Wired Gaming Mice Comparison (2014)

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If you’re in the market for a new gaming mouse, there are a few specs that are worth paying attention to, including sensor type and sensitivity, button number and placement, and whether you want a wired or wireless model (though many prefer wired mice, so you don’t have to worry about batteries dying mid-battle). And if you happen to be left handed, you’ll need to look for a design that’s ambidextrous, as many mice are shaped and curved to fit right-handed users.

But a lot of what makes a gaming mouse great for any user comes down to personal preference, what feels comfortable in your hand, and how much you care about aesthetic features like lights, or perks like storage for saving your button settings either on the mouse or in the cloud.

Over the past few weeks, I took a trio of mid-range wired gaming mice through a gauntlet of first-person-shooters, strategy games, and role-playing games. All three felt comfortable in my (right) hand and worked well. But their features and designs vary, as does pricing. Below I’ll discuss the pros and cons of each to help you decide which one might be the best fit for you.

Wired gaming mice comparison 2014

Razer DeathAdder Essential Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Razer DeathAdder mouse

At $79.99, the Razer DeathAdder Essential Ergonomic Gaming Mouse is the most expensive of the three peripherals I’m comparing. It’s the only mouse I looked at that has a cloth-like braided USB cable, which feels nice and may help keep the cable from getting tangled or damaged as easily, but I wouldn’t call this an essential feature. The mouse is intended for right-handed users, but Razer also sells variations of the DeathAdder designed for left-handed users. So be sure you buy the version that you need.

The mouse has a glowing Razer logo on the back and a light-up scroll wheel as well. Using the company’s Synapse 2.0 software, you can choose whether the lights pulse on and off or remain on, and you can turn them off as well. But you better like the colour green, because you can’t change the colour of the lights.

The DeathAdder has a high-end 6400dpi optical sensor that worked flawlessly in my time gaming with it. And while the mouse doesn’t feel heavy, it feels well-built and comfortable, with a matte-plastic top, grippy rubber sides and scroll wheel.

The mouse has five buttons, including two on the left side and a clickable scroll wheel, all of which can be programmed via software. This is enough for basic use and gaming. But there’s no dedicated button for adjusting the sensor’s sensitivity settings on the fly, as you can with the other two mice. Serious gamers may miss this feature, as it can be handy when switching from fast-paced running to carefully lining up a sniper shot in a first-person shooter.

The Razer DeathAdder Essential Ergonomic Gaming Mouse is a solid choice, especially if you like its looks and don’t need extra buttons. But it’s a little expensive considering its feature set.

SteelSeries Rival Optical Gaming Mouse

SteelSeries Optical Mouse

The Steelseries Rival is more affordable than the Razer DeathAdder, at $59.99, and comes with excellent software that, unlike the Razer mouse, lets you adjust the glowing logo and scroll wheel to any colour you want (the box says there are 16.8 million colour options). You can also adjust the lights so they pulse or stay on, or switch them off entirely. And you can choose to have the SteelSeries logo on the back glow a different colour than the scroll wheel, or have the colour of both slowly change automatically over time. If you like your peripherals to have flashy lights, this might be the mouse for you.

The Rival mouse is also made for right-handed users, has textured rubber sides, and felt comfortable to use for long periods. Design and build quality feel okay, but not quite as nice as the Razer. In particular, the two buttons on the left side, while they’re big and easy to find, feel a little hollow when clicked, and press in quite a bit, making me wonder how they would hold up over years of use.

The Rival does, though, have a small button on the top, past the scroll wheel, which lets you adjust the sensor’s sensitivity settings without having to jump out of the game and into the software, a handy feature the Razer mouse lacks. And I had no performance issues with the Rival’s optical sensor in my time gaming with it. SteelSeries says its sensitivity can be adjusted between 50 and 6500, so it generally should be about as sensitive as the Razer mouse, and it felt that way when I was gaming with it.

There’s a small removable rubber plate at the back of the mouse with “RIVAL” carved into it, and a second plate with the SteelSeries name and logo is included in the box. You can also grab designs for other plates from the company’s website, or design your own and print them with a 3D printer. But 3D printers are still pretty rare, so this isn’t likely to be an option for the average gamer.

Overall, the Rival has better lighting options and an extra (important) button when compared to the Razer DeathAdder, at slightly lower price. That sounds good on paper, but using both, the Razer mouse feels like it might last longer, thanks to slightly better build quality.

Logitech G400s Optical Gaming Mouse

Logitech G400 Mouse

Logitech’s G400s doesn’t have any lights at all, so it won’t be helpful if you’re trying to find your desk in the dark. But it has two key things going for it: it has eight programmable buttons, more than either of the other two mice, and it’s the least-expensive peripheral here by far.

The Logitech G400s aesthetic design feels a little dated, with tribal-like white accents and striped black lines over a dark-blue top. The sides don’t have the grippy rubber pads of the other two mice here, but Logitech has used a matte plastic that’s easier to hold than the smoother plastic on the top of the mouse.

Like the Rival, the G400 lets you adjust the sensor’s sensitivity settings on the fly. But unlike the Rival, there are two buttons for doing this, one above and one below the scroll wheel. So you can crank sensitivity up or down in steps, rather than cycling through pre-determined settings. Or, because the buttons are programmable, you can use them for something else. In particular, extra buttons can be handy for massively multiplayer RPGs (like World of Warcraft), or just RPGs in general.

The optical sensor in the G400s isn’t as sensitive on paper as those found in the other two mice; you can adjust it between 200 and 4,000dpi. While the sensors in the Rival and DeathAdder reach higher numbers, the average gamer will be happy with the level of sensitivity that the G400s offers. I had no problems gaming with it, but if you’re a very serious gamer or, in particular, you’re the type who likes to hide in shooters and line up those ever-so-precise sniper shots, you may want to pay more for a mouse with a better sensor.

Also, note that the G400s doesn’t have any internal memory, and the software doesn’t save your mouse settings in the cloud (as Razer and SteelSeries’ software does). So if you want a mouse that you can easily use on multiple computers while easily retaining your carefully selected settings, you’ll want to look for another peripheral.

If you care more about value and utility than you do about good looks and blinking lights, the G400s is a very good–if not overly complex—gaming mouse at a very reasonable price. It has more buttons than the Razer DeathAdder and a more solid-feeling build than the SteelSeries Rival. And with the money you’d save opting for this mouse over more expensive options, you could buy a new game or a decent keyboard.

Gaming Wired Mice Comparison 2014 on Mousepad

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Wired Gaming Mice Comparison (2014)
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Matt Safford

Matt Safford spends his days testing gadgets and writing about technology. He has written for Popular Science, Smithsonian, Consumer Reports, and Wired.

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