Best Computer Mice
Pointing the Way
The keyboard and mouse are your most direct connections to your PC, and the most hands-on aspects of your desktop. In its most basic form, a computer mouse is a simple device, a sensor on the bottom with two buttons and a scroll wheel on top, that lets you interact with the files and programs on your computer as though they were extensions of your own hand. But while a mouse is simple in concept, this basic pointing device has found several unique incarnations. Thus, it pays to know what distinguishes one from another when you go shopping for a new model.
Types of Mice
Over time, several categories of mouse have evolved, each made for different uses. The most common of these is the mainstream desktop mouse, designed for use with a desktop or laptop PC at a desk or table. Aside from the usual right and left mouse buttons, common features include a scroll wheel and additional thumb buttons that let you navigate forward and back in your Web browser.
Travel mice offer many of these same features, but come in a smaller size. They’re designed to fit easily into the pocket of a backpack or laptop bag. For this same reason, however, travel mice tend to be too small for most human hands—you can use them just fine, but they become uncomfortable when you work with them for long periods. Generally speaking, travel mice are wireless and battery powered, so you may want to bring along a spare set of AAA batteries.
Gaming mice amplify every element of the basic mouse concept to the extreme. Depending upon the style of game that the mouse is intended for (MMORPG, first-person shooter, real-time strategy), you’ll see a variety of specialized features. What these mice have in common is a combination of high-performance parts—laser sensors, light-click buttons, gold-plated USB connectors—and customization, like adjustable weight, programmable macro commands, and on-the-fly dpi switching. For non-gamers, these features are overkill; for dedicated gamers, they provide a competitive edge.
Ergonomic designs put all of the usual mouse functions into a design that puts your hand into a neutral position. Designed to reduce the stresses that cause carpal tunnel and repetitive strain injury, ergonomic mice may look unusual and take some getting used to, but they do alleviate some very real problems.
Sensors and Sensitivity
The humble trackball has been superseded by two types of light-based motion sensors: optical (or LED) and laser. Unlike previous mechanical tracking options, light-based sensors have fewer issues with dust and dirt, and the absence of moving parts means that there are fewer failures.
Optical sensors pair a glowing LED light—often red, blue, or infrared—with a small photo sensor, tracking movement by repeatedly imaging the surface below the mouse, translating any movement into cursor movement (the frequency of imaging is called the polling rate, and numbers in the hundreds every second). Because of the imaging sensor used, optical mice are less prone to problems caused by lifting the mouse in use or mousing on an uneven surface.
Laser mice operate in a similar way, but use an infrared laser diode instead of an LED. This allows for greater sensitivity (measured in dots per inch, or dpi), and faster polling rate. The one drawback is that the increased sensitivity makes laser mice more finicky about the surface on which they are used. Premium gaming mice generally use laser sensors, but are recommended for use with mouse pad surfaces that are made specifically for gaming.
In order to offer the higher sensitivity of a laser sensor and the versatility of an optical mouse, some mice use both in tandem. Gaming mice also offer sensitivity adjustment, letting you shift from high dpi for tight cursor control circumstances (such as lining up a sniper’s shot) to low dpi (and thus faster cursor movement) for melee combat and run-and-gun situations.
Below are our top-rated computer mice. If you’re looking for a keyboard as well, check out the 10 best we’ve tested, as well as our favorite mechanical keyboards and gaming keyboards.
The simplest way to hook up a mouse to your PC is through a wired USB connection. Computer mice are usually plug-and-play devices, with no additional software to install (with the exception of some gaming mice), meaning that plugging in the cable is all of the setup you’ll need to deal with. Unlike wireless alternatives, a wired device will draw its power over USB, so there are no batteries to worry about. Wired connections are also preferred for gaming use, as they are free from the lag and interference issues that wireless options are prone to.
If you want more freedom and less cable clutter on your desk, however, it’s hard to beat a wireless mouse. Instead of a wired connection, wireless mice transmit data to your PC through one of two primary means: an RF connection to a USB receiver or Bluetooth. Both have their pros and cons, but if you want to reduce the number of cables on your desk and gain the flexibility to use your mouse unhindered—or even from across the room—wireless is the way to go.
Most wireless computer mice connect to the PC via the same 2.4GHz wireless frequencies used for cordless phones and Wi-Fi Internet. A dime-sized USB dongle—small enough to plug in and forget about—provides the link to your PC. Companies use proprietary connections like these because they allow optimal battery life. These USB dongles also provide connectivity to more than one device, meaning that you can use the single adapter for your wireless mouse—or mice, if you have one at work and one at home—as well as one or more keyboard, assuming that all are the same brand.
Bluetooth options don’t monopolize a USB port, and the stable, easy-to-manage connections are ideal for use with more mobile devices, like ultraportables, tablet PCs, and 2-in-1s. In regular use, a Bluetooth connection gives you roughly 30 feet of wireless range, but may not match the battery life offered by devices with a USB dongle. New innovations, such as motion sensors tied to power and connection management improves the battery life over older Bluetooth devices, which maintained an always-on link, draining battery quickly.
Deciding On a Sensor
A high-quality sensor is the first step toward precision and accuracy. Less expensive mice will usually have optical (or LED) sensors, which offer fairly good tracking sensitivity, but do particularly well when lifted slightly from the tracking surface. Laser sensors, on the other hand, may be a bit more finicky in the heat of battle, but offer much better tracking. It’s also possible to get the best of both worlds, using the two sensors in tandem to provide the high-accuracy tracking of a laser with the less delicate tracking of an optical sensor.
Ready, Aim, Fire
Aiming, targeting, slashing, attacking. Some of the most important actions you take in a PC game happen with the click of a mouse. Any gaming mouse you buy will offer reliable connectivity, smooth and responsive tracking, and basic click and scroll functions. But it takes more than basic functionality to make a good gaming mouse.
Trick It Out
The best gaming mice offer comfort and customization. Features match the unique needs of your preferred games, whether you’re dealing with a firefight or staving off an advancing horde. Mice aimed at first-person shooters feature ratcheting scroll-wheels—letting you cycle through your arsenal without selecting the wrong weapon—and on-the-fly dpi adjustment for switching between the fast low-dpi tracking needed in a frantic firefight and the more tightly controlled high dpi needed for lining up a sniper’s shot.
Mice designed for real-time strategy games and MMOs are often outfitted with an array of six to 12 programmable macro buttons. Set just under the tip of the thumb, these can either be used as number keys or programmed to execute longer macro commands.
All of the gaming mice currently available are made with some customization in mind, even if it’s just tweaking the tracking speed. Each gaming gear manufacturer has developed its own customization software, which often includes advanced macro programming. In addition to recording macro commands, these dashboards will also let you swap preset profiles, and many also offer presets for non-gaming use, letting you leverage your programmable mouse in programs like Excel and Photoshop.
For maximum comfort, many gaming mice can also be customized physically. Removable weights are common, letting you tweak the total weight one way or the other. Some models take this even further, letting you shift the center of balance, or adjust the height and pitch of the palm rest.
Finding the best gaming mouse for you comes down to knowing your own preferred style of game, determining whether or not you will take advantage of more complex functions, and then tweaking the chosen mouse to your specific tastes.
Below are our top-rated gaming mice. Looking for other gaming peripherals? Check out our favorite gaming keyboards, monitors, and headsets. And if you need to buy a whole new system, you’ll want to read about our top-rated gaming desktops and laptops.
Logitech MX Anywhere 2
Versatile and feature-packed without going overboard
DPI: 1,600 | Interface: Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless (pairs with up to three devices) | Buttons: 6 | Ergonomic: Right-handed | Features: Scrolling wheel, Logitech Darkfield Laser Tracking, Unifying receiver, Easy-Switch tech, gesture function
Smaller than Logitech’s flagship, the MX Master, the Logitech MX Anywhere 2 is the ideal travel mouse. It can connect with up to three distinct devices with 2.4GHZ wireless technology or with Bluetooth, making it obvious why this mouse is renowned for having quick setup and surprisingly long battery life. Capable of extremely quick charging, in just 4 minutes the MX Anywhere 2 charges enough for an entire day. After finding a great mouse, get the best keyboard
Logitech MX Master
A veritable spaceship of a mouse
DPI: 1000 | Interface: Bluetooth (pairs with up to three devices) | Buttons: 5 | Ergonomic: Right-handed | Features: Hand-sculpted comfort contour, Speed-adaptive scroll wheel, Thumb wheel, Darkfield Laster Tracking, Dual Connectivity, Rechargeable battery
Logitech’s flagship is a mighty mouse indeed. Hand-sculpted for comfort, the MX Master connects via Bluetooth or USB dongle and it can pair to up to three devices. The rechargeable battery lasts for up to 40 days and goes from flat to a day of power in four minutes. Plus, you can even use it while it’s charging.
Anker Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse
It looks weird, but it feels pretty good
DPI: 1000 | Interface: USB | Buttons: 5 | Ergonomic: Vertical | Features: No
Judging by the mouthful of a name, Anker’s mouse is defined by its vertical orientation. Though it looks and feels somewhat sideways at first, the Anker Vertical Ergonomic Optical Mouse is only off-putting until you start to wonder how you ever lived without it. It’s built a little more cheaply than other ergonomic mice, but it’s ultimately an inexpensive means of preventing RSI.
Apple Magic Mouse 2
As ever, Apple thinks different
DPI: 1300 | Interface: Bluetooth | Buttons: 0 | Ergonomic: Ambidextrous | Features: Multi-touch
When it isn’t busy making luxury smartphones you can unlock with your face, Apple is hard at work constructing one of the world’s weirdest computer mice. If you were doing a double-take looking at the specs, you saw right: the Magic Mouse 2 has zero buttons and endless fashion appeal. It’s also controlled by gestures, giving it all the allure of a trackpad as well as a mouse.
Logitech Triathlon M270
A mouse designed for multi-taskers
DPI: 1000 | Interface: Bluetooth (pairs with up to three devices) | Buttons: 8 | Ergonomic: Right-handed | Features: 24-month battery life on one-AA battery, Sculpted design, Free spinning scroll wheel, Easy-switch tech, Logitech Options Software
Like the MX Master, the Triathlon M270 can pair with up to three devices using Bluetooth. What’s more, it uses the same free-spinning scroll wheel featured on the MX Master, letting you zip through documents or webpages. Logitech promises up to 24 months of use before the on one AA battery. The only drawback? Bluetooth makes for lower latency than a wired mouse. This product is only available in the US and UK at the time of this writing. Australian readers: check out a fine alternative in the Logitech MX Anywhere 2
Logitech MX Ergo Wireless
Making 2018 feel like the new 1991
DPI: 512 – 2048 | Interface: Bluetooth and 2.4GHz wireless | Buttons: 8 | Ergonomic: Right-handed | Features: Trackball, USB dongle, Logitech ‘Flow’ software compatibility for use with up to three PCs simultaneously, micro USB charging, precision mode The third trackball mouse Logitech has put out since 2008, the MX Ergo Wireless is an anomaly in an industry that is otherwise crowded with optical laser mice. As such, it’s certain to charm those who haven’t quite moved on to the gesture-based desktop trackpads of the present. With the option to lay it flat or use it at a 20-degree angle, this mouse is uniquely satisfying.
Read the full review: Logitech MX Ergo Wireless
Microsoft Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600
It’s cheap! It’s cheerful! It lasts forever!
DPI: 1000 | Interface: Bluetooth | Buttons: 2 | Ergonomic: Ambidextrous | Features: No
The new Surface Precision Mouse might be tempting, but one look at that price tag and our most frugal readers will want to turn their heads in the opposite direction, wherein the Bluetooth Mobile Mouse 3600 is hiding. This affordable vermin is one of the cheapest and reliable wireless mice you can buy and, to make matters better, it’s from a name you can trust.