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A question as old as time! Much like everything related to gaming, whether you treat it as a hobby or a profession, everything is up to you. From what sort of gear to use, laptop or desktop, Xbox one or ps4. All of it is down to you. You may hear the less educated ‘gamers’ say that it is “just a software setting” however, they would be wrong. With that said, let’s learn a bit about DPI and answer this question. Shall we?
You will hear the terms ‘DPI’ and ‘sensitivity’ a lot while speaking with fellow game enthusiasts, so to have any clue what they’re rambling on about it would be best to understand the basics. DPI refers to dots per inch and is a measurement of how many of those dots your mouse can detect per inch. The higher your DPI is equal to how fast either your mouse or your cursor moves in layman’s terms. For games, it is the same and still affects your mouse movements but is instead the in-game crosshair or cursor that moves.
DPI is solely determined by the mouse itself whereas sensitivity is a software setting that can be customized in most games and the windows mouse settings. This can still be done on a Mac in the settings. Sensitivity can also override your DPI to a certain extent. For example, if your DPI is 8000 and is far too much for you (as it is for most people) then you can lower the sensitivity in games or settings to make it more manageable. A typical mouse sensitivity setting is just a tad on the higher end of the middle.
Generally speaking, DPI is a personal preference and should be treated as such. However, some situations call for different choices. If you are browsing the web looking for new shoes, or playing online chess then yes. A low DPI would be more suitable. But if instead, you are playing a high-paced action game, then chances are it will require a more ‘flicky’ attitude in terms of DPI.
We will now speak about games exclusively for a bit as it is a huge area to cover.
Once again, there is no definitive answer. There is no ‘yes’ or ‘no’. However, I can offer some advice, if you accept it is up to you! Most FPS games (first-person shooters) tend to have a variety of different guns and classes you can use. I recommend that for long-range sniper rifle gameplay a low DPI offers you very precise movements to make sure you don’t miss that critical shot to win the game. As a counterpart to this, a more SMG-based close-quarters combat situation would make use of a higher DPI so you can work your way around the map with ease, swapping between targets and snapping on to heads with a smile on your face.
A perfect example for this would be the first-person shooter game Counter-Strike as it is highly competitive with a player base split in half on whether to have high DPI and make micro-adjustments or to have a lower DPI. You might wonder if this is all needed for accuracy, just how many pixels can make a difference? An answer to this is that even one singular pixel can make a difference so it is best to find a DPI you are comfortable with as it is crucial. A comfortable DPI also helps as you want to avoid pixel skipping and missing all your shots.
If you learn to control it, then a high DPI can still be just as accurate as a low DPI. After all, your mouse’s DPI doesn’t matter too much as long as you get accustomed to it. Some people use the raw input from their mouse and just go for a higher sensitivity, which is acceptable but every game has a different in-game sensitivity so the DPI is far more reliable if you plan on swapping between games. High DPI mice will make your FPS games a fair bit easier to a degree as the movement is faster but there is a certain point where the DPI can go too high. 16000 is the average maximum and is way too high for most people to use for normal games.
Funnily enough, that is exactly what I use. It is a great starting point, and if that doesn’t work then I suggest trying a DPI of750 and working your way up.
I may not be an apex predator in apex legends, and I may not be better than Ninja at Fortnite. However, I speak from experience when I say that 1600 is perfectly fine! It seems to be a nice middle ground, maybe a bit on the high side. While it may take time to adjust to this DPI, you can still be precise with small movements, making sure not to go one pixel too far while also having the ability to move your cursor quickly without making your mouse fly off the desk, while you move your entire arm as the DPI is too low. It is important to change your DPI for other games as well, as strategy games would not require such a high DPI.
I may have mentioned that this is all personal preference but it is natural that trends will form and that a pattern will be noticed. A lot of the ‘pro gamers’ who you see on twitch and at tournaments use a rather low DPI (about 750, or something similar) and this is because they are used to it, their muscle memory is used to it. they also have desk space to accommodate it. What I mean by this is that the lower your DPI, the more mouse movement you will be experiencing. Pros tend to have huge desks that have the entire surface covered in a large mousepad for this exact reason. Mind you, there are still some pros out there who will use 1000-1600 DPI or higher. If your desk is an issue and you have a small space to work with, then a higher DPI may well suit you.
Yes! Well, if you are willing to splash some cash. Your standard office mouse that retails at around £15 will not have a customizable DPI setting and therefore you would have to customize its sensitivity settings to match your preference.
As mentioned, though, for those with some spare change to throw at this hobby; you could buy a gaming mouse. These gaming mice tend to offer an easier-to-access change of DPI for better control on the fly. Most gaming mice have a max DPI of 10000 with a low of 400 DPI. They also tend to have two buttons on them that can change the DPI in set increments so that you have complete precision when you need it most.
At this point it is just down to common sense, DPI goes up when you need to be quick, and then goes down when you need to make smaller movements. The DPI quick-change buttons make it a lot easier as it saves you the trouble of using a sensitivity slider to change the in-game sensitivity. The game sensitivity can be set back to its default value as you would now be using your mouses DPI to determine your look speed.
This brings me to the next important topic linked to DPI and sensitivity. A good quality gaming mouse with easy-to-customize DPI settings is supreme to anything else when it comes to gaming. You no longer rely on menus and the in-game sensitivity, but instead, your attention can be on the game while you change your DPI at the click of a very conveniently placed button.
Aside from the sensitivity settings and the DPI, a gaming mouse is also ergonomically superior as it prioritizes comfort for your hand. So while your mouse movement may be sporadic, your hand is comfortable and is not left feeling sore after a few hours of gameplay. Even if your gaming mouse and office mouse are the same speed, the gaming mouse is just so much nicer and you can really feel it.
While yes, you could just buy a higher DPI mouse, the versatility of a gaming mouse makes its price very much worth it. Everything would improve from your pointer precision to your cursor movement, there is a huge difference and it is instantly noticeable. Most gaming mice would have a standard DPI setting of around 750 but they offer applications (such as Razer’s Synapse program) that let you customize everything to your liking.