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How Gaming Mouse Works [A Complete Guide]

Last Updated on November 25, 2022

How gaming mouse works is basically the same as any other ordinary mouse. It’s just that there are slight differences in the components used in a gaming mouse such as the switches used and also the type of sensor used.

Gaming mice that exist today generally use mechanical buttons or optical switches on the buttons. The gaming mouse also uses an optical sensor which makes its movements very accurate and precise which can even be used on almost various types of surfaces.

In this post, we will discuss in detail how optical switches and mechanical switches work on gaming mouse buttons and also discuss how sensors work on gaming mice.

Let’s get started!

How The Gaming Mouse Buttons Work

Based on the type of switch used, gaming mice can be divided into 2, namely optical mice and mechanical mice

Mechanical Gaming Mouse (Gaming Mouse with Microswitch)

You could understand how a gaming mouse with mechanical buttons functions if you’ve ever heard of mechanical switches on a mechanical keyboard.

Mechanical buttons on gaming mice are frequently referred to as micro switches due to their diminutive size and functional resemblance to mechanical switches on mechanical keyboards.

The physical contact of metal plates is how most mechanical switches and buttons work to close a circuit, which is then detected as a push of a button or switch.

Even though mechanical switches have advanced significantly over time and remain a fantastic gaming option, they still rely on mechanical contacts that degrade with time and vibrate or “bounce” when released, creating an unintended secondary input that must be considered. The “debounce delay” in the firmware increases the overall click latency.

The experience of using a gaming mouse that uses mechanical buttons or micro switches is more enjoyable than a gaming mouse that uses optical switches.

You’ll feel a clicky feedback and it’s nice to hear the clicking sound.

The following are some popular mechanical switches that are widely used in gaming mice that exist today:

  • Kail GM 8.0
  • Kail GM 4.0
  • Kail GM 2.0
  • Japanese Omron D2F-01F
  • Omron China D2FC-F-7N
  • Omron China D2FC-F-K (50M)
  • TTC Dustproof Gold
  • Huano Blue Shell White Dot
  • Huano Black Shell Pink Dot
  • ZF Gold Dots
  • Zippy DF3-P1
  • Kailh Silent Microswitch
  • TTC Silent Switches
  • Kailh V&S Hybrid Microswitches
  • Kailh SMT Mini Switch

The advantage of a gaming mouse that uses mechanical buttons (microswitch) is that you can change the buttons on the gaming mouse at any time, but you need god-level soldering skills to do that.

You can see in the video below how to replace the microswitch on a gaming mouse with mechanical buttons.

With that convenience, most people prefer gaming mice with microswitches or mechanical gaming mice because they can easily change the switches on their mouse buttons.

Optical Gaming Mouse

Gaming Mouse with Optical switches: An optical switch replaces the physical contact with an infrared light beam that, when broken, detects the pressing of a key or the clicking of a mouse button.

Switch bounce is completely eliminated since optical switches operate by a beam of light rather than by metal contacts making contact with one another.

The requirement for additional click latency in the form of a debounce delay is eliminated when switch bounce is taken into account, allowing the mouse or keyboard to instantaneously record subsequent input after the button has reset.

A further advantage of optical switches is increased longevity because the design of the switch is significantly simplified because there are no metal contacts to wear out over time.

Optical switches provide you a competitive edge whether you’re using a mouse or keyboard by ensuring that your inputs are registered as quickly as possible and with the added durability, you can game with assurance knowing that your hardware will withstand the test of time.

TTC Optical and Razer Optical are the most popular optical switches for gaming mice because not many manufacturers make optical switches for gaming mice.

How The Gaming Mouse Sensors Work

How the Sensors Work on a Gaming Mouse

There are two primary parts of an optical or laser mouse that are helpful for regulating cursor movement. Which is that? sensors and LEDs. Like Ryu and Ken in Street Fighter, these two elements are inseparable and compliment one another.

In addition to shining directly down to illuminate the flat surface, a mouse’s LED also reflects light back to its surrounding sensors.

The sensor will then read the areas that are in contact with the LED light and provide DPI data to the chipset. The caliber and sensitivity of a mouse sensor have a significant impact as a receiver of LED light points that have been reflected. Additionally, a gaming mouse should be able to do several point mapping operations over a long period of time.

An aging technology that is still evolving

In the world of “rattling,” LEDs and sensors in mice are basically nothing new. Since the transition from “ball-joint” mice to optical mice, mouse sensor and LED technology progress has been sluggish.

Initially, Stephen B. Jackson, an engineer who worked for Xerox, the first American copying firm, developed and patented this light sensor technology in 1988.

The mouse, which served as an LED sensor, was mass-produced barely 11 years after the mouse sensor technology was invented in 1988. Is an optical mouse with an LED sensor made by renowned American computer maker Hewlett-Packard. Microsoft IntelliMouse with IntelliEye and IntelliMouse Explorer are the first optical mouse series made available by HP in partnership with Microsoft.

The mouse sensor works by using an optoelectronic sensor, which detects movements using light and is subsequently captured by a low-resolution video camera. Early optical mouse sensors could only map light that was reflected onto a flat surface. Optical mouse sensors’ capacity to read light reflections from varied surfaces has increased over time.

Modern optical mouse sensors are becoming able to read light reflections on dirty surfaces in addition to rough surfaces, even when used swiftly and in erratically. Because of this, gaming mouse makers later developed mice that are sensitive, dependable, and capable of mapping different surfaces in order to provide quick and stable pointer motions.

Sensors: Mini Cameras have a Great Effect

The presence of a camera on your cellphone is a bare minimum prerequisite for those of you who enjoy taking selfies, often known as selfies. Some of you are actually more interested in the smartphone photography features than anything else, am I right? The camera or sensor in the mouse is also crucial to producers of optical mice.

No matter how effective the LED light from the mouse is, as was previously stated, it will have no impact if the sensor cannot optimally map it.

At least three different sensor chip manufacturers are being used most frequently in gaming mice, namely:


This sensor chipset brand is already worldwide. Avago Technologies is a hardware and semiconductor company from Singapore that has been established for 57 years. Since 2016, Avago acquired the American semiconductor company, Broadcom, and changed its name to Broadcom Limited, headquartered in San Jose, California, USA.

Of the various Avago mouse sensor chipset products, Avago 3050 is one of the most widely used sensor chipset series by gaming mouse manufacturers. The advantage of the Avago A3050 chipset lies in its performance in optimizing macro features with gaming sensors in it.

Indeed, other Avago series, including higher series such as the Avago 3090 or Avago 3310 also have the same performance, but the price is far above the 3050 series. For equivalent quality at an affordable price, the Avago 3050 sensor chipset is the ideal choice.


Following the existence of Avago in the world of sensor chipsets, Pixart appeared. Pixart sensor is a product of PixArt Imaging Inc., a CMOS sensor company that was founded in July 1998 in Hsin-chu, Taiwan. Over time, the capabilities of Pixart chipsets have been increasingly taken into account, including because of their relatively affordable production prices.

Affordable does not mean not quality. The proof is that several well-known gaming mouse manufacturers have buried this sensor in their gaming mice. The legendary Razer Elite series since 2014 has chosen to use the Pixart PMW-3366 series sensor for its sensor components.

Likewise, the Pixart PMW3389 series is widely attached to several high-end gaming mice.


One more sensor chipset manufacturer that is increasingly being looked at by gaming mouse manufacturers, namely Sunplus. This Taiwanese chipset company started developing its technology in mainland China before finally having its head office there.

One of the well-known sensor chipset products from this manufacturer is the Sunplus 168A which is grafted on several entry-level gaming mouse brands. Affordable prices, easy-to-obtain products, and a wide market reach are some of the reasons why Some great brands also uses them in several of its gaming mouse series.

Characteristics of a Good Mouse Sensor

After discussing several types of sensor chipsets in a gaming mouse based on the manufacturer, the question that arises is which sensor is good for a gaming mouse? The answer is of course very varied and relative.

It is said to be “varied” because currently there are various types of gaming mice, from the cheapest to the most expensive. You just need to adjust it to your needs and budget.

It is called “relative” because the sensor chipset is only one part of a gaming mouse product. It is possible for a gaming mouse to immerse one of the well-known types of sensor chipsets in it. However, without the support of other components and features, the sensor will not function optimally.

Can’t say which sensor chipset is the most superior. But, to find out the performance of a mouse sensor, there are a few things you need to know:

1. Counts Per Inch (CPI)/Resolution

Almost like DPI, but more accurately, CPI refers to the number of times the mouse sensor “reads” the surface of the mousepad every inch of movement. The smaller the CPI number, the farther you have to move the mouse to get a wider cursor movement.

Resolution, which is measured in counts per inch or dots per inch, is a measurement of how responsive a mouse sensor is to physical movement. The phrase counts per inch (CPI), which describes how much movement the sensor records for each inch of physical movement, is more widely used than dots per inch (DPI), which is erroneous but functions in the same way.

Simply said, the higher the CPI, the greater the movement of your mouse cursor per unit of movement. There is no ideal CPI setting for gamers because everyone has different preferences for how sensitive they like their mouse cursor to be.

2. Jitter

This refers to the inaccuracy of the sensor to “read” the surface. Jitter is often related to mouse movement speed or CPI. The more “jitter” the mouse sensor, the more irregular cursor movement. Jump here and there.

3. Angle Snapping

This reference refers to the compatibility between the data entered in the sensor chipset and the resulting motion. The smoother the movement produced by a mouse, the better the ability of the sensor to “language” the incoming motion signal. Ideally, the ratio between the signal going to the sensor chipset and the movement of the cursor is 1:1.

4. Lift-Off Distance (LOD)

LOD refers to the ideal height of a mouse before the sensor stops reading the surface. There are several types of sensor chipsets that still read the surface so that when you lift it slightly, the cursor still moves. For some gamers, a mouse sensor with a low LOD value is needed so that the mouse remains easy to control.

5. Smoothing

For instance, a mouse sensor can have an FPS capture of 2000 but only report 1000 times per second. This is because mouse sensors collect more images than they transmit to the computer (1000 Hz). Smoothing occurs when a mouse sensor averages the two recordings rather than sharing the most recent position. This causes a more delayed response to hand movement on-screen.

6. Cursor Acceleration

The majority of gamers like a 1:1 input ratio, which states that the pointer should move at the same rate as your hand moves the mouse. Over time, this consistency helps gamers develop stronger muscle memory and perform better.

Acceleration alterations The main goal of acceleration was to prevent weariness from shifting the mouse cursor from one side of the screen to the other site, which could be useful for work but detrimental for repeating gaming performance. This 1:1 ratio occurs when speeds exceed a particular threshold.

Some gamers do prefer acceleration, and they can add it using software, but once acceleration is embedded into a mouse’s sensor, there is no getting around it.

7. Prediction

Prediction makes it easier for motions that are almost vertical or horizontal to seem completely straight on screen. This might be advantageous for some drafting or sketching applications, but it is utterly unacceptable for gaming, as exact performance depends on hand and on-screen movement being synchronized.

8. Axis Asymmetry

Regardless of movement along the X or Y axes (left or right) or both (up or down), a good sensor should react the same. Because of inadequacies in some sensors, X axis movement is marginally more sensitive than Y axis movement.

9. Max Acceleration

Max acceleration, which should not be confused with sensor acceleration, measures the maximum acceleration that a mouse sensor can withstand. It is expressed in gs.

The mouse needs to be able to track accurately, handle direction changes, and travel quickly from a stop. Look for sensors with an acceleration of at least 20g. Modern sensors are now capable of things that are much beyond what is physically possible.

10. Inches per second

The tracking speed of the mouse is measured in inches per second, which indicates how much movement the mouse sensor can accommodate.

All sensors are rated according to their maximum capacity, and almost all contemporary sensors can manage movement well beyond what the majority of players are physically capable of.

The majority of sensors are rated at or above 150 IPS. If you move your mouse hand 10 inches from right to left in one second, that is equal to 10 IPS.

11. Frame Rate or FPS

The number of frames, or photographs, that the sensor camera records in a second is referred to as frames per second or framerate in the context of a mouse sensor. The higher the better in this case, much like the polling rate. Typically, a sensor’s FPS is much higher than its polling rate.

FPS is not a reliable measure of the effectiveness of the mouse sensor.

12. Ideal mouse surfaces

The majority of opaque surfaces can be detected by optical mouse sensors, although uniformly textured surfaces, such as fabric, plastic, wood, or metal, are optimal for tracking.

Glass is difficult for optical sensors to read, and the camera is not sensitive enough to detect changes on glass. Because a laser sensor is more sensitive and can detect movement on glass, laser is superior for surfaces made of glass.

Higher sensitivity to surface changes in laser sensors sometimes overreports movement on textured surfaces, resulting in jitter. Get a mouse pad and an optical mouse if your desk is glass.

Complete List of Mouse Sensors

BrandSensorTypeDPIIPSAccelNotable MiceNotes
RazerFocus+Optical2000065050gRazer Viper Ultimate
Razer DeathAdder
PixartPMW 3370Optical1900040050gPromising new sensor
PixartPAW 3338Optical1600040040g
PixartPMW 3389Optical1600040050gENDGAME XM1
Coolermaster MM710
PixartPMW 3390Optical1600045050g
SteelseriesTrueMove AirOptical1600040040gSteelseries Aerox 3Based on PAW3335
PixartPAW 3369Optical1600040040g
PixartPAW 3335Optical1600040040gHyperX Pulsefire HasteLow power version of the 3389
LogitechHero 25kOptical2560040040gLogitech G Pro X Superlight
LogitechHero 16kOptical1600040040gLogitech G Pro WirelessReplaced by Hero 25K
PixartPMW 3361 / Owl EyeOptical1200025050g
SteelseriesTrueMove 3Optical1200025050gSteelSeries Rival 310Modified 3360
PixartPMW 3366Optical1200025050gLogitech G Pro Gaming Mouse
PixartPMW 3391Optical1200025050gCorsair Ironclaw WirelessOnly seen on the Corsair mouse
PixartPMW 3360Optical1200025050gGlorious Model O-
Finalmouse Ultralight 2
The most popular sensor, seen on all wired Glorious Mice
PixartPMW 3336Optical1080015030g
PixartPMW 3359Optical850030035gSame as TrueMove Core and PMW3331
SteelseriesTrueMove CoreOptical850030035gBased off of PMW3331
PixartPMW 3331Optical850030035g
PixartPMW 3330Optical720015030gBudget version of the 3360
PixartSDNS 3989Optical640020050gOlder Razer exclusive sensor
PixartSDNS 3988Optical640020050gOlder Razer exclusive sensor
PixartPMW 3325Optical500010020g
PixartPMW 3310Optical500013030g
PixartPMW 3320Optical35008020g
AvagoADNS 3095Optical35006020g
AvagoADNS 3090Optical35006020g
AvagoADNS 3050Optical20006020g
RoccatPro-Optic Sensor R3Optical40006020gBranded ADNS 3090
AvagoADNS-3988Optical640020050gDeathAdder 4G
AvagoADNS-3888Optical350012015gDeathAdder 3.5G

So, How Gaming Mouse Works?

How the gaming mouse works is divided into 2 parts based on the type of buttons used and also the type of sensor used.

  • For Buttons: There are currently two gaming mice currently available on the market, namely gaming mice with optical buttons that utilize infrared beams, while gaming mice with mechanical buttons use microswitches that utilize physical contact between metal plates.
  • For Sensors: Gaming mice currently available on the market are divided into two based on the type of sensor used, namely optical sensor gaming mice that use a micro camera to move the mouse and laser gaming mice that utilize the reflection of laser light on the surface to move the mouse.
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