These days, gaming mice have insanely high DPI ratings, but how much do you actually need?
The finest gaming mouse nowadays comes with so many buttons and functionalities that choosing a new one might be difficult. Ergonomics, button positioning, and even RGB lighting must all be taken into account. There’s also the issue of mouse DPI, which is frequently mentioned on packaging and in product descriptions. However, you may still be wondering, “What DPI do I really need?”
What mouse DPI do I really need?
The term “dots per linear inch” refers to how many pixels the cursor moves per inch the actual mouse moves. The mouse DPI is also known as “counts per inch” (CPI) and “mickeys per second,” the latter of which is a word that is no longer widely used. Whatever you call it, it ultimately boils down to the same thing: mouse sensitivity.
The subject of which mouse DPI to use is a common one, and there are plenty of forum threads dedicated to figuring out what the best setting is for gaming, especially in popular first-person shooters like Counter-Strike and Overwatch. When it comes to mouse marketing, you’d think that the larger the number, the better. Take a look at the product page for Razer’s DeathAdder Elite; 16,000 DPI is a huge figure, but it’s just jargon without context.
Let’s start with the basics: a higher mouse DPI means the cursor will go further while your hands move less. Lower DPI levels have the reverse effect—moving the pointer across the screen at 100 DPI takes far more effort than at 1000 DPI. Your character will turn slower at low DPI numbers and faster at high DPI numbers in FPS games.
So, which DPI is the best? On paper, it appears that players with greater DPI counts have an edge, however this isn’t always the case. High DPI is wonderful for character movement, but it makes precision targeting harder due to the extremely sensitive cursor. In Overwatch, for example, a character like Lucio who has a lot of movement choices would benefit from a high DPI. Playing him requires a lot of wall riding and tight bends, so turning up the sensitivity makes sense. A sniper character like Widowmaker, on the other hand, necessitates steady and precise aim. In this scenario, a low DPI allows for more vigorous mousing, making it more difficult to mistakenly shift your reticle off of your target.
There is no single “proper” DPI number because several FPS games need distinct roles. It’s all about how you feel. The fact that most games have their own sensitivity slider further complicates things, as you’ll have to juggle two distinct numbers to find what works best for you. The “360 test,” in which you measure the distance your in-game character needs to travel to complete a full 360 degree rotation, is a popular benchmark employed by many players. This might give you a starting point for experimenting with in-game sensitivity values, as well as a baseline DPI number. There are various helpful online calculators that can make this procedure go more smoothly.
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Emulating the pros is another technique to get the ideal DPI for you. On-Winning.com is a database that compiles pro gamers’ settings for a variety of games, including Overwatch. The list provides a lot of intriguing DPI statistics, such as the fact that most Overwatch pros use 800 to 1600 DPI. There are a few outliers, such as Muma from the Houston Outlaws at 2000 DPI and iddqd from the San Francisco Shock at 400 DPI, but the majority of the players fall inside that range. The in-game sensitivity settings are where we notice the most variation. Iddqd’s sensitivity is set to 7 to compensate for his low DPI, while Muma’s 2000 DPI is paired with a sensitivity of 4.3.
All of these figures are impressive, but they fall short when put to the ultimate test: putting them to the test yourself. Because there is no one-size-fits-all solution for DPI, it will take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. When searching for a new gaming mouse, DPI is an important number to consider, but technology has evolved far enough that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on DPI alone. Even low-cost mice can now achieve pro-level DPI, and many have dedicated buttons for changing your numbers on the fly. While it’s true that there’s some cunning marketing centred around DPI, and no professionals utilise 16,000 DPI, having the option is nice.