, plus the sniper button. I also don’t think the two thumb buttons, which sit above the thumb, are as well-positioned as the Deathadder’s. Having to raise your thumb up to press them, rather than being able to rest it partially on them, makes them less practical in the heat of the moment.
Beyond those criticisms, the G502 has the best-designed body of any heavy mouse I’ve used. The left side has a rubbery grip for the pinky, and the surface of the mouse uses a nice matte plastic. Left click has a subtle, but nice, concave design that cradles your finger. And if you’re getting the G502 because you like a heavy mouse, you can make it even heavier with its removable weights.
Logitech’s gaming software is good, though I prefer the simplicity of Razer Synapse (Logitech’s has some unnecessary animations that don’t add anything to usability). Unlike Synapse, though, the G502’s drivers don’t require an online account, and they allow you to tweak the usual features—profiles and keybinds, macros, sensitivity levels, and lighting. The software also has surface tuning for analyzing a mousepad, which is how the G502 can get down to such a low lift-off distance.
Due to the design and placement of its buttons, and its heavy weight, the G502 isn’t as great an all-around mouse as the Deathadder 2013. It’s also expensive at $80. But for gamers who love a heavy mouse, and anyone who cares deeply about mouse sensors and can feel even the tiniest differences between them, the Logitech G502 Proteus Core is the mouse to get.
Gaming mice differ in some key ways from the average wireless Logitech mouse: they’re often lower latency, come with better software for custom tweaking, support higher CPI settings, and use sensors that can keep up with faster movements. Most importantly, the best gaming mice will perfectly translate hand movements into cursor movements without wrecking your aim with issues like acceleration, angle snapping, or jitter (more on what those mean below).
Based on my own research, hands-on testing, gaming with a couple dozen gaming mice, and talking to professional gamers, the Razer Deathadder 2013 is the best gaming mouse. It uses an accurate 6400 CPI optical sensor and has a body shape no other gaming mouse has matched. It’s fantastic for both palm and claw grips, has two perfectly positioned buttons on its left side, a matte plastic surface that keeps hand sweat at a minimum, and grippy rubber pads on the left and right sides that help with mouse control. The Deathadder 2013 isn’t the lightest gaming mouse around, but it is still pretty light at 105 grams, and that’s important. It helps the mouse glide well and allows you to make quick, precise movements without slinging around extra weight.
Of course, gaming mice aren’t like processors or graphics cards—performance and price aren’t everything. It’s important for a gaming mice to perform well, but it’s just as important for it to fit your hand, to be comfortable and right for your grip and the way you play games. While the experts I’ve talked to believe that lighter, simpler gaming mice are better than heavier, more complicated ones, the same mouse isn’t going to work well for everyone. With that in mind, I also have recommendations for gamers who want an ambidextrous mouse, gamers who want a smaller mouse suited to a smaller hand, and gamers who want to spend a bit more money for the best mouse sensor currently available.
I’ve used enough gaming mice to have a good feel for build quality, button placement, and shape. My opinions on those aspects of mouse design are naturally subjective, but they’re also well-informed. The tricky part of testing gaming mice is analyzing the other part of the equation: tracking performance, jitter, angle snapping, acceleration, and perfect control speed, and determining how each of those issues affect the experience of using a mouse.
What do all those terms mean? If you’re deeply interested in the intricacies of gaming mice, you can read this amazingly thorough guide on Overclock.net. But here are some basic definitions that will help you understand why each of these terms are important issues.
Grip refers to how you hold the mouse. The most common grips are palm, claw, and fingertip. Here's a good example of how each grip works.
CPI stands for counts per inch, or how many times the mouse sensor will read its tracking surface, aka your mousepad, for every inch it’s moved. This is commonly referred to as DPI, but CPI is a more accurate term. The lower the CPI, the further you have to move the mouse to move the cursor on screen.
Jitter refers to an inaccuracy in a mouse sensor reading the surface it’s tracking. Jitter often occurs at higher mouse movement speeds or higher CPIs. Jitter can make your cursor jump erratically, and even slight jitter could wreck a shot in an FPS or make you misclick on a unit in an RTS.
Angle snapping, also called prediction, takes data from a mouse sensor and modifies the output with the goal of creating smoother movements. For example, if you try to draw a horizontal line with your mouse, it won’t be perfect—you’ll make some subtle curves in the line, especially at higher sensitivities. Angle snapping smooths out those curves and gives you a straight line instead. This is generally bad because it means your cursor movements won’t match your hand’s movements 1:1, and angle snapping isn’t going to be useful in most games. Thankfully, almost all gaming mice have angle snapping disabled by default.
Acceleration is probably the most reviled, most scrutinized issue with gaming mouse sensors. When a mouse sensor exhibits acceleration, that means that your cursor will move faster the faster you move the mouse; this is often considered bad, because it means moving the mouse slowly six inches across a mousepad will move the cursor a different distance than moving the mouse rapidly the same distance. This introduces variability that can be hard to predict.
Perfect control speed, or malfunction rate, refers to the speed at which the mouse can be moved while still tracking accurately. Most gaming mice will track extremely accurately when moved at slow speeds, but low CPI players will often move their mice large distances across the mousepads at very high speeds. At high speeds, and especially at high CPIs, not all mouse sensors are able to retain their tracking accuracy. The point at which the sensors stops tracking accurately will differ between CPI levels.
Lift-off distance is still a popular metric in mouse enthusiast circles, though it's not one that affects most gamers. LOD refers to the height a mouse has to be raised before the sensor stops tracking its surface. Some gamers prefer a mouse with a very low lift-off distance because they play at a very low sensitivity, and often have to lift their mouse off the pad to "reset" it in a position where they can continue swiping. With a low LOD, the cursor isn't going to be moved erratically when the mouse is lifted up.
I used a piece of software called MouseTester to see if I could spot any glaring issues with the mice I used. In every gaming mouse I tested, though, angle snapping and acceleration were disabled in the mouse drivers by default (though a mouse can still exhibit acceleration that comes from issues with the sensor itself) and I never encountered any glaring performance issues.
Like in audiophile circles, there’s a small group of people who can notice and care deeply about the most minute differences in mouse sensors. But for most gamers, including myself, the differences are hard to pick up on in everyday gaming. I’m more concerned with the design of the mouse, the placement and quality of its buttons and its driver software, as long as jitter and acceleration don’t crop up in my FPS and MOBA matches.
I’ve used about two dozen mice over the past year, judging them by the criteria I’ve referenced to this point. How well does it fit various grips? Does the sensor feel accurate? How light is the mouse? How well does it glide? Are its buttons smartly placed and satisfyingly tactile?
The Steelseries Rival is a good optical mouse, but its right-handed body design isn’t as perfect as the Deathadder’s. I love its large, easy to click left-side buttons, but its rubber grips are almost uncomfortably rough. They’re grippy, which is good, but they’re not pleasant to rest your hand against, which is bad.
The Razer Naga, an MMO mouse, has a dozen buttons are arrayed in a grid on its left side. That’s all well and good if you’re looking exclusively for an MMO mouse, but for most other games, those buttons are bad news. They’re small and identical, and they also take up a big chunk of the mouse side, making it harder to grip the mouse without pressing them. MMO mice simply aren’t good for playing first-person shooters or other genres that prioritize speed and accuracy over lots of inputs.
The Razer Naga Hex is a better general-purpose mouse than the regular Naga, but it’s still not ideal for most game genres. It’s oddly shaped, slanted heavily to the right, which places prominence on the six button array on the right side. A small nub in the middle of the hexagonal button grid lets you pinch the side of the mouse with your thumb, but I wouldn’t recommend the mouse for most games. The plastic surface of the top of the mouse is also poor for grip and a sweat disaster waiting to happen.
The Logitech G600 is an MMO mouse that’s not pleasant to hold or game with at all. The mouse body is squat, and the 12 buttons on its left side are mushy and unsatisfying to press. The groove on the right side of the mouse, where the ring is meant to rest, makes for a far-too-relaxed grip ill-suited to action games.
The Gamdias Erebos is the only gaming mouse I’ve ever tested that caused me actual physical pain. It’s an ambidextrous mouse with buttons on both the left and right side, and they’re sharp. The right-side thumb button is easy to stab your pinky with. Pinky injuries are not good for grip.
The CM Storm Havoc is slightly bulky, but its biggest issue is the smooth surface on the right side of the mouse. It’s difficult to grip, which is bad for playing action-heavy games like shooters and MOBAs. The rubber texture on the scroll wheel is also a gross, smooth surface that feels bad under the finger and doesn’t offer a very satisfying scroll.
The Kone XTD and Kone XTD Optical is a great mouse for gamers with larger hands. It has an excellently designed right-handed ergonomic shape, extremely customizable drivers, and a scroll wheel that clicks left and right, a feature I love from older (non-gaming) Logitech mice. But it’s also an expensive mouse, and part of that expense goes into two LED stripes around the edge of the mouse that are smooth and slightly impact its grip. I found the lift-off distance in the Kone Optical to be very high, even after calibrating it. And $90 is a lot of money for a gaming mouse. The Logitech G502 Proteus Core is a newer mouse with a superior sensor and a similar size and grip. It’s just a better choice.
Logitech updated the G400s and G500s with new models after they were on the market for only a year. And they needed updating. The G400s feels thoroughly cheap, especially its terrible rubber scroll wheel, and while the G500s feels better, both have a too-smooth plastic surface and sensors that hardcore mouse enthusiasts have criticized since their release. Logitech’s newer mice are definite improvements.
That said, I still don’t think the G402 Hyperion Fury, the replacement for the G400s, is a great mouse. It has a newer sensor, but the shape of the mouse and its button feel and placement is inferior to the G502. The spacing between the two thumb buttons and the two forward finger buttons creates an uncomfortable sharp edge. It’s a pretty light mouse, which is good. But because of that, and the way your thumb fits into the side slot, you have to raise your thumb up to press the two side buttons, which adds a little lift to the mouse or requires you to reposition your thumb. Not ideal mid-gaming. I wouldn’t recommend the G402 to anyone over the Deathadder or the G502.
The Corsair M65 is one of the top contenders that didn’t make the cut, and I think it’s a good mouse for FPS players who like bulkier mice. It has a great, heavy scroll wheel, very low lift-off distance, and a well-placed “sniper” button under the thumb. Unfortunately, its other thumb buttons are small, and you can’t have your thumb in the cradle and press up to press them easily. You have to move your thumb up and press with flat of thumb. The driver software is also fairly ugly and barebones and not as feature-packed or well-designed as some of the competitors. It’s on the heavy side, even with weights removed.
The Mionix Naos 7000 and its successor, the 8200, is an extremely comfortable mouse. Its soft touch rubber coating feels great on the hand, and its right-handed ergonomic grip is slightly strange at first, but very comfortable once you adjust to it. The left-side buttons feel good to click, but are slightly too small and slightly easy to accidentally press. I have two primary criticisms of the Naos: its shape makes claw gripping awkward and difficult, so it’s really only suited to palm grippers. And while its soft touch coating is comfy, it makes my hand sweat almost immediately when I start playing games, moreso than any other mouse I’ve used. Unless you have an extremely dry hand, that’s an unfortunate deal-breaker.
Other mice I’ve used in the past include the Roccat Savu (too small for many hands), Logitech G9x (a classic with a fantastic body, but no longer made), Mad Catz RAT 7 (far too heavy, and $90), the Razer Taipan (its sensor has been criticized for acceleration issues, and its ergonomic shape can’t quite match the Sensei’s).
There are still some gaming mice out there that I’ve never tested. It’s a field crowded with hundreds of competitors. But most of the mice I’ve never used are cheap, with poor body designs or laser sensors that hardcore mouse enthusiasts criticize for accuracy issues. There are new mice coming out all the time, and I plan to test new mice and keep this article updated as they’re released.
There are also some mice I haven’t gotten my hands on that are either brand new or have a loyal fanbase, including the Zowie FK1, Roccat Tyon and Kone Pure Military. I also didn’t consider MMO or wireless mice in this guide (though you’ll note above why I think several MMO mice are bad for general gaming).
Wireless mice are, at best, going to equal the performance of other gaming mice, while generally costing far more money. I consider those separate categories from the best all-around gaming mouse, so we’ll be testing those for their own articles.
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