If you are into PC gaming, then it’s very likely you’ve heard the term DPI being thrown around with regard to gaming mice.
In this guide, we are going to focus on understanding gaming mouse DPI since it’s one of those mouse specifications that causes a lot of confusion for gamers.
We’ll look at what DPI is, how DPI affects gaming, as well as the recommended DPI for gaming.
What DPI Means On A Gaming Mouse
DPI (Dots Per Inch) is a linear measure of how far a cursor moves on the screen for every inch of mouse movement. In short, it is a measure of mouse sensitivity. The higher the DPI the more sensitive a mouse is, meaning you need less effort to move the cursor across the screen.
For instance, if you move a mouse that is set to 400 DPI a distance of one inch, the cursor will move 400 pixels on the screen. And if you move a mouse that is set to 1600 DPI a distance of one inch, the cursor will move 1600 pixels on the screen.
Gaming Mouse DPI vs CPI
CPI (Counts Per Inch) is used to measure the number of steps a mouse registers when it is moved a distance of one inch. When it comes to gaming mice, CPI and DPI refer to the same thing. However, DPI is the most popular and preferred term.
But technically, CPI should be the correct nomenclature when talking about mouse sensitivity. The term DPI crossed over from the printing world where it was used to describe technical aspects of printers and later became an accepted term for referring to mouse sensitivity.
eDPI stands for effective Dots Per Inch and is used to measure “true mouse sensitivity”. It accommodates the various gaming mice available in the market as well as how gamers choose to set them up, thus making it easy for gamers to compare mouse sensitivities.
You can calculate your eDPI using this formula:
Mouse DPI x In-game Sensitivity = eDPI
How Gaming Mouse DPI Affects Gaming
A high DPI mouse setting makes moving game characters around on the screen easy. However, it makes aiming with precision (scoping), especially for First Person Shooter (FPS) games, difficult.
For Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games, such as DOTA 2 and League of Legends, where fast character movement rather than precision is needed, having a high DPI mouse setting is beneficial. This is because it increases mouse sensitivity, thus allowing you to move game characters from one corner to the other fast just by dragging the gaming mouse a small distance on the mouse pad.
On the other hand, for FPS games, such as Counter-Strike (CS: GO) and Call of Duty, where precise aiming is critical, for example, when trying to aim with a sniper rifle, a low mouse DPI setting works better. Playing first-shooter games with a low mouse DPI setting increases your chances of hitting the target because you have more control of the crosshair.
The Best DPI To Use For Gaming
While mouse DPI setting is a matter of preference, most gamers, including pro gamers, find that a good DPI setting for gaming is 400, 800, or 1600 DPI.
For games where a lot of fast movement is involved, such as Overwatch, the DPI should be set high, while for precision games such as PUBG it should be set to low.
Just because some gaming mice, such as the Razer DeathAdder can go up to 20,000 DPI doesn’t mean that a very high DPI is good for gaming. In fact, a look at CS: GO pro settings shows that most pros have their mouse DPI set at 400 and 800.
A DPI setting of between 400 and 800 allows you to have excellent control over your character’s movement as well as a high level of precision when aiming. This explains why most gamers use a low DPI on a high DPI mouse.
Using A High DPI Mouse For Gaming
A gaming mouse with a very high DPI isn’t necessarily better for gaming. A high DPI has its benefits, but beyond 3000 DPI it becomes very difficult to control your character’s movement or aim with accuracy.
While gaming mice with very high DPI don’t make you more precise or accurate, they exist because technological advancements have allowed manufacturers to push the DPI number higher. This is usually done to separate themselves from other manufacturers and gain a competitive marketing edge.
There are other more important factors to consider when buying a gaming mouse besides DPI.
How To Change DPI On A Gaming Mouse
You can change the DPI settings manually using the DPI button(s) on your gaming mouse. Alternatively, if your gaming mouse comes with proprietary software you can use it to adjust its DPI.
Some gaming mouse software allows you to configure your DPI within a range so that you can increase or decrease it in steps using the DPI buttons. Examples of gaming mouse software that allow you to adjust the DPI include:
- Razer Synapse
- Glorious Model 0
- Logitech G Hub
- Corsair iCue
- SteelSeries Engine
When adjusting your gaming mouse DPI manually, make sure you are using the DPI button and not the programmable side buttons meant for a different function.
For non-gaming mice, the DPI is usually fixed and can not be changed since it is dependent on a mouse’s hardware capabilities. However, you can change mouse speed or acceleration from your Windows mouse settings.
Figuring Out The DPI Setting That Works For You
The game you play, monitor resolution, body alignment, and physical dexterity all determine the DPI setting that would work best for you.
To figure out the gaming mouse DPI setting that’s ideal for you’ll need to experiment with different DPI settings to find out the setting you are most comfortable with. You can start with a high DPI setting and work your way down until you find your sweet spot.
When trying to find your sweet spot, it’s good to disable mouse acceleration in your gaming mouse software, in-game settings, and Windows. Also, enable raw input if your game has this setting. This will allow your mouse cursor to react only to input taken directly from the mouse driver and ignore any other input from Windows, game settings, and mouse software.
How To Check Gaming Mouse DPI
You should be able to check your DPI from the software that came with your gaming mouse. Another way would be to visit the manufacturer’s website and check the listed DPI of your specific gaming mouse model. You can also visit mouse-sensitivity.com and use their DPI analyzer tool.
A high DPI isn’t always better for gaming, especially for FPS games where you need to be able to aim within the range of a few pixels.
A very low DPI, on the other hand, would make moving characters on the screen slow in games like Fortnite where a lot of both linear and sideways movement are required.
Your ideal DPI is one that allows you to play games smoothly without much effort and with precision. When it comes to mouse DPI, there’s no one size that fits all. You need to experiment with a few DPI settings to find out what will work best for you.