The most common question about gaming mice is the following:
Should I buy a laser mouse or rather an optical mouse?
Sadly there’s a lot of misinformation and false advertising around this topic if you look around the web. Especially the advertising about laser mice having way higher dpi values influences plenty of gamers when chosing the best gaming mouse for them. You can read why this approach is completely bollocks in my guide about dpi values. In the following little article I’ll explain how a laser mouse and an optical mouse really work and which one of these is the better choice for gamers!
An optical mouse ia s mouse that works by using a LED (to send light to the surface below the mouse) and a sensor (that tracks the movement in relation to the surface). This type of mice actually replaced mechanical mice (with a ball to track movement) in the late 90s (90s kids will remember) as they have a lot of advantages when it comes to precision. These sensors are the core of each mouse – and there are plenty of differences here you might not be aware of: different dpi values (what’s the sensor’s resolution?) and multiple influences on your mouse’s precision (mouse acceleration, mouse prediction, maximum control speed) are decisive factors for the quality of a sensor.
Although „laser“ sounds way cooler and more technologically advanced, a laser mouse is basically just a variation of an optical mouse. Instead of an LED, an infrared laser is used to enable the sensor to track the movement. This creates two advantages: first, laser mice can be used on reflecting or see-through surfaces likeglass (which might be handy when being on the road). Second, laser mice tend to have higher maximum dpi values. You should ignore this though, as you will never use 5 figure dpi values anyway. And – laser mice do have a big drawback: all current laser sensors have an integrated hardware mouse acceleration that cannot be turned off. Even at lower speeds the sensor artificially influences how your movement is being tracked, which is a major turn-off for gamers. Having a flawless sensor (without any acceleration, correction, etc) is the key to building a great gaming mouse, so this is a critical issue.
Summary: Optical Mouse or Laser Mouse?
Although plenty of self-proclaimed reviews or guides might tell you otherwise: laser mice are currently not a good option for serious gamers. Their high dpi values are not used anyway (4.000dpi is enough for even the most extreme fps gamer) and if you want to play on a glass surface I can’t help you anyway. There is currently no flawless laser sensor on the market, every single one has some kind of mouse correction that interferes with your aiming. Although „laser“ might sound cooler – serious gamers should always go for a completely flawless optical mouse as there is no reason to choose a laser mouse over it.