Related Articles – Polling Rate: The Definitive Guide & Best Settings For Gaming
What is DPI?
Dots Per linear Inch(DPI) is a unit of measurement for mouse sensitivity, or mouse resolution. If you move your mouse after increasing the DPI, the cursor on your screen will go farther.
Sensors of mice with higher DPI settings detects smaller movements, since it takes less mouse movement for the cursor to move.
It measures how many pixels the cursor will move when the mouse is moved by 1 inch(2.54cm).
For example, if you move a mouse with 800 DPI by an inch, theoretically the cursor should move by 800 pixels.
This applies to cursors and crosshairs in games as well. So if you increase your DPI, your cursor and crosshairs will move at a faster rate in game.
CPI, or Counts Per Inch, is also used to describe the same thing. However, the term “DPI” is more widely used among gamers.
Thus, a mouse with higher DPI simply means the mouse cursor will move faster.
If you want to learn more about DPI, here is François Morier, Senior Engineer of Logitech, explain mouse sensor and DPI:
DPI is probably one of the most frequently asked question in gaming forums such as Overwatch, Valorant and Counter-Strike. And one of the reasons is because companies are advertising high DPI values as if higher means better.
However that is not always true. Here is why.
Is High DPI Good?
Now that we know what DPI is, the question can now be reworded to “is faster mouse cursor good?”
During the 2000’s, cheap gaming mice could only go up to about 800 DPI. Back then, maximum DPI value was important because 800 was too slow for some people.
During the 2010’s, the DPI of gaming mice started increasing to 1200 and 1600. And most of the newer models nowadays have at least 8000.
However, once the DPI value reached a certain point, higher values become meaningless because most gamers don’t use high DPI settings.
So unless you absolutely must have a really fast mouse cursor, higher DPI does not mean it’s a better mouse. If you use 1600 DPI, you just need to make sure that your mouse has at least 1600 maximum DPI.
Is “High Precision” Mouse Good?
At first, “high precision” sounds like the mouse is able to detect mouse movements with accurate precision.
However that is not always the case. Since higher DPI means the mouse is more sensitive, it needs to read smaller movements, which is where the term “high precision” comes from.
Basically, “high precision” just means the mouse has a high maximum DPI. It doesn’t mean that the particular mouse has more accurate sensor.
Can I just increase the mouse sensitivity in Windows Settings?
It would be possible to have a fast mouse cursor movements even with a low DPI mouse, by increasing the mouse sensitivity settings in Windows.
However, the difference between DPI and mouse sensitivity settings is that DPI is from the mouse hardware specification, while the mouse sensitivity is a software setting that forces faster cursor movement.
So if you use a low DPI mouse with increased windows mouse sensitivity, the cursor or crosshair will bounce around, in a very unsmooth manner.
This happens because the the sensor does not read small movements with low DPI, while the software settings are forcing your cursor to move farther.
Because of this, many games have an option to use Raw Mouse Input. This option will completely ignore windows mouse sensitivity settings and acceleration settings.
How Do Optical Sensors Work?
Most of the gaming mice have optical sensors nowadays. If you look at the bottom of an optical mouse, you will see a LED and the sensor, which is basically a small camera.
When you move the optical mouse, the sensor takes snapshots of the surface(such as your mousepad). It takes hundreds, if not thousands, of shots a second and decides the direction of your mouse by comparing the snapshots.
Then, the mouse sends the mouse movements to the computer, which moves the cursor or crosshair on the screen. The rate at which this happens is called polling rate.
Laser mice work in a similar way, but uses infrared light instead of LED light. Infrared lights are invisible to the naked eye.
Before sensors, computer mice used a rubber ball instead of an optical or laser sensor. The ball would roll around depending on the direction you move the mouse, which moved the cursor on the screen.
How to Check and Change Your DPI
Usually, the easiest way to check and change your DPI is to open your mouse software.
For example if you’re using a Logitech mice, it would be Logitech G Hub or Logitech Gaming Software. For Steelseries mice, it would be Steelseries Engine.
Some companies such as Zowie do not have a software. Instead, Zowie mice has a button on the mouse that changes the DPI. For these mice, you should check the specification and see what the DPI options are.
Some mice might have a light that tells you what DPI the mouse is currently set to.
If not, you’ll have to cycle through them and figure out which one of the options you’re using.
For example, pressing this button on Zowie EC2-A changes the DPI, in a cycle of 400 – 800 – 1600 – 3200:
Alternatively, you can use the DPI Analyzer to check your DPI.
DPI vs Sensitivity
DPI is a mouse setting that affects the speed of your cursor, both in game and out of the game.
Sensitivity usually refers to the in-game option that affects the cursor or crosshair in that game only.
To describe how fast or slow your cursor or crosshair moves in a game, you can mention both your DPI and in-game sensitivity.
Or, you can use the eDPI, which we will go over next.
What is eDPI?
eDPI is your mouse DPI multiplied by your in-game sensitivity. For example, if your DPI is 800 and in-game sensitivity is 2, your eDPI is 800 * 2 = 1600.
So instead of telling someone your DPI and in-game sens, you can just tell them your eDPI as well.
What is cm / 360°?
Some people might prefer another unit to describe their mouse sensitivity called cm/360.
cm / 360° is how many centimeters it would take to do a 360° turn in game.
You can easily convert your eDPI to cm/360° and vice versa using online calculators like this.
The Best DPI for Gaming
For most games, the speed of your cursor or crosshair movement will be determined by your mouse DPI as well as your in-game sensitivity.
If that’s the case, it doesn’t really matter what your DPI is, because you can adjust the in-game sensitivity. What’s important is the eDPI, which is your DPI multiplied by the in-game sensitivity.
For example, if you play CSGO with 800 DPI and 1.0 sensitivity, your eDPI is 800 * 1.0, or 800. If you want to change your DPI to 1600 but keep the same CSGO settings, you can change your in-game sensitivity to 0.5, because 1600 * 0.5 also makes 800 eDPI.
So basically, you can use a DPI that you’re comfortable with in Windows. Then, you can adjust the in-game sensitivity according to your preferences.
However in some cases, you may not be able to get the exact eDPI you want.
For example, let’s say you want to use 1600 DPI, and 7000 eDPI in Overwatch.
You’d need to put 4.375 as the in-game sensitivity to get 7000 eDPI. (Because 7000 / 1600 = 4.375)
However, Overwatch only allows up to two decimal places:
In this case, you won’t be able to get exactly 7000 eDPI – the closest you can get is 6992 (1600 * 4.37) or 7008 (1600 * 4.38).
If you really want to use 1600 DPI outside of games and 7000 eDPI in Overwatch, you can switch DPI only when you’re playing Overwatch. If you have a mouse with a on-the-fly DPI adjustment button, it’ll be easier.
One thing to remember is that DPI stands for Dots Per linear Inch.
That means the mouse sensitivity will feel different if you play games in different resolutions.
The resolution of the monitor is how many pixels, or “dots”, there are on the screen. So if you change to a smaller resolution, the sensitivity will feel faster because it takes fewer pixels to move farther now.
How To Convert Sensitivity Between Games
If you’re playing a game and want to use the same sensitivity from another game, you can use these online calculators:
What Specs Do I Need To Look For?
Now you’ve learned that high DPI isn’t important for most people nowadays. Then what is important when looking to buy a gaming mouse?
The first thing would be polling rate. It’s the rate at which your mouse sends the mouse movements to the computer.
Basically if you’re playing with a low polling rate, your cursor or crosshair will move a few moments after you’ve already moved your mouse.
Obviously for competitive advantage, you want the highest polling rate possible, so your mouse movements will be registered faster.
You can learn more about polling rate here.
Wired vs Wireless
Wireless mice are widely used even among professional players nowadays. The feeling of moving your mouse without the restrictions of a cable might be what you’re looking for.
However, wireless mice tend to be more expensive than wired mice, and you might have to use it wired if you forgot to charge it. If you’re using a mouse that runs on AA batteries, you’ll need to replace it if it’s out of battery.
On the other hand, wired mice are more affordable and there is no risk of running out of batteries.
If you like wireless mice and can afford it, we would recommend buying a wireless mice with 1000 Hz wireless polling rate.
Weight and Shape
Depending on your preferences, you should look out for how much the mouse weighs, and how big the mouse is.
Some people prefer heavier mice, while others like lighter mice. It’s completely up you.
Same with the size; some players want bulkier mice while others want more compact mice.
DPI On-The-Fly Button
DPI On-The-Fly is a button on some gaming mice that allows you to switch between different DPI settings.
Older mice may have predetermined DPI’s, mostly in a set of 400/800/1600/3200.
Newer models can be programmable, so you can adjust the DPI’s to your preferences.
For example, Overwatch pro gamer Ryujehong uses On-The-Fly DPI switch button during matches. He usually plays on 400 DPI with very low in-game sensitivity. However when he needs to move his screen quickly, he switches to 800 DPI.
For some people, this feature might be worth having.
Conclusion: So What DPI Should I Use?
We would recommend you to try different setting and find what works for you.
There are so many variables in finding the “perfect” gear and settings. The shape and weight of your mouse, your grip style, your DPI settings, screen resolution of your game, your in-game sensitivity and your style of play all play a major factor in your aim.
There is no universal answer. Whatever feels the best and most comfortable for you is the way to go.
Did this article help you today? Or do you have other stuff you’d like to add?
Please tell us in the comment section!