Two buttons and a clickable scroll wheel are the bare minimum for today’s modern mouse basics, and for a lot folks that’s all they’ll ever need. Others might need a little more accuracy, a little more functionality, or a little more style than the default. For these fine people, today’s peripheral manufacturers are more than happy to offer an almost endless cavalcade of futuristic mice, from the sleek and curvy, to angular affairs that would make Nolan’s Batmobile green with envy.
Like most other enthusiast PC hardware, the gaming mouse market is awash with code numbers, trademarks and a plethora of metrics for technical measurement that assume an above-average level of knowledge, which most burgeoning enthusiasts aren’t equipped with. Sensor resolution (DPI/CPI) is important, but is higher always better? What if you’re left-handed, or part of the growing population of Mac-only players? Do you primarily play a specific genre, or do you enjoy a little bit of everything?
To make a long process much shorter, we’ve substituted your time for ours and made this whole shopping thing as simple as picking out a milkshake. No matter your handedness, gaming preferences or budget, you’ll find an excellent option for upgrading your pointing device in our handy guide below.
1. Logitech G502 Proteus Spectrum
The best all-purpose gaming mouse for PC
DPI: 12,000 | Interface: Wired USB | Buttons: 11 | Ergonomic: No | Features: Customization via Logitech Gaming Software, 1,000 Hz report rate, adjustable weights
For PC users that want quality construction, very high levels of movement accuracy, relative affordability and plentiful customization options, Logitech’s G502 Proteus Spectrum is tough to beat. Five user-adjustable 3.6 gram weights allow you to make the mouse as heavy or as light as you’d like, in a variety of configurations that also adjust of the mouse’s overall weight distribution.
All 11 buttons can be programmed to your specifications, as can the mouse’s RGB LED lighting effects, via Logitech’s aptly (if unimaginatively) named Logitech Gaming Software. This software also grants access to the G502’s full range of sensor resolutions, from 200 DPI all the way up to 12,000 DPI. Granted, 12,000 DPI will be unusably high for most players who want a mouse for all occasions, but it’s nice to have the headroom in case your skills become that refined.
2. Razer DeathAdder Chroma
The best all-purpose gaming mouse for Mac
DPI: 10,000 | Interface: Wired USB | Buttons: 5 | Ergonomic: No | Features: Customizable via Razer Synapse, supports Windows 7+ and OSX 10.8 - 10.11, 1000 Hz report rate, 105 grams
Thanks to the multiplatform compatibility of Razer’s Synapse customization software, the DeathAdder Chroma is a great option for the Mac-only gamer, or for anyone who lives in a multi-OS household. Like the Logitech G502, the DeathAdder Chroma features comfortable ergonomics, an extremely accurate optical sensor, user-configurable lighting effects and a feature-rich software suite for usage statistics, lift-off height adjustment and novelties.
The only department in which the DeathAdder Chroma offers less than the competition is in its number of buttons -- five, vs. the G502’s 11. Realistically though, the G502’s 11 buttons are probably overkill for the average enthusiast user. It’s also worth noting that, while widely positive, Amazon reviews for the DeathAdder Chroma do make the occasional claim of microswitch/scroll wheel failure within a couple months of purchase, but these seem to be fringe cases and not the norm.
3. SteelSeries Rival 100
Affordable accuracy for affable aficionados
DPI: 2,000 native, 4,000 simulated | Interface: Wired USB | Buttons: 6 | Ergonomic: No | Features: Customizable via SteelSeries Engine3, supports Windows 7+ and OSX 10.8+, 1000 Hz report rate, 120 grams
If you’re looking to up the ante without breaking the bank, SteelSeries’ Rival 100 is an excellent entry point into the world of gaming mice. While the Rival 100’s optical sensor caps out at a native resolution of 2,000 CPI (CPI and DPI are essentially interchangeable acronyms that vary by manufacturer), it’s an extremely accurate 2,000 CPI, which will still be plenty for most players. It’s also solidly built and has six programmable buttons, and its customization software is fully compatible with both Windows and Mac.
Said software, SteelSeries Engine3, allows for the usual LED color customization and button mapping, however it does not allow for the adjustment of the Rival 100’s lift-off distance. Sensor resolution is adjustable, but only in set increments, for a total of eight preset resolution options. The highest option, 4,000 CPI, is achieved through software doubling of the sensor’s native maximum resolution of 2,000 CPI. This means that, while technically higher resolution, the 4,000 CPI setting is less accurate in practice than a sensor that is capable of 4,000 CPI natively.
Regardless, the SteelSeries Rival 100 is more than capable for most users and is definitely worth the $30.
4. Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum
Luxury for every occasion
DPI: 12,000 | Interface: Wireless 2.4Ghz, Wired USB | Buttons: 11 | Ergonomic: No | Features: Customizable via Logitech Gaming Software, supports Windows 7+, 1,000 Hz report rate, 107 grams
The Logitech G900 Chaos Spectrum is a highly configurable and versatile gaming mouse that, for most us at least, costs more than the memory our games are stored on. For those that can swing/stomach the cost of entry, however, the G900 sets the industry standard for luxurious flexibility.
Two side buttons can be mounted to either side of the G900, with the unused socked on the opposite side concealed by a nigh-seamless blank insert. This makes the device completely ambidextrous, which is a rare luxury in gaming mice regardless of price point. The G900 can also function as a wired or wireless mouse -- up to a reported 32 hours of continuous wireless usage with lighting effects disabled, or 24 continuous hours with the lights on full.
Logitech claims a 1 ms response time for the G900 in either mode, though for tournament levels of consistency we would recommend wired usage. That wireless 1 ms figure is under prime conditions, and since the G900’s wireless chip broadcasts at 2.4Ghz -- the most common frequency for wireless devices -- there’s always the potential for interference. If millions of esports dollars aren’t on the line, then a wireless lifestyle is yours for the taking.
Overall, the G900 is a masterclass in mechanical form, function and flexibility, with a price tag to match.
5. ROCCAT Kova
The people’s ambidextrous gaming mouse
DPI: 3,500 native, 7,500 simulated | Interface: Wired USB | Buttons: 10 | Ergonomic: No | Features: Customizable via ROCCAT Swarm, supports Windows 7+, 1,000 Hz report rate, 99 grams
Fear not, lefties, for there is another, much more affordable option in ambidextrous gaming mice. The ROCCAT Kova is comfortable, accurate and very capable, thanks to its unique “Smart Cast” buttons that flank each primary button for easy access. The Kova also employs ROCCAT’s “Easy-Shift+” tech, which allows users to assign both primary and secondary functions to each of the 10 programmable buttons.
The main complaint lodged against the Kova has nothing to do with its hardware, but rather its reportedly convoluted software suite, Swarm. As with Synapse and Logitech Gaming Software, Swarm allows the user to customize the Kova’s LED colors, button layout and sensor resolution. Unfortunately, Swarm’s UI is less intuitive than the competition’s and can be annoying to work with, due to confusingly labeled menu options and limited slots for game-specific profiles.
There’s also no visual indicator on the Kova for which of your presets is active, and since the DPI toggle cycles through presets instead of allowing you to increase/decrease at will, it can be inconvenient to find exactly what you’re looking for. Beyond these shortcomings, however, the Kova is an excellent option for anyone in need of an affordable, ambidextrous gaming mouse.
6. Corsair M65 PRO RGB
Accuracy, at your discretion
DPI: 12,000 | Interface: Wired USB | Buttons: 8 | Ergonomic: No | Features: Customizable via Corsair Utility Engine, supports Windows 7+, 1,000 Hz report rate, 115 - 135.5 grams
7. Razer Naga Chroma
Keep your entire action bar on-hand
DPI: 16,000 | Interface: Wired USB | Buttons: 19 | Ergonomic: No | Features: Customizable via Razer Synapse, supports Windows 7+ and OSX 10.8 - 10.11, 1,000 Hz report rate, 135 grams
MMO enthusiasts that play melee classes or participate in competitive play modes often have to balance accuracy and agility, while still maintaining quick access to a laundry list of spells and abilities. Enter the Naga Chroma, Razer’s latest in its storied line of MMO-focused mice.
In addition to Razer’s highest resolution optical sensor and the myriad customization options that the Synapse software provides, the Naga Chroma is equipped with an absurd/impressive 12 thumb buttons, for a total of 19 configurable buttons overall. That’s an entire World of Warcraft action bar’s worth of abilities and/or macros that can be activated by your thumb alone, allowing the rest of your fingers to focus on movement. Razer has also developed in-game configuration utilities for many popular MMOs, meaning you can rearrange your button configurations during a raid break without having to back out to the desktop, or play in windowed mode.
Unfortunately, those custom in-game utilities are only available on the PC, but the rest of the Naga Chroma’s capabilities function without issue on the Mac. Don’t get too excited about that optical sensor though -- 16,000 DPI is an absurdly high resolution that only the most controlled, surgeon-like mouseketeers will be able to use even halfway capably.
The lack of a left-handed model is a bummer, considering the 2014 series of Naga came in both right and left-handed flavors, but overall the Naga Chroma is an exceptional choice for anyone who needs performance, accuracy, and instant access to 12+ different functions.
8. Logitech G600
Save some cash, and the raid
DPI: 8,200 | Interface: Wired USB | Buttons: 20 | Ergonomic: No | Features: Customizable via Logitech Gaming Software, supports Windows 7+, 1,000 Hz report rate, 133 grams
The Logitech G600 is another excellent option for MMO folk, meeting many of the same needs as the pricier Razer Naga Chroma. Like the Naga Chroma, the G600 has 12 assignable thumb buttons, extensively featured customization software and a high-resolution (although not incredibly so) optical sensor. Unlike the Naga Chroma, the G600’s configuration software doesn’t support Macs, nor does it offer functionality equivalent to Razer’s in-game configuration utilities on the PC.
Despite these differences, the G600 is a well-built, reliable mouse that will more than adequately serve even the most demanding MMO devotees, and is definitely worth consideration for PC gamers evaluating their massively multiplayer online mouse-moving needs.