And thoughts that go into using one
Being heavily into gaming since the release of Apex Legends has meant a much needed mouse upgrade.
We all have different computer mouse needs. If you don’t play games or spend so much time on your computer, you might not appreciate the advantages of shopping around or trying different computer mice. To some people, they are just mice, a quick and easy tool to move the mouse cursor around the screen.
When it comes to a portable mouse (for a non-gaming laptop), the above is pretty much true for me too. I’m mostly concerned with size for portability, weight (for build quality), and a decent manufacturer. In fact, I got a Gigabyte Aire M1 (below) for free with a video card, and it has been ideal for its needs as a laptop mouse, especially with its retractable USB cable. Here’s a picture of mine at work.
If you are a computer enthusiast, power user, or gamer, you are probably pickier than the casual user. If you walk around a computer store and touch and pick up different computer mice, you quickly get a feel for what is too big or too small. If you spend a little more time, you can feel that the mouse is too flat or too arched for your hand size or palm grip style. The mouse might have plenty of buttons, but can your fingers comfortably reach them? Are there too many buttons? Will you accidentally press one button while trying to reach another?
I try to bend down in a computer store and imagine I’m sitting at a desk and gaming. When it comes to gaming, you don’t take your hand away from the mouse. It becomes part of your arm. Emulating this for a minute or two in the store helps you sense if the mouse is ideal for you or not.
A right or left-handed mouse
Many computer mice are ambidextrous in design, so they are equally suitable for left or right-handed users. This makes it easier when choosing a mouse, but it’s good to make sure which mouse you are getting if you are buying one online without seeing it up close in the store. My previous Logitech G903 gaming mouse (sample image below) is a typical premium-quality gaming mouse for right or left-handed users.
My right-handed mouse
My current mouse is clearly not an ambidextrous design. This is the Logitech G502 Hero, and as you can see, the very comfortable thumb rest is on the left-hand side for right-handed gamers.
Like many computer hobbyists, I’ve had plenty of computer mice over the years, but from memory, I can only remember about 4 or 5 that seemed to be a benefit at the time. More on those later.
Good quality mouse pad
You cannot talk about a good-quality mouse without considering a decent mouse pad. The mouse pad is equally essential in gaming and important for mouse control and comfort in most computing situations. It, too, is often overlooked and unappreciated. Some mouse pads are made of cloth, some metal, some rubber, and some are plastic. Some mouse pads have different levels of roughness, and some are slippery smooth. These different mouse pad textures can help you tone your mouse movement and control. A soft and smooth surface can also help your mouse feet last longer. Here’s a close-up photo of my Artisan Ninja FX mouse pad at home.
That’s a big one!
It’s worth investing in something high-quality. If you watch some Twitch streamers or YouTubers, you can see that some of their desks are decked out with huge mouse pads covering the whole desk and even supporting the keyboard. Many gamers arc their whole arm and not just their wrists, so they need more space. A larger mouse pad can potentially reduce cable drag around the mouse pad’s edges too, and your mind doesn’t need to consider the area restrains of the mouse pad’s dimensions when gaming. Your wrists, too, might be more comfortably supported. You might even enjoy a mouse pad with RGB lighting if that’s your thing.
On the subject of mouse movement, smoothness is essential, yet with enough control. This is where mouse software comes into play. Another overlooked part of using a mouse is the mouse software settings or operating system setup. Many decent mouse manufacturers offer their own mouse software for you to set up in Windows or your operating system. The images below show Logitech’s G Hub, which comes with their gaming mice and keyboards.
Mouse button assignments
Mouse button assignment is beneficial. The screenshot above shows G Hub’s Assignments screen, where you can assign actions, keyboard keys, game commands, and system apps to your mouse buttons. This can help power users to get around Windows quickly, and it’s great for gaming, of course, although many games have basic keyboard key and mouse button assignment choices included in the game.
The sensitivity or DPI (dots per inch) controls how quickly the mouse cursor moves across the screen when you move the mouse. If you set it too low, the mouse cursor will move too slowly. If you set it too high, the mouse cursor will move too quickly for you to track. It can take a while to get comfortable or confident with a new DPI setting, but it’s worth setting up the DPI for a better desktop and especially gaming experience.
The report rate is how quickly per second the mouse repeatedly reports back to the OS. The report rate can be adjusted on some mice.
In-game mouse sensitivity (Apex Legends)
As well as setting the DPI in the software that came with your mouse (as above), you can also check your games to see if they include settings for mouse sensitivity. Below is a screenshot of my mouse sensitivity settings in Apex Legends. Although it takes a little patience to test, it’s definitely worth taking the time to play around with different mouse sensitivity settings.
Mouse settings in Windows
If you don’t have a gaming mouse or a particular mouse with its own management software, you can still adjust the cursor speed with your OS. Here in Windows, you can search for Mouse and open the mouse settings window. To search for `mouse’ in Windows, press the Windows key and type `mouse.’ You will see the Mouse settings listed as the best match, so click on that to open it.
As you can see in the Windows options for my computer mouse, we can select the primary mouse button to be the left or right button. We can adjust the cursor speed (which is essential for dialing in control), and we can select whether the mouse wheel scrolls multiple lines at a time or one screen at a time. We can also toggle the ability to scroll inactive windows when we hover over them.
Wired vs wireless
Computer mice connect to the computer via USB. Some are wired, and some are wireless. Some mice are both, so for example, with the Logitech G903, you can choose to use the cable or not by unplugging it from the mouse.
Wireless technology has improved so much so that many gaming professionals now use a wireless mouse. For some of these players, the USB cable poses a risk of dragging along the desk’s surface, which might potentially cost them a split-second move. Some people also want less clutter on the desk.
On the other hand, some gamers prefer a wired mouse with the feeling that the wire can transfer data faster than wireless technology. Long-session or all-night gamers might not want to rely on batteries that wireless mice depend on. A few mouse pads can charge computer mice now, but they are still relatively new. As for mouse cable drag, some people use mouse bungees.
My mouse is wired
I still prefer a wired mouse. It’s a personal thing, but for me, the fewer signals flying around my room, the better, plus there’s no need to think about charging or changing batteries. The same goes for computer keyboards.
Mostly used by gamers, mouse bungees are designed to keep the mouse cable from dragging on your desk. As a non-professional gamer who’s not young anymore, I would probably make my own instead of buying one, as the design is rather simple to replicate, and a few factors still apply as to whether it is effective in-game or not. Here are 2 images of a typical mouse bungee:
As you can see, the mouse cable is lifted off of the desk on a flexible spring-loaded holder to reduce desktop friction or drag.
My mouse cable management system
OK, so this is a bit tongue in cheek, but here’s an image of my no-expense-spared mouse cable management system. The tape stops the mouse cable from falling behind the desk and dragging on the mouse. Pretty crude, yes, but do what you have to do to improve your in-game performance. Message to self: Clean computer hardware and mouse pad before you take a photo next time! Keeping it real, though.
The computer mice I’ve owned
Here are some of the computer mice I’ve owned over the years, plus reasons why I bought them and stopped using them. I’ve only listed a few that stand out, and I can remember. More often than not, old mice get given away when I replace them, and I keep one or two around for emergencies.
My Computer Mouse – Logitech G502 Hero (Daily driver)
My computer mouse now is the Logitech G502 Hero, a favorite among many gamers. It’s a wired gaming mouse for right-handed players. (The wireless version is called a G502 Lightspeed.) The G502 feels lighter than the G903, with better placement of the side buttons, and your thumb can rest comfortably on the thumb rest. It seems to glide more smoothly, too, on the mouse pad. Often we don’t realize how ideal a computer mouse is until we have tried a few of them. The G502 Hero is comfortable for gaming and general desktop use.
I switched to the 502 to improve my gaming with Apex Legends, which has helped. The G502 is priced very reasonably, and with Logitech, you know you are getting good quality. Of course, this depends on your hand size and palm grip style, so visit a computer store and see how it feels if you can. It’s a small detail, but the tiltable and clickable metal scroll wheel feels high-quality, too, although the G903 has the same one, I believe. Here’s a picture of mine at home.
I bought the premium Logitech G903 when I got more into gaming. The power of advertising got me here, and I thought it would be the ideal computer mouse upgrade from my then-current Logitech G600. I tried it in the store for a minute or so, and it definitely felt like an upgrade for fast-paced battle royale gaming than the 600. In hindsight, I should have researched more instead of rushing in and buying it. The G903 is a cool mouse, but it’s important to shop around and try others like the G502, even if they are much cheaper. The G903 works with or without a USB cable, so it’s wireless, which is why it’s so expensive. It’s also ambidextrous (for left or right-handed users).
Upgrading from the G600 at the time, I was looking for typical dual quick-action side buttons for gaming. I don’t need those buttons on the right-hand side of any mouse, though, and with the 903, you can block off the pair of buttons on either side with the included button covers (shown in the photo below), which helps you from pressing them accidentally. The G903 has 11 buttons and the same quality-feel scroll wheel as the G502. Here’s a picture of my G903 at home.
The G600 appealed to me at the time for the number of side buttons it has and its price. When I tried it in the store, it was very comfortable in the palm and ideal for my hand size. I have medium-sized hands. More than most other computer mice and because of its size, my whole palm could lie on the top of the mouse when touching the left and right buttons, instead of being slightly lifted above. This seemed very comfortable.
I’ve later come to appreciate that having the center of the palm slightly above the mouse in more of a claw-type grip lets the fingers guide the mouse giving you quicker reaction times in gaming.
I never did bother to set up the side buttons to my advantage. There are so many of them that I worried about pressing the wrong ones in game! (For us older gamers, simple is sometimes better.)
To this day, the G600 was probably one of the most comfortable desktop mice I’ve owned. A quick look on Logitech’s site shows that it has 20 buttons in total and is designed for MMO (Massively multiplayer online) style games. I don’t have my own photo of the G600. I gave it away a few years ago when I switched to the G903.
Mad Catz R.A.T.9
Back in the day, I was super excited to save for such a cool-looking mouse as the Mad Catz R.A.T.9 Gaming Mouse. It seemed to cover all the bases for computer enthusiasts, especially looking special, unique, expensive, and very customizable. Existing in a world of plain-Jane plastic mice, the Mad Catz range introduces futuristic transformer-looking mice that can be adjusted in dimension, weight, and more. One of my favorite unboxing experiences ever, the R.A.T.9 has certainly been the coolest looking mouse to proudly pose on my mouse pads, visually unchallenged by anything else since.
Unfortunately, I noticed that I was getting headaches around the time of owning this mouse. Of course, that could have been for any different reason, including my eyesight, too much gaming, computer monitor, seating position, screen brightness, or what have you. Because it was my first time to use a wireless mouse back then, I decided to send it back probably for no fault of its own. I should have immediately gotten a wired version, but I was on rather a budget at the time and decided to look for a cheaper mouse.
The Mad Catz company has seen a few changes. As a computer enthusiast, I have to give props to fellow enthusiasts at MAD CATZ: Official Site who go into so much work to make such a unique computer peripheral. Here’s a quick vid of their R.A.T. PRO X3 so you can see what I mean. If they ever see this site, I’d be honored to try out the Pro X3 or any of the mice in their range. If I had the money to collect things like sneakers, I’d probably start collecting computer mice from Mad Catz. (I’m not affiliated with any of these companies.)
Logitech MX510 Gaming Performance Mouse
I had a couple of MX510s over the years. This was one of the first `gaming’ mice I remember getting. My first one might have come bundled with a Windows XP computer before I started building computers. The optical MX510 was reasonably priced, simple, light, had enough buttons for switching weapons in-game, and performed very well. You didn’t really notice its looks, other than it having a sporty blue color. The MX510 saw me through many a game of Delta Force Land Warrior, Joint Operations, Unreal Tournament, Battlefield Bad Company 2, and up until games like Battlefield 4. I don’t have any old photos of the MX510 and probably wouldn’t have bothered taking any. It was the most trusted long-term computer mouse I’ve owned, and I only replaced it when it wore out cosmetically.
Talk about wearing out cosmetically; I haven’t needed to do much to maintain my mice over the years. If I ever notice that a mouse skips tracking, I would lightly blow onto the optical sensor to remove any dust or, more so nowadays, wipe my mouse pad. When it comes time to spring clean my computer or desk, I’ll gently wipe the mouse with a wet wipe, duster, or cloth. The same goes for the mouse wheel and optical cable. If the mouse is expensive and fails to work, I’ll send it back for a replacement.
A lot of computer mice nowadays have RGB lighting. This allows you to set the colors of logos and buttons to your liking or have colors change automatically. RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue. I prefer not to use RGB on my mice, although I use it to light the keys on my gaming keyboard at night. Here’s the mouse RGB Lightsync option in Logitech G Hub.
Shopping around for a new computer mouse is worth your time. It’s recommended to visit a store and try different mice for yourself if you can. You don’t need to break the bank to improve your gaming, plus doing so might not give you the results you desire.
Take time out to adjust your mouse settings and sensitivity to your liking. I learned this the long way after consistently losing in-game and blaming it on my age. Realizing that you can dial in the settings to work with you and not against you can make things a little easier. Yeah, it won’t make you any younger.
Copying your favorite streamer’s mouse settings might not be ideal for you.
It’s a crazy time to buy some computer stuff. The availability and prices of especially CPUs and GPUs are out of reach for many of us right now. A lot of us have to be patient and be grateful for what we have. This is one more reason to dial in your settings, maintain your computer, and find ways to get more frames per second in your game.
If you spend hours at the PC, being aware of a healthy posture or positioning, or taking occasional breaks away from the desk can also aid in gaming ease (or stress) regardless of the hardware you use. Talking of hardware, and before I forget, these are the 4 mice I could find at home when writing this. The 2 on the right are a Microsoft Intellimouse Optical Mouse and a Buffalo Blue Focus.
You can carefully clean most mouse pads by spraying them with disinfectant and wiping them with a cloth, so I should freshen up mine sometime.
Mice are not just for gaming
If you are less experienced with computers, don’t forget that you can use the mouse scroll wheel (if it has one) to scroll in a web browser or press Ctrl on the keyboard and scroll the mouse wheel to Zoom in and out to make content bigger. You can also use the right mouse button to access context menus.
Let me know your thoughts
From one computer user to another, what do you think of your computer mouse?