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Choosing the Best Budget Gaming Mouse
October 13, 2018
Reading time: 10 minutes
Sooner or later, we all find ourselves making sacrifices when it comes to building our gaming rigs, since we can’t all be made of money. Fortunately, there are aspects of your setup that you can afford to skimp on.
The gaming mouse is a crucial part of any battle station but it shouldn’t be at the top of your list for your gaming computer budget. Things like CPUs, graphics cards, hard drives, monitors, and other essentials must take precedence.
Having said that, a gaming mouse is no joke. You need those extra buttons and features to compete online or even just to get the most of your gaming experience.
So, how do you choose the best budget gaming mouse? This article will give you a breakdown of everything you need to know when it comes to purchasing the ideal mouse.
What separates a gaming mouse from a regular mouse?
The standard computer mouse comes with three buttons: the left clicker, the right clicker, and the center scroller. Typically, the left and right clickers will control the most important functions and the roll bar (center button) will allow for zooming and one additional action when pressed down. This is the standard button layout for almost any PC game you’ve ever come across.
Games that have a variety of functions and menus rely on the keyboard to do most of the heavy lifting when it comes to things like spells, attacks, and weapon switches in the game.
The additional buttons along the side are one of the main elements that separate a standard mouse from a gaming mouse. In almost every game, somewhere in the settings menu, there is the option to macro certain keys or actions to those additional buttons on the side of your mouse.
If you’ve ever dabbled in the World of Warcraft arena or Battlefield 1 online play, you know just how important it is to macro in-game attacks.
The second element that makes a significant difference is mouse speed. While some gaming mice are capable of moving faster than standard mice, this isn’t the aspect that is likely to make a large difference since your mouse recognition speed can easily be sped up in your computer settings.
The third and final element of gaming mice, can’t, however, be improved by a change to settings. Mouse accuracy is determined by dots per inch (DPI). The higher DPI your mouse has, the better reaction and performance you can expect.
Your typical mouse has a DPI of 1,600, whereas a high-quality gaming mouse can range from 800-12,000 DPI. Being able to adjust the DPI depending on whether you want accuracy or speed is key to your gaming success. Those fractions of centimeters can be the difference between a game-winning headshot and a catastrophic failure.
Finding the best gaming mouse on a budget
Now that you’ve cashed in all of your piggy bank’s savings on a graphics driver and a top-notch CPU, it’s time to figure what kind of mouse you can get with the money you have left.
Whatever you do, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking that you need a dedicated first-person shooter game mouse or a Multi Massive Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) gaming mouse. Your decision should be based on technical quality and personal preference.
A mouse that was intended to macro spells for WoW may be the best mouse you ever used for Call of Duty if that’s what suits your needs and preferences.
Questions to ask as you shop for a gaming mouse:
What am I looking for?
Do I need a panel of buttons or just a few extra?
How important is DPI?
How important is responsiveness?
Most gamers find they can get all of these qualities in a reasonably-priced gaming mouse.
The HP OMEN 600 gaming mouse provides additional buttons for macros and also has an extremely high DPI range. This high-performance mouse should definitely be on your radar as you shop around.
Not only does the HP OMEN 600 gaming mouse meet all of the criteria of a premium gaming mouse, but it won’t further deplete your wallet.
Whether a gaming mouse is a luxury or a necessity is certainly up for debate. Can you play most games with a standard mouse? Of course. Will you have the best experience or stand a chance in any kind of competitive setting? Probably not.
Things like responsiveness and consistency are just too vital to your success when it comes to gaming. After investing in a new gaming rig or build, you don’t want to spend your gaming hours frustrated because of latency between your mouse and motherboard.
Not to mention, those additional buttons on the side of the mouse are essential for games like Diablo, World of Warcraft, and The Witcher.
The performance difference: wired vs wireless gaming mice
Most pros will suggest that you pick up a wired gaming mouse over a wireless. Not only will you find better responsiveness and consistency, but you’ll get more bang for your buck as well.
You can find plenty of high-end Bluetooth gaming mice, but not on a budget. Even some of the elite wired gaming mice can cost over $100. The best wireless gaming mouse will more than likely exceed the ordinary gamer’s budget and turn into an over-the-top luxury accessory.
The other seemingly obvious benefit of a wired gaming mouse is batteries. Sure, a handful of Bluetooth mice are rechargeable, but not the affordable ones. Unless you want to pour your hard-earned cash into AA or AAA batteries for your mouse, you should definitely pick up a wired gaming mouse - no doubt about it.
Optical sensor vs laser sensor
A lot of high-level tournament players like to claim that laser sensors are the only way to go, but for everyday gamers, there’s hardly any difference. Even some tournament level competitors will tell you that they can’t tell the difference.
The truth of the matter is still up for debate. However, there is no question that you can find a high-quality budget gaming mouse with either optical or laser sensing.
Most gaming mice allow for a high degree of calibration. This means that you could get a gaming mouse to work well on a surface as frustrating as a glossy piece of plain white paper after tweaking the settings enough.
At the end of the day, you should be less concerned with how it works and more concerned with how well it works when it comes to purchasing your budget gaming mouse.
Design and weight
Even if you're not the aesthetic type, you want your gaming mouse and keyboard to match the rest of your setup. After all, you probably just spent more than a handful of hard-earned pennies on your gaming rig - shouldn’t its appearance match its performance? Whether your PC is custom built or you opted for a gaming rig build from an established computer manufacturer like HP®, it probably has some kind of color scheme and aesthetic.
Pick up a mouse that matches your setup’s theme. Of course, you should prioritize functionality and performance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun while you’re at it.
Weight should also be a consideration when you start shopping for the best gaming mice. Some hardcore gamers will even go as far as to put quarters in their mouse just to weigh it down. As you browse, focus on finding one that feels right for you and your playing style.
What makes for the best FPS gaming mouse
As mentioned earlier, there is no single best first-person shooter (FPS) gaming mouse, since the one that's best for you might not be for someone else. However, there are some qualities that make gaming mice better for FPS.
Gotta rack up those headshots, am I right? If you want to wreck noobs around in Fortnite, you should be less concerned with additional buttons and more concerned with DPI and responsiveness.
Just don’t get too carried away when it comes to purchasing a gaming mouse that’s geared towards first-person shooters. Many of the uber expensive mice will boast DPIs upwards of 20,000 but you hardly need that much - even at a professional level.
Keep in mind that you can change how responsive your mouse is within your computer's settings.
If you’re comfortable playing with a mouse set to 15,000 DPI or more, there’s a good chance that you’re an alien or you have a cybernetic implant. After a certain point, these high levels of DPI just become excessive.
Neither your eyes nor your reflexes are capable of keeping up with high speeds and responsiveness. Most middle to upper-tier gaming mice are going to have all of the performance capability you need to snipe all night long.
Bottom line for FPS gamers: Focus on DPI and responsiveness.
What makes for the best MMORPG gaming mouse
While responsiveness and accuracy are still important, it’s really all about the buttons. Unless you’re playing a basic class in WoW that can simply face roll across the keyboard, macros are a way of life. Having those additional macro spells to bubble or teleport in the blink of an eye is essential to your success.
Having said that, you don’t want to get too carried away. Even in a complex class, your keyboard can still do a lot of the heavy lifting. For the most part, the purpose of your MMORPG gaming mouse should be to take the pressure off of switching from moving to casting/attacking.
Bottom line for MMORPG gamers: Focus on the buttons.
What makes for the best RTS gaming mouse
Can’t get enough of real-time strategy (RTS) games like Civilization 6 and StarCraft? Better step up to a mouse that can provide you with the best possible experience while building up your empire.
RTS games tend to fall somewhere between FPS and MMORPG games in terms of performance needs. You just aren’t going to need a lot of buttons to macro like you would for games like Guild Wars or Knights of the Old Republic. However, you should get a mouse with a high level of accuracy.
When your enemies’ troops are advancing in Civilization 6, a slow reaction could wipe out your military force or cause you to lose one of your best cities, ensuring defeat.
Gamers who prefer RTS games should aim for a more generalized mouse that can essentially do it all.
You may find yourself wanting to macro certain menus or units with the additional buttons on your mouse as your skills progress.
Bottom line for RTS gamers: Look for an all-around mouse.
Do I need a gaming mouse?
If you’re serious about reaching the top of the leaderboards in any of the video game genres listed above, you should definitely invest in a high-end gaming mouse. Even for a casual gamer, it can be well worth it to pick up a gaming mouse. It simply enhances your experience and makes your user experience that much better.
However, the ultra-casual gamer who doesn’t play any of the main genres that require a dedicated gaming mouse will probably be fine with a standard mouse. But they may not have a dedicated gaming PC yet, either. Prioritizing the gaming budget for that may take precedence.
Sean Whaley is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Sean is a content creation specialist based in San Diego, California. He has a wide breadth of knowledge when it comes to computer hardware, programming, and PC gaming.
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