Gaming mice: we test the best
You know if you need a gaming mouse. You’re not pushing virtual paper around on your desktop; you’re fragging bots and shooting zombies. For gaming, you need an extra-responsive mouse that has lots of buttons and, ideally, a programmable interface.
Seeing how they run
It was brutal work, but we put six such mice through their gaming paces, using the three types of games for which mice are the best controllers: first-person shooters (Left for Dead 2, BioShock Infinite, and so on), real-time strategies (StarCraft II, Supreme Commander, and such), and role-playing games (Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, Torchlight II). We observed each mouse’s responsiveness, button placement, features, and (most important) comfort. If your mouse isn’t comfortable, gaming becomes more of a chore than an amusement.
Nearly every mouse in this roundup can execute macros (chains of commands such as key presses and mouse clicks) with a single button press. Most of the mice have programming interfaces that allow you to create profiles, tailor them to particular games, and store them in the mouse’s memory. They also have a high dots-per-inch sensitivity for optimal precision and speed. The high-end standard sensitivity these days is about 8200 dpi, and all gaming mice let you tweak the settings to one of various customizable presets. Also, every gaming mouse reviewed here is wired, since wireless ones can have a hint of latency—a potentially fatal flaw if you’re in the middle of a firefight.
Corsair Vengeance M65 Laser FPS Gaming Mouse
The Corsair Vengeance M65 is a terrific and comfortable right-handed mouse with a feature that gives gamers an edge unlike any other: the Sniper button, a big red thumb button on its left side.
The Sniper button reduces the mouse’s sensitivity to a predetermined 400dpi, which significantly slows down mouse response. But when you’re sniping in a first-person shooter, slower can be better: You can line up a perfect headshot without the crosshairs overshooting your target. The Sniper button is a handy feature in both single-player and multiplayer gaming. It can also level the field for less-skilled players, giving them a chance against competitors who can perform regular-speed headshots while in midair, leaping over a gap, and dodging rocket fire.
The major downside of the Vengeance M65 is that its primary buttons are far too sensitive. We discovered this while playing during a late-night, sleepy gaming session. When your fingers get heavy and you rest them on the mouse, it becomes all too easy to click a button accidentally—especially the one on the right. In games like Bioshock Infinite, misclicking the right button uses up your “salt,” leaving you at a disadvantage.
Otherwise, the Vengeance M65 is comfortable and responsive, and its programming interface is solid. It lets you define up to three dpi modes, plus the sniper mode.
The eight programmable buttons are well placed, the sensor goes to an industry-state-of-the-art 8200 dpi, and the polling rate hits 1000Hz—all competitive specifications. Were it not for that tricky right mouse button, we might recommend the Corsair Vengeance M64 above all others, but its oversensitivity is troublesome enough to be a real drawback.
- Sniper button is a battlefield leveler
- Great button placement
- Buttons can seem oversensitive, especially the right mouse button
There's plenty to like about this mouse, but heavy-handed gamers will find its buttons to be oversensitive.
Rating: 4 stars
Genius GX Gaming Gila
The GX Gaming Gila is the mouse we used the longest during the course of this roundup, as we tried to decide whether we loved it or hated it. There are reasons to feel one or the other way about it, and it’s likely to have as many diehard fans as it is to inspire people to fastball it through the nearest window.
Though it’s advertised as a 12-button massively-multiplayer-online/real-time-strategy gaming mouse, it works just as well in first-person shooters. Some of its buttons, especially its thumb buttons, are well placed. Others, notably those on the forward-right side, are baffling. Which digit are those for, the middle finger or the ring finger? We couldn’t find a comfortable way to use that pair of programmable buttons.
The Gila offers a wealth of dpi levels (from 200 to 8200) and includes—through its software interface—a dedicated low-sensitivity sniper setting that you can map to the button of your choice. Unlike the Corsair Vengeance M65, it doesn’t have a big, obvious “sniper” button in the middle of the thumb area—and it makes you responsible for assigning a position for the sniper button if you don’t like its default location.
You can tweak the heft of this semi-ambidextrous mouse with included weights. We say “semi-ambidextrous” because, despite its symmetrical shape, it includes thumb buttons on the left side that a southpaw won’t find useful. Also, the laser sensor on the underside of the mouse is offset to the left side, which makes it less sensitive in left-handed use.
It’s also small. A gamer with meaty paws may find this mouse too petite to wield comfortably. Otherwise, the GX Gaming Gila is well built and quite functional, though we’re not convinced that it justifies its nigh-on-$80 price tag.
- Dedicated sniper functionality
- Lots of programmable buttons
- No dedicated sniper button: feature requires software mapping
- Odd, smallish feel to the mouse
The Gila's compact dimensions and the placement of certain buttons could frustrate some users.
Rating: 2.5 stars
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