Your desktop or laptop is at the heart of your PC gaming life, but nothing happens without proper input. Mechanical keyboards are the weapons of choice regarding player movement, weapon assignments, chatting, and whatnot. But you need a great mouse too — one that doesn’t trip over its own tail in performance. That’s where our picks for the best gaming mouse comes in.
Although you can purchase any mouse sold on the market, our batch of mice is built specifically for gaming. They typically have high-durance switches, optical sensors with high sensitivities, on-board memory for storing customized settings, and a larger assortment of buttons to handle your portfolio of commands and abilities.
All those features trickle down into the final price tag. But they’re worth the money if you do enough research and find the best investment to meet your needs for years to come.
Steelseries Rival 700
Why should you buy this: The Rival 700 provides a great blend of customization and performance.
Who’s it for: PC gamers wanting to add flair to their desktop.
How much will it cost: $75
Why we picked the Steelseries Rival 700:
We love this mouse on many different levels. For starters, it includes a built-in OLED screen that displays any black and white design you create, whether it’s a static image or an animation that runs 10 frames per second. Granted your images are only at a 128 x 36 resolution, that’s large enough to claim the mouse as your own with logos, names, and so on. You can create unique designs through the free desktop software or download and install pre-generated content from the company’s website.
But that’s not all. Customization continues on with a rubbery nameplate on the back of the mouse that you can replaced with 3D-printed files provided by the company. The black backplate can be swapped out as well with blue, white, or red versions sold as a three-piece kit on the company’s site for $20. SteelSeries sells two extra USB cables for $10 too.
The second biggest feature with the Rival 700 is its tactile feedback. That means you can program the mouse to vibrate whenever a specific action or event appears on the screen. For instance, by using the desktop software, you can program the mouse to create a long vibration when the right mouse button remains pressed, providing the “feel” of a machine gun. This feedback is assigned to profiles you create which in turn are tied to whatever game you select. Thus, if you load DOOM on your PC, the profile will load too along with the assigned tactile feedbacks, commands, and illumination.
Finally, the mouse relies on in-house switches rated for 30 million clicks. There are seven buttons overall that are fully programmable through the desktop software. The Rival 700 simply feels extremely solid throughout its design: there’s nothing cheap or fragile sitting under your fingertips. Unfortunately, the Rival 700 is only designed for right-handed gamers, so if you’re a leftie, scroll down for a mouse designed just for you.
The best mouse for lefties
Razer DeathAdder Left-Handed Edition
Why should you buy this: If you’re a leftie, here’s a mouse designed specifically for you.
Who’s it for: Left-handed PC gamers, of course!
How much will it cost: $60
Why we picked the Razer DeathAdder Left-Handed Edition:
Mice designed for left-handed gamers are a rare breed. Although lefties work with the right side of their brains, manufacturers mostly cater to the right-handed crowd. That makes this version of the DeathAdder extremely special given the popularity of the right-handed model.
For starters, DeathAdder is a $60 device, so you’re not going to see a lot of flair. Instead, that price tag translates into performance and an extremely solid build. It’s based on an optical sensor with a sensitivity up to 3,500 dots per inch, 15g of acceleration, and a tracking speed of up to 120 inches per second. This sensor is complemented by “Zero-Acoustic Ultraslick” mouse feet that enables the peripheral to blaze across the surface so movement doesn’t feel like dragging a dead rat.
Razer’s DeathAdder provides five buttons you can program through the desktop software: two are ultra-large non-slip click buttons, two reside under the thumb, and the fifth is actually the mouse wheel. Other notable features include a one-millisecond report rate to the parent PC, on-the-fly sensitivity adjustment, two LED-lit zones (mouse wheel and Razer logo), and a gold-plated USB connector for cleaner data transfers. Again, this mouse isn’t loaded with frills: DeathAdder is a high-quality, high-performance mouse designed for left-handed gamers that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg… and a right hand.
The best budget mouse
Logitech Prodigy G203
Why should you buy this: You get lots of love for the money, including programmable RGB lighting.
Who’s it for: PC gamers not wanting to pay more for a mouse than the actual games.
How much will it cost: $30
Why we picked the Logitech Prodigy G203:
For $30, there’s lots to love with Logitech’s Prodigy G203. For starters, it addresses gamers looking for bling, providing programmable RGB illumination in the Logitech G logo and in a strip running along the back of the mouse. This illumination supports 16.8 million colors that you set using Logitech’s free desktop software along with different lighting effects, and related triggers that react to the action on your screen. These illumination settings are saved to profiles you can create for each installed game.
On a hardware level, the Prodigy G203 consists of six programmable buttons: The left and right click buttons, the mouse wheel, two located on the left side of the mouse, and the button typically assigned for on-the-fly DPI (dots per inch) shifting. This mouse supports sensitivities between 200 and 8,000 DPI, and you can use Logitech’s software to define four sensitivity levels. Thus, by hitting the DPI button, you can quickly move through these four sensitivity levels when you need to quickly take a sniper shot — or go full-blown trigger happy.
As for other hardware goodies, this mouse supports a maximum acceleration of 25g, and a maximum speed of 200 inches per second. It’s powered by a 32-bit ARM-based processor — and includes local storage so your favorite profile follows you no matter what PC plays host to the mouse. It connects to a desktop or laptop using a standard USB port at the end of a 6.6-foot non-braided cable. The report rate is up to 1ms, meaning the mouse updates the parent PC with its coordinates once every millisecond.
Logitech says this model stems from the G100S Gaming Mouse used by eSports professionals, but relies on a re-engineered and optimized base design. Both focus on performance and comfort although the G203 ditches the Delta Zero optical sensor for a newer, unnamed model. Other highlights include “Advanced” button tensioning for precise clicks, left- and right-click switch lifespans of 10 million clicks, and a choice of two main colors: Black or White.
The best wireless mouse
Logitech G903 Lightspeed
Why should you buy this: There’s more to this mouse than meets the fingers.
Who’s it for: PC gamers wanting to cut the cord without sacrificing performance.
How much will it cost: $150
Why we picked the Logitech G903 Lightspeed:
Okay, so it’s a little expensive. We get that. But oh boy is it an awesome mouse on several different levels, from its ambidextrous design to its wireless connection. Even more, it supports Logitech’s PowerPlay charging station, so not only does the mouse roam free without its tail, it doesn’t have to worry about battery changes or overnight recharge times.
First, the G903 includes 11 buttons that are programmable through the company’s free desktop software. Technically, you can only use nine unless you’ve trained your ring finger to access hard-to reach buttons on the other side of the mouse. By default, the package includes an extra pair of side buttons lefties can add to the right side and a cover for the left side when/if they remove the right-handed thumb buttons.
The mouse relies on an optimized PMW3366 optical sensor with a sensitivity of up to 12,000 dots per inch, a maximum acceleration of 40g, and a tested maximum travel speed of up to 400 inches per second. You can set five sensitivity levels — and toggle through all five using the DPI Up and Down buttons seated behind the mouse wheel.
But as previously stated, the G903 is one of the first mice to support Logitech PowerPlay system. Simply remove the weight located on the bottom of the mouse, and insert an energy converter module into the same slot. The PowerPlay system is basically a large wireless charging pad with a special mouse mat residing on the surface. Thus, this station is plugged into your parent PC via USB and supplies both a wireless charge and wireless connectivity to the G903 mouse. It’s an added $100 cost, and the G903 can still function as a wireless mouse without it.
The best ambidextrous mouse
Why should you buy this: Razer’s Lancehead packs a big punch for its price.
Who’s it for: For any PC gamer who can’t find a mouse designed specifically for their hand.
How much will it cost: Around $100
Why we picked the Razer Lancehead:
If you’re looking for a gaming mouse that fits into any hand, Razer’s Lancehead is a great solution. It works both as a wired and wireless device, so technically it could even fall under our “best wireless” category. But its ambidextrous design wins the show, with each side sporting rubberized grips so you won’t lose control of your desktop rodent. This design is complemented with an overall shape that fits firmly into your palm without feeling too bulky or too slim.
Under the hood, the painful-sounding Lancehead is based on an optical sensor that uses an infrared laser to track your desktop surface. This sensor has a sensitivity of up to 16,000 dots per inch, a maximum acceleration of 50g, and a tracking speed of up to 210 inches per second. It’s backed by a one-millisecond communication to the parent PC, so each sensitive mouse movement never leaves the watchful eye of your PC’s CPU.
The Lancehead includes nine programmable buttons, two of which rely on Razer’s in-house mechanical switches. Of course, you can only use seven unless your ring finger can easily make use of the two non-thumb buttons on the other side. Complementing these buttons is an illuminated RGB strip running along both sides of the peripheral, an illuminated mouse wheel, and Razer’s LED-lit logo on the palm area. The Lancehead’s illumination supports up to 16.8 million colors.
Finally, Lancehead owners can program all buttons and illumination through Razer’s Synapse software. You can use Synapse to customize the button commands, set your sensitivity levels, assign lighting effects, and other options to profiles that can be stored directly onto the mouse. That said, you can create a customized profile and assign it to a specific game, as well as assign macros to any button on the Lancehead.
How we test
It’s tough to convey how a mouse, particularly a gaming mouse, performs in day-to-day use, which is why the most important test gaming mice endure in our labs is a simple one: we use them. The tech specs can only tell you so much, DPI, weight, response time, number of buttons, but actual use forms the basis of our mouse review process.
We put them through the paces in a variety of games, making sure the mice that come through our office are up to the task of high-performance gaming, and low-performance office work. After all, a gaming mouse still must be a good mouse.
Cut-rate gaming mice
Let’s be honest about gaming mice. At the end of the day they’re still just mice, and you’ll be able to get by with that old wired mouse you’ve had for years – your games aren’t going to know the difference.
Sure, you might be missing out on buttons and a super-sensitive sensor, and maybe your response time will even be a little low, but you don’t need a $150 mouse to enjoy games. Sometimes, a $10 budget gaming mouse from Amazon can make sense.