What is DPI, and what is the best setting for gaming
What is DPI? What is the best DPI for gaming? We answer these questions and more
When it comes to purchasing one of the best gaming mice for your next setup, choosing the right one for your needs can be pretty overwhelming. There are a ton of features and specifications to consider on modern mice: including buttons, ergonomics, RGB, brand, build quality, and price. To add even more pressure to the consideration process, gamers now have to decide which DPI is best for their gaming needs as well. If you’re unconcerned about the meaning, and just want to know how to change it, check out our how to change mouse DPI guide. It covers the big manufacturers and their associated software suites.
DPI joins the annuls of needlessly vague and confusing gaming technology acronyms and initialisms. It lives there with fellow loathsome irritants like FPS, TDP, FSR, DLSS, CPU, RTX, BIOS, DIMM, DVI, DRAM, etc, etc. You get the point and there are far too many to list here but at least we’ll be crossing one of them off the list: DPI, so what is DPI?
What is DPI?
DPI, is a measure of the mouse sensor’s resolution. This can be easily confused with both sensitivity, and polling rate, not to mention mouse acceleration. which are three very different things. DPI measures the amount of dots, or scannable increments that can fit in the space of one linear inch. So the higher the DPI, the more of these dots can be precisely detected by the sensor.
What does DPI stand for?
When referencing a gaming mouse, DPI stands for ‘Dots Per Linear Inch’ and is a measurement that tells us how many pixels the cursor will move in relation to 1 inch of physical mouse movement. So, if you have a mouse set to 400DPI, it will move 400 screen pixels for every 1 inch you move the actual mouse.
Just to add to the confusion, some manufacturers display this number in CPI (count per inch). It means essentially the same thing and is fully transferable. If you’re hungry for more info check out our CPI vs DPI guide for a more in-depth look at this topic.
Is higher DPI better?
Over the years, mouse technology has improved exponentially. Even looking at mice from a few years ago, the difference in technological advancements is pretty staggering. That being said, one of the big jumps in recent history for mice has been the DPI they offer.
Just 20 years ago, a max DPI of 1,000 was impressive, These days you can get gaming mice capable of over 20,000 for increasingly accessible prices, but why? if you’ve ever maxed out your DPI just for fun you’ve probably noticed just how difficult it is to accurately move the mouse and click on anything. So if it’s essentially unusable, why put so much effort into developing the technology and so much money into marketing it?
It comes down to three things: bragging rights, performance, and niche use cases. It’s understandable why companies put the effort into getting higher DPI sensors. Let’s be honest, 20,000 looks better than 4,000 on the box. Additionally, if your competitor is constantly raising DPI, why would you want to get left behind? Even if the metric doesn’t result in a meaningful enhancement of the user experience.
It’s tricky to explain, but if your mouse has a 20,000 DPI sensor, and you set it to 500, you aren’t limiting the sensor to 500 DPI, it’s still using its 20k capabilities to track movements, just by sort of ‘grouping’ the dots together. This cuts down on any irregularities that might be picked up from the mousepad or other surface you’re using the mouse on. It is worth noting here that these irregularities are something almost no one other than top-tier professional gamers would notice, and even then, it matters very little. This graph should help you visualize the difference in density a bit better.
For the 1% of you who can afford a ridiculous setup like triple 4K monitors, a higher DPI might be of use, navigating from left to right across three 4K monitors is a real pain on a low DPI as chances are it will require you to repeatedly lift the mouse off the surface and reset several times. having the mouse set to a higher DPI results in far easier navigation of such large screen real estate.
Best mouse DPI for gaming
Essentially it comes down to personal preference, there is no right or wrong answer, and if you’ve been a PC gamer for a while, you’ve already found a preference and got used to it, and a large increase or decrease from this will result in a long and annoying adjustment period. But if you’re new and want to start off on the right foot, we’ve got some recommendations for you, don’t take them as gospel, but they are some good guidelines.
For example, those of you who are used to higher DPI mice, like Razer’s DeathAdder Elite should probably stay put, as getting used to a higher DPI mouse, then lowering the DPI is a far more difficult adjustment process than switching from a low DPI mouse to higher DPI.
High DPI vs low DPI
As mentioned earlier there’s no right or wrong answer, but there is a general consensus. Of course, there are outliers who decry this and furiously defend their way of doing it, but we’ll leave that nonsense to Reddit.
For multiplayer FPS games, you want to be aiming for 400-800 DPI. While this seems low, games like CS:GO, PUBG and Overwatch rely on precise accuracy – something that higher DPI simply doesn’t give. A lot of current pros utilize this DPI range as it provides the highest levels of precision and accuracy. The same DPI range is a great place to start for individuals playing MOBA games.
For those that are looking to play MMOs and RPGs, a higher 1000-1600 DPI is actually considered the norm. Unlike multiplayer FPS games, you don’t require pinpoint accuracy and tracking when playing these titles. It’s actually advantageous to be able to quickly spin around and view the surrounding areas. The same can be said for Real-Time strategy games too. Because the only accuracy you need is physically clicking on stuff, you can get away with a higher DPI setting.
High DPI is particularly good if you have very limited mouse space, as higher DPI requires less physical movement for any given on-screen movement. If you’re in this position, getting used to a high DPI is probably more easily done than increasing the available desk space.
Remember, these are just guidelines – you can argue that some pros (very few) can use much higher/lower DPI settings than what we have here.
What is EDPI?
When trying to find your perfect gaming sensitivity, you might see the term EDPI used quite a bit. EDPI – or effective DPI – is a way of combining both your DPI and the in-game multiplier you use.
Whilst it is only relevant on a game-by-game metric, it’s still a much more accurate depiction of your sensitivity than just saying DPI or in-game sense.
The way you calculate EDPI is simple, take your in-game sensitivity and multiply it by the mouse’s DPI.
Below are some notable settings from various pros:
- 450 DPI
- 2.4 Sensitivity
- 1,080 eDPI
- 800 DPI
- 0.077 X Sensitivity
- 0.079 Y Sensitivity
- 62.4 eDPI
- 400 DPI
- 3.09 Sensitivity
- 1,236 eDPI
- 400 DPI
- 2.0 Sensitivity
- 800 eDPI
Should I worry about Windows sensitivity?
Alongside your DPI and in-game sensitivity, you also have your Windows sensitivity to worry about. This acts as a further multiplier to your gaming sensitivity – so it should definitely be considered before making any in-game changes.
For gamers, we recommend setting your Windows sensitivity to the 6th notch (from a possible 11) and forgetting about it.
Once you start to go above the 6th notch, you start to run a real risk of missing pixels when moving your mouse.
That being said, a lot of modern titles have raw input settings that actually ignore the Windows sensitivity completely. However, it’s better to have it set properly than not at all.
How to check mouse DPI
So, you understand what DPI is and you have a pretty good idea of what settings you should be using. However, you still aren’t fully sure how to check (and change) your mouses’ DPI. Unfortunately, there isn’t one definitive answer to this question – mainly because all mice are different. That being said, nine times out of ten, you’ll be able to check what DPI your mouse is set to via the proprietary software it comes equipped with.
Simply enter the software and navigate to the sensitivity and DPI settings. This will tell you exactly what your mouse DPI is set to.
Actually changing your mouse DPI can be done in a few different ways. Firstly, you can enter the brand software and alter it by hand in the relevant section. Alternatively, you can use the dedicated DPI buttons on a mouse – something almost every mouse now has. They are usually located under the mouse wheel and can be one or two buttons.
DPI: the final word
So, there you have it, everything you need to know about DPI and how it affects your gaming. Ultimately, DPI and mouse sensitivity is one of the most important things to consider as a gamer – regardless of what game you play. That being said, for FPS players, your mouse EDPI is absolutely critical in your development as a player – especially if you want to climb the ranks.
- For FPS (and MOBA) players, 400 – 800 DPI is the optimal range
- For MMO, RPG, and RTS players, 1000 – 1600 DPI offers you great speed for looking around wide landscapes
If you have any questions regarding the subject, feel free to drop us a comment in the section below. Better still, why not head on over to our Community Hub where you can discuss everything DPI and mouse sensitivity related.
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