Mice have broken the shackles of boring beige peripherals and having a proper, RGB lit, high performance gaming mouse has become virtually mandatory for PC gamers. To help you sort the wheat from the chaff, we put together a comprehensive guide to the best gaming mouse you can find, and we've assembled a hardware team to test all the tech, mice included, that the modern gamer needs to complete their arsenal. We rigorously assess every unit we get in before including them in our roundup, and ensure we never recommend something we wouldn't want to actively use ourselves. So what's that process like?
Performance is king...
For most average desktop users or office workers, a pretty standard mouse like the sort you find packed in with any new PC is probably sufficient. But gamers require a higher level of precision and performance, and a lot of features that might be meaningless for 'productivity' become essential when considering a mouse for gaming. We test each mouse's sensor to see that it lives up to the stated level of CPI and IPS, to ensure that they're not only exceedingly precise but that they won't drop tracking when you start hurling them furiously around a pad during frantic Overwatch sessions.
...but not at the cost of comfort
A high performance mouse is basically a dense package of electronic trash if it actively makes you uncomfortable while you're using it. Hands are complex, delicate things, so mouse ergonomics are incredibly important to ensuring that whether you're a claw gripper or palm rester you don't end up with aching joints or gnarled fingers. We test each mouse extensively to ensure that it doesn't just feel nice the first time you pick it up, but that it's still comfortable to push around after hours of intense usage. And it's not just the curvature of the chassis and the placement of buttons - the materials a mouse's surface is comprised of makes a surprising difference in determining not only how nice it is to hold, but also how easy it is to grip and slide around. Textured rubber around the side panels can be the deciding factor between clutch last-second headshots and a mouse that slides out of your palm and costs you a match.
Great hardware requires great software
Given the increasing complexity and customizability of modern gaming mice, a properly robust software suite has become a serious factor in quality. Having a bunch of CPI settings is pretty useless if none of them match the feel you're looking for, and RGB lighting can go from a nice extra to an annoying headache if it's not in the color or pattern you want, or keeps changing on you sporadically. We test to make sure that software isn't only fully featured but that's it's easy and intuitive to use. The best software packages let you get in, punch in the settings you want quickly, and get back to gaming in the shortest time possible.
Clicking is key
Naturally, one of the most important features of any mouse is its buttons. The best mice have buttons with a satisfying click that let you easily differentiate between single and multiple clicks, and that position buttons well on the face of the mouse. Thumb button placement is especially important - there are far too many models out there that make accidentally clicking the wrong button far too easy, or put side buttons in places that force you to contort your thumb unnaturally to reach them. And click precision can be as important as sensor precision; a button isn't much good to you if it's counting every single click as two or three inputs.
The weight of your mouse affects everything from performance to comfort, so I'm very happy to see this recent trend amongst gaming mice that lets you add or subtract grams to find the perfect balance. We examine the mice we test to ensure that they don't fall too far to either extreme of the weight scale, neither too heavy so that they're a chore to use nor too light so they feel cheap and out of control. This is particularly important in wireless mice, which have historically had to rely on heavy additional batteries to power them, but some excellent recent examples have proven that just because you want to cut the cord doesn't mean you have to compromise on weight.
As always, value trumps price
It may be tempting to scan a mouse's price tag and make a snap decision about its build quality or design, but the very best mice offer as much value per dollar as possible. We certainly don't ignore price when we're evaluating products, but we also don't rule out a mouse just because its expensive. If it can back up the sticker price with great design, performance, and a full suite of strong features, we're happy to recommend it even if it does climb outside of the median price range.