Optical mice use one or more LEDs to take what are, in effect, pictures of what is underneath the mouse to track the movement of mouse across a surface. These mice are usually 200-800 DPI, but they can go as high as 4000 DPI as with the G400s mouse from Logitech.
The laser sensor is the newer technology and has a few advantages over optical sensors for gaming. Whereas optical mice can only be used on opaque surfaces, laser sensors will work with a variety of surfaces such as specular surfaces. They are able to achieve DPIs up to 8,200 and are generally regarded by gamers to be more precise and accurate.
Most mice have 2 buttons and a scroll wheel. But when talking gaming mice, some may have 5 or more. Many players will benefit greatly from having a few extra buttons to program most used commands or to better execute combos. This flexibility can present a huge opportunity to up your game. For MMO gamers, where you may have dozens of spells and items and the like, a mouse such as Razer’s Naga with 12 extra buttons is particularly useful. Gaming mice with extra buttons will come with software such as Razer’s Synapse Configurator which allows the user to easily program the buttons and quickly adjust a variety of other settings such as DPI, acceleration, and lighting features.
The size of your hands and your preferred grip (claw, palm, fingertip) are the two main things you should consider when picking out the shape of your gaming mouse. Obviously, if you’re left handed that factor alone will narrow your options a bit. If you’re using a lot more fingertips and wrist to move the mouse around, a lower and flatter shaped mouse will probably be your best bet for maximum comfort. Conversely, if you are resting the palm of your hand on the mouse and use a bit more arm a more ergonomically shaped mouse will be more fitting for you. Comfort is king! Make sure you find a model that first and foremost fits your grip style and hand, as a cramping hand will do you no good during those long gaming sessions. Stay in the game, soldier.
Wired vs. Wireless
This is one of the biggest decisions for most people. Wireless technology has come a long way and some of the top tier wireless mice are nearly as responsive as wired mice with high DPI accuracy to boot. The freedom of not having to deal with a cable can be extremely convenient and is sometimes worth a negligible sacrifice of performance. The downside is worrying about keeping the mouse charged.
A wired mouse is going to provide the user with a tad more reliability. Batteries are not required, and you will never need to worry about the signal being interfered with. Yes, sometimes the cable can get in the way or look messy. The former issue can be solved by purchasing a mouse bungee, which is a clever device to facilitate cable management. The bottom line is that while a few years ago we would totally turn anyone away from wireless mice and automatically red flag them for gaming, technology has progressed to a point where a few of the best out there a now worth a look. You just need to be more thorough in your research in picking a mouse if you decide to go the wireless route.
DPI and Weight
The best gaming mouse isn’t always the one with the highest DPI. You don’t need the 8000 DPI mouse. Sure, a high DPI laser or optical sensor mouse is great and will be more accurate, but as long as you’re over about 3,000 DPI you should be just fine in most cases. In particular FPS, MOBA, and RTS gamers will want to have something around that number or higher so there is no sluggishness and the cursor feels 110% responsive.
Mouse weight is pretty straightforward, the heavier the mouse the more force you will need to apply to move your cursor. This, along with the DPI setting, will have the greatest impact on how your cursor tracks. There are gaming mice out there that offer customizable weight, so if you’re concerned about getting a mouse to light or heavy, this might be the best route for you.