What Is DPI and What DPI Should I Use For Gaming?

In gaming, there are a couple of important metrics to be aware of, and one such metric is DPI. Today we will discuss what is DPI, how does it affect your gaming experience, and also give you some guidelines on what DPI and sensitivity you should use in your games to maximize the effectiveness of your mouse sensor!

What Does DPI Stand For?

Without complicating the explanation too much, DPI stands for dots per inch and is a metric used to describe how fast your mouse cursor moves while being used. Some companies also use the term CPI or counts per inch but the two can be used interchangeably.

Most mice come pre-configured with different DPI steps starting from 400-800-1600-3200 DPI etc.

At the same time, some mice come with special software that allows you to customize your DPI in increments of 1, therefore, giving you the ability to set a specific preferred DPI.

As an example, if you have your mouse set to 400 DPI, your cursor would move slower in games therefore you would have to move your hand more to get to a point on the screen. When set to a DPI of 1600 the same mouse will be able to reach your desired target in a quick swipe without having to move your hand too much.

Simply put, the higher the DPI, the higher the speed of your mouse. Easy as that.

Focus On the Sensor Not the DPI!

Now that you understand what is mouse DPI, it should be mentioned that DPI is not a very important metric when deciding which mouse to buy, because that should be mostly influenced by the shape of the mouse and the sensor used.

If you plan on gaming do not buy some regular mouse that says it can reach 25.000 DPI. The reality is that most gamers use a DPI between 400 and 1600 which is basically the first 3 steps. Anything above that is mostly excessive and makes your mouse cursor so fast it feels uncontrollable.

What you should be focusing on is how good is the sensor, how stable is the polling rate at 1000Hz, and how small is the DPI deviation! Most gaming mice made for FPS games or MMO games focus on delivering the smoothest experience by having the most stable sensors!

High DPI numbers do not mean anything so do not be fooled!

What DPI Should I Use?

Generally speaking, deciding on a set DPI and sensitivity for your games is based purely on preference, but there are also general rules which can help you find your answer quicker.

Usually, people that play tactical shooters like Valorant or CS:GO play on lower DPIs and sensitivities – roughly at 40CM/360 or higher. Meanwhile, people that play faster-paced games like arena shooters or BRs usually play at sensitivities of 30CM/360 or lower (to calculate your cm per 360 degrees you can use sites like mouse-sensitivity.com).

The basic math here is that lower CM/360 means smaller movements for your hands to make, therefore, the higher sensitivity/DPI your mouse is operating at.

Even though we initially said that DPI is a preference, the newest findings have also revealed something curious about how the DPI values impact your mouse responsiveness and performance.

According to the extensive testing detailed in this video, lower DPI values can decrease the responsiveness of the mouse, therefore, are less optimal for the best gaming experience. The differences shown here between 400-800-1600 DPI are at the level of ms but for a competitive gamer, this can be extremely important!

The best results seem to be produced at 1600 DPI since increasing the DPI further does not yield any less input latency.

What we would advise competitive gamers to do then is to balance out their current sensitivity but at 1600 DPI. So if previously you played Apex Legends at 800 DPI @ 2 in-game sensitivity, you should change this to 1600 DPI @ 1 in-game sens so your aiming feels exactly the same way.

These types of conversions can be done with a simple calculator or can be automated once again by using mouse-sensitivity.com for each game you are interested in.

If you are not interested in being super competitive then any value between 400 and 1600 should be fine for you to use. Going above that is not advised since it can cause you trouble in using your mouse with precision.

TL;DR

The only DPI steps you should care about are between 400 and 1600. For competitive gamers, we advise using 1600 DPI and decreasing your in-game sensitivity to match your previous CM/360 for maximum reduction in input lag and increased responsiveness.

Normal users should find a value between 400 and 1600 and stick with it.

Finally, buy a mouse that has a flawless sensor with perfect tracking and that can maintain a 1000Hz polling rate with very little DPI deviation, not a mouse that can go up to 30 million DPI.

About The Author

Chris Bulgac

Chris is a passionate gamer, streamer and PC tech enthusiast. The PC peripheral market has a special place in his heart, as there are few enthusiast-grade products that he has not tried, and even fewer products he has not researched already. Overall, Chris is a BIG nerd and he is absolutely proud of it!

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