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What is polling rate? – everything you need to know

Why it matters, how it affects gaming, and much more

Updated: Jan 20, 2022 9:39 am
What is polling rate? – everything you need to know

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In the world of gaming peripherals, there’s a huge amount of jargon. For some reason, the people who make mice, keyboards, and headsets often use irritatingly vague words to describe the capabilities of their products. Here at WePC, we are on a mission to demystify the world of PC gaming and technology. ‘Polling rate’ is one of these often bewildering phrases, so let’s take a look at what polling rate means, and what is the best polling rate for gaming.

What is mouse polling rate?

Polling rate is the frequency at which your mouse (or keyboard) reports information to the computer. If your mouse is set to a 1000hz polling rate, it’s updating its position 1000 times per second. As you might imagine the higher the polling rate, the less lag you experience. Usually, most office mice have a polling rate of 125hz or 125 updates per second, this is adequate for the typical office worker or one who uses a computer in a casual environment, for example, the parochial family PC. However, when it comes to gaming, specifically competitive gaming, you need the most updates possible to minimize input lag.

What is the best polling rate for gaming?

Most gaming mice come with a base polling rate of 1000hz, so the mouse is reporting its position 1000 times per second, this is 8x more frequently than the office-standard 125hz. Naturally, the competitive gamers amongst you want as little delay as possible between the physical movement of the mouse and the corresponding result on the screen. Many gaming mice have options to increase or decrease the polling rate, this allows you to dial in a specific performance to suit the application in question.

The bottom line is that the best polling rate for gaming is as high as your mouse is capable of, however, the rule of diminishing returns is very active here. While a 2000Hz polling rate is becoming more and more ubiquitous in gaming mice, there are some capable of far higher frequencies, such as the Razer Viper 8k, which, as the name suggests, is capable of reporting its position an incredible 8000 times a second.

How to change mouse polling rate

It depends on the mouse you’re using, many have a physical switch on the underside that either allows adjustment in 500hz increments or simply goes from minimum to maximum, for example, 1000hz-2000hz. If you have one of these gaming mice, then you’re already equipped to change the polling rate.

external polling rate switch
Mice like the Xtrfy M42 Have a dedicated switch on the underside to change the polling rate.

These days, almost every gaming mouse comes with a software suite to control performance, lighting, and other options. You might already be familiar with the likes of Razer’s Synapse 3, Corsair’s iCue, and ASUS’s Armory Crate. There are countless more but these are amongst the most common. Those three and the rest typically have a very clear slider or switch that will change the polling rate. Below we’ve got a quick step-by-step guide for you on how to change the polling rate on your mouse.

How to change polling rate – A step-by-step guide.

The following bullet points will guide you through the steps to change the polling rate of your gaming mouse, the specific menus and options will vary from brand to brand, but the core concepts are identical.

  • Step 1 – Download the relevant software suite for your mouse. Most gaming mice these days create a pop-up, asking you to download the software as soon as you plug it in.
  • Step 2 – Open the software and navigate to the settings. This is often hidden under a ‘performance’ tab.
  • Step 3 – Change the polling rate to your ideal value. Remember, when it comes to gaming, higher is better. The polling rate is often displayed as a slider and is typically adjustable in increments of 500hz. Most gamers just change it to the maximum.
  • Step 4 – Save the changes and bask in the performance-increasing glory that you didn’t even know that you were missing.

Polling rate explained

In summary, the key things you need to know about are:

  • It does matter, and can create some lag if you’re using a mouse with a sub 500Hz polling rate.
  • Changing it is easy and has no downsides.
  • Almost every gaming mouse these days is capable of 1000hz +.
  • If your mouse is 1000Hz or more, you’re good to go and most likely won’t detect any input lag.

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