Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Picking the right gaming mouse can be tough. Do you go with the most expensive, ultra-high-performance mouse with RGB lighting, or should you opt for something a little more modest? After all, a gaming mouse will usually pull double duty as a general-purpose mouse over the course of its lifetime. We put together a list of the best gaming mice on the market to make your choice a little easier.
Why should you buy this: You want the quickest, most comfortable, best all-around gaming mouse on the market.
Who’s it for: Gamers looking for a long-term investment.
How much will it cost: Around $140
Why we picked the Razer Mamba:
Long, long ago, when the world was young and “Pentium” still meant something, Razer invented the idea of a mouse tailor-made for gaming. Today, after dozens of companies old and new have risen to Razer’s challenge, it still has the best mouse around. The Razer Mamba is a ridiculous, over-designed, over-powered, and overly expensive super-elite PC gaming mouse. And if you have the budget for it, it’s the best one you can buy.
Never mind that it’s wireless, a notable and still somewhat rare distinction for gaming mice – it’s far from the only one. Never mind the ridiculous 16,000 DPI laser sensor, which is so precise that you could use it to play Starcraft on a literal dime. Never mind the “Chroma” RGB lighting, which despite the insistence of Razer, is entirely for show. These add-ons are just that, and they’re secondary to what makes the Mamba stand out in its very crowded field.
The simple fact is that the Mamba’s shape is the most versatile, fastest, and just downright most comfortable for extended gaming sessions. Its oversized thumb buttons are just ok for RPGs, and lefties aren’t invited (not that the Mamba’s various competitors are any better for southpaws). But for long-term gaming with precision and accuracy, the shape of the Mamba can’t be beaten — and wireless capability does help its ergonomics. The mouse is also surprisingly light considering the battery and extra tech crammed inside.
The best MMO mouse
Why should you buy this: You don’t just need a gaming mouse, you need a gaming mouse with lots of buttons.
Who’s it for: Just about anyone who picked up World of Warcraft: Legion earlier this year.
How much will it cost: About $120
Why we picked the Roccat Nyth:
The idea of a mouse custom-tailored to the online RPG genre has been around for a while, and with MOBAs taking over the multiplayer space, they’re becoming even more popular. For an innovative design that allows practically infinite customization, Roccat’s Nyth mouse is head and shoulders above its competition. The mouse includes a grid of sixteen switches for the user’s right thumb that can be re-arranged and organized into any number of combinations of both buttons and blanks.
Not only does this allow for an unprecedented amount of customization, it gives the Nyth an advantage over similar designs because it offers choice in button size. This is a bigger deal than it sounds. It enables primary and secondary RPG functions to be given greater or lesser prominence, meaning players never look down. The Nyth is even compatible with 3D-printed shells!
At $120, the Roccat MMO mouse isn’t much more expensive than its competitors. (The street price is a bit lower.) It’s not the least expensive option, but it’s clearly the best choice for gamers who love online RPGs.
The best budget mouse
Why should you buy this: It just works. It packs in the necessities for gaming, without too many buttons or a crazy shape, or a hefty price tag.
Who’s it for: Budget minded gamers, who don’t want to shell out $150 for a mouse.
How much will it cost: Around $40
Why we picked the Cougar 300M:
“Budget gaming mouse” is an odd little category – if you want to save money, the PC gaming accessory market isn’t generally the place to do it. But even here there are companies willing to sell to the more frugal among us, and more power to them.
The Cougar 300M includes pretty much everything a gamer needs in a shooter-focused mouse, including big, easy-to-hit thumb buttons, a 3000-DPI sensor, an on-the-fly DPI switch function, and a proven if basic design. It’s not the flashiest of mice, but with an MSRP of $40 (and a street price often well below that), it doesn’t need to be.
The Cougar 300M is also compatible with Cougar’s desktop software, which allows for binding specific key combinations and macros, multiple shifts to the default DPI steps, and more or less everything you need to set up a serious gaming session. With all the money you save, you can afford a few more of them.
The best left-handed mouse
Razer Deathadder Left-Hand Edition
Why should you buy this: You’re left-handed.
Who’s it for: Left-handed gamers.
How much will it cost: $60
Why we picked the Razer Deathadder Left-Hand Edition:
There are a lot of options for ambidextrous PC users, even gamers (see below). But if you want a dedicated left-handed gaming mouse, your choices are fairly limited. The best one at the moment is the mirrored DeathAdder from Razer. It takes the best-in-class ergonomics of the DeathAdder mouse, which is used all the way up to the top-of-the-line Mamba, and flips it around for southpaws.
Unfortunately Razer hasn’t updated this particular mouse in a while. Its 3,500-DPI infrared sensor is well behind the latest models, and the soft-touch and glossy materials will attract fingerprints fast. The price isn’t all that great, either – at $60 with “limited quantities,” its barely less expensive than much newer models. But beggars can’t be choosers. If you want something a little more modern, check the ambidextrous mouse below.
The best ambidextrous mouse
Why should you buy this: If your computer is shared between left-handed and right-handed family or friends.
Who’s it for: Ambidextrous gamers, anyone with a left-handed roommate.
How much will it cost: Around $40
Why we picked the Roccat Kiro:
Most left-or-right mice simply mirror the thumb buttons on both sides so that the ergonomics are identical in either hand. Roccat’s Kiro design has that option, it’s also more than meets the eye. Both the left and right sides of the mouse have plastic body panels that can be swapped out for either buttons or blanks, allowing for a smooth curve or a shooter button layout.
That’s a huge boon. Even though it’s usually possible to disable off-hand buttons and avoid accidental activation through software, having a smooth surface on either side of the mouse just makes it much comfier. And if you happen to be dexterous enough to use buttons on both sides, that’s an option as well. With an MSRP of $40, the Kiro also doubles as a solid choice for a budget mouse.
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.
So, what can you do it you play games, but lack the budget to afford top-tier picks?
First up, let’s look at the SteelSeries Rival 100. This is an inexpensive gaming mouse available on Amazon for around $30. It’s nothing fancy but it can get the job done – it has a classic silhouette, and a no-nonsense build. If the Cougar M300 we recommend as the best budget mouse is still a little too rich for your blood, the SteelSeries Rival 100 could be your best bet.
Moving down, there are even less expensive options available. The Havit 2800 DPI gaming mouse on Amazon is available for a bargain basement not-going-to-get-any-cheaper price of just $10. It’s a wired mouse, with a DPI button, scroll wheel and even a couple thumb buttons. It does cut some corners though, with a sensor only capable of 2800 DPI. But if you need a mouse to game, and you really can’t spend a lot of money, it’ll do the job – and do it better than a typical office mouse.
Gaming mice are a luxury. We love our picks, but none of them are needed to enjoy a game. Sometimes, a $10 budget gaming mouse from Amazon can make sense. If you’d like to hear more, check out our Close to the Metal podcast, where we discuss a selection of four budget mice we purchased online.