What is DPI for a mouse?

Have you ever wondered how you can measure how sensitive your mouse is? What differentiates slow mice from fast ones? Enter the DPI, a metric that acts pretty much as the measuring stick in comparing which mouse is faster. But...


What does DPI mean?

DPI stands for "dots per inch", it measures how many "dots" (pixels) the mouse´s cursor will travel across your screen for every inch that you move it in real life. The higher the number, the more "sensitive" the mouse will feel, as it will move across a bigger number of pixels with less effort on your part.


This means that DPI measures speed and sensitivity rather than precision. After all, if your mouse is zooming across the screen at 4000 DPI, it will be very hard for you to click what you want to click.


It´s also important to know that your computer (and most games out there) have their sensitivity settings for the mouse that don´t affect the DPI on itself, instead they act as sort of multipliers for it. So, regardless of what DPI your mouse has, it might feel more sensitive/sluggish than it should be when playing certain games.


Now, bear in mind that this is the definition of DPI for a computer´s mouse. The term is also used in graphical design. If you are confused at what photoshop means with DPI, it is "ink dots per inch", how much ink your printer will use per inch printed. The higher the number, the finer the impression. However, this article is about mouse DPI.


How to change the DPI on your mouse

Gaming mouse usually let you adjust the DPI settings on the fly.

Most gaming mice come with a couple of buttons to adjust the DPI on the fly. They usually have presets value that you can circle through to find the one you like. Also, if the mouse came with a custom driver, odds are you can manually adjust the DPI level to whatever number you want (as long as it´s within the mouse´s capabilities).


If the mouse doesn´t come with extra buttons, there may be still a way to adjust its DPI so long as you are on Windows 10. You need to open (or download) the "Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center" app. From there you can select your mouse and change its DPI by going to the Sensitivity menu in the basic settings.


Sadly, not all mice are compatible with his app. There´s a chance that you will have no way to actually change the settings on your mouse.


Of course, it won´t do you any good to change the sensitivity to an arbitrary number. So that begs the question...


How much DPI is good?


As we previously mentioned, having a high DPI doesn´t make a mouse more precise, and most people would agree that having a low DPI would make it very annoying to move the mouse in their day-to-day use of the computer.


Having too high of a DPI will make your mouse feel like it´s skating on ice, the cursor flying from one end of the screen to the other with only the slightest flicks of your wrists.


So, again, at what level should you put your mouse DPI? Depends on what you want to do with it.


For non-gaming use, there is little reason to change it at all. Maybe if you want to trace over an image on photoshop or something like that, you´ll find a below-average DPI level useful, but otherwise, you should just leave it as is.

You might want to lower or increase the DPI depending on the game

If you are planning to play a game where you need to move the camera left and right in a matter of seconds, then you will benefit from an above-average DPI. Setting it between 800 and 1600 should be good enough.


If you bought a premium gaming mouse, you might have noticed that it can go a lot higher, however, there is very little reason to set your DPI to the limit. Unless you are playing on a cinema screen, setting it so high would make that a single twitch of your wrist will send the cursor flying to the other end of the screen.


However, not all games benefit from high DPI, if you need accuracy over speed, then you might want to lower it instead of increase it. This is especially true for most FPS out there, like Counter-Strike and Fortnite. In this case, you might want to set the speed to something in the range of 450-800.


Do note that the values are only for reference. DPI is not the only factor in determining how fast your mouse moves. There are sensitivity settings that come from both Windows and the game and even a dirty mouse pad can affect the performance. The size of your screen is relevant as well. The larger, the higher you might want to put your DPI level, as there are a lot more "dots" to move through per inch.


How to know the dpi of your mouse


If your mouse comes with a driver, as most gaming mice do, then it´s simple. Just launch the driver and the information should be displayed somewhere on the screen. This is quite a common feature these days, you can find a mouse as cheap as 20$ that comes with adjustable DPI.


For mice that depend on Window´s default mouse driver, it´s a bit more complicated. You can try the aforementioned "Microsoft Mouse and Keyboard Center" to see and set the mouse DPI manually.


Otherwise, you can always look up the name or manufacturer of your mouse to see what specs it has. Another option is trying a third-party analyzer like the one in mouse-sensitivity.com . Follow the instructions and you should be able to determine what´s your mouse DPI with your current sensitivity settings.