Image: Hayden Dingman / IDG
If you want to be competitive in PC games these days you can forget about using a run-of-the-mill office mouse. Instead, you’ll need a powerful device that’s optimized just for gaming.
Manufacturers go to great pains to design specialist devices that give players an edge, with enhancements like unique body sizes and shapes, customizable weight, and extra grips to increase speed and accuracy. On top of that, the best gaming mice have unique hardware enhancements like highly sensitive sensors and complex button configurations to keep up with fast paced games.
Deciding on the right mouse is a highly personal decision that needs careful consideration. Factors like the size and shape of your hand, your preferred grip style, the types of games you play, and the number of buttons you need, are all factors that you’ll want to ponder in your quest for the best gaming mouse.
Below you’ll find a list of tried-and-tested devices selected by PCWorld reviewers that sit among the vanguard of gaming mice. For a rundown on how they were selected and further buying advice, read our helpful advice below our list of recommendations.
Updated 3/01/23 to include the Keychron M3 as our pick for the best wireless gaming mouse. In addition to its flexible connectivity (dual wireless and wired), this mouse is extremely lightweight and comfortable, with some of the quickest buttons we’ve used. Scroll below to learn more about this mouse and our other top picks.
1. Logitech G502 Hero – Best wired gaming mouse / Best overall
- Incredibly comfortable
- Buttons now rated for 50 million clicks
- Hero sensor performs as well as the PWM3366
- More expensive than the previous model, but not much has changed
- Fairly heavy, which might dissuade some users
- Still no wireless option
Logitech’s G502 mouse has gained a legendary status here at PCWorld by making our ‘Best of’ list every year for the last four years, hitting the right notes for power, comfort, and durability. Under the hood the G502 is powered by a very accurate Logitech Hero sensor, whose precise performance is highly sought after by serious gamers.
In the design department, it offers up dollops of comfort with an elongated pill-shaped body and high scoop that’s equally suitable for palm, claw, or fingertip users. MMO and MOBA gamers are well catered to with 11 well-placed buttons that respond quickly and are rated for up to 50 million clicks. Admittedly, the mouse’s 121 gram weight doesn’t make it the lightest option available, but yet it feels and performs just as well as lighter alternatives.
Read our full
Logitech G502 Hero review
2. Keychron M3 – Best wireless gaming mouse
- Very fast and precise 26,000 DPI sensor
- Well-proportioned and very comfortable
- The quickest buttons I’ve ever used
- It would have been more convenient for the DPI button to be placed where the RGB button currently sits
- Mac users will have to wait on the software app
- The M3 is currently only available for order on the Keychron website
Few gaming mice can cater to a gamer’s varying connectivity needs, which is why the Keychron M3 is so unique. It sports not one, but three connectivity options, including low-latency 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, and wired connectivity via a USB cable, so that you can connect it up to just about any device in your home. What’s even more impressive is that the Keychron M3 weighs a lowly 79 grams, which makes it one of the lightest gaming-grade mice with wireless connectivity you can get.
In the hardware department too, the M3 is very fortunate, sporting an extremely quick 26,000 DPI sensor with flawless tracking. It proved just ideal for precision moving and aiming in my playtesting. This sensor is backed up by some of the quickest buttons I’ve ever used; they’re powered by Kailh GM 8.0 micro switches.
The M3’s buttons have also been designed with gamer convenience in mind. You get nine in total, but four allow you to change various settings like the polling rate, RGB lighting, connectivity mode, and DPI settings on the fly without having to go into Keychron’s M3 companion software app. It’s hard to believe, but you get all this for just $49, which makes the Keychron M3 an exceptional value buy that’s likely to quickly run off shelves this year.
Read our full
Keychron M3 review
3. Mad Catz R.A.T. 8+ – Best gaming mouse for tinkerers
- Eminently customizable
- Uses a reliable PMW3389 sensor
- Feels durable
- Customization options aren’t always intuitive
- Heavy, even with the weights removed
- Hard to know whether Mad Catz peripherals are the more reliable nowadays
The Mad Catz R.A.T 8+ is about as customizable as gaming mice come, featuring a modular design that allows you to change up its component parts exactly as you wish to find your ideal mouse shape and weight. Doing so requires you to pull discrete levers and turn knobs integrated into the mouse’s body, so there’s a fairly steep learning curve before you know what you’re doing.
Still, if you love tinkering, this mouse will keep you entertained for hours at a time. It also doesn’t skimp in the button department, providing 10 buttons all told, orientated in some pretty original positions for extra convenience. With a stripped-back, bare-bones look, the Mad Catz R.A.T 8+ also stands out in the crowd, making it an obvious talking point at any group gaming sessions.
Read our Mad Catz R.A.T 8+ review
4. SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless – Best for MOBA and MMO games
- 18 easily programmable buttons
- Weighs only 89 grams
- Quick and responsive
- Dual Bluetooth 5.0 and 2.4GHz wireless
- Some buttons on the side grid are hard to reach
The more buttons, the heavier and slower gaming mice tend to be, but the SteelSereis Aerox 9 bucks this trend with a whopping 18 buttons and weighing just 89 grams. Needless to say, having 18 buttons at your disposal rather than 6, 8 or 12, gives you a little more firepower to launch commands and macros in games where quick deployment is needed—especially in MMOs and MOBAs like The Elder Scrolls Online or Final Fantasy XIV.
On top of the generous button selection, the Aerox 9 features a quick 18,000 DPI sensor and dual 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, so it’s highly versatile and portable. Design-wise, the Aerox 9 looks and feels fantastic thanks to a futuristic honeycomb-shaped back with RGB lighting. Additionally, since it weighs under 100 grams, it’s fast enough to keep you competitive in first-person shooters.
Read our full
SteelSeries Aerox 9 Wireless review
5. Razer Basilisk V3 – Best mouse wheel / Best for scrolling
- The Razer Focus + sensor gives faultless performance
- Scrolling is made simpler with the HyperScroll Tilt Wheel
- The RGB lighting looks fantastic
- It’s quite heavy and bulky
- You’re limited to wired connectivity only
The Basilisk V3 resembles the Razer Basilisk V2 in size and shape, sporting similar right-handed curves and a slightly arched thumb rest. Among its best features are an 11 button layout, 26,000 DPI Razer Focus+ sensor, and second-generation Razer optical switches that are fast enough for all kinds of gaming—whether that’s casual or serious. But the real magic lies in the Basilisk V3’s HyperScroll Tilt Wheel, which is a fancy name for its mouse wheel. This tilts in four directions and triggers downwards to put five commands at your fingertips, ideal for tactical FPS games like Rainbow Six.
Impressively, the HyperScroll Tilt Wheel also has extra AI scrolling modes that make your scrolling and browsing a lot easier. In our testing we enjoyed toggling between “Tactile” and “Free-Spin” modes, which allowed us to switch between a slow, precise scrolling action and a faster, smoother scrolling action that was useful for getting to the end of long websites more easily.
Read our full
Razer Basilisk V3 review
6. HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless – Best for esports / first-person shooters
- Weighs just 61 grams
- Has a highly accurate sensor
- Design is comfortable and aids performance
- Lacks Bluetooth
- Button configuration is dull
- Has only one RGB lighting zone
If you’re merely a good gamer HyperX’s Pulsefire Haste Wireless is the kind of mouse that can elevate you to the status of excellence. Weighing just 61 grams, it’s the lightest and quickest mouse I’ve had the pleasure of gaming with, feeling barely-there in my hands.
Just looking at the specifications, you’d be mistaken for thinking its PAW3355 16,000 DPI sensor is a little underpowered—it’s not, proving incredibly accurate in shooters like Overwatch and CounterStrike: Global Offensive, especially with the DPI profile set to the lowest setting. Other things that make this mouse a class act include its quick 2.4GHz wireless connectivity, futuristic and comfortable honeycomb-shaped back, and the extra grips and PTFE glide skates that come supplied in the box.
Read our full
HyperX Pulsefire Haste Wireless review
7. Cooler Master MM830 – Best budget gaming mouse
- Incredibly comfortable and durable
- Top-tier performance, with a PMW3360 sensor
- You can put a gun on your mouse, I guess
- D-pad is largely the same as any other thumb buttons
- OLED screen is superfluous at best
- PWM3360 cranked to 24,000 DPI for no reason
The MM830 differentiates itself from other budget gaming mice with fun features like a built-in D-pad and tiny OLED display that you can set up to show information like your RAM, CPU, and GPU usage stats. But looking beyond these novelties, it also performs well in games, which is infinitely more important. Powering that performance is a top-end 24,000 DPI PMW3360 sensor, which for comparison’s sake, is the same as the premium Logitech Hero sensor just with a higher power draw.
On top of the mouse’s body the MM830’s sports a textured plastic exterior that provides plenty of grip for your hand. A gentle right-hand scoop also makes it incredibly comfy to use even for long gaming stints.
Read our full
Cooler Master MM830 review
8. Logitech G203 LightSync – Best ultra-budget gaming mouse
- A comfortable design that resembles more expensive esports mice
- Sturdy and well-built
- The RGB lighting really pops
- Some sensor lag was experienced with large, fast movements
- The sensor’s lift-off distance is higher than some mice
- The RGB logo on the top isn’t customizable
Few devices offer as much bang for buck as this wired RGB gaming mouse that combines comfort, style and decent performance but without a hefty price tag. The Logitech G203 resembles more expensive esports mice with its simple 6-button configuration, small body and ambidextrous shape, but despite being substantially cheaper than rivals, it still feels sturdy and well-built. The G203’s 8,000 DPI sensor isn’t the quickest you’ll find, but for causal gamers it’s still a more than adequate performer that tracks accurately.
The G203 isn’t lacking style either. It features a signature rounded back design with colorful RGB band and Logitech logo that lights up your gaming den with pops of color. The RGB band is also customizable in the Logitech G Hub app, with the option to personalize three separate lighting zones.
Read our full
Logitech G203 LightSync review
9. ROCCAT Kone XP – Best RGB gaming mouse
- Stunning RGB lighting that lights up the whole top section
- The Owl-Eye sensor is highly accurate and powerful
- The 15 buttons can be customized with up to 29 functions
- The button layout can be confusing before you get the hang of it
- Some gamers may not like the bold RGB
- The supporting Swarm software could do with an update
There are ordinary RGB gaming mice and then there’s the wired ROCCAT Kone XP whose dazzling RGB lighting is something else. More precisely, it features eight internal lighting “pipelines” powered by 22 individual LEDs that diffuse light throughout the mouse’s transparent plastic top. That much RGB is a bold statement that you’re either going to love or hate. But either way, it’s hard to deny the Kone XP points for originality.
Despite its flashiness, the ROCCAT Kone XP is also a very capable performer in games. It sports a 15-button layout—programmable to 29 functions—that makes it ideal for MMO, RPG, and RTS gaming, where you can rarely have enough options for commands. What’s more, a 19,000 DPI Owl-Eye optical sensor and quick optical switches ensure the Kone XP is suitably fast and responsive when you need to fire off commands quickly and accurately.
Read our full
ROCCAT Kone XP review
10. ROCCAT Burst Pro Air – Best RGB gaming mouse runner-up
- Owl-Eye sensor is very precise and quick
- You won’t find a mouse with more stunning RGB lighting
- Dual wireless as well as wired connectivity
- 81-gram weight can feel heavy if you’re used to a lighter mouse
- Mouse wheel lacks left and right lateral clicks
- Pricey compared to some rivals
The ROCCAT Burst Pro Air’s four dedicated RGB lighting zones shine colored light through its semi-transparent body, creating a mesmerizing sheen-like glow that looks totally stunning from any angle. If the semi-transparent shell is your canvas, then ROCCAT’s Swarm app provides your painter’s palette, letting you go to town customizing each zone with up to 16.8 million colors and a range of stunning effects.
But as any gamer knows, looks aren’t everything. Consequently, we also chose the Pro Air because of its excellent gaming performance, which in our play testing we attributed to its comfortable eight-button design, powerful 19,000 DPI Owl-Eye optical sensor, and low-latency optical switches, which are rated for 100 million clicks.
The Pro Air also scores big points for its excellent connectivity options, which includes low-latency 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.2 wireless options, and a USB-A to USB-C cable for wired connectivity.
Read our full
ROCCAT Burst Pro Air review
11. Razer DeathAdder V2 X Hyperspeed – Best dual-purpose gaming and productivity mouse
- Comfortable, ergonomic design
- Dual Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Long battery life
- No RGB lighting
- Slightly slower than top-shelf gaming mice
The Razer DeathAdder V2 X Hyperspeed combines features for gaming as well as productivity, making it ideal for both. In the boardroom it syncs stealthily with its surroundings thanks to an all-black design with no RGB lighting zones. But beneath its modest exterior it hides a highly sensitive 14,000 DPI sensor, which is a solid performer in AAA games.
Dual 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity lets you switch between your gaming PC and work laptop just by flicking a switch underneath the mouse’s body. Unlike some gaming mice, the Razer DeathAdder V2 X Hyperspeed is powered by either an AA or AAA battery, making it ultraportable. It can stay powered a whopping 235 hours in Wi-Fi mode and 615 hours in Bluetooth mode just on a single AA battery.
Read our full
DeathAdder V2 X Hyperspeed review
12. SteelSeries Rival 650 – Best rechargeable wireless gaming mouse
- Get 10 hours of charge in only 15 minutes
- Comfortable and attractive design
- Removable weight system provides plenty of options
- Heavier than some might like
- Third thumb button is small and awkwardly placed
Two features stand out to make the SteelSeries Rival 650 a top choice for gamers. The first is a dual sensor system comprised of a TrueMove 3 sensor and a dedicated depth sensor. The depth sensor allows the Rival 650 to detect lift-off at a distance as small as half a millimeter, which is double the sensitivity of rival gaming mice. Needless to say, if you’re prone to lifting, the Rival 650 should help steady your aim.
The second feature highlighted by our PCWorld reviewer is its fast-charging capability that gets you back gaming sooner when the battery runs out. SteelSeries claims just 15 minutes charging time is enough to power the mouse for 10 (or more) hours of battery. On top of these two useful innovations the Rival 650 sports an elegant design that lets you peel of the left and right side panels and adjust it to your preferred weight.
Read our full
SteelSeries Rival 650 review
How we test gaming mice
To ensure that our gaming mice selections are the pick of the crop, the PCWorld team subjects them to extensive play testing as well as a legion of other tests. We scrutinize everything from how well a mouse perform in games, to the size and shape of it in the hand, to comfort and ergonomics, to customizations. Here are the main categories our tests fall under:
- Gaming performance: At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how a mouse looks; it’s how it performs that matters. To evaluate a mouse’s performance we look specifically at how sensitive and responsive its sensor is and also how well the sensor tracks movement. Precision is also a key consideration, with mice that are more accurate generally scoring better in our reviews than those that aren’t. In wireless mice we also evaluate the speed and strength of the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals, keeping a look out for red flags like signal dropouts or interference. Some mice also come with software enhancements that determine the mouse’s lift-off distance, which we also examine in our testing.
- Design and ergonomics: You won’t find another tech device for which design plays a more crucial part of a user’s experience. And, while it’s true that there’s no one shape, size, or configuration that fits every gamer, there’s enough variation out there for every gamer to find their own perfect fit. When looking at design, we consider the size and shape of the device itself and the type of hand it fits. Gamers tend to use one of three common grip types—palm, claw, or fingertip—so a mouse’s compatibility with one or all of those types is a big consideration.
- Software: Being able to tweak settings like your mouse’s DPI and polling rate and create specific profiles for your favorite games can make or break your gaming experience, which is why a mouse’s software support is so important. Our PCWorld reviewers’ focus here is to consider the range and scope of software support and how readily settings can be modified, changed, and saved for future use.
What to look for in a gaming mouse
Connectivity: Wired versus wireless?
It used to be generally well accepted that wired gaming mice had the edge over their wireless counterparts, providing gamers with a much faster and more accurate signal between mice and PCs. However, that’s less true than it used to be thanks to the popularity of 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wireless technologies, which have almost levelled the playing field.
I say almost, because there’s no denying that wired gaming mice still deliver the fastest and most secure connections you can get. That said, whether or not you choose one type over the other should come down to your gaming priorities.
If you’re a serious competitive gamer or esports player, where winning or losing sits on a knife’s edge, opting for a wired mouse over a wireless one is a good decision, since it’s less likely a signal dropout or interference will disrupt your play. Every competitive edge counts. However, wireless mice are infinitely more portable and allow you to switch between devices at a whim, so if nimbleness and portability is more important, a wireless mouse will be a better fit.
What size and shape should I get?
Hands, just like gaming mice, come in all different shapes and sizes and for comfort reasons it pays to match like with like. While categorizing sizes of hands can be highly subjective, chances are you’ll be able to guess whether your hand is on average small, medium, or large. You can then find a mouse that best fits from among the size categories below:
- Small gaming mouse: Length: Less than 6.7 inches; width: 2.9 to 3.3 inches
- Medium gaming mouse: Length: 6.7 to 7.9 inches; width: 3.3 to 3.9 inches
- Large gaming mouse: Length: 7.9 inches; width: 3.9 to 4.3 inches
Gaming mice generally come in three shapes: left-handed, right-handed, and ambidextrous. Ambidextrous mice are designed to be neutral in that they can be just as easily used by your left or right hand. Alternatively, left-handed and right-handed mice are tailor-made for the dominant hands specified by their namesakes, often sporting bespoke curves and button placements for one or the other. Unless you switch between hands, using a gaming mouse that matches your dominant hand will go a long way to improving your performance and comfort.
Your preferred grip type should also be considered when selecting a suitably shaped mouse. Here’s a rough guide for matching grip types with mouse shapes:
- Palm grip: Long, flat mice tend to be a better fit and more comfortable
- Claw grip: Narrower and smaller mice tend to suit this grip style
- Fingertip grip: Lighter mice are often preferred by fingertip grippers to reduce strain
How light should my mouse be?
Gaming mice weights have been gradually trending downwards over the years as players look for lighter options that are quicker to move and prevent arms and wrists getting overly tired or sore in long play sessions. FPS (first-person shooter) gamers in particular tend to go for the lightest mice possible, seeing every millisecond of speed advantage as worth chasing.
Despite this, there’s no ideal gaming mouse weight for all gamers, but rather a deeply personal preference. In fact, some gamers—often those with larger hands or stronger arms—actually prefer heavier mice for the extra stability they get. Still if you are one of those looking for the lightest mouse possible, anything under 100 grams will be among the lightest on the market.
Does DPI really matter?
Your mouse’s sensor is the essential hardware component that relays movement to your PC. Mice sensors are rated for DPI, or dots per inch, which tells us how far a cursor moves per inch of mouse movement—that is, how sensitive it is. Manufacturers really hype up the importance of high DPIs, which can be a bit misleading because they don’t necessarily equate to better gaming performance (they can, but not in all circumstances).
For example, if you play a lot of FPS and want the absolute best accuracy while targeting opponents, a lower DPI (between 800-1,000) is preferable, since this allows you to make short, sharp, and precise movements more easily. However, if you make a lot of wide, sweeping hand movements, or if your display is a very high resolution, a mouse with a high DPI (between 12,000-30,000 DPI) can be an advantage.
The great thing about most modern gaming mice is that they can switch between DPI profiles just by clicking a small button behind the mouse wheel. That said, our advice is to opt for a gaming mouse with the highest DPI your budget allows, and then choose your preferred setting for different gaming scenarios by using this handy DPI-switching feature.
Is an optical or laser sensor better?
Optical sensors are the most popular with gamers since they tend to have less jitter and smoothing problems. These sensors work by casting down infrared or LED light onto your mousepad and capturing thousands of digital images per second, that then reveals the precise location of the mouse to the PC.
On the other hand, laser sensors use a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser diode to determine positioning. In most cases an optical sensor will do just fine. However, if you plan on using your mouse on a translucent surface (like glass), a laser sensor is preferable since it will have better sensitivity to a variety of surface textures.
Button count: How many do I need?
The type of games you play should help you determine how many buttons you need. For example, if you’re a big fan of real time strategy (RTS), role-playing games (RPG), or massively multiplayer online (MMOs) games, you’d be we’ll advised to choose a mouse with between 10 and18 buttons—like the Razer Naga Pro or the SteelSeries Aerox 9. These games typically require you to fire off a lot of commands quickly, so the more buttons you have to program commands and macros in, the better.
On the flipside, if FPS is your go-to game type, you’ll probably want to keep your button count to between 6 and 8 buttons. Chances are you won’t need the higher button-count for your smaller list of commands. Plus, buttons tend to increase a mouse’s weight, so opting for a mouse with fewer will most likely mean it’s lighter and quicker to move in the frantic FPS action.
RGB lighting or no?
RGB lighting is a fun feature to have in any gaming device that can brighten up your gaming den with pops of color. It can also be pretty useful, allowing you to see your device better in dimly lit rooms or at night. And yet, there may be times when you opt to use a mouse that has only a minimal RGB, or none at all.
The most common example is if you plan on using your gaming mouse covertly at work. In this case, mice like the Razer DeathAdder V2 X Hyperspeed, that have no RGB lighting zones and can convincingly pass as standard black office mice, are ideal because your colleagues will be none the wiser.
Author: Dominic Bayley, PCWorld Australia Editor
Based in Australia, Dominic Bayley is a hardcore tech enthusiast. His PCWorld focus is on PC gaming hardware: laptops, mice, headsets and keyboards.