While the precision of a gaming mouse is suitable for graphic artists, these high-performance peripherals are specifically targeted at avid gamers who rely on an array of competitive features including design, button layout and customizable software. An essential gaming mouse feature is dots per inch (dpi), which measures how fast your mouse moves across the screen; the higher the dpi, the faster and more sensitive your mouse. Another important feature is polling rate, which determines how many times per second the gaming mouse transmits data to the computer. For example, a standard 125 Hz mouse reports data 125 times per second while a gaming mouse with 1,000 Hz has a one millisecond response time. The higher the polling rate, the faster your computer can process your commands, resulting in responsive, lag-free gaming.
Because of the potential for signal lags or interference, most gamers shun wireless mice. But reviewers say the Logitech Wireless Gaming Mouse G700 (*Est. $70) is a high-performance, first-rate choice among wired and wireless gaming mice. With blistering 5,700 dpi, 1,000 Hz response time and 13 customizable buttons, the G700 is strictly a gamer's mouse. Describing it as a "masterpiece of engineering," Anthony Garland of EverythingUSB.com says users will find the G700 fast and precise. Serious gamers will appreciate that it can remember up to five different profiles for games and players, which means if you take your mouse to a different PC, it retains all the settings. In addition, the G700 gaming mouse is equipped with Logitech's dual-mode scroll wheel, which Matt Burns of CrunchGear.com considers a plus. He says a gamer with infinite battle weapons to scroll through "can use the click mode to precisely choose the right one."
However, the G700's battery life is far from impressive. Both professional reviewers and users complain that after two days of heavy game play with this cordless gaming mouse, the included AA Eneloop battery must be recharged by plugging the mouse into a USB port. Editors at Bit-Tech.net say the added weight of the rechargeable AA battery makes the G700 "a fair bit heavier than your typical gaming mouse."
Compounding the G700's heft is the fact that it lacks the weight customization option present in older Logitech G series gaming mice. Instead of a removable weight cartridge that lets gamers achieve optimal balance, they must contend with the weight as is, sparking a few user complaints at Amazon.com that the mouse is too heavy. This gaming mouse has an overall rating of 4 eggs out of 5 from more than 250 users at Newegg.com. Among the complaints, several users grouse about the included stiff charging cable for wired mode when the battery runs low.
Two very customizable gaming mice also score points with reviewers. The Razer Imperator (*Est. $70) offers adjustable thumb buttons, one of the few mice on the market to offer the feature, and loads of software configuration. The sensitivity can be adjusted from any of the seven buttons. "Apart from a couple of minor niggles, the Imperator is a fantastic mouse," writes Bit-Tech.net, awarding the mouse 9 out of 10 overall and a Recommended rating. It's definitely for right-handers, though, reviewers warn.
The Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 9 (*Est. $130) offers even more adjustment, but at a hefty premium. It's asymmetrical, a far cry from the svelte swoops of other mouse designs, reflecting its ability to transform its shape nearly completely to fit your hand, reviewers say. Unlike the Imperator mouse, it's 100 percent wireless, unusual among gaming mice. You can adjust the thumb rest's angle and length, replace the pinky and palm rests with two alternatives each and extend the palm rest for larger hands. Adjustable weights allow you to balance the mouse to your preferences. It comes with hot-swappable rechargeable batteries. "The Rat 9 won't fit everyone," Engadget.com writes. "At $130, it may not fit the budgets of those who don't play games for a living. Still, aside from the occasional nitpick, we couldn't find a thing wrong with this sleek transforming mouse. That's not something we get to say often."
The aging but ambidextrous SteelSeries Xai Laser Gaming Mouse (*Est. $60) gets positive marks for a velvety touch that lends itself nicely to both claw and palm grips. Gamers who hold the gaming mouse with their fingertips as well as those who rest their hand on top of the mouse will find equal comfort. Devin Coldewey of CrunchGear.com considers the Xai's performance "beyond reproach," but cautions that the rubber sides aren't durable and wear over time, affecting grip.
With a laser sensor that can process 12,000 images per second at tracking speeds of up to 150 inches per second, the Xai offers precision and accuracy for the "twitchiest of twitch-gamers," say editors at Bit-Tech.net.
Users can adjust polling rate and sensitivity via an LCD menu on the bottom of the mouse. At TrustedReviews.com -- where the Xai earns an Editors' Choice award -- Edward Chester says that while this on-mouse setup is tedious, you "don't need any drivers on your PC to have all this exacting control, and you can take your mouse and its settings with you wherever you go."
Gamers looking for a more affordable option should consider the corded Cooler Master Spawn Gaming Mouse (*Est. $40) . Though it lacks the high-end features found in its Logitech and Microsoft competitors such as long macros (shortcuts) and top-end DPI (responsiveness), reviewers say the CM Spawn doesn't skimp on performance and is among the best gaming mice for those who use a "claw-style grip," which is to say the mouse nestled into the palm with the fingers splayed over the buttons, as opposed to a grip that rests the base of the hand on the mouse. HardwareCanucks.com says it is "easily one of the best claw-grip gaming mice we have ever usedÉ absolutely excellent designÉ world class." The U.K.'s KitGuru.com says it's "one of the best value-for-the-money gaming mice on the market." It earns a Top Rank Award from TweakNews.net, the Dam Innovative and Dam Good Value awards from HardwareCanucks.com, a BenchmarkReview.com Silver Tachometer Award, an Xtreme Tech Junkie's Extreme Award, a HardwareHeaven.com Silver Award, and the OverClock Intelligence Agency's Gold Seal of Approval. Editors observe in multiple reviews that in comparison to other gaming mice, the CM Spawn is a significantly cheaper yet solid choice for gamers who like the claw-style grip.
Finally, if you're buying a mouse for a player of "World of Warcraft" or similar massively multiplayer games, reviewers recommend the Razer Naga Epic (*Est. $110) gaming mouse, which builds in a programmable 12-button keypad for the multitudes of commands those gamers must be able to execute on the fly. "It's not the most elegant mouse, nor does it feel worth the price, but Razer's Naga Epic É could help gamers and others gain mastery over MMOs and other applications with complicated control schemes," writes CNET, awarding 3.5 out of 5 stars. HardwareHeaven.com gives it a perfect 10 score, and its Gold and Performance awards, calling it comfortable, high-quality and "well worth the money."