Guide, Mouse

Mouse DPI: The Definitive Guide & Best Settings For Gaming

What is DPI?

Dots Per linear Inch(DPI) is how fast the cursor on your screen moves when you use your mouse.

Higher DPI means the mouse cursor moves faster, and lower DPI means they move slower.

DPI is a term that is misunderstood by many people due to manufacturer’s marketing technics. In this article, we will go over what DPI really means, how to change DPI, how it affects gaming, and much more.

How Does DPI Work?

DPI 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, the cursor moves by 800 pixels. This applies to crosshairs in games as well.

CPI, or Counts Per Inch, is also used to describe the same thing. However, the term “DPI” is more widely used among gamers.

DPI vs Sensitivity

Before we go further, it’s important to know that DPI only refers to the mouse settings, not the in-game settings or software settings.

For example in League of Legends, you can increase how fast the cursor moves in Options:

This setting is often called the sensitivity. By increasing or decreasing the sensitivity, the cursor will move slower or faster inside League of Legends.

But that does not mean the mouse DPI changed. The DPI of the mouse is still the same.

This makes sense because this only affects the cursor speed while playing League of Legends.

How to Check and Change Your DPI

Mouse Dpi: The Definitive Guide & Best Settings For Gaming

Whether you’re using Windows 10 or other OS, usually the easiest way to check and change your DPI is to open your mouse software.

For example, if you’re using a Logitech G Pro Wireless, it would be Logitech G Hub.

However, some companies such as Zowie do not have a software. Instead, their mice come with a predetermined set of DPI’s that you can’t customize.

For example, pressing this button on a Zowie EC2-A changes the DPI, in a cycle of 400 – 800 – 1600 – 3200:

Mouse Dpi: The Definitive Guide & Best Settings For Gaming

For mice like these, you have to learn how the DPI settings work on your mouse.

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.

If you’re still not sure how to change the DPI on your mouse, try reading the manual. It’s usually included in the box, or available online.

How To Test Mouse DPI

If you want to test and make sure of your DPI, you can use the DPI Analyzer to check your DPI. All you need is a ruler.

  1. In Target distance, enter how many inches you want to move your mouse.
  2. In Configured DPI, enter what DPI you want to test for.
  3. Make sure the other settings are set correctly:
    Units: What unit of measurement you can use for Target distance.
    Axis: Whether you want to move your mouse to the right(X+) or to the left(X-).
    WPS: This is the Windows’ mouse pointer speed, which you can find in Windows Mouse Properties.
  4. Click and hold the red crosshair, and then adjust the ruler to make sure you’re starting exactly on the right spot.
  5. While holding the mouse button, try to move the mouse by the Target distance.
  6. After it’s moved by the Target distance, let go of the mouse button and check what the tester says.

Is High DPI 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 can support 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.

Related: Mouse Acceleration: The Complete Guide (And Why It’s Not Always Bad)

Screen Resolution and DPI

Source: Wikimedia

One thing to remember is that DPI stands for Dots Per linear Inch. That means the mouse sensitivity will feel different in other screen 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.

DPI On-The-Fly Button

DPI on-the-fly button on Logitech G900.

DPI On-The-Fly button can be used to quickly switch between different DPI’s. This can be useful for some people who want to use multiple DPI levels.

For some people, it might be helpful during gaming as well. Carpe, one of the best aimers in Overwatch history, uses 3 DPI levels.

He usually uses 900 DPI, but when his aim feels a little off, he switches to 700 or 800 DPI:

Another legendary 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.

DPI and Gaming

If you are new to FPS games, your DPI is more than likely too high, which may cause you to miss more shots.

First, take a look at this picture of us using the Logitech G Pro Wireless mouse with the Zowie G-SR mousepad.

As you can see there’s a lot of room, so we can move the mouse freely without having to worry about the mouse leaving the mousepad.

Which means you can reduce the DPI and in-game sensitivity settings to make your aim more accurate and precise.

And that’s why 66% of the CSGO pros use 400 DPI, which is the lowest possible DPI in a lot of gaming mice.

In other FPS games, pros’ DPI settings tend to be different depending on the style of the game.

For example, in hyper FPS games such as Overwatch, only 12% of the pros use 400 DPI. The most popular DPI is 800, which is 57%.

Thus, it’s safe to say that most pros use a DPI in 400 to 800 range.

Reduce Your DPI and Sensitivity

So, why do pros use a low DPI?

To understand that, you first need to know that DPI stands for Dots Per Inch. A “dot” represents a pixel in your monitor.

In other words: the higher your DPI, the faster your crosshair moves.

You might be wondering: how fast should my crosshair move?

To answer that question, let’s take a look at some of the best aimers in the world, such as Zywoo.

You can see he uses 400 DPI and 1.9 in-game sensitivity.

If you want to try playing with a low DPI like Zywoo, feel free to change your settings and play around a bit.

However, do not force yourself to play at an uncomfortable sensitivity. Try to find a comfortable sensitivity, where your aim feels accurate.

What is eDPI?

eDPI is simply your DPI multiplied by your in-game sensitivity.

For example: if you play CSGO with 400 DPI and 2.0 sensitivity, your eDPI is 400 * 2.0, or 800.

If you want to change your DPI to 800, you can change your in-game sensitivity to 1.0, because 800 * 1.0 also makes 800 eDPI.

DPISensitivityeDPI
4002.0800
8001.0800

eDPI is a good way to look at other people’s settings and get a feel of how fast or slow it is.

What is cm per 360?

cm / 360° is how many centimeters the mouse has to move, in order to do a 360°.

You can get it by measuring the mouse movement after doing a 360° in game.

CS:GO cm/360

Or, you can convert your eDPI to cm/360° and vice versa using online calculators like this.

Getting the Exact Same eDPI

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 play Overwatch with 7000 eDPI.

Since 7000 / 1600 = 4.375, you’d need to put 4.375 as the in-game sensitivity.

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, you can change your DPI by simply clicking a button on your mouse.

What Specs Do I Need To Look For?

We’ve gone over how important DPI is in gaming mice. Let’s go over what else is important when looking for a gaming mouse.

Polling Rate

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.

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:

Overwatch to Fortnite Sensitivitiy Converter

CSGO to Valorant Sensitivity Converter

Overwatch, CSGO, APEX or Rainbow 6 sensitivity to Valorant sensitivity

Conclusion

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.

If you want to learn more about DPI, here is François Morier, Senior Engineer of Logitech, explain mouse sensor and DPI:

What DPI do you use? Let us know in the comment section!

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Author Info
Andrew is a lifetime gamer and a former amateur esports player. He has worked as the manager for teams such as the New York Excelsior and the Los Angeles Gladiators. Andrew has been mentioned in ESPN, Inven, The Ringer and other esports magazines and journals. andrew@gearrate.com