Quick Guide to Mice: Understanding DPI, Polling Rates, Etc.
Nearly every mouse manufacturer has their consumers focusing on the wrong information. For example, it used to be common for Logitech and Razer to have their mice compete by advertising that their mice could get up to 10000 and 20000 DPI. At one point, Zowie was advertising an enormously high polling rate even though it was negligible on standards. The reality is, most professional players within the realm of Counter-Strike don’t really give a shit about either of these features.
To understand why, lets begin with DPI. DPI stands for ‘Dots Per Inch.’ This is the measurement of how sensitive a mouse is (think sensitivity). If you have a low DPI mouse, it may take the entire width of your mousepad to move your mouse across the screen. However, if you have a mouse set for a high DPI, then the cursor will move farther across the screen even though you have barely moved it. Most players within Counter-Strike do not utilize a high DPI because this is essentially the same as having very high sensitivity. As you may already know, high sensitivity usually correlates to having less control and therefore more inconsistent aim. This is partially why nearly 80% of players are utilizing the default DPI setting of 400 (see graph below) or have raised it only one more notch to 800. For now, I have kept the individual players DPI hidden.
The same is also true for polling rate. A polling rate is how often the mouse reports its position to the computer. At 125, Hz the mouse is reporting its position 125 x a second. At 500 Hz, it is 500 x a second (every 2 milliseconds), etc. Take a look at the graph below which has captured almost every professional players polling rate. Notice how the polling rates are split almost evenly between 500 and 1000? If one was significantly better than the other, there would be a much higher swing towards that polling rate. Now, it is true 1000 is better than 500, and 500 better than 125. But the increase at which these are supposedly better are not drastically significant. This is why the polling rates are split between 500 and 1000 for most professional players, and even more so why players like Fallen, TACO, steel, yel, etc., all use 125 (the lowest polling rate) as their setting. If it truly had that big of effect, don’t you think the best players in the world would be using something higher?
There are also many other features which are mostly irrelevant when it comes to purchasing a mouse. Having 20+ programmable buttons for example, is also pretty irrelevant in a game like Counter-Strike; but more important in a game like World of Warcraft. This is because there are a very small amount of bindings within CS (something around like 20-30) and World of Warcraft can have up to 100+. The ZOWIE mice for example, which are the most popular within CS:GO, are limited to having around 10 programmable buttons, whereas a lot of mice now days are advertising 15 to 20+.
So what is important for a mouse to have?
One of my theories on why ZOWIE dominates the mouse market is because they designed a mouse for the players. They didn’t market their mouse for having a high DPI, or high polling rate, and they didn’t advertise 300+ programmable buttons. Instead, they said, “Hey, our mice meet the minimum threshold for polling rate, sensors, etc., and we’re going to design 3 of them in different sizes to cater to individuals with different size hands.”
Most gaming mice today are going to meet the minimum hardware threshold for competitive play. At this point in time it is all up to how the mouse ‘feels.’ Zowie offers the same hardware in most of their mice, that is, the same sensor, etc., and they just alter their minimalist design for the players. Notice the EC-A series below changes very minimally from the EC1-A to the EC2-A. The same can also be said for the ZA11, ZA12, and ZA13.
What is the best gaming mouse?
There really is no clear cut best gaming mouse. I use the Logitech G303 which is a favorite of player Freakazoid. Cloud9 members all use the Logitech G Pro, whereas most professional players are sporting some ZOWIE design. If you are limited on money, I’d start looking at the Zowie EC1-A/EC2-A series, followed by the Razer DeathAdder and Zowie FK1/FK2. The Deathadder is very common among players first introduced to Counter-Strike and the Zowie mice all support the same hardware but simply modify the ergonomics dependent upon your hand size.
Shortly, we’ll be doing individuals of each gaming mouse to better help you make a decision.
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