Why Mouse DPI Matters in Gaming

There are two types of DPI in tech: Deep Packet Inspection (a network security term) and Dots Per Inch. In this guide we'll be talking about why the latter DPI matters in gaming and give you some tips on how you can better customize your settings to fit your play style the best.

DPI and Polling Rates


To start, it helps to know how optical mice actually translate the movement of your hand into movement of the mouse on screen. Every optical mouse comes with two critical pieces in the bottom: a light emitting diode and a camera. The camera records how the light reflects off a surface hundreds of times a second, and then turns that into movement on screen.

Polling rate refers to how often this camera takes a picture of this movement. For example, a mouse with a polling rate of 500Mhz reports its position to your computer every 2 milliseconds. Higher polling rates are generally preferred for intense gaming but can also take more resources for your computer to read every signal coming through.

DPI refers to the sensitivity of your mouse and how far it moves across the screen depending on the movement of your hand. A high DPI will require very little hand movement to make the mouse zip from one side of the screen to the other. A low DPI however needs much more movement to get the cursor to go even a couple inches in any direction, so why would you want to lower your DPI beyond what's generally considered comfortable?

DPI and Gaming


The DPI you use can vary pretty significantly depending on the type of game you're playing and how you prefer to play. For example, in a MOBA like League of Legends, you might want to maintain a higher DPI because you need to be able to click on many different areas of the screen quickly and with pinpoint accuracy.

Conversely, many FPS gamers like to keep their DPI at nearly the lowest setting possible, generally around 200-500 DPI. This means they have to make giant swipes with their hands to get the reticle of their gun to move even the slightest bit, which can be good if you're sniping someone from miles away and don't want the optics to sway too much once you get a lock on them.

Running a higher DPI in FPS games takes a lot of practice to get used to, though, which is why many gaming mice like the Logitech G502 comes with features like on-the-fly DPI adjustment to ease you in. On-the-fly DPI lets you pre-program three to five different DPI settings that can be triggered by a set of buttons on your mouse. By cycling through these in game, you can swap from a pistol (high DPI) to a sniper (low DPI) in an instant and never worry about having to reset your DPI in the mouse software every time you get another kill.

Wrap Up

For anyone who's serious about upping their game the next time they jump into a match online, a mouse with a high polling rate and on-the-fly DPI adjustment is a must-have.

With that in mind, if you plan on playing a lot of FPS titles with low DPI you're going to need a large enough mousepad to match. Generally we recommend going with a mousepad that spans the entirety of your desk, like the HyperX Fury S, just to make sure you're always on target and don't accidentally slip off in the middle of a heated firefight.

Chris Stobing

A tech writer with seven years of experience in the industry, Chris Stobing has come to MakeTechEasier to do one thing and one thing only: make tech easier for the people who need it!

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