9 Ways to Optimize Mouse Settings for Gaming

Wireless Mouse Beside A Laptop

If you’re looking to improve your gameplay, optimizing your mouse settings is essential. Read on to learn how mouse settings affect your gaming and how to optimize your mouse settings for the best gaming performance.

Good to know: mouse pointer moving on its own on Windows? Learn what to do about it.

How Do Mouse Settings Affect Gaming?

Your mouse settings can have a significant impact on your gaming performance. The precision and accuracy of your aim can change based on your mouse DPI and polling rate. DPI (or Dots Per Inch) determines how fast your cursor moves as you move your mouse.

Modern gaming mouse view.
Image source: Pexels

Polling rate, on the other hand, influences how often your mouse communicates with your computer. Additionally, your mouse’s latency can impact your performance in games that require quick input.

The games where you're bound to notice improvement after tweaking mouse settings are usually competitive games, such as multiplayer online battle arena games (MOBA), massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), and first-person shooters (FPS.)

Choosing Your Cursor Sensitivity

FPS games can be played with a lower mouse sensitivity to get the most precision with your aim. Lower cursor movement speed ensures that you don't overshoot the target, then requires rapid adjustments to aim. Lower cursor sensitivity makes micro-adjustments easier as well while aiming.

Cursor on a black background.
Image source: Unsplash

Conversely, there are also benefits to having a higher cursor sensitivity in FPS games. For instance, it helps you increase the distance your crosshair can cover with less physical movement. This makes it easier to flick and aim for a target. Some players like high cursor sensitivity, as it allows them to perform trick shots more easily.

Games that don't require high precision, such as single-player RPGs, can also be played with higher sensitivity without any problems. On the other hand, MOBAs and MMOs usually require a medium cursor sensitivity to find a balance between quick movements and precision.

Browse the list of tips below to help optimize your mouse settings for gaming.

Tip: need a new mouse? Check out our list of the best gaming mice.

1. Turn Off Mouse Acceleration

Mouse acceleration allows cursor distance to increase if the mouse is moved quickly. Although useful for normal tasks, this can cause inconsistencies in cursor movements while gaming, ultimately ruining your aim. Turning it off is recommended to get better accuracy.

  1. Press Win + I to open the Settings app.
  2. Navigate to the “Bluetooth & devices” tab, and select “Mouse.”
Navigating to "Bluetooth and devices" and selecting "Mouse" in Settings.
  1. Scroll down and click “Additional mouse settings.”
Selecting "Additional Mouse Settings" under the "Related settings."
  1. Switch to the “Pointer Options” tab. Uncheck the “Enhance pointer precision” option, and click “Apply.”
Turning off "Enhance pointer precision in Mouse Properties window.

2. Customize DPI settings

DPI settings determine how fast your cursor moves on your screen. Customizing the mouse DPI to your liking is recommended to adjust the cursor speed. This is the easiest way to improve your gaming accuracy and precision.

  1. Go to the "Mouse" section in Settings.
  1. Adjust the slider for “Mouse pointer speed” to its lowest.
Setting the lowest mouse pointer speed in Settings.
  1. Move your mouse, and check whether you’re comfortable with the settings. Keep moving the slider up, until your mouse pointer is as fast as you would like it.
Adjust the mouse pointer speed to your liking.

3. Update Mouse Drivers

Outdated mouse drivers can cause mouse movement inconsistencies, affecting gaming performance. It's the reason keeping your mouse drivers up to date is essential. Begin the process from Device Manager.

Selecting "Update driver" from Device Manager.

Alternatively, use driver update tools to update your mouse drivers automatically.

FYI: learn how to install unsigned drivers in Windows.

4. Enable Raw Input

Usually, the input from your mouse goes through Windows before it reaches the game you are playing. This adds unnecessary input latency, which affects your gaming performance. Thankfully, most games have a way to bypass this problem through Raw Input.

Raw Input allows the game to get the input directly from the mouse instead of receiving it from Windows. In this example, we are enabling Raw Input in Valorant.

Open your in-game settings, and turn on the “RawInputBuffer” option (or similar).

Enabling Raw Input from within Valorant game.

Expect faster response times and more consistent movement from your mouse.

5. Increase the Polling Rate

The polling rate determines how often your mouse communicates your input to your PC within one second. Increase the polling rate for smoother mouse movements, improving your gaming experience.

  1. Unplug your mouse from your PC.
  2. Reconnect your mouse, and press the 4 and 5 keys simultaneously on your keyboard to set your mouse polling rate at 125Hz.
Pressing keys 4 and 5 simultaneously on the keyboard.
  1. Repeat this process, but only press the 5 key on your keyboard to set the polling rate at 500Hz.
Pressing key 5 on the keyboard.
  1. Alternatively, only press the 4 key after plugging in your mouse again to set the polling rate at 1000Hz.
Press 4 From The Keyboard.
  1. If your mouse has an accompanying app, adjust the polling rate from there. Generally, a higher polling rate means better mouse movements. But it is recommended to only go as high as 500Hz to reduce the load on your CPU so that there won't be any performance issues.

6. Turn Off Angle Snapping

Some gaming mice have Angle Snapping turned on by default in their accompanying software. With the option enabled, your mouse moves at a constant horizontal angle, even if you make some minor vertical movements. Although Angle Snapping can help improve crosshair placement, it can also make it difficult to aim precisely.

Therefore, it is recommended to turn this setting off for better aiming and smoother mouse movements. Turn off Angle Snapping in the app for your mouse.

Tip: did you know that you can use a game controller as a mouse in Windows? We show you how to set it up.

7. Turn On Auto HDR

Auto HDR is a Windows feature that improves the graphics quality of games and videos, but most people have it turned off to make Windows gaming laptops run longer on battery. However, the better graphics quality provided by Auto HDR lets you track your cursor movements more easily. If you have a compatible display, turning on HDR will help improve your aim.

  1. Navigate to "Settings -> System -> Display."
Clicking on "Display" in Windows Settings.
  1. Select the “HDR” option.
Selecting the HDR option in Windows Display Settings.
  1. Turn on “Auto HDR.”

8. Use a Mouse Pad

Using your mouse on rough surfaces like a desk can result in inconsistent cursor movements and stuttering, due to the uneven surface. This, in turn, can reduce your precision and accuracy in the game. Mousepads provide an even surface with minimal drag so that you can move your mouse smoothly.

Mouse on a mousepad.
Image source: Pexels

The smoother surface of the pad also ensures consistent movements. Plus, the optical sensor of your mouse can track movement better on a mouse pad than on rough surfaces.

Pick a durable mouse pad large enough to move your mouse in a circle so that you won't have to lift the mouse while gaming. Also, ensure the pad has no sewn edges, hindering mouse movement.

9. Reduce Cable Drag

Cable drag refers to the resistance your mouse cable produces from getting stuck on objects or dragging on the table. Even if the cable is on a flat surface, it will provide some cable drag from friction, slowing down your mouse movement at certain angles. This causes inconsistent mouse movement, translating to bad performance in games.

To reduce cable drag, you must minimize the contact between the mouse cable and surrounding objects. Do this with a mouse bungee. This accessory can hold the mouse cable up in the air to minimize cable drag. Some players prefer to tape a portion of their mouse cord to their monitor’s corner to create a DIY mouse bungee.

Tip: make mouse clicks effortless with auto clicker apps.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my mouse sensitivity keep changing?

Your mouse sensitivity can keep changing due to various reasons. The mouse drivers could be outdated, causing software issues and inconsistent sensitivity. You could have accidentally turned on mouse acceleration, which keeps changing the mouse sensitivity, depending on your mouse speed. Using the mouse on an uneven surface makes it seem like your movements are stuttery.

Is high DPI recommended for FPS games?

A high DPI certainly has its advantages when playing FPS games. You can track fast-moving targets more easily. It becomes easier to flick to a target quickly and make turns swiftly. Playing at a high DPI also makes it easier to keep your aim consistent across different monitor resolutions. However, a high DPI does have the drawback of reduced precision while aiming. This is why it is recommended in FPS games to use a lower DPI, leading to more accurate aiming.

Image credit: Pexels. All screenshots by Khizer Kaleem.

Khizer Kaleem
Khizer Kaleem

Khizer Kaleem is a content writer at MTE. Having more than 15 years of experience with Windows OS, he has been showing his subject expertise by writing on various technical problems that users face. The content that Khizer produces helps readers resolve their Windows-related issues.

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