The Best DPI for Gaming and What You Need to Know About CPI vs DPI

When it comes to modern PC gaming and general use there are huge options of mice to choose from.  But with so many options also comes a lot of confusion about what the best mouse will be.  This answer will vary depending on what you’re using the mouse for.  In this article we’ll be answering common queries such as ‘Whats the best DPI for Gaming?‘ and ‘Whats CPI vs DPI?‘.

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These two questions alone can spark up a whole new range of questions, mainly aimed at gaming, and its safe to say that we need to start from the beginning to see what it’s really all about.

best dpi for gaming‌‌

A few years have gone by now since we’ve had to endure the beauty and simplicity of a mechanical roller ball mouse. For those either too young to remember or have shut it out of their mind, a roller ball mouse is one where a ball is situated under the mouse and the movement of the mouse, and in turn, the ball was picked up by mechanical rollers (along with dust, hair, sweet wrappers, etc).

These days are long gone now and we’re left with a dizzying array of mice designed not only for gaming but also for office work and design. The way that these mice perceive movement has also moved on too and now are split into two main categories; Optical mice and Laser mice. Both of these use DPI to gauge their movement. Neither involve rolling balls along a table; RIP the roller ball mouse.

Although both different technology the way in which these mice work are almost the same.

Optical mice contain a red light and a camera, the light shines on the desk surface when you move the mouse and the camera takes hundreds of photos and then compares the images to see how far the mouse has travelled within a certain amount of time and also in which direction it has travelled.


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Laser mice function almost exactly the same except they use infrared light instead of visible light to gauge the movement of the mouse.

Whichever type of mouse is being used they both use DPI as a numerical value of measurement and can be used as the true measure of mouse pointer speed.


What is DPI?

high dpi vs low dpi‌‌

As DPI is such an important measurement it needs to be explained in more detail.

DPI stands for ‘Dots per Inch’ and is a measure of how sensitive a mouse is. The higher DPI relates to how far the mouse cursor will move on screen in relation to the mouse movement.

The higher the DPI of a mouse then the smaller the movements needed for the mouse to detect and react to it but don’t be fooled into thinking that high DPI is always better as this is not always the case. If the DPI of a mouse is too high then this can make the movement of the cursor reactive and unusable.

Because of this and the multitude of ways in which a mouse is used many mice now come with a DPI switch to enable, disable and also alter the DPI settings.

DPI is different from sensitivity and these two terms are often be used as one and the same.

The difference between sensitivity and DPI is purely a hardware and software divide. Sensitivity is set from the software whereas DPI is set as a hardware level function. Although you can increase the sensitivity of a cheaper mouse all that will happen is that the Operating System will compensate by moving the cursor further and further to the point where it becomes jittery with no smoothness in movement.


High DPI Low Sensitivity

On the flip side a high DPI mouse can also be set to be low sensitivity which means that the detection and movement will be the same but the movement will be much smoother.

Higher DPI mice are better suited for larger monitors and displays and are often suited for gaming systems. Laptop games and displays are generally not suited for high DPI mouse setups. 4K monitors, on the other hand would be better suited to using a high DPI mouse as this means you wouldn’t be forever moving the mouse across the desk.


High DPI vs Low DPI

So the big question is which is better, high DPI vs low DPI. The problem with this is that it’s really only dependant on what you use your system for. Higher DPI mice are better suited for larger monitors and displays and are often suited for gaming systems. Laptop games and displays are generally not suited for high DPI mouse setups. 4K monitors, on the other hand would be better suited to using a high DPI mouse as this means you wouldn’t be forever moving the mouse across the desk.


Optimal DPI for FPS

A lot of pro gamers actually use a low DPI as this gives them more accuracy when needed in games, especially FPS games. It’s very hard to say what the best DPI for FPS games really is but in terms of professional competition FPS gamers, lower is better. Ultimately it’s all down to a matter of choice and it’s whatever you are more comfortable with. The only way to find out what the best DPI settings for FPS games is to test it yourself.

Many gaming mice have an adjustable DPI setting which can be changed as you’re playing.


cpi vs dpi‌

Nowadays this term is interchangeable and can be used as such. CPI actually stands for ‘Counts per Inch’ and has the same calculation as DPI (Dots per Inch). So is there a DPI vs CPI (CPI vs DPI) calculation? The simple answer is no as they are the same measures in a mouse and should be treated as such.


What Is a Good DPI For Gaming?

With all this information we have what are the best DPI settings for modern gaming? This is a very common question that can never be clearly answered and depending on which games you play, what quality of mouse you have, if you have a gaming mouse and which forums you look at, you could be waiting quite a long time to find the perfect answer.

It seems that most gamer mice are geared towards the FPS market and so I’ll end with this. The general consensus is that high DPI is better to a degree and then you hit a plateau where the higher the DPI the more overly jittery your movement becomes. You need to balance sensitivity with DPI to find the ultimate combo. It really is all about personal preference. Try to aim with the hand rather than the wrist and try and find the right balance between accuracy of shooting and being able to turn around quick enough. Regardless of how high the DPI of the most ultimate mouse can be (over 6000), people still say that a good DPI for gaming is 400, 800 or 1600 DPI as their most common setting, with most gamers still using the lower dpi of between 400 and 800.


What are polling rates?

dpi vs cpiPolling rates are often talked about when talking about gaming mice and DPI. The polling rate is how often the mouse reports its cursor position to the computer and is measured in Hz. For every Hz polling rate that a mouse has means that it reports once per second. So a 500Hz polling rate mouse reports the cursor position 500 times per seconds. Depending on the polling rate the rate could also be measured in milliseconds.


What does this mean in terms of mouse performance?

The higher the polling rate means the less lag between actual movement and movement on-screen, but higher polling rates use more processing power as the CPU has to ask the CPU for information.

Some mice have variable polling rates which can be set via special manufacturer software. Some can even be changed on the fly.

Polling Rate 500 vs 1000

People often compare the two most common polling rates associated with PC gaming; 500Hz and 1000Hz. If we talk in terms of the difference, it’s only 1 ms so it would be unlikely to affect your performance in a real sense. In reality the difference is very minimal and is open to interpretation. Some gamers are saying that the best polling rate for FPS games is to use the highest poll rate available that your PC can handle, if you have a slightly slower CPU then it may be worth lowering your polling rate.