Mouse DPI is probably the most marketed term in the gaming mouse industry. However, what exactly is DPI or CPI and is a high number necessary for optimal gameplay?
What is Mouse DPI?
Did you know that DPI isn’t really the proper term to use when accounting for mouse sensitivity? It represents the amount of dots per inch that can fit on a screen or printed image. Yet, manufacturers continue to use this term because it’s the one we’re most familiar with.
CPI or Counts per inch is the real term here. This term represents the amount of amount of counts or virtual pixels the mouse sensor can display and register within one inch.
Optical Sensor DPI or CPI
Optical Sensor DPI typically maxes out at 800 or 1600. So, how is it that we see numbers much higher? Manufacturers split the representation of these pixels. This is why you see most DPI numbers represented in factors of 800.
Is More DPI better for gaming?
Not necessarily. In fact, high DPI doesn’t mean better accuracy at all. It’s actually the opposite. Once you split pixels you have more virtual pixels which lead to additional errors in mouse movements. A better way to describe DPI is the relationship between how fast you have to move your mouse on a surface and how fast it then moves on the screen.
So, it’s a bit of a catch 22. If you didn’t have enough DPI, you might not be able to quickly spin around in your favorite FPS shooter. However, if you have your mouse set too high, you might be able to spin around but then actually hitting something is a lot more difficult. As mouse manufacturer Steelseries has stated, most professionals use a DPI of under 3,000.
The danger here for gamers comes in where mouse manufacturers list a huge DPI number in order to trick you into thinking it’s a good gaming mouse you’re purchasing. When, in reality, the sensor is poor quality and therefore gives you poor performance overall.
So, What Should You Look For?
For twitch-sensitive games, we recommend you take a look at mouse IPS rating and acceleration ratings. Anything above 300 IPS and 30-50G should be accurate. However, you’ll ultimately want to decide upon a mouse that’s comfortable with the grip you use (claw, fingertip, or palm) and has the proper weight.
Additionally, some mouse sensors are considered flawless. And while the truth is that no mouse sensor is yet completely “flawless” there are a few that are close to it. These are typically optical sensors as laser sensors can introduce prediction/angle snapping into the fold.
Ultimately look for mice with one of the following sensors:
- Avago ADNS-3988
- Pixart PMW3360
- Avago ADNS-3090
- Pixart PMW3310
- Avago ADNS3310
- Avago AM010
- Avago ADNS-3888
- Pixart PMW3389
- Pro-Optic Sensor R3
- Avago ADNS-3090s
While most gaming mice with these sensors are fairly accurate, keep in mind that manufacturer implementation of the sensor is important as well. Mouse shape, materials, weight, balance, and buttons should all be taken into account.
Overall, look for shape, sensor, and weight first and then, if it’s important to you, DPI.